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Has Willie Revillame sparked a "class war"?

Since the Willing Willie debacle started on March 12, the day a six-year-old boy named Jan-Jan did a “macho dance” in front of millions of viewers across the Philippine airwaves, much has been said and done about the incident and the show’s host, Willie Revillame–who is certainly no stranger to controversy.

Filipinos on Twitter expressed their indignation and called the episode an incidence of  “child abuse.” A few days later, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) weighed in on the issue. Although the show has issued a statement of apology, that wasn’t enough for many Filipinos. Giant advertisers, such as Mang Inasal, Jollibee, and Procter & Gamble pulled out of advertising on the show, and, eventually, Willing Willie was taken off the air for at least two weeks.

It sounds like a simple case of cause-and-effect, but when one reads tweets and Facebook messages posted all over cyberspace about the issue, one is led to wonder: Did Willie Revillame spark a class war?

For those who were aghast at Jan-jan’s dancing on TV, the incident showed the desperation of the masses–who were willing to do anything and subject their children to even the most demeaning and humiliating of situations in order to win some extra cash. For those who defended Willie, “he was just trying to help people.”

Obviously, Willie and his handlers have done a very good job of turning this entire issue into one of class, status, and survival, diverting attention away from the delicate issue of child abuse and the impropriety of what has been transpiring on Willie’s stage through the years.

 

Obviously, the word “help” has many definitions–and pundits, celebrities, and ordinary Filipinos alike have wondered how “help” should be defined in this instance, and where to draw the lines. Milwida “Nene” Guevara, a noted civic leader and former Finance Undersecretary, borrowed Randy David’s definition on her Facebook status this morning when she posted:

“Randy David defines how it is to help:”It must focus on enhancing capacities of people or helping them help themselves rather than merely attending to their short-term needs.” Willie’s charity makes people donor dependent and does not develop their self-worth.”

Celebrities and politicians have also weighed in on the issue, using Twitter as their platform against the Almighty Willie.

However, rabid Willie devotees aren’t the type to take this sitting down as well. Many of them have lashed back at the rest of society, claiming that those who were against Willie have not done enough to help the poor. Some Twitter accounts seem to have been created solely for the purpose of trolling anti-Willie netizens, pointing out, again, that whatever these personalities’ high-profile accomplishments (and luxuries) were, they were not enough to feed the poor.

Obviously, Willie and his handlers have done a very good job of turning this entire issue into one of class, status, and survival, diverting attention away from the delicate issue of child abuse and the impropriety of what has been transpiring on Willie’s stage through the years.

So, now that one issue is unfolding into another, and the so-called “masses” have been turned against the so-called “elite”, where do we find ourselves? And what do we finally do to address the real issues of poverty and desperation that have made Willie and his dole-out antics a nationwide hit in the first place?

 

Has Willie Revillame sparked a “class war”?

Since the Willing Willie debacle started on March 12, the day a six-year-old boy named Jan-Jan did a “macho dance” in front of millions of viewers across the Philippine airwaves, much has been said and done about the incident and the show’s host, Willie Revillame–who is certainly no stranger to controversy.

Filipinos on Twitter expressed their indignation and called the episode an incidence of  “child abuse.” A few days later, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) weighed in on the issue. Although the show has issued a statement of apology, that wasn’t enough for many Filipinos. Giant advertisers, such as Mang Inasal, Jollibee, and Procter & Gamble pulled out of advertising on the show, and, eventually, Willing Willie was taken off the air for at least two weeks.

It sounds like a simple case of cause-and-effect, but when one reads tweets and Facebook messages posted all over cyberspace about the issue, one is led to wonder: Did Willie Revillame spark a class war?

For those who were aghast at Jan-jan’s dancing on TV, the incident showed the desperation of the masses–who were willing to do anything and subject their children to even the most demeaning and humiliating of situations in order to win some extra cash. For those who defended Willie, “he was just trying to help people.”

Obviously, Willie and his handlers have done a very good job of turning this entire issue into one of class, status, and survival, diverting attention away from the delicate issue of child abuse and the impropriety of what has been transpiring on Willie’s stage through the years.

 

Obviously, the word “help” has many definitions–and pundits, celebrities, and ordinary Filipinos alike have wondered how “help” should be defined in this instance, and where to draw the lines. Milwida “Nene” Guevara, a noted civic leader and former Finance Undersecretary, borrowed Randy David’s definition on her Facebook status this morning when she posted:

“Randy David defines how it is to help:”It must focus on enhancing capacities of people or helping them help themselves rather than merely attending to their short-term needs.” Willie’s charity makes people donor dependent and does not develop their self-worth.”

Celebrities and politicians have also weighed in on the issue, using Twitter as their platform against the Almighty Willie.

However, rabid Willie devotees aren’t the type to take this sitting down as well. Many of them have lashed back at the rest of society, claiming that those who were against Willie have not done enough to help the poor. Some Twitter accounts seem to have been created solely for the purpose of trolling anti-Willie netizens, pointing out, again, that whatever these personalities’ high-profile accomplishments (and luxuries) were, they were not enough to feed the poor.

Obviously, Willie and his handlers have done a very good job of turning this entire issue into one of class, status, and survival, diverting attention away from the delicate issue of child abuse and the impropriety of what has been transpiring on Willie’s stage through the years.

So, now that one issue is unfolding into another, and the so-called “masses” have been turned against the so-called “elite”, where do we find ourselves? And what do we finally do to address the real issues of poverty and desperation that have made Willie and his dole-out antics a nationwide hit in the first place?

 

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