The 2007 Wowowee controversy (click here for my comments on the 2006 Wowowee controvery) is quite a hot topic in the blogosphere and I won’t weigh in much more on the conspiracies. Did he cheat or not? Other people can answer that question better than I can, and thus I’d leave it to those with the talent or the time.
2. Willie Revillame responds to cheating allegations hurled at him by Joey de Leon. He cries on national TV, claiming that the issue was taken personally against him.
3. August 30, Joey de Leon fires back telling him to explain before he complains. This video explains the entire issue and provides some great commentary from Mr. De Leon. Towards the end, Mr. Revillame offers his rebuttal, saying that he needs no investigation since he has the people behind him.
I have suspended all judgments in my quick account above, and it wasn’t easy (especially with #2). However, now I comment on what I find the most glaring remark of all — that Mr. Revillame believes that he doesn’t have to explain anything to anyone since he has the people behind him.
Which people, Mr. Revillame?
Last year, I wrote that it is utterly dangerous when we leave poverty alleviation in the hands of charlatans. We gambled with people’s lives. This year, I’d like to conjure another image. Are you all familiar with the Pied Piper of Hamelin?
He was asked by the town to get rid of all their rats which he then lured into a river through the power of his tune. When the town failed to pay him, he took their children instead and they were never seen again.
There are many theories about this story. One of my favorites is that the Pied Piper was actually a cult leader who recruited youth to fight for his cause — whatever that was. Regardless, the story always ended the same.
The people never saw their children again.
What worries me is that this latest round of controversies, amplified by the exchange between Revillame of ABS-CBN and De Leon of GMA only reinforce the cult-like behavior of these noontime shows.
Actually, this latest round even gave them a religious character: they both have their doctrines (magsasaya at yayaman tayo!), their rituals (in the form of games), norms (money, money, money) and a community of believers (just watch the videos and observe how loyal their Revillame’s and De Leon’s audiences are). And I suppose, it doesn’t take much to imagine how these hosts are seen as Messiahs as well.
The tragedy is that the state of our society is reflected in our entertainment. What networks and stations broadcast reflect our values and vices. Whether or not the incident was actual cheating or merely a technical glitch is a small issue for me. The persistence of these shows with its emphasis on false hopes and manipulations of will is the real dilemma we are meant to solve.
While we can’t deprive the people of hope and entertainment, I am in constant disbelief that the media — with all its power, breadth and influence — can’t go beyond this mode of thinking. But of course, money talks. The real tragedy is that in an era badly in need of nation-building, we have a media landlocked in station-building.