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)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rape Jokes!

WARNING: Sensitive sensibilities, BEWARE! If you do not have the capacity to put things in context, STAY AWAY.

Depending on one’s sensibility, one can either be offended or greatly amused by them. If you don’t find them funny, that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with you, nor is there anything wrong with the sensibilities of the people who did laugh out loud at the jokes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Why I Think Rape And Fat Can Be Funny

Vice Ganda makes a joke about Jessica Soho being raped, and the shit hits the fan. Oh really?

The joke (quotes here are taken from Pia Ranada’s Rappler article) is this: “Ang hirap nga lang kung si Jessica Soho magbo-bold. Kailangan gang rape lagi. Sasabihin ng rapist, ‘Ipasa ang lechon.’ Sasabihin naman ni Jessica, ‘Eh nasaan yung apple?’” (It will be difficult if Jessica Soho gets naked. It has to be gang rape all the time. The rapist will say, “Pass the pork!” Jessica will say, “But where’s the apple?”)

Take note that there is a video that puts the joke in context, so I took the time to watch the video. I hope you do too before you proceed any further.

If you watch and listen closely, the comedy routine is really making fun of obesity, with Jessica Soho as representative of the weight-challenged.

What I find curious are the first tweets castigating Vice Ganda about his joke. Bam Alegre, Jiggy Manicad, and Maki Pulido are all with GMA News & Public Affairs, where Jessica Soho is the Vice President. News must indeed be serious business, for it seems that these journalists have lost their sense of humor as well as their sense of perspective.

For me it’s alarming that these journalists, the ones who’re supposed to understand what’s happening so that they can report properly, these guys totally missed the point of the joke. The joke is not about rape. It’s about being fat. In fact, just change the script of Vice, replacing “gang rape” with “group sex”: “Ang hirap nga lang kung si Jessica Soho magbo-bold. Kailangan group sex lagi. Sasabihin ng isang lalake, ‘Ipasa ang lechon.’ Sasabihin naman ni Jessica, ‘Eh nasaan yung apple?’” Even without the offending R-word, the joke remains intact.

What flew over their heads (and I’m assuming all others who retweeted) is that the rape detail is actually a reference to the silly conventions of bold movies using sexual assault as an excuse to undress a starlet. Back in the heyday of ST-films, starlets would show skin through several cliché set-ups: the shower scene (often with a peeping tom); the frolicking amongst nature (beach or garden); getting wet under the rain; and, for more drama, the rape scene (Rez Cortez built a career on that).

In Vice Ganda’s what-if vision of Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Sobra, the prerequisite rape scene with Jessica Soho becomes problematic because: [1] It has to be a group effort, given her size; [2] She will be treated like a roast pig.

That Alegre, Manicad, and Pulido locked in and made rape the issue is, at best, a silly misunderstanding, and at worst, a non-sequitur defense for their beloved vice president. Simplified, it’s Vice versus vice. Or ABS-CBN versus GMA. Listen to Vice’s parting joke towards the end of that YouTube clip: “Si Ma’am Charo tuwang tuwa pag kabilang channel ang niloloko.” Is this an example of irony?

But before you readers gang up on me because of my previous paragraph, let me just say this: It’s all about taking things in context, especially with humor. Rape and obesity are fodders for jokes, just as much as suicide, terrorist attacking nurseries, and Alzheimer’s. (Granted, the last three are a challenge.) It all depends on the CONTEXT.

There is low-brow humor, best exemplified by innocent kids making fun of other’s physical defects (“Fatso!”) and the very personal laitan-type of humor in comedy or videoke bars. There is high-brow humor, usually not found in this blog (and apparently, Pinoys do not have the satire gene). And in between there’s a gamut from stupid to silly to hilarious to sublime. I believe that humor, whether improvised or scripted, stand-up or ensemble, can go beyond mere entertainment. It can expose a truth that’s difficult to acknowledge. It can be liberating and informative. It can force us to question long-held beliefs. It can keep us on our toes.

Taking the line, “Kailangang gang rape lagi” out of context is dangerous. It sounds like Vice Ganda is advocating that Ms. Soho be raped, but clearly, in the larger context of the routine, he isn’t.

And what about making fun of Ms. Soho’s weight? Even she herself has joked about it. Granted, heavyweight jokes rank low in the hierarchy of comedic sophistication, but hey, that’s Vice’s crowd. (Besides, even the supposedly more exposed online community isn’t above name-calling; case in point, Nancy Binay.)

Context and accuracy. Pia Ranada’s translation in the Rappler article is inaccurate. She translates “Ang hirap nga lang kung si Jessica Soho magbo-bold” to “It will be difficult if Jessica Soho gets naked.” The more accurate translation is: “It will be difficult if Jessica Soho does a bold movie.”

