Variety shows have been part of our lunch time since the boob tube became a popular way of spending pastime here in the Philippines. It’s multi-million dollar entertainment industry that has become popular to both the poor masses and rich advertisers. It has built up the careers of many stars in the limelight today and remains one of the foundations of income for the major television networks.
But more than these, imagine what one or two hours of your daily variety show can do to someone’s values? You might think its simply entertainment, but that sort of statement would likely come from the more discriminating mind. For the common person, whose mindset has been filled with a gooey mess of oil price hikes, corruption scandals, low salaries and family crisis, it could do a lot – big time in fact!
Take the case of Janjan, the kid who’s making headlines this week after he appeared teary-eyed in Willing Willie while give his best macho dancing stunt on national TV to the coaxing of his parents and the show’s charismatic host. To the discriminating mind, what Willie Revillame did was outright child abuse. No wonder why the flak of bad press came from no other than the experts, scholars and the educated masses. But to people like Janjan’s parents, the immediate response was in support of the embattled show and its host. People, whose only hope for little boost in livelihood is variety shows, will definitely become instant apologetics of the industry. And that is a result of daily values formation from shows like Willing Willie, Eat Bulaga and the likes.
Imagine what variety shows are teaching us. If you see scantily-clad women dancing vigorously and provocatively on live television, what does this teach to our not so discriminating minds? Precisely. That its okay for women to show off their bodies on public in a malicious and temptuous manner. That’s its okay for women to make a living out of exposing their bodies. And if children are being asked to dance the same way, with a promise of a sumptuous reward after, what does it teach to their not so discriminating minds? That its okay at a young age to dance provocatively and earn a living from it. That kid could possibly think of becoming a macho dancer at age 18 and forgo plans of taking vocational courses and become a productive welder or sales manager. That kid could end up becoming a pimp at age 38, forcing other male teens to do the same as he did.
Imagine what variety shows justify in our already damaged values system. That it is okay to have plenty of children since they can always work for us and I don’t have to worry about getting a job at 40, that its okay to exploit women and children, and that its okay to queue in variety shows everyday instead of loaning funds for a small, profitable business or to apply for job.
Variety shows justifies beggar mentality and human rights abuse.
But don’t get me wrong. Variety shows weren’t supposed to be this way. They are supposed to help people help themselves, not help people exploit themselves and others. In the end, it was just a matter of a wrong values system both for the parents of Janjan and Willie Revillame. The show’s suspension and possible cancellation does not change the system. Variety shows will still be in question, and will still affect our values, just as everything we see on TV. The challenge now lies with the producers of these variety shows: what kind of values would you like to impart to your viewers? You cannot simply show anything you want and leave to your viewers the task of extracting whatever values they can get from behind the “parental guidance” label. Remember that majority of your viewers do not a have a very discriminating mind and do not always receive parental guidance. The bulk of responsibility in censoring and screening your content lies greatly in your hands.
Despite its glitz and glamour, the variety show industry could use some substance. I’ll be hoping for a positive response as the Janjan issue rests its case.