After four years in art school, I have studied how aesthetics can influence people’s minds and choices. We were taught to design products that would catch customers’ attention and entice more buyers to earn more profit. In such a rule of business and aesthetics, I believe, Xander is no exception.
Make him more “appealing” to the masses, change his name, and package him as someone who looks foreign and Western. The notion kills me, especially, Marlou changed his name to “Xander” just because it sounds “very pogi,” and “Ford” sounds “classy,” according to Vince Abasolo, the general manager of Star Image Artist Management.
Xander rings familiar to me as I recall our lessons in product design and branding to fool consumers. However, Xander is no product; he is just your usual Filipino dreamer, making his way out of poverty. Xander was once Marlou who would sell cigarettes to earn money for school tuition, that image I can’t help to recall. I’m affected on how he opted to stop schooling because the family can no longer shoulder the cost. Instead, he focused on working to support his family.
I was in third year when I chanced upon the story of Marlou, when the Collegian wrote a story about him and his previous “Have A Successful Honor and Talent (Hasht) 5” boy band group in our lampoon issue “National Jolographic.” It was the days when his group’s popularity is at its peak, but also at worst with bashers calling them addicts, jejemon, snatchers, and monsters. And yet, these did not hinder Marlou to pursue his dream.
The origin of Xander lies in the dreams of Hasht5 from General Trias, Cavite. The faces of Hasht5 were Vincent, Jhimwel, Erick, Cheejay, and Marlou. The group has average looks yet managed to gain popularity. Their dream is to become popular artists. Unfortunately, the groups popularity dwindled and lasted only for months.
In the entertainment industry, beauty reigns supreme, under the support of the superficial zealot viewers patronizing the faces that please their eyes. For that reason, actors and actresses are expected to have sexy figures and solid muscles, abs, fair skin, and angelic faces.
And to note, it is not only Xander who had resorted to plastic surgery. Many artists had done the same thing: adjusting their nose, whitening their skin, or augmenting their buttocks.
However, Xander’s case became more popular as he comes from a social class with not enough money for such surgeries—a luxury only the elite can easily afford. Artists’ pursuit of beauty is of utmost importance, for it is their capital. The beauty of artists dictates the shows which the viewers will watch. It is an asset that television networks build upon.
The demand for beauty from the viewers, and the mainstream media’s desire to please them, is the system that pushes Marlou to change his identity, to change who he is, just like many other artists.
However, artists are just pawns in the industry. Companies value their popularity, not necessarily their identity. Such is the case of Marlou, a man whose character, face, and name have changed altogether.
What we have now is Xander, a product of the ICON clinic and Star Image Artist Management, whose face will soon rise to the billboards along the streets, wearing bench clothes, SM shoes, or Penshoppe jackets. He will be sold and rented for hours, for marketing campaigns, for TV show ratings, for commercials, advertising products, and working for the company’s profit.
Beauty is a sort of capital, but it is superficial. After all, it is the consumer’s demand that dictates what the market supplies. And the birth of Xander Ford and his popularity speak volumes about who we are, much more than who Xander is. ◂
Short URL: http://www.philippinecollegian.org/?p=12276