Context, accuracy, and seeing the big picture. Oops! I’m basing my comments on a clip in YouTube. I should base it on the larger context—the full show of Vice Ganda.

* * * * *

P.S. — May I just say, *FACEPALM* And eye-roll. For me Miss Soho, you just lost 50 points. Not pounds, just points.

ANOTHER P.S. — Eh di magalit din kayo sa fellow Kapuso, Bubble Gang. Take note, “hindi gay humor sila.”

STILL ANOTHER P.S. — You can even make fun of Death.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Brown Brothers Burnt By Brown’s Book

Sarcasm Alert!

Okay, okay, I get it. The Department of Tourism is hard up on their job to promote the Philippines as a tourist destination. Sure, their viral, crowd-sourced campaign “It’s More Fun In The Philippines” was quite innovative and successful. But I suppose other government officials feel it’s so easy to torpedo the tourism campaign. All it takes is the word of one multi-million, bestselling author.

Hello, Dan Brown.

In his latest novel, Inferno, a character named Dr. Sienna Brooks travels to the Philippines to work with humanitarian groups. She expected the Philippines to be a “wonderland of geological beauty, with vibrant sea beds and dazzling plains.” But she was appalled with what she saw when she arrived in Manila.

Full disclosure: I have never read the novel at all. I have read the’s article, which quoted the following excerpts from the book:
[1] “(S)he had never seen poverty on this scale.”
[2] “For every one person Sienna fed, there were hundreds more who gazed at her with desolate eyes.”
[3] Manila was described as “six-hour traffic jams, suffocating pollution, horrifying sex trade.”
[4] The sex industry was described as mostly involving young children: “many of whom had been sold to pimps by parents who took solace in knowing that at least their children would be fed.”
[5] An observation about extreme poverty: “All around her, she could see humanity overrun by its primal instinct for survival…. When they face desperation… human beings become animals.”
[6] Traumatized by what she experienced, Dr. Brooks said, “I’ve run through the gates of hell.”
[7] She then “left the Philippines at once, without even saying goodbye to the other members of the group.”

Cue gnashing of teeth, calling names, and invoking memories of pre-Homeland Claire “ewwwcockroaches!” Danes. Furthermore, Atty. Francis Tolentino, chairman of the MMDA, published an open letter to Dan Brown:

Cue more gnashing of teeth and calling of names, this time directed at Atty. Tolentino. And just as on cue, others jumped in to defend the MMDA chairman.

For me, it’s about keeping things in perspective. 

I wonder: Had there been an MMDA back in the 70s, should they have castigated Lino Brocka and Ishmael Bernal for their works of fiction, Maynila Sa Kuko Ng Mga Liwanag and Manila By Night/City After Dark, respectively? Both are acclaimed films here and abroad, and they showed the unflattering side of Manila. So it’s okay for one of us to point fingers at ourselves, but it’s a national issue if a foreigner points out our flaws? Why are we too sensitive? Why do we make it so personal?

I also don’t agree with castigating the MMDA, but seriously attorney, an open letter? I personally would have preferred that the MMDA chariman just laughed it off, saying, “Dan Brown’s work is fiction. I invite his readers to experience Manila for themselves.”

Or maybe come up with a new tourism campaign: “Even Hell is more fun in the Philippines.”

Monday, May 20, 2013

Great Gasp! Be

Having never ever read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” I had no lost-in-translation angst when viewing and reviewing the latest film by Baz Luhrmann, the director from Down Under And (Way) Over The Top. His The Great Gatsby was a fabulous, uneven triumph that felt a bit too long at times. I can’t help but think it’s Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Gatsby, with New York taking over Paris.

For me the acting was the film’s strongest point. Like with George Clooney, I don’t quite “get” Leonardo DiCaprio’s appeal, even though I can objectively say he’s a cutie pie in William Shakespeare’s Romeo+Juliet, Titanic, even The Departed and Inception. It was only here as Jay Gatsby that his looks work so well to his character’s favor; Leo’s face has grown more handsomely solid with age yet retains that baby-faced appeal that makes one believe that Gatsby is still clinging to an innocent (or perhaps immature) hope that he can win his ladylove back. Joel Edgerton is electric onscreen, his Tom Buchanan a simmering mix of desire and danger. Tobey Maguire lends a melancholy tone as the outsider Nick Carraway. And Carey Mulligan is lovely and heartbreaking as Daisy, the woman caught between Gatsby and Buchanan.

Luhrmann piles on his usual bag of excesses, from the mix-and-match soundtrack to the stunning and gaudy production design, all designed for maximum wows and gasps. Personally I find it thrilling when an artist willfully tosses everything and the kitchen sink to make a point, but sometimes I wonder if, in Luhrmann’s case, excess is his point. If Michael Bay is to explosions as J.J. Abrams is to lens flare, then Baz Luhrmann hasn’t met a shiny, shimmering splendid that he didn’t like.

