Switching Channels

Is it time for Willie to leave TV for good?

Willie Revillame (AP Photo)Willie Revillame (AP Photo)I join the countless concerned citizens who expressed disgust at the way Willie Revillame treated six-year-old Jan Jan Suan on his show "Willing Willie" on TV5. I urge the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to go beyond their press releases and not let Willie get away with it.

Why am I not surprised at Willie's latest act of impropriety? He is a recidivist who has never learned from his previous mistakes. In 1999, "Magandang Tanghali Bayan" was suspended by MTRCB because of the way Willie and co-hosts Randy Santiago and John Estrada behaved with the Calendar Beauty contestants.

In 2003, Willie was back on the air with "Masayang Tanghali Bayan" but it wasn't long before his arrogance got him into trouble again. I was a member of an MTRCB committee that recommended his suspension for uttering a sexually suggestive joke at the expense of the height-challenged comedian, Mahal. Before ABS-CBN could impose the penalty, Willie voluntarily resigned.

Two years later, the Kapamilya network conveniently forgot his past transgressions when its noontime show was floundering against GMA-7's "Eat Bulaga." They resurrected Willie's career through another noontime show "Wowowee" and true enough, ABS-CBN's ratings improved. To no one's surprise, Willie would get into trouble once again because of his sense of importance. First, he asked, nay commanded, ABS-CBN  to fire DZMM show biz commentator Jobert Sucaldito for criticizing his show and threatened to resign if the network chose Jobert over him. At the same time, he was lambasted  for complaining about the insertion of the coverage of Cory's funeral into his program.

The network had no choice but to ask Willie to go on leave. Despite the unresolved legal problems at ABS-CBN, however, TV 5 managed to sign Willie to an early evening show called "Willing Willie.' Again viewership must have been the primary consideration.

Despite his checkered past, Willie attracted big ratings. After only five months, history repeats itself. Once again, Willie has crossed the line.

This time, it's because he subjected a six-year-old boy to ridicule by allowing him to perform a macho dance that you only see in gay bars. Despite Jan Jan's tears, Willie egged the boy to keep dancing. The complaints started as a whisper on social media but pretty soon, the objections got louder and louder prompting several government agencies to step in. Willie was forced to apologize.

But Willie's apology was no apology at all. When one apologizes, a person admits his mistake and promises not do it again. Willie continued to justify what he did. He says he didn't realize what the number was about.  If so, he should have stopped the number and moved on to another segment. Instead, he encouraged the boy to keep on dancing despite his tears. He explained that the boy's parents did not object to Jan Jan's dancing on the show. That's no excuse. Ultimately, it was Willie's judgment that mattered.

Willie continued to stress that everything they do in the show is designed to help the poor. He issues his own threat that if the advertisers who have been urged by various groups to leave his show, his followers will boycott their products. That's what I call delusions of grandeur.

Willie has proven time and again that he cannot change his ways. It's time to take Willie off the air. TV5 chairman Manny Pangilinan did the honorable thing when he apologized for his plagiarized speech at the Ateneo and offered to resign from the Board of Trustees. Getting rid of Willie is a no-brainer.

Disclaimer: The views and observations of the author do not represent the position of Yahoo! Southeast Asia on the issue or topic being discussed.

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