WHETHER he deserved it or not, Vice Ganda has been called all sorts of names lately in the aftermath of one the biggest pop controversies that gripped this barrio called the Philippines in months.
In my book, Vice can be summed up as phenomenal (my apologies to Superstar Nora Aunor’s fans), but not necessarily in a good way. Not after his brand of comedy zeroed in on veteran broadcast journalist Jessica Soho’s weight and the need for her to be “gang raped” to look convincing should she make the big switch from news to the movies.
Almost a week after “The Ugly Mind of Manila’s Vice Ganda” came out in this blog, the entry continues to generate hits and comments mostly against what he did. In an age when the normal cycle of a newsworthy event doesn’t last beyond 24 hours, this development as far as this humble blogger is concerned is one for the books.
Since I’ve uploaded the piece on the evening of May 29th, the bulk of hits came the next day. In less than 24 hours, my stats have hit an all time high of more than 4,000 views. Perez Hilton may deem that number peanuts, but it was a first for me, which not even my earlier “hit” entries on Ricky Lo, Anne Hathaway and Lea Salonga could match.
The Vice entry was also a first of sorts in the number of comments it generated—both from my friends on Facebook and in this blog’s comments section. The best part is the bulk of the reactions that made it to the blog came from first-timers and people I don’t know. (Please read comments related to the entry, including my responses to some of them. The one sent by Mayo, my regular reader and virtual friend, is very incisive. She was able to dissect Vice’s seeming disdain in his use of revealing Filipino qualifiers in his so-called apology.)
In other words, these people are total strangers who were able to connect with what I wrote. If you ask me, there’s nothing sweeter for a writer than to connect with a reader devoid of any agenda.
Living for that connection
It’s not that I don’t value my friends’ feedback (God
knows I do), but there’s something more exciting about strangers who have chosen to go out of their way to express their appreciation for what you wrote without expecting anything in return. Writers live, no matter how fleeting, for that connection.
But the stats couldn’t have gone this far without my real and virtual friends’ effort to repost or retweet the entry, which I suppose was able to connect with them, too. It really does pay to have intelligent and empathetic friends. Thank you very much.
And to underscore the universality of the issue, and how repulsive it is even to foreigners who are probably clueless about what makes the Pinoy laugh, Ewa, my Polish friend from Krakow, weighed in with a short but scathing critique of Vice’s comedy act. By the way, she doesn’t speak Filipino nor does she know who Vice is.
Either what Vice did was universally foul, or I’m now getting really good at what I’m doing. 🙂 Don’t bother to wake me up, as illusions of my “world-class writing prowess” have taken over my head. If I’m good enough for Ewa, I’m probably good enough for the rest of the world. 😀
If there are a few things I’ve learned from this
episode, allow me to enumerate them:
1.People, especially women, know how painful and humiliating it is to be made fun of because of your weight. It’s a serious as well as a personal issue that has caused not a few women to waste away, commit suicide or die.
2. But cruel taunts regarding a person’s weight is nothing compared to the mindless use of rape just to gain some laughs. Vice has clearly crossed the line.
3. Up to now, critics are still divided if Vice, a gay comedian who made a name for himself dishing out what he does in comedy clubs, should be chastised of left alone for making fun of Jessica’s weight. What really did him in was that portion on rape. Rape in whatever form, whether “hypothetical” or said for effect, has no place in a comedian’s bag of tricks. Like the Holocaust and our very own Death March and wartime Comfort Women, rape is a serious matter that ought to be taken seriously.
4. Eliciting laughs by making fun of another person’s appearance and idiosyncrasies is probably the lowest form of comedy. What Vice did can’t even be called a satire because there’s nothing to satirize about Soho to begin with. He was just plain mean!
5. Unlike, say, Meryl Streep or Vilma Santos, Vice isn’t just breathing life to a role and mouthing lines written for him by a scriptwriter. As such, actors can’t be taken to task for saying something on screen or on stage because that’s what their characters demand them to say. They can be criticized for failing to give justice to the role, but that’s another story. That doesn’t apply to Vice, who, if I’m not mistaken, is also in charge of his own material. A stand-up comic, whether he likes it or not, carries an extension of himself the minute he steps on stage and opens his mouth.
6.The first person who should know how painful or even difficult it is to be different, ironically enough, ought to be Vice himself. Growing up gay, he most likely received his fair share of taunts from people with nothing better to do than to embarrass him because he was “different.” No matter how brave he was or accepting his parents were, there must have been some point in his life when Vice felt the pain and loneliness of being gay. Sadly, the lessons seemed to have been totally lost on him as he makes short shrift of others who veer away from society’s norms.
7. Vice, like almost all effective comedians, may be a master when it comes to delivery and timing. He’s also well loved by his fans for his ability to make fun of himself. What he obviously lacks is empathy for the feelings of others and the humility to say sorry without ifs and buts. Therein lies the real tragedy.