Maybe it was all done in the spirit of fun and laughter and lightheartedness.
Maybe it was all deliberately done without any malicious intent of demeaning and defaming anybody’s name.
Maybe. Just maybe.
But I cannot fool myself and blindly see this just as another quip from Vice Ganda that will go unnoticed.
We have much to learn, the Filipino entertainment audience and Vice Ganda, from this most recent experience.
Last May 17, in one of the segments in his concert, Vice Ganda, a gay host-actor-comedian, joked about Jessica Soho, a renowned Filipina journalist (among others, I presume), her weight, and the would-be plotline of a bold (titillating) film if she becomes an actor in one.
In the video being used by media agencies like TV 5 and Rappler Entertainment, Vice Ganda made use of Soho’s weight as the core of the two jokes made about the latter. The first joke told of Soho stepping on a weighing scale with voice command which would, every time she steps in, utter “One at a time, one at a time….” Meanwhile, the other joke told of Soho’s titillating film should she become a star in one. The film, according to Vice Ganda, will require gang rape scenes where the perpetrators of the crime will be lashing out “Ipasa ang lechon” (Pass the pork) to which Soho, the victim, will reply “Nasaan yung apple?” (Where’s the apple?).
Yes, let us take a while to take in the joke and feel whatever it is that you need to feel. Anger. Disinterest. Apathy. Nonchalance. Happiness. Amusement. But whatever it is that you felt after reading the joke and seeing how it was delivered, we must pause and think about the kind and quality of entertainment that we Filipinos support and go gaga over.
Why have we allowed someone to perform and deliver jokes that are tasteless and purely mean? And don’t throw the he-jokes-about-himself-too card to justify the means with which he tries to amuse his audiences by ridiculing and deriding others.
It is true that we are a nation of happy people because we make fun of our own problems by taking them lightheartedly and we laugh about the simplest and silliest things.
But the jokes were definitely not meant to take any problem lightheartedly. No, not the weight joke and definitely nor the gang rape one. Because they were not jokes in the true sense of the word. They were taunts, as with the many others he delivered in the past.
Jokes are delivered to amuse and to lighten up an otherwise serious and grave issue. And with how Vice Ganda treated the issues of weight problems and rape, it can truly be said that what just happened was not an amusing act but rather a tasteless joke and a sardonic jab to those who are struggling with weight loss and those who have been raped.
Sadly, it was not entirely his fault that this has gone to this extent of tastelessness. The reality is we have allowed him to do so by laughing at remarks that we know really hurt out of fear of being called pikon. There is no direct translation to that but it just means, in this context, that you are taking too seriously a remark that is supposed to be light.
We have let this happen because we fear that if we say we are hurt (if we are the subject of the joke) or that the joke is hurtful, we will be marked as killjoys. We have let this happen because if we make someone else the laughingstock, we will spare ourselves from being one.
But we need to start thinking of what this says about our lives right now. Look at where silence and this form of nonchalance have brought all of us.
We need to wake ourselves up and realize that it does not mean that when we make fun of and laugh about various problems and issues we are making them easier to accept. Sometimes, if not often, they are making deeper marks in our subconscious that will later on be manifested in another sardonic and taunting remark about another person. Until it becomes a vicious cycle of taunts and sardonic comments about one another. Until it becomes a means to divide this nation. Until the sarcasm ruins relationships and ends meaningful conversations.