Saturday, May 16, 2009

Reflections on Martin Nievera, freedom of expression and artistic license

Funny how celebrities get away with things. Take for example the case of Martin Nievera whose singing of the Lupang Hinirang in Pacquiao’s last bout has become controversial. He knew fully well, long before he flew to Vegas, that there was a proper and prescribed way to sing the anthem but still he chose to sing it “Martin Nievera” style, not taking into consideration the time signature, rhythm and melody that had to be observed. There are penalties for what he did (and what others who came before him did) which I think includes imprisonment for some time and a fine of a certain amount if I am not mistaken. Now all they ask from him is a public apology which he said he will never give. Other celebrities who have given their opinion about this and some senators (who are probably running for the presidency next election) are taking his side saying that Martin was just expressing the way he was feeling in the song, and that as an artist he had the artistic license to sing the song in any way he pleased. Hmmmm….I wouldn’t be surprised if I hear a rock or a rap version of the song in future bouts. They even asked Pacman’s opinion about the controversy. Well, of course, the boxer whose expertise was in boxing and not in law, said that he liked Nievera’s rendition, “Maganda naman ang pagkakanta niya. Mataas ang boses niya.”

Freedom of expression (which is not absolute) and artistic license (which does not give unlimited rights) have become poor excuses for posing nude, parading along a highway wearing nothing but a two-piece swimsuit and using the boxing ring to show off one’s singing prowess hoping to get a chance at Hollywood stardom, etc. But they get away with these things and other things because they’re celebrities. Somehow the world is kinder and more forgiving to them. It makes me wonder if I were to parade in the streets wearing a swimsuit, would I be forgiven? I don’t think so. I’d probably be taken straight to a police station or to Mandaluyong. I wouldn’t be able to use freedom of expression as an excuse. Is it because I don’t have that freedom? Naaah…it’s because I’m not a celebrity. If I were the one who sang the song in Pacquiao’s fight and I changed the melody and the rhythm, will the senators take my side? No, I seriously don’t think so. They wouldn’t care less if I get imprisoned. I don’t even think my relatives will stand by me. I would be alone in the fight and so would be other Juans and Juanas out there if they ever decide to “express themselves”.

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