Pinoy Baiting


An image that is meant to represent "Pinoy Baiting" - image was generated with the assistance of Dall-E3. 

Over several years, we have seen the popularity of so-called Pinoy-baiting videos. It may start innocently enough, in which certain social media influences would just happen to feature something Philippines-related in their videos and they would be surprised by the sudden surge in the number of views in their video. They would go back to their standard content type and would see that it would not perform as well as that one video so they try it again and see a similar result. In this world where social media is the way of life for a lot of people and where massive views equate to online clout (and in certain cases monetizable), I can understand why some would choose to relentlessly pursue those viral moments in their content (I attribute this phenomenon to the strange fascination of my fellow Filipinos of wanting to see or listen about stuff about ourselves, especially in the point of view of an outsider to satisfy our thirst for global relevancy). Before you know it, almost all of the succeeding videos of this content creator will have something to do with an element of the Philippines or Filipino culture. It is especially bad with certain "reaction video" creators and "mukbang" style creators. There are only so many "trying sisig or Jollibee for the first time" or "reacting to sad Filipino commercials - we challenge you not to cry" videos that I can stomach. It is worse for reaction videos I think since most of the time the entire premise of the format is reacting without prior knowledge of the country and its culture and that superficial take devoid of context on an entire country and culture can be cringy at best and can sometimes be guilty of promoting stereotypes or even downright offensive. Perhaps that's the exact point of some of these contents. Maybe the objective is to try and deliberately rile up a nation that has a huge online population. We all know that's one way to create a viral video - through controversy. On the flip side, there are those contents that highlight how uncomplicated life is in the Philippine countryside, all the beaches are so beautiful, the locals are all friendly and are all smiles despite obvious hardships they are experiencing, and how all the stray dogs shit rainbows and glitter. OK maybe not so much on the last part but I think you can understand what I am alluding to. If there's such a thing as toxic negativity, there is also the opposite: toxic positivity. I think this is a mixture between the "beauty of the undiscovered paradise" trope and the "noble savage" trope. 

OK listen, I'm not saying that all content about the Philippines especially from foreign content creators has some nefarious agenda. And I do understand the fact that at the end of the day, they are doing this for a living and wouldn't anybody want to optimize earnings especially if they are the product of their business? They are not promoting the food, the culture, and the beauty of places out of the goodness of their hearts. However, there is a very thin line between what is acceptable and unacceptable and that line isn't rigid either. I somehow doubt there will ever be a consensus on what crosses that line but I can only encourage content creators who don't want to inadvertently fall into this kind of behavior to be mindful of their content and make a self-assessment on how their content can be perceived.