March 23, 2001
What's the big fuss over the film "Live Show"?
Recently, Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin met up with (just resigned) MTRCB Chair Nicanor Tiongson about the film. A few days later, Tiongson quits. The film is a supposed drama about the plight of toros, men and women who perform sex on stage to earn a living. There have been reviews about the film (reviews that I read in passing) and most of them applaud the concept.
However, if you've been in the Philippines the past 5 years or so, these kinds of films have always been criticized. The film industry has turned to showing cheap formula sex flicks in the past 5 years. Apparently, the Church is fed up.
Personally, I haven't watched the damned film. So, dear reader, I can't give you a critique of the film's merits, story, or what have you.
But, from the surrounding controversy plus the recent history of Philippine cinema, I can give you some of my opinions on the matter.
I really hate forming an opinion without possession of all the facts, or at least both sides of an issue.
However, I have to make an exception in this case.
A lot of opinions have already been formed at this point in time. Some have been made with complete possession of the facts, while others have been made with only the slightest idea of the issue.
In reality, several issues surround this one controversy. Should the Church interfere/participate in the MTRCB? (rough translation of Dapat bang makialam ang Simbahan sa MTRCB?) What are the limits to freedom of expression? What is pornographic, and what is artistic? Should we limit films to these definitions?
Pornography Let's start with pornography. The whole mess is an age-old issue, so there's nothing I can say that hasn't been already said. Unfortunately.
The standard definition relates how pornography exploits women. Pornography also refers to images and literature that are created to stimulate sexual desire.
Can we say such when we refer to Live Show?
I personally can't.
However, we can understand that the sexual acts performed in the movie work with the story. They do have a place in the film. You're portraying sex workers for crying out loud. The real question, of course, is whether the film can operate without these scenes. Maybe, maybe not.
Freedom of Expression When you talk about porn, you inevitably step on the toes of freedom. Is the freedom of expression limitless? What are the limits? Does pornography exceed those limits?
In all honesty, pornography does step on those limits. However, those limits are in place because of society. Society, in my opinion, demands that there be limits to the freedom of expression. Without those limits, society descends into chaos and anarchy.
But what are the limits? You really can't base those limits on a religion. In the global village that is the 21st century, you will inevitably offend other religions when you do so. On the other hand, the guardians of morality are the churches and the mosques of the world.
What can be done is to define a common morality that exists. You don't really need organized religion to tell you that killing another person is immoral.
Here is where the debate gets muddy. Artists have long tried to stretch the limits of expression. Manet first shocked the French when he exhibited Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe or Luncheon on the Grass, a work that was loosely based on Concert Champetre. So, whenever an artist does something and claims "freedom of expression," you end up debating whether it really is.
To be continued...
From a former MTRCB chair: "The movie portrays the poor people to be so, ah, so... bastos." Actually, you should listen to the original. Funny.
Personal Ever wonder why I only have a few personal details in my about page? Simply because I'm a very private person and I don't like the world knowing a lot about me. Scratch that, what the (bleep) am I doing this journal for? Actually, I prefer to keep to myself. If you know me offline, you already know what I mean. I actually keep another journal-- this one very private and personal.
I haven't been writing in my private journal in two months, though. No paper. My last journal's filled, so I have to buy another volume. Damn.