Criticism involves separation, which takes place not only in the realm of its production where distinctions are established between specific objects of interest, but also in the realm of its reception, where these distinctions, though deployed in the interest of generating concurrence as to their validity, may instead invite dispute—and all to the good. If criticism is to be vigorous, meaningful, and responsive to its times and climes, then it requires dissensus as much as it does consensus.
This is not to make a case for careless commentary, sophomoric opinionating, gratuitous provocation, or vicious harassment in the expression of disagreement. Nothing ought to be beyond remark, and everyone, as the old saw would have it, may be a critic, but these are not pretexts to dispense with a sense of accountability for what one says or does.
It is in view of the foregoing that we, the Film Desk of the Young Critics Circle (YCC), condemn the spate of mindless hatred and hostility that has been unleashed in the wake of the publication of “Frisson Break”, a recent review of On the Job (Erik Matti, 2013) by one of our members, J. Pilapil Jacobo.
We believe that Philippine cinema—an arena, we realize, where we are merely one of many publics—deserves keen, insightful, and, most importantly, responsible exchange, which we seek to cultivate by way of our essays and our annual citations. That the situation here has not been so, given the decision of many reactors to refuse engagement on the level of argument, to participate in the fomentation of a mob mentality, and, worst, to cloak their identities, as has happened in the comments section of the review in question, speaks of cowardice and is deplorable in the extreme. While we have never considered our work exempt from scrutiny, we fail to see how vacuous savagery can help the discourse on cinema to prosper.
We stand by the entirety of “Frisson Break” as written, uphold the right of each of our members to evaluate films in the manner that he or she sees best, and underscore our commitment to sober, thoughtful, well-informed dialogue.