The interesting thing about democracy is that it introduces inconvenient transparency to societies that adopt it as a form of government. In a democracy, the truth comes out in many ways unexpected. In the Philippines which is in the midst of election campaign fever, many such uncomfortable truths are coming out. One of them is a disturbing one.
Filipinos find jokes about rape hilarious.
The latest outrage fad surrounding video footage of leading presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte seemingly cracking a rape joke may have worked for his rivals. However, the ultimate loser is the Filipino people. If one examines the now-infamous video, it is quite evident that the audience laughed loud and hard at the non-joke. The old adage that, in a democracy, politicians mirror the character of their constituents once again is brought to the fore.
It may be well worth the time for Filipinos to engage in a bit of inward reflection. Why do Filipinos find rape jokes funny? What sort of environment was the average Filipino raised in that ingrained this perverse taste for objectionable humour into their psyche?
The answer lies in the quality of mainstream Filipino entertainment. One of the most popular comedians in Philippine showbiz, Vice Ganda, is watched by millions of Filipinos — including children. This is made particularly disturbing by the fact that Vice Ganda himself is an avid cracker of rape jokes. Not just rape jokes but gang rape jokes.
Cue to 1:30 on the video clip below and you will find Vice Ganda suggesting that a proper gang rape may be forthcoming to multi-awarded veteran journalist Jessica Soho in the event she dabbled in sexy cinema.
Here’s a transcript of Vice Ganda’s quip on the matter translated from Tagalog to English:
It would really be quite difficult for Jessica Soho to go ‘bold’ (perform in a sexually explicit way) onscreen. It will always have to be a gang rape scene.
The audience response to the joke is tragically all-too-familiar in Philippine showbiz. Imagine an entire generation of Filipinos growing up on a media diet like this.
The Duterte ‘rape joke’ fiasco should be made a point of on-going national reflection. The flippant regard for rape Filipinos harbour is an unsavory aspect of their cultural character that begs careful evaluation. Duterte, after all, still wields a strong bid for the Philippine presidency — despite this recent scandal. Indeed, Rape Joke Man himself may be Philippine President soon.
While Vice Ganda rules as Media King, Duterte will rule as Philippine President. And, yes, that other world-renowned Filipino politician, boxing champ Manny Pacquiao, will be a Philippine senator. Pacquiao, we recall, is, himself, embroiled in a controversy surrounding his views about homosexuals which he made public in a television interview.
And, with that cast of characters, we behold: Philippine Society. Perhaps the reason that a who’s-who of social media madames spend their days nowadays clucking frantically about the outrage fad that is the Duterte ‘rape joke’ scandal is because every Filipino, at one time or another in their lives, laughed at a rape joke at least once.