Gut Feel

To the purveyors of celebrity scandals

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My column last April 21, titled “Writing for my target audience,” dealt with the relevance of content, with the interest of my defined audience, psychographics and all.

My subject matter drew an e-mail response from a lady in Cebu, Ms Hortensia Villa.

The lady takes issue (and umbrage) at mainstream media for making lurid celebrity scandals regular fodder for their consumers. TV talk shows on movie stars are notorious purveyors of celebrity scandals.

Boy Abunda’s voyeuristic detailing of the Barretto vs Barretto feud is a case in point.

Years back, Kris Aquino bared for the public, through TV muckraking, her scandalous relationship with movie actor Joey Marquez. The details were replete with unmentionables, such as violent gun-poking and sexually transmitted diseases. I nearly threw up.

Filth as a product is counter-productive to sales. SM theaters recently found this out by accident. Their management discovered that after they showed sex-driven X-rated films, their theaters became infested with herds of cockroaches and insects crawling all over the place.

They discovered that filthy movies make male viewers masturbate inside the theater, dirtying up the place with semen. SM theaters stopped showing sex movies, and immediately the patronage went up.

We in media cannot ignore Ms Villa’s complaint. She must be regarded by media managers as a customer, one of the thousands of like-minded customers that keep media business viable and profitable. She deserves media products and services that satisfy her needs, not lemons. Value for customer’s money is the issue here.

Ms Villa represents a huge section of a like-minded media audience that belongs to a silent majority. Hence, she’s not a rarity. She represents thousands of housewives with children to raise as wholesome and decent members of a community.

Media garbage that’s dumped in their living room is a no-no, because they are deemed unfit for consumption for a family that tries to maintain a certain standard of decency.

Not self-righteous

As customers of media, neither should they be labeled self-righteous with a condescending tenor. They are normal people, a product of our beautiful Christian culture, steeped in time-honored family values.

I’m reproducing here the most salient part of Ms Hortensia Villa’s e-mail to me. The lady from Cebu writes:

“Your article last Sunday (April 21) was most timely for me. I have been thinking of writing you about the kind of materials that the various media outlets have been feeding us. I chose you because I know that you would be able to tell other media practitioners about what someone like me (a housewife) thinks and feels about current media content.

“I often feel that people in the media think we consumers only want to be entertained.  This is not absolutely true. Of course, entertainment and the pursuit of it are part of normal life, but I believe we deserve better entertainment material than what they give us now.

“Please, please. Tell media craftsmen and women to stop airing the unsavory part of celebrities’ lives. What do we care about actors’ sex preferences, their indiscretions, the state of their marital relationships and their family secrets? Both media and their subjects should discern between the public and the private aspects of their lives.

“For a long time now, the media have made it our business to know which actress is pregnant out of wedlock, which one is sleeping with whom and many other distasteful and indelicate information, dishing it out like it were everybody’s concern.”

Ms Villa’s umbrage with celebrity scandals as staple media content cannot be taken by media owners and managers with a grain of salt.

Neither can we dismiss Ms Villa as a nuisance against freedom of the press. We cannot brandish freedom of the press as the be-all and end-all of media’s existence. We cannot invoke legalities all the time.

There’s an issue here on social damage—the damaging of our culture, built on the strength and merit of decency and honor. Family values which promote coherent and honorable behavior among ourselves. It will be the height of arrogance to dismiss Ms Villa’s plea as one of those vagaries in managing a media business.

It’s scandalous for media business to cultivate bad taste in the marketplace, even if bad taste makes a lot of sales revenue from the lascivious portion of its audience.

If any of the responsible media managers, preferably from ABS-CBN/GMA/ABC TV, will wear his professional hat and react to Ms Villa’s plea, I will gladly give space to publish it in my column.

A plan to reform celebrity talk shows’ penchant to disrespect private lives and audience sensitivity will be more plausible and appreciated. A helpful and productive approach to fulfill customer satisfaction will be in order. Ms Hortensia Villa is only doing the right thing.

C’mon! Give the lady a break. May her tribe increase.

E-mail the author at hgordonez@gmail.com

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