Philippines has always been a country of festivities. Even our political system is modeled upon festivities. The one who gives the best show gets to become President. Case in point, Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III made use of the background of his family to create this drama that he holds the banner of democracy.
It is not then very surprising how the entire country is so enamored by noon-time TV shows and game shows. The Philippine TV is filled with them. Or should I say, infested with them. From Wil-Time Big Time (which used to be Wowowee), Face-to-face to Eat Bulaga. They’re all fundamentally the same. They’re all just one hour or so of nothing but dancing half-naked women, confused impoverished people who are hoping to have some cash or an entire crew putting up a carnival show at the expense of the poor. I’m not at all apologetic in saying I wish TV networks stop showing these things. These shows are wrong in many levels.
Does this guy look like he can be trusted to you? (Image via Underside)
1. Objectification of Women — Half-naked women gyrating their hips while screaming, “Yes yes awwww!” isn’t my idea of entertainment at all. I am not a conservative person but I am very much against the idea of objectifying and commodifying the female body. The show pretty much sells the bodies of these women so that they can be ogled at by bald men with beer bellies who have nothing to do but click on the remote control and leave all the work to their wives. And Willie Revillame can very much be indicted with several counts of sexual harassment. . Yes, dancing half-naked on TV can be seen as empowering for women and I’m all for that, but we are still at that stage in which women are treated as sexual toys. And men paying women to do just that feeds this cycle of the industry satisfying only the masculine needs of the society.
2. Exploitation of Human Emotions — Making people cry for ratings is just lowest of the low. I am vehemently against how TV shows make such a drama out of people’s lives for entertainment. It’s just despicable how they make the people cry or make them fight on TV. We are making emotions mundane, inauthentic and void of meaning just for money. What’s so good about that?
3. False hope — TV game shows give the people the false hopes that if they sing some songs, dance a little or join some games, they may hit jackpot. It gives the adults false hopes, and the children wrong values. TV shows exist in the liminal space and what happens inside it could not happen in our “reality”. We cannot just hit “jackpot” by a stroke of luck. It is a process that can only be achieved through hard work.
4. Faking a charity — Game and noon-time TV shows always claim that other than entertainment, they exist to help the people. But are they really helping? Out of the hundreds of thousands that pour in into the network’s account after one hour of show, how much of that actually goes to the poor? After one month of groceries, the winners of the shows go back to being hungry and impoverished. Then they return to their false hopes and gamble again in the TV shows. I see the broken down tricycles given away by Wowowee in the streets and ask “how much did this thing really help alleviating poverty?”. What they got doesn’t even compare to the tax exemptions and profits the network gained.
It’s easy to say, “Go blame the poor people, why blame TV networks?”. I would, if only this people know any better and if they have actually a choice. But then again, it’s cheap entertainment. It’s easy to chew, easy to digest but has zero nutritional value. Serve them on a cold platter daily and the people would just gobble it up eventually. As my mother said when we went to my grandparents’, “TV has become a necessity of the people. Look at them. Without TV, what can they do?”
We are breeding a country composed of many people without proper education. Something should be done about this. And Philippine mainstream TV isn’t helping in any way.
Note: Last night (16/11/2012), I encountered the term imagology (Kundera 1991) for the first time. Milan Kundera first used imagology in his work Immortality. See actual quote here. He tells us that ideology is now replaced by imagology, in which we passively consume various bombardments of images through TV and radio. Daniele Conversi (2010) says that this imagology has rendered us complacent with critical thinking removed in the process of consuming forms of culture. In relation to nationalism, Conversi states:
In the passage from ideology to imagology, forms of banal nationalism have rapidly spread without the mediation of intellectuals and without soliciting critical thought.
…the reign of image belongs to a ‘hyperreality’ which merges reality with fantasy (Baudrillard 1994:1-42) as well as to a generalised ideology which is no longer mediated by individuals.
Conversi, D. 2010. Ideology and Nationalism.In Routledge Handbook of Ethnic Conflict (Cordell, K. and Stefan Wolff, eds.). New York: Routledge