“They Don’t Really Care About Us”

As a dancer and passionate Michael Jackson fan, just by the aesthetics alone, I was floored in amazement by this awesome performance. This is one of countless examples that Pin@ys are among the best damn dancers in the world. I give mad props to Travis Payne for even going to the Philippines and wanting to share with the inmates of Cebu Provincial Detention & Rehabilitation Center, the closest they’ll ever get to the dream of dancing with the late MJ. These prisoners, deemed criminals and banished from society, became international superstars from their now infamous YouTube performance to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” all without ever leaving the prison industrial complex.

After the thrill and amazement from watching that performance, I find myself internally very conflicted. But I strongly feel that it needs to be part of our discourse as artists.

Now from a socio-political analysis, I can’t help but wonder about the sheer exploitation and abuse these prisoners go through, and in the end they get what, besides international fame? The only one I see reaping the material benefits from all of this is warden Byron Garcia. It’s very true that prison is a microcosm of society, where artists are among the most exploited by those in positions of power, like mainstream media. Like MJ said, “They Don’t Really Care About Us.”

I really would like to see if anything beyond just this video performance would happen to benefit the prisoners for their talents.


3 Responses to ““They Don’t Really Care About Us””

  1. Hey Ryan, thanks for writing about this. I’ll point my students to it since I just posted the video on blackboard for their discussion.

    My conflicting feelings are about role modeling. I wonder if some little boy in the town wants to be a dancer now and is thinking that jail ain’t so bad.

    The song title is quite ironic.

  2. I remember watching something on Balitang America (I believe) and the reporting was able to interview townspeople around the prison, guards, and some prisoners.

    Basically, the warden was having the prisoners dance to put on a show for his sister, who is the governor of the province and many prisoners complained that they were being drilled over and over again, until their feet bleed. Now some prisoners liked it but most of them hated it.

    The warden was essentially using his pawns (prisoners) to put on a show for his sister. There is all sorts of fucked up shit about what is going on in that prison.

    Good post.

  3. […] The busiest day of the year was January 27th with 48 views. The most popular post that day was “They Don’t Really Care About Us”. […]

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