Like a Chief Priest running his temple (complete with the virgins used for sacrifice), Willie Revillame leads the devotees to crazed chanting and singing. He promises Prosperity, Unification of the Lost, and Salvation. The masses thank him profusely for his promises that he has not even fulfilled yet. Then one of his assistants come out with the artifact necessary for the next rite: A humongous set of different colored rods, for what is to be the most epic game of Pick-Up-Sticks to be ever played.
Five channels down (it actually depends which cable you have), is another temple for dreams on Saturdays. But no Chief Priest is minding this temple. It’s the warrior-king from the South, whose fists have sent other countries’ champions kissing canvasses, or to turn their back away from something they’ve done all their life. Or more to the point, it is the singing, dancing, hosting, warrior-king who is also a Representative of Congress doing the riling and rabble-rousing. Manny Pacquiao’s name is called as he comes out of a makeshift dugout, but he has not come to pummel a foe for his country’s pride. His fists tonight are going to dish out cash in flurries.
I almost liked the idea of Pacquiao doing a mano-a-mano with Willie Revillame on weekend primetime. At first sight, I felt like a Greek sissy who has finally found the Spartan who will champion our country’s cause and make the big bad bully fall. If anyone could beat this asshole Willie, it would be the Pacman. Watching him sing, dance and joke around also endeared me to him. He is definitely ten times more sincere than Revillame, and despite both of them having difficulties with languages, I can make out what Manny says a u lot more… You know?
Then the humongous pick-up-stick of the universe hit my head. What was I thinking? These two are the same. They perpetrate the same crime, and with their combined weight, they will drag the millstone hung around our country’s neck more quickly to hell. My joy at Manny stopping Willie (or at least slowing him down) was cut off by the reminder that Manny will just replace him. Together, they just spread the virus of hit-me-with-a-thousand-bucks-NOW across our culture, more rapidly than rabies.
Sure, the country likes Game Shows. Hell, we could probably have a game show for every island we have in our archipelago. And there is nothing wrong with that IN ITS PUREST FORM. There is nothing wrong with spreading joy, receiving it, and taking part in it. But there is everything wrong when the make-me-a-millionaire-at-this-moment mentality seizes the very veins in which our country’s lifeblood flows.
There is everything wrong with people trusting game shows more than their government. There is everything wrong with people trusting chance more than their own know-how. There is everything wrong with people not anymore being able to tell if it is the devil himself handing out the cash – and thanking him, kissing him, and adoring him. There is everything wrong with corporations and networks wringing sob stories for all they’re worth, and selling the tears to anyone who would pay with thirty seconds of more trash. There is everything wrong with people not being able to stand working at anything long enough anymore. There is everything wrong when we fling all our prayers onto gigantic pick-up-sticks.
Our game shows reflect the sick state we’re in, this sadistic spiral we’re all trying to swim out of of. It is shown not least in the way we treat others or our society at large. We expect results to come as quickly as they do on TV. If the government does not produce results as quickly as Revillame, then it’s not working – so our game show mentality tells us. If my job does not give me the raise I want in the time I want it, then I might have a better chance of getting it through Eat Bulaga. Or, we’re friends, as long as we don’t have to both fight for the 100,000 pesos in the jackpot round.