“They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next!”
– Kevin McCarthy as Dr. Miles Bennell, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Whenever something is weighing heavily on my mind, I come across things (books, articles, pictures, people, phrases overheard in hallways, etcetera) that somewhat eerily frames what I am going through.
Early this evening, as I was going through my collection of VCDs and DVDs, I came across a copy of an old movie sent to me by a friend years ago and that movie happens to be the original, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, the Wikipedia provides this synopsis:
Set in the fictional town of Santa Mira, California (actually shot in Sierra Madre), the plot centers on Dr. Miles Bennell (Kevin McCarthy), a local doctor, who finds a rash of patients accusing their loved ones of being impostors. Another patient is a former sweetheart of his; recent divorcée Becky Driscoll (Dana Wynter), who tells him that her cousin, Wilma, has this same strange fear about Uncle Ira.
Assured at first by the town psychiatrist, Dr. Dan Kaufman (Larry Gates), that the cases are nothing but “epidemic mass hysteria,” Bennell soon discovers, with the help of his friend Jack Belicec (King Donovan), that the townspeople are in fact being replaced by perfect physical duplicates, simulations grown from plantlike pods. The Pod People are indistinguishable from normal people, except for their utter lack of emotion. The Pod People work together to secretly spread more pods — which grew from “seeds drifting through space for years” — in order to replace the entire human race.
The film climaxes with Bennell and Driscoll attempting to escape the pod people, intending to warn the rest of humanity. They hide; Driscoll falls asleep and is subverted. With the Pod People close behind, a seemingly crazed Bennell runs onto the highway frantically screaming about the alien force which has overrun Santa Mira to the passing motorists and (in a moment that is considered a breaking of the Fourth Wall) looks into the camera and yells, “They’re here already! You’re next! You’re next!”
Finally, Bennell is picked up by the police and questioned in a clinic. The policemen in charge do not believe his account-until they receive news of an accident in which a truck carrying strange giant beanpods is upended.
The police are quick to alert the authorities; the message has been received, but the actual end of the story is left open.
Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a classic tale of paranoia that in part plays on the fear of waking up to find out that everybody you know has been transformed into alien beings.
An hour or two ago, this movie seemed jump right to the fore of my consciousness as a very apt description of what is happening to the Philippine cyberspace as the May 2010 elections draws near.
During the last few weeks of 2009, it seems more and more people are logging on to the internet to campaign for one candidate or another. Among the most active and numerous (thanks to multiple nicks/handles) are those who claim to be supporters of Noynoy Aquino, Manny Villar, and Gibo Teodoro.
I am not at all sure if other Presidential candidates such as JC de los Reyes of Ang Kapatiran, Nicanor Perlas, or even Dick Gordon of Bagumbayan have nearly as many people in their retinue whose only job is to spread their candidate’s message on the internet.
For sure, Gordon has supporters on the internet — all of them are volunteers. Perlas, according to a blogger going by the nick Shiela, says that “Nicanor Perlas has a lot of active blogging supporters/volunteers who write passionately and from the heart. In fact the whole team of Nick is composed of, tandadannnnnn…. VOLUNTEERS!”. I haven’t come across supporters of JC de los Reyes but I am sure he has people working for him too as volunteers.
Anyway, among campaigners on the internet, I’d say that Noynoy’s followers in cyberspace seem to be the most active because as soon as you write a post about Noynoy Aquino, they come swarming to your blog. If you post a comment about Noynoy on a website, they’ll post a comment as well. If you twitter anything about Noynoy Aquino, they all twitter back. If you post a status message or a comment on Facebook, you can be sure that they’ll make their presence felt one way or the other.
I think the general instruction for Noynoy’s supporters on the internet is flood the internet with pr0-Noynoy messages, slogans, pictures, chants, rants, and what have you.
Now, what is truly impressive about Noynoy’s army of followers is that there are big names on the internet who spread his message too. They have blogs which have a huge volume of high quality traffic, multiple Facebook accounts that are all filled to capacity and pages that have fans in the tens of thousands or more, and they have twitter/plurk/tumbler acounts that have tens of thousands of followers.
Some of these internet bigshots openly profess their support for Noynoy. But there are others who actually make an effort not to hide the fact that they pro-Noynoy, even when it is already obvious.
Now all of these people campaigning for Noynoy Aquino on the internet basically mouth the same lines as if they’re all following a common script.
Here are some of the archetypal lines that follows after they’ve said, “Noynoy is the best choice for President…”
- because he is the most popular Presidential candidate according to all surveys and his popularity unites all Filipinos.
- because he is sincere and honest, possesses integrity, and is transparent in all his dealings.
- because he is the exact opposite of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
- because he is the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino, heroism is in his blood
- because he is the lesser evil
- because he is the only option
- because he is the most winnable
- JUST BECAUSE! Ah basta! Siya na nga! Yun na yun at wala na kayong magagawa.
If you encounter such thoughts on the internet just once or twice, you’d probably forget about it. But if you constantly get exposed to these assertions it begins to get to you.
Now, how your mind reacts to this depends on how committed you are to critical analysis and how dedicated you are to the idea that people should earn positions based on the proven merit of one’s work. It seems that the less impressionable you are, the stronger your rejection of these assertions will be and that can lead you to counter these assertions.
However, the reality is that most of our countrymen are impressionable and are prone to jump on bandwagons without asking where it is heading.
Noynoy’s handlers are actually exploiting a huge array of very powerful and emotional ways to draw people to draw people to Noynoy’s bandwagon
You had the death of Cory Aquino producing the ‘awa para sa ulila’ effect. Proof of the potency of the “awa effect”, some say, is the case of Pia Cayetano who ran for the senate in 2004 just after her father, Senator Rene Cayetano, died of a lingering disease.
You have Kris Aquino and a number of entertainment celebrities producing the “artista effect”. There is actually no need to point out that in almost every major political campaign rally or gathering, the presence of one or two artistas are crucial to drawing a crowd. Kris Aquino happens to be one of the biggest celebrities in the Philippines today and usually, politicians associate themselves with artistas in order to draw the masa to them — what association can be stronger than being siblings?
And certainly, not the least of these is the fact that Noynoy Aquino is the son of Ninoy and Cory Aquino. I can personally attest to the fact that having a revered or admired parent is a big plus when you’re campaigning for an elective position.
Now, with all these and more at their disposal, it is no wonder that more and more people are jumping like crazy on the Noynoy bandwagon. The conversion from awareness to devotion is almost instantaneous.
Just this afternoon, I actually heard my child’s yaya blurt out that she’s voting for Noynoy Aquino after seeing a merchandising plug for one of Kris Aquino’s shows.
It was scary. Really scary.
In fact, I am now entertaining the idea that if Noynoy Aquino’s media handlers ratchet up his campaign just a notch further, we will soon find more people being instantaneously converted just like what happened in the Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
Then again, it can actually come in stages.
First you get exposed to a barrage of Noynoy Aquino commercials and you begin to start singing ala Regine Velasquez in the shower while insisting on carrying a bamboo torch.
Then at work where you do most of your Facebooking you get invited to join one of Noynoy’s Fan pages and without thinking about it, you join the page.
At the mall after punching out, you see a black Collezione shirt with the Philippine map on it and you buy it along with a pair of eye glasses.
Then you go to a barber shop, insist on having your hair cut very short and having the top of your head shaved like a monk.