The Power of YouTube

By Danton Remoto | Remote Control | 03/30/2009 11:22 PM
Views and analysis section

YouTube has brought the power of vivid images right in your very face. I’m sure many of you have now seen the horrible video where the very obscure Boyet Fajardo ordered a cashier at Duty Free to kneel in front of him. Reason? The poor man did not know Boyet and asked him to show another ID to verify his identity, since Boyet’s credit card was unsigned.

And Boyet, puffed up with wounded pride because he is not known at Duty Free, ordered the hapless man to supplicate. Last I looked there were 600 comments to that video uploaded in You Tube. Rightly so, they skewered Boyet for his crassness and arrogance. But I take issue with some comments who said that Boyet is like that because he is gay. Hello? Where did your logic go? One is not connected to the other. I’ve known gays who used to be as poor as Boyet but infinitely more famous than him now – like my dear friend, Boy Abunda – who have remained humble. The ancient writers are right again, when they said that lucre did not lead to the deepening of one’s wisdom, or the expansion of one’s soul.

Well, the last words I can say about Boyet is that his manners are as bad as the clothes he makes.

And now for another case of YouTube as wielder of power. Another friend of mine, a lawyer, fired off this letter against Bayani Agbayani and his alleged homophobia. Here is the letter, the Taglish translated into English, then edited for clarity and brevity.

“I was watching Showbiz News Ngayon (SNN) when Kris Aquino said that Bayani Agbayani was featured in a YouTube video because of a bout with another person, a guy who supposedly bumped his car. Apparently, Bayani was dead drunk, and recognizing this, he tried to settle with the other man to the tune of P6,000. But the latter’s companion intervened and allegedly hurled invectives at Bayani, whereupon, Bayani did likewise.

“Of course, the unprintable expletives were substituted by special characters in SNN’s subtitles, but Bayani was heard shouting, “Bumalik ka dito, bakla ka, bakla ka! (Come back here, gay! gay!)” repeatedly, after he challenged his opponents to a fistfight. But they simply ignored him and went about their way. Bayani even tried to pursue them, saying, “Naka X5 ako, naka- motor(cycle) ka lang.

“When asked to explain the video, Bayani clarified that the video only showed him saying the cuss words, excluding what the other two guys said. And then he added, matter-of-factly: “Lalaki lang ako. Kahit naman siguro itanong niyo diyan sa kung sinong lalaki, artista man o hindi … magagalit or gagawin ang ginawa ko (or something to that effect). Translation: “I’m just a (straight) man. If you want to ask any other guy out there, movie star or not, they will also get mad and do what I did.

“Kris Aquino lost no time in appearing as an official apologist for Bayani. She, who had been a woman-victim of violence herself, said that what Bayani must have meant when he said “bakla!” was actually “duwag” (coward). But she did ask Boy Abunda to issue the caveat that not all gays are cowards. Then, Kris added that Bayani should have just ignored it, since his reputation could be destroyed.

“I was infuriated and wanted to react immediately, although at the back of my mind, I also did not want to dignify the incident with an extended discussion on Bayani’s (and what a name he’s got!) political incorrectness. His political incorrectness may have its genesis in his ignorance. Then again, letting the matter pass without any comment normalizes machismo and the prejudice not only against gay men but against all people (including women) in general. While it is true that worse things could have happened, or have happened in the past, it is the subtlety of the lack of physical violence that should alert us. This is what is ignored, even by law-enforcement agencies like the Philippine National Police, which are supposed to have already been instructed in gender-sensitivity and towards objective first-line-implementation of national policies.

“Regrettably, we have a long way to go in our pursuit of genuine equality as to sex, gender and orientation. Perhaps it entails the saturation of media with accounts like this that could bring the issue into national consciousness. Celebrities and media personalities should become aware, get involved and participate in raising gender awareness, because they are seen and heard on TV by millions of people.”

I don’t know what my friend, college classmate at Ateneo Batch ’83, and newly-appointed ABS-CBN Entertainment head honcho Cory Valenzuela-Vidanes will say to this. But I’ve known Cory to be a just and fair-minded person, and I’m sure if apprised of the situation, she would act accordingly.

But what about me? Well, I’ve never been amused – not even by a millisecond – by Bayani Agbayani. Tange, Balot, and Ponga were comic geniuses compared to him. And Bayani’s case in this accident was pure and simple drunken driving, which is punishable by law. Those two guys (or gays, who cares) should have brought the matter to the police. Ang Ladlad would have brought one of our ace lawyers and we could have thrown the book at the drunken man with the middling talent.

And then we will see who will have the last laugh.


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