Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Best vs The Beast

I remember one day, years ago, sitting down in front of the late Yasmin Ahmad somewhere in BSC.

I sipped my coffee, and told her that I got a job at Astro and on weekends, I was going to do movies.

"My movies will win awards," I said.

Yasmin looked at me, sipped her coffee and said, wisely, "If you want to make movies for awards, you shouldn't be making movies."

I nodded, sipped my coffee, and proceeded to do movies that won top awards in some festivals, including Best Film gongs.

It was the only way I knew how to be the best in the business. When I was younger, it was easier to understand how to gauge being the best but a lot harder to achieve.

My father was a teacher and he reserved his strictest education standards for his children, which in turn was a watered down version of his own personal hell.

In primary school, I got all As and was always number one in class except for two occasions during mid-terms. That's it. Six years, 12 finals, and two number twos. The rest were all number ones.

I was a kid, so I wanted the approval of my parents. Went back home one day scoring 97% average or something on all my papers. Had a report card to prove it. Still have it.

Showed it to my old man, he took a glance and he said only one thing in his monotonous voice. "You can do better."

No pats on the back. No "good jobs". Just "you can do better". You don't get any praise for getting all As. You are expected to. That's how I grew up. None of this medal for participating bullshit. It's not okay to score a B. You either achieve the near impossible, or you go quietly to your room.

And if you fuck up, the old man would unleash psychological nightmares on you. Anything and everything anyone can ever say to me, I've heard it said in my home. In fact, you losers don't even begin to comprehend how to put people down.

When I came to KL, I saw that the standards were much, much lower. The only thing you have to do is show up.

Final year paper I did for my Bachelor degree - Computer Science. I just did the work, as per instruction - added a six-month head start cause I was kiasu - and it was lightyears away from the guy doing his masters who was checking my project.

He was talking about determining password limitations as if it's a thing. You use any programming language and you can set the limit with two, three lines of code. Apparently, it was his thesis or something, when my project had an internal messaging system and mark subjective test papers using AI. Come on!

This was why I was offered to present my paper in Portugal at a computer science convention. Must have been a small one, I don't know. I decided not to enter the industry in favour of becoming a writer here.

I saw that the standards at college is maintained everywhere.

You want to advance in any gigantic organisation? Just do your job. Keep your head down, do your job, and you'll stand out from the idiots who don't do theirs.

The creative industry? I overheard some people say they wanted to do this creative thing or that because others sucked so much at it.

One guy said to me, "Amir, your brain functioning at half-capacity is genius compared to these people."

After a while, I also thought the same. How bad can I be if other people are so much worse? And every time I think that, I always fall flat on my face.

I tried to gauge my work using whatever means available. End of the day, Yasmin was and is right. Making movies, writing - it's not about awards.

Even the Academy Awards is merely a trophy given out by just several thousand members. Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS, haha!) has a total membership of 5783. Of this number, 94% are white, 77% male, 14% under the age of 50, and has a median age of 62 (according to a survey of 5,000 members in 2012).

So the Oscars is just a bunch of old white guys telling people which movies they like. Sure, they're professionals, but why should seven billion people listen to 5783?

If we go by capitalist vote, the best movie ever is probably Avatar, which got billions of US dollars from people all over the world.

And yet the elitists and intellectuals say Avatar is not a good movie.

Which brings me to my next point. It is so easy to be an intellectual, or a 'liberal' without actually being an intellectual or liberal. You just tell people you're an intellectual or a liberal, and people here will believe you.

It's not the books you read, what you know or what you do. It's what you tell people you read, it's what you imply to people you know. Whether you can do something or not is immaterial. Perception is king. Truth is a bitch. Nothing is real. It's just a bunch of bullshit garbage.

So I took it a step further. Since no one is going to name anyone as best in the world, I took it to calling myself the best in the world, with a dick three feet long. I mean, people just believe what they read and since Malaysians are so lazy, they tend to believe a lot of things people say.

You see, for a lot of people whom I judge to be near-sighted individuals, all they want is to be loved. And how will they know they are loved? If people say they are good. If people tell them, constantly, that they are loved.

This needy, childish bullshit - you can grow out of it. I grew out of it at eight years old.