‘The Truman Show,’ Cebu style-A A +A
Friday, January 4, 2013
THE year 1998 feels like a century ago. Come to think of it, it is. That was the year “The Truman Show” burst on the Hollywood scene, thrusting “reality shows” upon the world’s collective consciousness.
The movie starred top comedian Jim Carrey playing Truman Burbank, a character whose life was chronicled daily within a giant reality-TV set and beamed to millions of viewers who watched with great fascination. The comedic satire on people’s unbridled preoccupation with the day-to-day details of other people’s lives stirred lively debates on the concept of privacy, truth versus authenticity, and the role of media in our lives.
January 2013. The debates fostered by The Truman Show now seem so 20th century and so done. The world’s preoccupation with following other people’s daily lives is a foregone conclusion. Follow us on Twitter. Like us on Facebook. Leave a comment on YouTube. These are the 21st century’s daily mantras.
The number of reality show followers is going through the roof worldwide. In the United States, 3.5 million fans follow The Kardashians, including First Daughters Sasha and Malia, to the great dismay of First Dad President Barack Obama. Shows like “Survivor” and “The Biggest Loser” gain more weight with each passing season. The Philippines is not far behind. “Pinoy Big Brother”, “Pilipinas Got Talent” and “Star Academy” are a few of the favorites.
But, without a doubt, the runaway “reality blockbusters” in the Philippines are its never-ending political shows.
Day in-day out, year in-year out, we follow our own homegrown reality shows, to wit, “The GMA Chronicles,” “Who Will Be the Next Chief Justice?” and “Jueteng to Exhale.”
The problem with reality shows is that we all know it is “constructed reality.”
Otherwise, how could those “Survivor” aspirants remain so sanitized given the supposedly appalling circumstances they live in? And why, oh why, does Kim Kardashian always wake up with absolutely no dark circles under her eyes after partying all night with Kanye West?
In “The Truman Show,” there is a Master Manipulator behind the scenes and a secondary cast of antagonists constantly plotting ways and means to thwart and impugn the principal character.
In Cebu’s ongoing reality show, “Stand-Off at the Cebu Capitol,” a Master Manipulator turns out a script for a “constructed” reality show suspending a duly elected governor based on accusations of …was it illegal gambling? No. Graft and corruption? No. Crime? No. Murder? No. What then? Usurpation of authority.
“What’s that? And to what end?” stunned viewers ask.
“Because the Executive Producer in Manila has deemed it the perfect time to do so and since the law makes a provision allowing the Executive Producer to do it,” a Publicist intones.
Philippine Daily Inquirer Columnist Armando Doronilla aptly dubs the Liberal Party’s quicksilver moves to suspend Gov. Gwen Garcia as “rule by law” as opposed to democracy’s hallowed tenets of “rule of law.” To my simple mind, it just looks like a perfect “palusot” to use resources at the Cebu Capitol in time for elections. “Palusot?” Wait…haven’t we heard that line in another political reality show before?
The Court of Appeals will take center stage in “Stand-Off at the Cebu Capitol” come Jan. 10, giving reality fans another week of non-stop thrills. What goes on behind the feverish search through voluminous Capitol documents? Will firing the Provincial Treasurer ease the process of constructing evidence more injurious than usurpation of authority? Will they turn off water and electricity at the Capitol, as threatened? Will the SWAT team finally make its move in the cover of Capitol’s darkness?
No wonder “Stand-Off at the Cebu Capitol” has gone viral, catapulting it into the national stratosphere of reality shows.
On the other hand, this week should give all Filipinos a chance to check the motives and sincerity of the Executive Producer of our homegrown political reality shows. This week should give all Cebuanos a chance to question the authenticity of those who seek to suspend Governor Garcia for six months running into the campaign period.
How will this all end? In a reality show, anything is possible.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 05, 2013.