The “Barkada” affair was ultimately a tempest in a teacup. A far bigger controversy erupted when “Filipinx” was added to dictionary.com to mean “a native or inhabitant of the Philippines”. The actual natives and inhabitants of the Philippines flipped their shit:
Around mid 2020, the words Filipinx and Pinxy (similar alternative to pinoy and pinay) were added to Dictionary.com, legitimizing its use as an alternative to Filipino, Filipina, Pinoy and Pinay, albeit pissing off the entire Filipino Twitterverse in the process.
The recent and sudden move was instantly and unanimously condemned by Filipinos living in the Philippines. It just came out of nowhere, you can’t just change the identity of 107 million people in the Philippines and 10 million more living abroad overnight .
The backlash was so severe that dictionary.com ultimately changed their definition. They even added that it was “Sometimes Offensive”.
Right, I probably should’ve read that before replying. But then, I don’t really get the charge that Villeneuve can only envision Paul Atreides as white—because if Dune is a deconstruction of the ‘white savior’, then obviously, Paul Atreides ought to be white for that to work? (Also, the argument is somewhat lacking in charity: I can’t see anything substantiating the notion that there was any insistence on Villeneuve’s part that a white man had to play Paul—he thought Timothée Chalamet would be perfect for the role, but that in itself doesn’t imply that his whiteness was anything but incidental to the decision.)
There’s also this bit, quoted in the article, that I find a bit odd:
Although Herbert was great at conceiving how white, Western systems of power are inherently flawed, he was not able to imagine any better alternative.
Surely, pointing out something is flawed has value even without presenting a better alternative? If I want to criticize, say, our current efforts at mitigating global warming as being ineffectual, I’m not also obliged to offer a better option. I mean, it’d be nice if I could, but if I can’t, then raising awareness of the problem at least might help prompting somebody else to find a solution…
Nanette Caspillo, a former University of the Philippines professor of European languages, studies morphology, or how words are formed. She said that “Filipinx” is an unnatural term because the suffix “-x” does not exist in the Philippine linguistic system.
“Morphology is influenced by phonetics so if it is problematic morphologically speaking, it is also difficult for it to stand phonetically speaking,” she told VICE.
“[Language] is the human expression of man’s interior and exterior reality,” Caspillo added, explaining that if a linguistic phenomenon does not reflect reality, then it will die a natural death. Right now, most people in the Philippines do not seem to recognize, understand, relate to, or assert Filipinx as their identity. Therefore, “the word [‘Filipinx’] does not naturally evoke a meaning that reflects an entity in reality,” she said. Pronouns in the Filipino language are gender-neutral and “Pilipino” is used for both men and women.
A comment from “Eileen”:
There’s this trending (for the wrong reasons) FB page that suggested that Tito/Tita be called “Titx” following this Filipinx thing. That will get you a slap in the face in the Philippines. For you Fil-Ams who don’t know the language, “Titx” sounds like “Tite” which is penis. NO.
By all means call yourselves whatever you want. But please don’t say that the Filipino language is patriarchal and that is the reason for this Filipinx business. I am a woman and I am a Filipino. Please explore the thousands of gender-neutral beautiful Filipino words such as Apo, Pamangkin, Pinsan, Manugang, Biyenan, Kapatid, Kaibigan, Kapitbahay or even Kalaguyo. Even the negative words such as Syota, Kabit or Kaaway are gender-neutral. Those words do NOT care where you are in the gender spectrum.
We LOVE our language and do not take it lightly that we are told that is something that it is not. Hence the reaction of the people from the motherland on “Filipinx.”
Oh and please don’t call our country “P.I.” If you do, P.I. mo rin.
A comment from “Emma”:
Filipinos already reclaimed the term ‘Filipino’ and use it on anyone regardless of gender. They’re still wrong about Filipinx. It was a colonial term, now it’s ALSO a local term. It does not matter who started it. Modern Filipinos are called Filipino regardless of gender, and that’s the entire point. Filipino is no longer oppressive because Filipinos already owned it and reclaimed it.
IMHO, the pushback is more against colonialism/cultural imperialism than any sort of gender identity. It’s Filipino-Americans seeking to impose their own linguistic and cultural biases on actual Filipinos. [Besides, how do you pronounce the word? “Fili-pinks”? That’s just more imperialism. Filipinos are brown.]
That seems to edge very close to someone complaining about a problem but not bothering to come up with a solution. I’m not suggesting that you or Mr. Herbert are doing so, just that it’s a fine line to walk.
