This blog does not claim to be always right. The blogger has no pretensions about being morally, politically, or ideologically correct. This blog contains random thoughts, rants, raves, hysterical protestations and sporadic thinking aloud by a person who is not out to please anyone or pander to anyone's idea of what is acceptable or ideal. Feel free to disagree, it is a free country.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
This is my column today.
Being “showbiz” has come to mean being pretentious, hypocritical, or fake. Thus, to be labeled “showbiz na showbiz” is definitely not a compliment. This is probably the reason why most people try to convey the impression that they don’t give a hoot about the latest skirmishes involving our local celebrities or the latest gossip from the local show business industry. Of course it is possible that they also secretly relish and devour every tiny morsel of salacious rumor about, say, the real reason behind Claudine Barretto’s transfer to the GMA Network or about Paolo Bediones’ motivation for transferring to ABC 5.
The truth is that there are many issues involving local show business that are just as important and deserving of our attention. Television is a powerful all-pervasive medium and many people today spend more time in front of a television than anywhere else. Many children are reared by local celebrities - they wake up and eat breakfast with the hosts of Umagang Kay Ganda or Unang Hirit, they go about their playtime with the various hosts, guests, and performers of the various morning shows. Many people have lunch with the people of Eat Bulaga or Wowowee.
What is happening in show business is an important part of our national life. Some issues may sound trivial and inconsequential to the rich and powerful but they often have far-reaching implications on the lives of the larger population of Filipinos.
Take for instance the raging issue of the day involving the suspension of ABS-CBN’s morning show “Its’ Showtime.” The show is broadcast at around 10:30 in the morning as pre-programming for the noontime variety show so not many people who work out of their homes get to watch the show. But I was on leave last week so I was able to catch some episodes of the show. In fact I was actually watching the show when Rosanna Roces made those controversial statements that got the show in trouble with the Movie and Television Review Classification Board.
In case you have living under the rock in the last few days, what follows is the gist of the controversy.
The format of Showtime, which is really a dance contest, requires the show’s weekly judges to review the performance of the contestants in ways designed to provoke audience reaction. You see, the fate of the judges—whether they stay on as judges or get booted out of the show—is decided on by the viewers through text voting. In the particular episode that got the MTRCB’s attention, the irrepressible Rosanna Roces spewed quite a mouthful about how students should not believe everything teachers say.
The group that had just finished performing was from Calamba, Laguna and the group made such a big to-do with the fact that they were representing the hometown of Jose Rizal, the national hero. Roces then questioned them why Rizal’s full name was Jose Protacio Rizal when his mother’s maiden name was Alonzo. The group was unable to answer. Thereupon Roces shared that she also asked the same question of a teacher when she was young and the particular teacher didn’t give an answer. Roces then delivered a harangue about how teachers are merely “repeaters” (that’s the exact word she used) of information that is found in books. She said she cursed her teacher when she was young and admonished students not to believe everything their teachers said. She gave a lecture about the need for students to do their own research, trawl the net, go to Wikipedia, etc.
Perhaps in an effort to preempt sanctions from the MTRCB, ABS-CBN exercised what they referred to as “self-regulation” by suspending Roces from the show. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of it because the MTRCB issued a suspension order on the show. Showtime is now off the air temporarily.
I must admit that I was also taken aback by Roces’s tirade against teachers in general; however, I felt that what was necessary was to put her statements in context. To begin with, Roces’s arguments were actually quite feeble; a lot of what she said could have been disputed easily. I felt that the appropriate action in this particular issue was to refute or rebut Roces’s statements and correct whatever misimpression was made; or to be brutally frank about it, teach her and everyone else not necessary a lesson, but the correct information. Unfortunately, this is not the way we operate in this country. Our natural tendency is to react emotionally rather than rationally. Instead of solving problems in a constructive way, we often opt for punitive measures, which really don’t do anything other than bury the issue and create resentment.
ABS-CBN is now protesting loudly about the supposed lack of due process around the MTRCB’s decision to suspend the show, which is really ironic and hypocritical because it is using the same justification that it failed to practice when it suspended Roces from the show unilaterally, to begin with.
I am against MTRCB’s decision to suspend the show because I don’t think there is anything to be gained from silencing people for saying provocative statements. Pray tell, what is there to be gained from suspending a whole show aside from merely flaunting one’s coercive power to do so? Does it teach people anything? By suspending Showtime, did the MTRCB succeed in correcting the wrong information and faulty reasoning used by Roces?
But I also think ABS-CBN should stop being sanctimonious about the whole thing. The truth is that the way they have formatted the show— including the choice of judges—has been designed precisely to attract this kind of controversy. What did they expect when they invited the likes of Joey Pepe Smith and Rosanna Roces to sit side by side and gave them license to spew opinions and judgments?
And while we are at it, Showtime has actually been courting this kind of action from the MTRCB by giving its head judge Vice Ganda free reign to sexually harass contestants on the show. I am not a prude and consider myself very, very liberal minded. However, in case no one has noticed yet, the sexual innuendos and the teasing that happens in the show— very often involving minors—really constitute sexual harassment.
I wanted to talk about other raging controversies in local showbiz, but as I am running out of space, I would have to reserve them for some other time.