By the way, I know that Mr. Luhrmann is married with two kids. But if someone were to ask me, “Is he gay?” my Exhibit A would be the scene that reveals Daisy for the first time. The camera enters a room in exquisite slow-mo; there’s a couch in the foreground, and white, gossamer curtains billowing all around the room. If it were a Michael Bay film, there will be no curtains; instead, leaves will be blown in from the balcony in slow-mo. If it were a John Woo film, aside from the slow-mo leaves there will be a white dove or two flying in (or out) of the room. But this is a Baz Luhrmann film, thus the gossamer curtains.

I dare Joel Schumacher to top that.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Relax. Watch A Movie.

Checking my Twitter feed, I came across this post by Jap_Nishi: My life is currently replete with Cathy Garcia Molina moments. Oh please let me have a happy ending this time.

Sometimes I really can’t help my big mouth, or in this case, my too-quick-to-click-send finger. In less than a minute, I commented: Matakot ka sa Cathy Garcia Molina moments, cuz they're usually committee-approved fantasies designed to sell now but not last. ;)

Talk about bursting one’s bubble. Apparently I’ve honed it into a talent.

But then Jap_Nishi replied: i knoooow. kakatakot talaga. my only consolation is that my guy is nowhere near the typical leading man. msyado siyang pokerface. Lol

So to just finish my point, I added: Look for Judd Apatow moments. If you find someone who can provide those, the chances of you two lasting will be better. ;)

Jap_Nishi and I eventually veered into “friend-and-partner” versus “friend-then-partner” talk, but my point is simple. Kilig moments are great and all; in fact, it would be alarming should there be zero moments of giddy joy. But while those scenes play great onscreen, in real life they are not sturdy pillars on which a relationship can be built on.

Unlike the usual Hollywood romances, Apatow’s movies do not end with a couple kissing to a soft fade out. Instead he shows us the messy scenes that usually happen after the end credits. His movies show the very real but often awkward, and at times embarrassingly painful, ways we deal with people who matter to us. Usually it’s the people who can laugh with us as well as at us (but we forgive them for that) who stay with us longer.

Who knows, maybe one day this penchant for showing the messy side of romance will be codified and become another cliché-ridden genre. Regardless. Let’s enjoy getting light-headed and all tingly at the small of our back whenever we come across a well-executed kilig scene. But let us not forget that those moments happened in the safe, dark confines of the theater. Outside, let’s get real folks.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Demo Crazy

I’m assuming that the reason why we bothered to even vote and post opinions about the elections is because we believe in democracy. Part of living within a democracy is to accept the people’s vote.

So you say that the majority of the voters are illiterate. Or they are unable to discern. Or they are not issues-oriented, but personality-oriented. Yes, there are solutions—improve the educational system, make the economic gains trickle down to the masses, better access to information, etc.—but these take time. (And for all you know, perhaps there are those in the majority who are not stupid; instead, they are just making calculated risks based on the extent of their knowledge.)

Meanwhile there are elections to be won every so often. To win, the candidates and their camps should get real and figure out their “win-ability” with the masses. And when it comes to win-ability, there are so many factors to consider that each candidate has a unique chance and a unique set of circumstances surrounding him. That’s why a Nancy Binay is in the top 5 but Jack Enrile isn’t. That’s why a Grace Poe is suddenly the frontrunner when no survey ever had her at number 1.

And we will always have to live with certain winning candidates whom we don’t particularly like.

Viva demokrasya.

Monday, May 13, 2013

“Nancy Binay Ay Naibotooooooo…!”

During Holy Week old folks sing the pasyon, and I’d often hear them going, “Nang si Kristoooooooo…!” which sounds more like, “Nancy Kristoooooooooo…!” Meanwhile the early tallies show that Nancy Binay will surely be in the top 12 while Risa Hontiveros may not make it.

Let the wailing and gnashing begin.

In the Twitterverse, Joey Javier Reyes tweets, “93% of the voting population of the Philippines is made up of D1, D2 & E sectors. Only 7% come from A, B & C classes. THINK ABOUT THIS.” I don’t know how accurate his facts are, but I do believe that the majority of the voters are of the D&E sector. They’re the ones who aren’t online. They’re the ones who don’t have the time to pour through facts and figures, who aren’t impressed with big words and long-term vision. They are poor, they are uneducated, and yet they have the power to vote a Lito Lapid and (now) a Nancy Binay into the Senate.

Really folks, kagulat-gulat ba ang nangyayari ngayon? No amount of Facebook memes and witty tweets affected the Binay machinery. The closest thing to a wrench in that juggernaut was Vice Ganda’s press conference comments against her, but it was still too little, too late.

The voting majority may not know what’s best for the country. At best they only know the ones who seem to know what’s best for the country. They’re the ones with name recall, or who have a winsome smile, or who are popular. They are the ones who mouth promises of progress.

