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.
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:  It has to be a group effort, given her size;  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.