Baka Bukas Found Itself In The Center Of A Huge LGBT Cinema Debate

Baka Bukas Found Itself In The Center Of A Huge LGBT Cinema Debate

Sam Lee’s Baka Bukas, starring Louise de los Reyes and Scout December 2015-January 2016 cover girl Jasmine Curtis-Smith, has been out nationwide for almost a week now. There’s something to be said about a story like this being part of mainstream local cinema, and for all intents and purposes the fact that a movie like this got a mainstream release is one of a number of bold steps forward for LGBTs.

While it’s getting a lot of love from a good part of the audience, late last night a big debate sprung up about the movie and the kind of story it’s telling—or, rather, the kind of story it says it’s telling.

The debate began here, when @NonaTweets2U started ranting about Baka Bukas and how the LGBT was couched safely inside a middle-class context (which doesn’t even begin to cover the entire spectrum of experiences):

 

 

A lot of reactions go on from there. 2 Cool 2 Be 4gotten director Petersen Vargas defended the movie Sam Lee chose to make, saying that everyone had the right to tell their own stories, so long as it sincerely came from them.

 

But many others contend that although artists have the right to express their own stories and experiences in art, missing the opportunity to make it inclusive, or to at least raise awareness of the cultural surroundings one way or another makes the work of art slightly pointless and tonedeaf.

 

After much intense debate, the consensus (or something close to it) seems to be that while the story is valid, maybe Baka Bukas shouldn’t have been marketed as representative of all lesbians—because that demographic is much too nuanced to be generalized—and that there is a real need to make art that doesn’t just rest on its laurels. And that these criticisms about representation leveled at it are valid, too.

 

The whole issue is tricky; the issue of true representation is valid, but it also doesn’t make the author or filmmaker’s own experiences invalid. In the end, I think we’re going to have to agree with the fact that it’s okay to make art however you want it so long as you deal with the criticism gracefully—and also as long as that criticism is given respectfully. I also agree that even though experiences are valid, the way the artist expresses them isn’t immune to any valid criticism. And I agree that nobody should exaggerate and generalize in the process of marketing the movie, especially if the ones in charge of doing so aren’t that informed.

Most of all, I think the biggest problem really is what local studios and distributors are willing to push to the mainstream. It’s entirely possible that this movie was candy-coated as it is in order to ensure consideration for a wider release, and while it could’ve done better addressing real concerns and bringing awareness to more pressing struggles, the sad reality is that nobody’s sure a grittier film would have been as successful, or even cleared at all. At the very least, Baka Bukas could have helped open new doors for better movies despite its issues. One can hope that maybe everyone will get the movie they want and need tomorrow.

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Romeo Moran
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