Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Monday, April 04, 2011

Poverty Pornography

Willie Revillame couldn’t leave things well enough alone. Fighting back at his accusers regarding the March 12 Jan-Jan episode, Willie threatened that if advertisers pull out of his show, then his millions of fans and followers will boycott their products. He also lambasted fellow celebrities who tweeted against him, saying they should just shut up; after all, they never helped the poor, unlike his show.

Repeatedly he said that his show aims to give joy and hope to the viewers, that they have helped a lot of poor people by giving away prizes and providing entertainment. This line was repeated several times in the apology statement of TV5 regarding the incident: Willing Willie is there to provide joy and hope. Kasiyahan at pag-asa, lalo na para sa mga mahihirap.

Okay, hold it right there.

Games on TV have been around for a long time. There are games shows, reality competitions (like “Survivor” or “The Biggest Loser”), and noontime shows that have several contests within their program. Undoubtedly, seeing people compete has its intrinsic entertainment value; we like the vicariously thrill of watching people try their hand at either luck or skill (or both), in an attempt to win. And it is entertaining to see contestants lose as well as seeing them walk away happy and triumphant.

But I can’t recall any game show I watched growing up that identified itself as public service. I think that twisted logic has gotten into the heads of the people behind this show (and some others before it) that I sometimes fear these people actually believe in their own press release. Even scarier is the thought that a huge chunk of their audience agrees with them. C’mon folks, get real. Willing Willie is sooo not Kapwa Ko, Mahal Ko.

And what is this penchant for trotting out the “poor underdog” card? Yes, times are hard, and yes, there are many poor people. But do we have to revel in all this poverty and use it as entertainment? Worse, the show encourages the easy-money way out. Dangle money in front of the needy, and there will always be those who will do somersaults (or make their children do macho dancing) in front of a clapping crowd.

Whatever happened to having pride in hard, decent work? The sad thing is, the easy way out is, well, easier. And it is more entertaining to watch. As much as there are those like Jan-Jan and his parents who see nothing wrong with what they’re doing, there is a crowd cheering and laughing and lapping it all up.

It’s the pornography of poverty.


JohnM said...

*Slow Clap for Mcvie!

You nailed it right there man!

red the mod said...

What a brilliant piece. This should be published in a broadsheet.

Mu[g]en said...

Two thumbs up!

Fidel Antonio Medel said...

I agree with the points that you raised. Willie Revillame's TV show is definitely not a public service program. He should slap himself and wake up from this illusion.

Guyrony said...

Oh Joel you amaze with your point of view.

I am at awe.

And yes, easy money is what these poverty-stricken people cling to.

ʎonqʎʇıɔ said...

I've been following this series since you started writing it. Funny lang kasi when you wrote na it's not as bad as it seems, at first i was like what?! and then i read on and I totally got your point.

Now this one's really juicy. haha I've heard him say that countless times kahit nung nasa ABS pa siya. I think it's a load of bull. If he really wants to help the poor, he should cut the fun stuff (which weren't that fun anyway) and pull a Rosa Rosal. lol

Paul said...

Hey mcvie, I hope you can do a write-up about willie's bombardment of words against his critics on twitter.. So we can have ANOTHER worthy read about his stupidity..