Monday, March 09, 2009

Mindless and tacky

This is my column today.

A sizable percentage of all our newscasts are already devoted to the pranks and tomfooleries of our local celebrities.

Over at GMA-7, Pia Guanio sashays into our living rooms several times every day during the early evening newscast, dressed in contraptions that defy logic and gravity to give us our daily dose of inanities. It seems Chika Minute!!! is a matter of such national significance because she is acknowledged as an anchor of the show.

ABS-CBN has an equivalent in the person of model Phoemela Barranda who also pretty much does the same stuff, albeit in more tasteful fashion statements. Mercifully, she and her Star Patrol segment are not given the same prominence as the other segments.

The weekend gabfests, I can understand.

I know there are better ways to spend a Saturday or a Sunday afternoon than to listen to some hapless celebrity justify why he or she flunked a lie detector test—while still strapped to the device, mind you—or witness someone squirm in embarrassment at Boy Abunda’s or Ruffa Gutierrez’s hilarious attempts at interrogation. But it is entertainment.

It is escapist. It is mindless and vacuous. But it is entertaining. I personally find the fashion statements— the hosts actually wear evening gowns or cocktail dresses on these shows and parade their diamonds—uproarious. I mean, it is Sunday afternoon, for crying out loud. Their audiences are probably lolling around in dasters and basketball shorts while munching on camote cue, all drenched in sweat from doing the week’s ironing, and yet these people carry on like they are on a red carpet somewhere.

But like I said, it’s entertainment although I am not sure that’s exactly the intent; which, if we come to think about it, makes it even funnier. I wouldn’t be surprised if they consider what they do as broadcast journalism. Here’s an interesting digression: An entertainment writer from another paper once justified her decision to reveal the juicy details of her scandalous affair with a young matinee actor as part of her duty as a journalist.

Apparently, all these gabfests are not enough yet because there’s now a daily gossip show on ABS-CBN top-billed by Boy Abunda and Kris Aquino, no less. On primetime television. On a timeslot that’s so critical because it serves as pre-programming for the late newscast.

What exactly is this leading to? What message is ABS-CBN sending to the country? We are right smack in the middle of a global recession and this is the best that the network that takes pride at being in the service of the Filipino people can give us?

I’ve watched a few episodes of Showbiz News Ngayon and quite frankly, I am still not getting the whole point of the show. Many of the things they talk about are already covered by the Star Patrol segment in TV Patrol and obviously, by the network’s weekend gossip shows. There’s really not that many events or issues of earthshaking significance that befall the lives of our celebrities everyday that merits daily coverage, is there?

Just as I feared, the show has taken to stoking controversies for the sake of ratings. SNN has been airing for just a couple of weeks but has already figured in a number of controversies, one of which involved the show’s host himself Boy Abunda tangling with cosmetic surgeon Vicky Belo.

Both Abunda and Aquino have used SNN as platform for their own personal issues recently.

This development in itself is a little iffy because here we have a situation where the hosts themselves are the subject of the controversy and use their show as platform to defend themselves or amplify their positions.

This is what happens when celebrities themselves act as hosts, or when hosts become celebrities and revel in being so. Janice de Belen once made such an observation when she hosted a rival gossip show. She resigned because she recognized the ethical implications of the situation.

What is even worse is that the show has segued into becoming some kind of a derivative of the television show Lifestyle of the Rich and Famous. They have resorted to showing off just what our celebrities do with their money. And sadly, the tone of the show is not even art appreciation—it’s just plain and simple showing off, which leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Take for instance those recent gaffes around the Hermes bags of Sharon Cuneta and Rufa Mae Quinto.

SNN has this segment where they take footages of a particularly expensive bag, reveals how much that particular bag costs, and then makes the audience wonder who the “proud” owner of the bag is. In one episode, they revealed that one particular bag carried a price tag of a million pesos and then later announced that the bag’s owner was Rufa Mae Quinto. They later sheepishly revealed that they overstated the price; apparently there are too many rich people in this country who knows how much these luxury bags fetch in the market.

They did the same treatment with Sharon Cuneta’s black crocodile skin Hermes bag. The show priced the bag at a whooping three millions pesos. A number of blogs later on pointed out the real market value of the bag (less than three million). SNN did interview Cuneta who thankfully refused to reveal the price of the darned bag in question, but who nevertheless explained that she is not in the habit of buying horrendously expensive bags that cost millions each and that she picked up the bag as reward for thirty years of hard work.

I don’t think people should take against anyone the fact that they can buy bags or yachts or designer watches that cost millions. If they can afford it, why the heck not? It’s their money anyway. But something should be said about shows that deliberately flaunt these things, particularly at a time like this. It’s just tacky.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

we need more competition. we might get more of the same, but at the same time we might get better programming. my question is that nearly 3 decades after the tv stations were seized, channels 9 and 13 are still apparently government owned. WHY?

sherin said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Sarah

http://www.lyricsdigs.com

Bong C. Austero said...

good question, anonymous. last i heard, there were no takers. it seems gma7 and abs-cbn's stronghold on the market is so strong even abc5 is having a difficult time making a small dent on viewership. but i will look into that as material for a future column. thanks for the hat tip.

Bong C. Austero said...

sherin,
thanks for dropping by. your first comment is well appreciated.

ormocanon said...

"...all these gabfests are not enough yet because there’s now a daily gossip show on ABS-CBN top-billed by Boy Abunda and Kris Aquino, no less. On primetime television. On a timeslot that’s so critical because it serves as pre-programming for the late newscast." - Bong

ABS-CBN probably based their decision rightly or wrongly on the thought that the average pinoy televiewer loves tsismis. So, they must have jumped into the conclusion (on the theory) that "pinoys want garbage, let's give them garbage."