Friday, June 28, 2013

LOVERS AND OTHER STRANGERS

It was bound to happen sooner or later.  Not that we are really surprised.  As a matter of fact, we were counting the seconds --- like the ticking of a time bomb. Or just like when you light a whistle bomb and you hang around nearby waiting for that familiar loud sound right before the big bang.  

But in this case, well, there was no big bang at all.

Just a lot of saber-rattling and moralizing from the same folks that gave you the anti-RH filibustering.  As a matter of fact, we realized that it had already reached the level of the highly predictable.  When something turns out to be guaranteed, then the whole protest against a television show about a married gay man, his wife and his lover just turned out just to be that ... predictable.

What did we expect?  This is after all the holy of everything holy. This is the cradle of conservative Catholicism. Of course they will get mad because they are expected to do and they do not disappoint.  Of course they will accuse the network and its creative people of polluting the minds of the television audiences.  A show like this shamelessly propagates immorality because the Catholics believe that it is a perversion, a manipulation of the demons ... to even think that a man can love another man ... or (Susmaryosnes garapones!) have sex with the same gender.

Not in their Universe. Not in their mindset. A show like My Husband's Lover is dangerous because it packages itself as something real by defying stereotypes, daring to explore a plot line that has been considered taboo for television ... and worse, depicting homosexuals as normal people.

Normal people?  Yes, in the sense that the gay men in this series do not sashay, do not speak bekimon and act/look/talk like everyday men. Correction: extraordinarily good looking well-dressed men (maybe the baby pink clothes are a bit of a giveaway but then go look at Style.Com and you realize that it isn't exactly a mortal sin) who do not have the slightest hint of being effeminate.

That's pretty dangerous, huh?  The fact that certified heterosexual actors like Dennis Trillo, Tom Rodriguez and Victor Basa are the points of a controversial triangle should indeed send shivers up the spines of the moral guardians who would exclaim: "That is not possible! Mga lalake sila! Hindi sila puwedeng maging mga bading!" 

What will the kids think? That these guys are role models for good looks and alternative lifestyles?

The images being sent by this telenovela has become a deliberate deviation from the stereotype badings who have spiced up the idiot box through generations of screaming, squeaking, prancing and even playing the role of the buffoon or the village idiot.  These are not the parloristas with agua oxigenada dyed hair, fake or manipulated mammary glands to impersonate women or who walk around any possible nook and cranny of the city sporting scandalously short shorts, tube tops and barrettes on their hair.

The gays in My Husband's Lover are not even comedians!  They are human, goddamn it! They have real honest-to-goodness feelings.  They cavort with one another ... not to indulge in that usual rowdy act of cheap flirtation but because they are ... in love?!  

So are we still surprised that the Bastion of the Morally Upright would not be offended, appalled not to mention shell-shocked and mollified by this? Prime time television! We are talking prime time television!

But wait: there is more to this than this boring predictability of it all.

The unquestioned Numero Uno entertainer in our country who holds the record for the biggest box office hit in the history of Philippine movies is an overt homosexual who makes no qualms --- and certainly does not hold back on the fact that he is active and practicing in his chosen alternative lifestyle.  As a matter of fact, his association with various men often make it to the newsworthy in the field of entertainment journalism.

Not only does he reign in the box office, he also filled Araneta Coliseum and has a high rating daily noontime and late Sunday evening shows.

It was only a couple of weeks ago when this entertainer found himself in the eye of a storm because of his alleged recklessness in exercising his brand of acerbic humor on a most respected broadcast journalist.  Indeed, if we are to believe the comments and observations of a great number, Numero Uno crossed the line of good taste --- while performing with a blonde wig, fake exaggerated boobs and a skimpy shiny outfit in front a throng of thousands for his audience ... and even more on his Pay-Per-View telecast.

There was an outcry about his sense of propriety --- but, hey, not a pip from the moral guardians, right?

That was because Numero Uno was not a threat while wearing his outlandish costumes.  He may have said a mouthful of hurtful things but he was being a clown.  And jesters are never taken seriously. They are not within the moral radar.

Even if the performer was a certified and self-confessed homosexual, he was seemingly exempted from holy castigation because he was "entertaining."  

So what has that go to do with this whole brouhaha about My Lovers Husband? 

A helluva lot. 

Because it only confirms that gay characters are tolerated (not necessarily accepted) as long as they do not exhibit the behavior of any other normal human being  --- which is caring and loving and having sincere relationships with one another.

The "moral standard" demands that gay characters are laughed at, make fools of themselves, present their personas as larger than life dedicated to the amusement of others --- but never introspective, then they are passable.  They are tolerable.

But make them hurt ... worse, make them love, then they become threatening. Then they are perceived as that lethal virus that transforms everyone queer upon contact like that kind shown in World War Z.  

Make them true ... then the moral guardians will feel threatened. And appalled. 

But what is even saddest about all this is not the ridiculousness of it all ... or the endless moralizing or grandstanding ... but the alienation from truth that emerges when institutions build walls to protect themselves from the rest of the world in order to create their own version of virtual reality.

That, unfortunately, is the much greater danger because it is intolerance and prejudice re-branded as the vessel of the greater good.





7 comments:

  1. Nice article! Well many people naman are seeing that the show isn't as bad as it is supposed to be (?). Anyhow I continue to watch it, our family watches it. We feel that it's unfair for us to force people who don't want to watch it to watch it, and we feel it's unfair that people who don't want to watch it are stepping on the autonomy of consenting adults.

    How about the kids? Well I'll be damned. WHY ALLOW THE KIDS TO STAY UP THAT LATE? They have frigging homework and school tomorrow. If the parent is allowing the child to watch this, then the parent is culpable if the child "adapts it".

    Respect for people is taught best by the parent, not a TV show. That is why I don't understand this. We grew up watching Tom & Jerry but we never became violent ourselves.

    Again, TV soaps are for entertainment, first and foremost. Though I do believe we have to focus on education more than entertainment on TV, I am not saying it is the ONLY tool for that.

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  2. very good article, direk joey. and what you said is true. in the philippines, homosexuals are tolerated but never accepted. a sad fact when they are part of our society.

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  3. Thumbs up! We just have to respect each other whether one's life preference differs from us.

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  4. galing. ang galing. i love watching MHL because it gives me a perspective of the conflicts and the struggles of decent and closeted gay men. and most of all, i don't know why, but the love and affection between the two main characters, eric and vincent, make me giddy! i react to lally's suspicions. grin at roi vinzon's homophobic retorts. they are effective actors. and the story - it's been in our faces but we either couldn't care any less or just refuse to acknowledge because we've been fed with the notoriety that gays are shown on tv. i have a friend who i love dearly- she's my most precious friend, my mentor. very level-headed, very honest. we don't see each other everyday but when we get in touch, we always pick up where we left off. my husband loves and respects her, too. and her sexual orientation never bothered me. she may be a lesbian but she's my friend first and foremost.

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  5. Very well said Mr. Joey ... I absolutely agree with you.

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