Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pambansang tarantado

*a repost of my article in the Apr. 3 issue of Cordillera Today. 

Here’s someone with no real artistic talent whatsoever, but has that uncanny ability to position himself as someone who actually matter much in this part of the world. So while we can all say that the man is devoid of decency, we can’t really say that this Willie Revillame is totally untalented. True, he can’t really sing, but of course someone was willing to put in hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, to record those albums of his. They can't even speak clearly, you can’t really understand half the things he’s saying, yet corporate sponsors spend millions just so Willie can read their product blurbs live on tv while scantily-clad women gyrate in the background.

The way I see it, he actually runs what may be seen as the other legalized, or at least un-illegalized, form of gambling other than the state-run lotto. The system’s simple - while bettors don’t shell out money, they bet with their warm body and willingness to be ridiculed, humiliated and made a fool of on national tv. Now millions of warm bodies  - some at home watching, some squeezed in along with thousands of others jostling to be among the chosen few who will form the live studio audience – equals millions of pesos in pot money courtesy of advertisers who do not care much about anything else except warm bodies who will see and hear about their product. 

Now Willie gets to choose who gets to go home with a tiny fragment of that pot and he or she gets to bring home a sari-sari store showcase or a tricycle or some cash. The rest of the pot of course goes to Willie and his co-conspirators slash producers. 

The beauty of this system is that even those who do not intend to win can add to the pot by, well, providing even more warm bodies in the front of the television. All they need to do is watch, and that makes a bigger monster out of Willie, which makes his worth to advertisers get even bigger.

That’s what ABS-CBN saw when they gave Willie the opportunity, through the now defunct "Wowowee," to become the country’s national a**hole – millions watching meant millions in advertising revenues. Many have been clamoring to get Willie and his arrogance, stupidity, rudeness and impertinence off the air even then, but that clamor was drowned out by the sound of money pouring in which was so loud they didn’t really hear the sound of  the dying in that stampede not so long ago, so loud that it even attempted to drown out the sound of millions mourning the death of a beloved ex-President.

This is the same loud music Manny V. Pangilinan and his minions at TVC 5 are hearing now, hence "Wowowee's" resurrection in the form of "Willing Willie." That’s why it might not even matter much that Revillame might have just crossed the line from being merely mindless and crass to being a criminal. Janjan did not deserve to be treated that way – no human-being deserve to be treated that way. And that’s another sad thing about this fool’s lottery that is the variety show, Willing Willie – while you must 18 years old or older to be allowed to buy a lottery ticket, there’s no age limit as to how young one can be to gamble with Revillame. And that’s why Janjan was able to bet, and while he may have won some cash, he lost so much more than that – pride and dignity just some of them.

Willie will issue an apology. TVC 5 too. Maybe even Manny V. Pangilinan too. Maybe some sponsors will issue a statement. But Willy’s gonna stay. Wanna bet? 

This is one bet I hope to lose.