At first I thought it was just a coincidence that every time I write entries for this blog, usually between 10 in the evening to midnight, I would catch my youngest sister comfortably propping herself in front of the television watching Pinoy Big Brother, an ABS-CBN franchise of a Dutch original program concept of placing good-looking people inside a house where every sneeze and scratch they do is captured by cameras positioned in every nook and cranny. Until it occurred to me that this scene would be a regular fixture of our evenings—me writing while my sister makes witty commentaries about the senseless program she obviously enjoys.
Programs such as PBB and other ‘reality’ shows and talent searches, when they were initially introduced in Philippine TV, provided a kind of novelty that Filipinos snapped without question. When media executives found out that singing competitions that showcase not just the singing talent of contestants but also their private and intimate lives raise ratings to astronomical level, they started flooding all afternoon slot before primetime with singing contests of this format. When it proved easier and more financially rewarding to search for new stars through a reality show than the usual process that a hopeful has to go through if only to have his share of the limelight through painful trial-and-error, both ABS-CBN and GMA each allotted an hour of its primetime for Star Circle Quest and Starstruck, respectively.
And just recently, in their aim to make programs even more ‘democratized’ as far as the people seen in these shows are concerned, both stations lowered the bar even further to accommodate the not-so-good-looking and not-so-talented members of the hoi polloi and the used-to-be invisible proletariat all in the name of fun and all derivative definition of the word ‘entertainment’.
So now we see common people swallowing glowing and smoldering embers, a man walking on a thin wire while carrying a water buffalo on his head, or a woman dancing to a Lady Gaga tune while evading speeding arrows from her husband’s bow, all these done in front of judges who are shocked dead, or are simply feigning this natural human response of being shocked to heighten more the already glaring out-of-this-world nature of these stunts.
We also see an entire barrio doing some stupid, but definitely funny, things on themselves to impress judges who are more interested in saying nasty things or declaring words of praise for talent when it is absent.
And so the common man contents himself with watching these programs, unable to complain against the shit he is seeing on TV. Without much choice, he continues viewing these programs, unaware that his subconscious has already been enveloped by the stink of the shit he sees on a daily basis. Until one day, he found himself dreaming of one day also leaving his den, or if he is a little bit ambitions, conquering even for a day the spotlight in this very ephemeral industry we call show business.