Let’s get real, folks. Voter education and change will take generations. And until economic gains are truly felt by the D&E, such that they now move up the socio-economic ladder and start forming middle class sentiments, then we should be prepared for the Nancy Binays of this world to be able to use the system to their advantage.

So what can we do? Be vigilant watchdogs of our government. And maybe give Nancy a chance to prove all of us wrong.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Seb Castro Is Pretty FLY For A Gay Guy

It is possible to enjoy sex and avoid HIV and other STDs. How? Watch. :)

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

I Am A Guardian Becky

Photo Graphic Evidence

I’m fascinated by this whole Marjorie Barretto photo scandal. What I find interesting is that her lawyers advised her to bite the bullet and confirm that those were her photos. By admitting that she was the one in the photo, the lawyers were able to go after the online sites that published the photos and forced them to take down the photos. Furthermore, she allowed her lawyers to now speak for her. She has since kept silent about the issue. (At least, that’s as far as I can tell given a cursory Google.)

So far it looks like a smart move. Her lawyers have been very thorough in going after those who posted the pictures; in effect, it’s difficult to find the photos online now. And although she admitted to posing for the pictures, her silence on the issue prevents her from further self-damage. Her silence has also effectively kept people from further gnawing at the issue like vultures.

In fact, people may now be thinking, “What if those photos were really for private consumption only? What’s wrong with having some naughty poses anyway, if they are intended only for her loved one?” In this day and age of photo selfies, that doesn’t seem unreasonable at all. Since the photos of her in flagrante delicto are nowhere to be found online, her offense now doesn’t sound too crass, compared to other celebrity sex scandals. And silence is often seen as a class act; her poses may not be classy, but her handling of the scandal is.

Out of sight and out of sound, out of mind. (That is, until someone from her family resurrects it in a future word-war.)

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Band Of Bruthras

“We few, we happy few, we band of brothers….” 
— William Shakespeare, King Henry V: Act 4, Scene 3

* * * * *

I don’t know what happened, but yesterday morning when I checked my Blogger account, it told me that my reading list was empty and that I was not following any blogs. I just assumed that Google did some resetting, so I decided to re-follow the blogs on my blog roll, completely forgetting that I have probably more than a hundred blogs listed under “Links.”

I was only on letter B but I was already tired and dismayed. So many blogs had either been taken down or the last entry on it was back in 2012. The blogging boom of several years ago has gone bust. Online personal diaries have been replaced by special interest columns, public relations articles, and paid marketing. And the bloggers of before have now taken to Twitter and Facebook (and sadly for some, Instagram).

Still, there’s something to be said about full-on blog entries. I’m talking essays, not Tumblr-sized entries that read like tweets with pictures. It takes skill and thought to present something that goes beyond 140 characters. (Facebook allows longer posts, but really, a “read more” button often acts as a hurdle more than a welcome mat, unless you know the one who’s posting, or the first few sentences are compelling.)

I followed only pink blogs (with just one or two exceptions). And what a colorful bunch, the many shades of pink! It was great to hear disparate voices offering particular points of view. My blog feed looked like a smorgasbord of various concerns and musings, gay and not-so-gay. There was no such thing as “trending,” unless it was the day after Miss Universe.

Blogging afforded anonymity. It allowed closeted or discreet gays to speak out (or “act out”) what they couldn’t in public. For some, blogging was the venue that allowed them to spread their butterfly wings and take flight. Twitter could accommodate a condensed version of their blogger persona. Facebook however proved to be too public, too tedious for the closeted bloggers. But alas, Facebook hijacked the online conversation.

And so most of these voices moved on from blogging. They are still very much online, but they’re expressing themselves in shorter bursts. And in real time—the rise of smart phones and “unli” promos created the perfect storm, allowing people to be always connected. The “comment” button allows real-time exchange and dialogue. Ideas are submitted, examined, liked, and rebutted with the speed of Internet connection.

Thank god some of us still continue to blog on. When I finished going through my blog list, I ended up re-following more than 20 blogs. There are as many motivations as to why gay bloggers continue to blog as there are colors in a rainbow.  When I first started, I wanted to “put on a show” (thus the name of my blog); I thought of it as a personal experiment to see how much of my persona I can present to the online public. That quickly evolved into, well, bathhouse stories and other sexcapades, with reviews of plays and movies in between. Nowadays for my initial reactions, quips, and take on things happening around us, I take to Facebook and Twitter; I reserve my more lengthy musings for my blog.

We may not be as prolific as we once were, and we may not command the same number of readers as before. But perhaps it matters not why we continue; we just choose to blog away. Whether by tweet, FB status, or blog, pink voices should continue to be heard, now more than ever.

P.S. – And just as sudden as a computer glitch, my reading list is back to what it once was. Ghosts in the machine, I tell you; ghosts in the machine.