THEY COME IN GROUPS WHEN THEY HANG OUT IN MALLS. WEARING THEIR FAKE SUPREME CAP, FAKE
THRASHER SHIRT, RIPPED JEANS, FAKE PAIR OF YEEZYS OR VANS OLD SKOOL. THEY ENJOY TAKING GROUP PHOTOS AT PARKING LOTS. WHEN PHOTOS OR VIDEOS OF THEM ARE POSTED ON FACEBOOK, NETIZENS BEGIN THE ONLINE SHAME PARADE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION. “CANCER OF THE PHILIPPINES” IS A USUAL COMMENT, FOLLOWED BY “THESE JEJEMONS DESTROYED STREET WEAR
Their current favorite song, of course, is a tune familiar to most of us. The chorus starts: “Kalimutan mo na ‘yan, sige, sige, maglibang…”
A few weeks ago, the song “Hayaan Mo Sila” by rap group Ex Battalion went viral after YouTube removed the song’s music video because of a copyright complaint on the song’s beat.
Netizens were quick to accuse the group of being thieves with no originality, when in fact the group had actually bought the rights to rent the beat from its maker. The problem was that the song started earning more when it became a hit among the masses, and so the owner of the beat demanded the group to buy full rights to the song.
This issue turned into a witch hunt, an opportunity for people who constantly ridicule trends among the masses to justify their pretentious elitism disguised as concern for OPM.
The word “jejemon” had surely evolved. In 2010, it was a linguistic term to name the distorted typing and texting style that was popular among teens, which caused educators and grammarians to worry. Then in later years, it grew into a subculture in Philippine popular culture. In 2018, however, “jejemon” or simply “jeje” is an adjective used to belittle the trends within the 6-culture of many teens from lower-income families. It has gone beyond merely poking fun and has become degrading, as it is often uttered with disgust. It is now a word synonymous to “cheap” and “ugly,” used by millennials in careless abandon, unaware of its elitist tone.
Ex Battalion and their song became a laughingstock. Many people who had a different taste in music couldn’t believe this song was popular; and as sheep follow the herd, people continued to mock the song and labeled it as “jeje.”
This word has become a staple in millennial lingo, with people saying it’s just part of the typical Filipino way of harmlessly making fun of people, the same way we jokingly mimic the way conyos speak. But each time “jeje” is used to describe something from the masses and their interests—whether it’s Vice Ganda’s films, overrated pop songs, or their sense of style—the more it is ingrained among the privileged that they have the right to belittle the masses’ taste. After all, there is a difference between satire and being matapobre.
No one has the right to dictate what other people can enjoy, but criticism also cannot be avoided. What can be avoided is perpetuating the “I’m better than you” state of mind by avoiding the use of degrading terms like “jeje.” It’s a fact of life that people like different things; better to accept this rather than subscribing to the elitist bubble. Literally, hayaan mo sila (let them be).