For one thing, it muddies the waters mightily. How much of the criticism is of the actual film, and how much is for the source material? And how much of the latter is the filmmaker expected to remedy in his adaptation?
I mean, from all other reviews, Villeneuve has done a bang-up job adapting Dune. But the author of the review seemed to have a bone to pick with the source material, and then seems to think that Villeneuve has some sort of obligation or duty to remedy that in his adaptation. Which to me, seems a bit confusing; there’s a fine line between adapting a work and it becoming “based on” the work, but something essentially different. And the author of the article is basically advocating that Villeneuve fix some (IMO) fringe objections to the source material through his adaptation.
How much obligation does a director have in that regard?
I mean, this is sort of a digression, but I’m not sure that I think you’re only allowed to complain if you have a solution. For one, pointing out a problem is often useful in itself. Furthermore, for many problems, I’m just not smart enough to come up with a solution, but somebody else might be, but they might be unaware of the problem. Also, many problems can only be solved by collective action, and many solutions can only be found collectively, in discussion and debate, but that needs to get going somehow.
You should of course be willing to do whatever work is needed to correct a problem, and not just expect others to solve it at your behest, but I think there’s nothing wrong with saying, look, I think x is a problem, but I don’t know what to do about it. I don’t have any idea on how to end poverty, or hunger, but I don’t think this means I’m not allowed to consider them problems.
I think it depends on how far in the series you read. If you stop after the first book which many do and this movie does, then it totally fits the narrative of oppressed people can only escape need the guiding hand of outside leadership in order to break the shackles of the oppressor.
There was an interesting - and chilling - article in last month’s Atlantic called “The New Puritans”, about academics, media persons, executives being ostracized for various inferred and alleged missteps. It is scary the extent to which this can happen w/ no due process, w/ significant penalties being meted out based on nothing more than accusations.
I also found it significant that (at least according to this article), the majority of folk experiencing this ostracism are centrists to lefties. They are being “cancelled” for not being liberal enough.
Makes me glad such a thing as an online social presence didn’t exist when I was younger.
However much the filmmaker wants. It seems your criticism requires anyone who wants to comment on aspects of a derived work that also occur in the original to … what … keep their mouth shut?
I suspect if you think about it again this is entirely about your opinion that these are “fringe objections” and that if you agreed that some aspects of an original work were beyond the pale you would be perfectly fine with a filmmaker being criticized for using that work as basis without changing those aspect.
What I’m saying is that criticizing the source material by way of a movie review confuses the issue. If the issue is with the fifty-something year old source novel, then say so. If it’s with the actual adaptation, then say so. But combining them together makes it unclear whether the director is to blame, or the source material, and what’s more, whether the author is expecting the director to remedy it.
And at least Latino/a IS a gendered word in the common usage both in modern Spanish and as a loanword in English. But as was mentioned in another post, tagging on an “x” to render the word “nonbinary” is not how the source language builds words: it is, in effect, an English construction and people were riled at perceiving that was being advanced as “fixing” something in their language that as far as they are concerned wasn’t broke.
(FWIW many in the Hispanisphere prefer to use “LatinEs” (pronounced as in English: la-teen-es) as the replacement for “Latin(o/a)s”, as that at least is a proper syllable.)
I mean, that’s not how it works in English, either. Adding “-x” to a word feminizes it in English. Well, specifically, adding “-trix” does: aviatrix, dominatrix, etc. I don’t think there’s really a precedent in English grammar for “Latinx.”
You mean in Latin (like, the real Latin, not us). English word construction and grammar is often anarchic, there being no actual authority as in the Académie and its analogs in other tongues, but a general characteristic is that it sort of pretends to keep imported words looking and sounding sort of like the source language, or at least the one where they found it, or at least what they imagine the source language was.
But yeah your point’s true, Latinx/Filipinx isn’t really an English construction. It’s an American Academic Neologism construction. I mean, really, by the precedents I know in English (or Spanish!), the pronunciation of the string of characters that looks like: “latinx”, should sound like “la-tinks” or “la-tings”, not like “la-tin-ex”.
Isn’t it stated quite explicitly that killing Harkonnens, the Missionaria Protectiva and legends of the Mahdi, and the Jihad itself were all hardly ideas originating with Paul? And, while he clearly did have a hand in bringing down the Empire, “breaking the shackles” amounted to genocide of untold billions who might not agree they were being saved. I am talking about the first book.