Monday, August 17, 2009

Honesty in the Lie of Entertainment

photo of Revillame from

SO MANY people are once again lambasting entertainment TV host Willie Revillame for carrying on with his fun-for-the-masses crappy noontime show Wowowee, not because they now finally agree with the band Itchyworms’ series of songs satirizing such profitable variety show shit; no, they are finally coming out to curse all of Revillame’s expensive houses because, horrors, he, Revillame, carried on with his noontime fun while Corazon Aquino’s funeral cortège (updates from which were intermittently being broadcast on TV) was on its way to an eternal memorialization in the planet’s history books as one of the most visited and watched cortège curious inhabitants of this planet ever saw. Revillame has already apologized, and the Aquino family has accepted the apology, him and TV host Kris Aquino being channel-mates and all, but—alas!—Revillame’s critics won’t have any of it. They want Revillame’s head on a plate, they want ABS-CBN to remove his name from its payroll, they want the authorities to run after his expensive cars and homes, minimize his mini-mall, they want to see him impoverished and finally slighted by his alleged “Guest Relations Officers” (“girlfriends regularly overlapping,” one envious/righteous wit of a gossip, whose name escapes me presently, once said).
     All the above mass anger is understandable anger if we’ve loved Corazon Aquino or the cause she had represented and represented us in. But, you see, this is also understandable behavior among those who merely want to exploit the anger and use Revillame’s (deservedly) maligned image as a scapegoat for their own guilt.
     I dare defend Willie Revillame the entertainer, though I have nothing but deep hatred for TV shows that kowtow to the poor’s beggary principles, feeding on their feudal patronage of TV hosts as well as mayors and presidents who throw away crumbs as the version of socialization self-righteously deemed better than real socialization itself. Hate those shows, I do, those TV shows and those political ones, for their alibi that it’s better to throw crumbs to a few lucky ones while the government or management behind them awaits the coming of a comprehensive miraculous change in their souls. Somehow I liken it all to a charity foundation built for the possibility of hefty tax rebates, or to carrying runny-nosed homeless babies for political photo ops to upgrade an image. The end for all those is always huge but latent profits. . . . But now, for fear of being labeled a communist (as is our wont), I’ll say I hate it/those not because I hate profit itself but because I smell dishonesty in the concept, see a faked desire to help a beggar with a 1,000 pesos while seeing a reluctance in its ability to donate to a cancer ward with a 1,000,000 of the same currency.
     But this is not where I would like to waste my blog space and my readers’ time on. It is somewhere else I would want to pooh-pooh convention. I would rather piss my reader off with my defense of Mr. Revillame than incense or bore him/her with my corny dialectics on the virtues of true Christianity or real (moderate) socialism.

I DARE defend Mr. Revillame for the simple reason that on that very day the nation saw him as verily crass and unprincipled, I saw nothing but honesty and integrity. While hundreds of Aquino-the-oppositionist haters displayed tears on TV as if to exploit the cameras for the nursing of their profiles as human souls, I saw Revillame as the one—the only one—devoid of hypocrisy.
     I do not mean to infer that in truth and in fact Revillame has not a gram of sympathy for Corazon Aquino as a person and as a cause, or has none of that for her family, or—worse, as others would have it—no sympathy for any dead person, oh no. I only mean that Revillame struck me that day as the very personality that he has always been, one who has no qualms about being a selfish child forever while also one who finds it not so hard to apologize like a self-conserving child an hour or day or week later, one—in fact—who would repeatedly preach about the virtue of childishness himself (correct me if my memory serves me wrong). Revillame did not change himself for the occasion, and the reason is simple: he does not know how to. Or, to be even more generous to the man, he probably by nature prefers not to.
     Many say Revillame is evil. I would beg you to pardon my disagreement, for I’d say you likely fail to see that his goodness lies in his honesty, inclusive though that may be of his honesty about his dishonesties. He constantly confesses his crassness, his business motives, his women, and so on and so forth, even his recurring evil. It’s a virtue so rare among us who delight in our own latent daily crassness and unfair price hikes who would later face the mirror to convince our own shaved masks that “you’re good.”
     Contrast Revillame now, then, with those who sent flowers to Aquino’s vigil, wore black or white (or beige) or yellow to chat with those at the vigil, and made offered sound bites for TV or radio microphones extolling Aquino’s virtue, doing thus while deep down were thanking the god Mammon for extracting yet another leader of street rallies, or—days or hours or minutes later—would go back to the very acts and thoughts against which Aquino could only want to live more to fight, armed with words of defiance and dedication her enemies had hitherto been giggling at.

I SEE not much of a political person in Willie Revillame. When he talked to the TV host Cito Beltran on the latter’s now-defunct talk show on ABS-CBN News Channel when the former had his falling out with ABS-CBN bosses before Wowowee was realized, he (Revillame) did not hide his selfish profit motives, almost bragging about how much of a business genius and conceptualizer he was and is. On that show, I saw Revillame as a guest on Bloomberg Television serious about making money, not someone pretending to be a “man of the masses” on Fox News. The man is a hungry businessman, no lying about that. If he is a deceptive persona, I’d say he is no more a liar than the bulk of advertising produced for TV.
     Revillame is a child. A grandchild at his grandpa’s wake might be missing his grandpa, but he would still be harassing his sister playing jacks in front of the funerary band playing grandpa’s favorite Glenn Miller marches, still be carousing with his kid gang-mates even as his grandpa’s cadaver parches. But that child, that child is not ever going to be a falsity. Nor a fakery. Nor a visiting figure of hypocrisy. A child cannot falsify his child-ness, cannot fake his childishness, can’t pretend to be a child. Often a child pretends to be an old man, and what we do is laugh at him and he laughs back in response to our giggling. Stupid, yes, but the child knows. He knows he is not an old man. He knows, too, that he’s bad at faking. Often he finds out he’s not good at lying.
     In contrast, again, the hypocrite and the fake will—during a night at a wake or during the duration of a funeral parade—believe, while the wake or parade or funeral ceremony lasts, that he/she has loved the dead. And he/she wouldn’t want to believe—or wouldn’t want people to believe—that he/she hadn’t.

THE ANGER against Willie Revillame (while curiously forgiving ABS-CBN itself, as always) continues. This is understandable if we had loved Corazon Aquino or one of the causes she passionately represented us in. But, you see, this is also understandable behavior for those who merely want to exploit the anger and use Revillame’s image as a stand-in for their own momentary shame. [END]

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