Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Filipino Christian Blog: "Face to Face" With Pinoy Reality TV

I don't need to watch TV5's Face to Face everyday to find out what it's all about. It is obviously the Filipino version of The Jerry Springer Show. Amy Perez is the host or referee of the popular daily talk show also referred to as the only "talakserye" on Philippine television. As expected, everything that made The Jerry Springer Show a US hit is also on its Pinoy counterpart: guests vents their ire on each other, punching, hair-pulling and throwing bleeped invectives, slippers and sometime chairs at each other- a "palengkerafest" (minus Annabelle Rama) or a Barangay hall on TV (see embedded video below- WARNING: there is foul language in the video).

It features real life drama of real Filipinos (mostly from poor communities) who put the most intimate or most vulnerable details of their lives in front of the TV. Face to Face purport to show real people and real-life drama as they really are. But I wonder how much of their real lives have been edited or sensationalized to fit the show's guidelines to attract more audience.

Why does Face to Face click? Showbiz columnist Ricky Lo has a simple answer: Because it has a cathartic/therapeutic effect on us, what with the protagonists doing exactly what we want to but cannot do because we feel that we belong to a “more polite” (even if “more suppressed”) society. Face to Face serves as an outlet for our own pent-up emotions.

I think the reason goes deeper than Lo's analysis. Part of the appeal of Face to Face, Jerry Springer and other voyeuristic reality TV show is that viewers are given some sense of superiority over those featured on these shows. We somehow relish to see "car wrecks" on TV and see ourselves as a bit better or the ones who "get it" than the characters that unfolds on these shows. We easily pass judgments and even unintentionally limit our willingness to be more empathetic and compassionate to these people, which is a sad reality.

To be fair, Face to Face features a "Trio Tagapayo" team who give expers advice and even sits down one-on-one with guests to resolve their conflicts through legal, psychological and spiritual counsel. In almost every episode I saw online, the show concludes with the three professional counsel guiding the guests make on-air reconciliation and forgiveness with each other. That alone sets Face to Face apart from Jerry Springer and other trashy reality talk shows.

There are many reasons Face to Face is popular on TV. I expect similar shows will be developed in the Philippines to copy its success and more outrageous drama and "pushing the envelop" situations to attract more viewers. In doing so, we (myself included) need to be careful about watching them and not allow them to trivialize our view of other people's lives and not harden our own spirit. The real story that everyone should come face to face with is, the real people we see on Face to Face are no less than us and are the same people Christ came to save.

What do you think of these shows?

(Adapted from Boundless)

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