What Vhong and Deniece teach us about religion and the news

A lot of people remain baffled by the attention that the Vhong Navarro and Deniece Cornejo show attracts. They cite that there are more important things going on — the Disbursement Acceleration Program imbroglio that President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III is entangled in, the plight of Leytenians still reeling from the carnage wrought by Typhoon Haiyan, and the fate of the Reproductive Health Law that as of now is teetering on the edge of legal oblivion at the Supreme Court. Why then do we remain transfixed on the indiscretions of a couple of two-bit celebs and a Chinese mobster who suffers from anger management issues?

rumorsThe disturbing truth about Media is that it is an escape. People escape to cinema and the nice glitzy photos and videos that Media companies have made a profitable business out of delivering. But people also read the news to be entertained. Why else would delivering the news be such a profitable business if it did not tap into a primal component of the human condition such as the need to be “informed”? Interesting news is novel information. When said information becomes old, it loses its novelty. Politicians stealing millions of pesos: Old. Thousands of Filipinos dying in a “natural” disaster: Old. The sad plight of initiatives to control and reduce population in a Third World Catholic country: Old.

Starlet allegedly luring a popular celeb to her pad after which the latter gets beaten up by the earlier’s presumed boyfriend: New. New, as of early last week, that is. The Vhong Navarro and Deniece Cornejo “issue” is now old, however. As such, there is less interest in it. And besides, it’s the Superbowl. That one is new. Which is why it makes the news. Because “new” makes up 75 percent of the news — literally. On to the next story.

Where is the justice in that?

There is no such notion of that “justice” people who consume media feel they are entitled to as far as running a media business goes. Delivery of justice is a state responsibility. Delivering news that is novel enough for millions of people to voluntarily tune in to is the responsibility of the managers of media organisations.

Why is that so difficult to understand?

It is difficult to understand because every news organisation and their dog have one or all of the words “fair”, “balanced” and “objective” somewhere in the gigabytes of marketing collateral they pump into our media consumption appliances every day. And so we’ve pretty much all been led to believe that news and the “journalism” that goes into producing it is necessarily all that.

Best thing to do is to use Media output to gain a deeper understanding of the society it “serves” — which brings us back to the question of why stories about celebrity scandals occupy more of Filipinos’ headspace than the issues that are behind their chronic wretchedness. Why nga ba?

Simple. Because most of us can relate. People like Navarro, Cornejo, and even Cedric Lee, are the sorts of people many Filipinos aspire to be. As such the misfortunes that befall such people never fail to stoke our interest. Compare that to the affairs surrounding people who live in ocean front slums, or of those who depend on politicians’ “generosity” for most of their lives, or of those to whom falling pregnant virtually guarantees lifelong impoverishment.

Nobody aspires to be such people. So when misfortune hits such people, it becomes newsworthy for a while (if at all). Then people get over it.

expertoverhereWho makes such people relevant? Enter religion. The Philippines’ Roman Catholic Church made its vast fortune assuring people that the meek shall inherit the Earth. Trouble is, history has proven that that is quite simply absolutely not true. People like Navarro, Cornjejo, Lee, as well as generations of politicians who’ve ruled and “served” Filipinos, routinely get away with lots of stuff — stuff that their “victims” have been assured they will “inherit” one day. It is on this notion upon which “concern” for the poor ekes out a place in society’s collective consciousness and on that rests the Catholic Church’s claim to relevance. Indeed, Media and religion are partners in a symbiotic relationship that feeds on the masses. Religion feeds them entitlement porn while the Media feeds them the misfortune porn that they desperately crave to validate their subsistence on the earlier.

Whilst, empirical evidence will point to the reality that when you are poor, you are more likely to lead a wretched and unhappy life and more likely to die violently in a preventable “accident” or crime, statistics show that physically attractive people with lots of money are more likely to lead happy, fulfilling lives to a ripe old age before they die of natural causes. This fact is what gives that lucrative novelty to the scandals and other unfortunate events or tragedies in which the victims are rich beautiful people — because rich beautiful people don’t often get found wandering streets with their pants down or get thrown into prison. Rich beautiful people make a louder splat when they fall while poor people merely deliver a dull thud when they do. And in a country that likes welcoming their New Year with loud bangs, it is hardly surprising what sorts of sounds grab the most attention.

Sorry folks, that’s just the way it is.


Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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22 Comments on "What Vhong and Deniece teach us about religion and the news"

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So when shall we be returning to the more important, albeit boring, issues?
Would writing the broadsheets and television stations regarding their dereliction from duty do anything other than have then reply with a “we appreciate your sharing with us of your blah blah blah”.

Johnny Saint

Speaking of Superbowl XLVIII, this is just bloody horrible! I’m embarrassed for the Denver Broncos.

Johnny Saint

However, it does make fans watch out for Richard Sherman’s next hubris-filled rant about how phenomenal he is.

Johnny Saint


On the whole, your position is a bit of an oversimplification. Economics doesn’t always explain the motivations for people’s behaviour. I do agree that it is hypocritical for media organisations to profess being “fair” and “objective” when they are obviously anything but. It would be simpler to admit to partisanship. At least they would be honest about their positions instead of constantly stabbing their audience in the back.

Jane Doe

What about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death? How come it wasn’t mentioned? Well…it’s news since they found him dead at his apartment.


Hi benign0,

We are called Leyteños, not Leytenians. 🙂


These media companies are simply giving what the greater majority wants. If GMA sticks to the real issues and avoid the vhong, deniece brouhaha, the other two stations will definitely crush it.

Johnny Saint
‘Media and religion are partners in a symbiotic relationship that feeds on the masses. Religion feeds them entitlement porn while the Media feeds them the misfortune porn that they desperately crave to validate their subsistence on the earlier.’ That only works if you accept the notion that religion is primarily a source for conflict and social discord. Actually, the opposite is true. Historically, religion is more often than not a force for social cohesion. It enables humans to cooperate far more widely and securely than through simple opportunistic, rational calculation or self interest. Religions and belief systems are the first… Read more »
Jimmy Faraon

We just witnessed a beat down from the Seattle Seahawks’ Legion of Boom defense that harassed NFL MVP Peyton Manning. We will never see that kind of game for some years from this highly prestige Championship game..

Too bad most people in PI do not know this and sad that they don’t give a fuck about NFL. This is where they want to watch talented, prepared and hard-working players earning what the deserve.

Sea Bee

Sports like football and boxing are little more than ritualized thuggery.
The NFL is a ten billion dollar a year corporation that pays zero income taxes. Many of its stadiums are built with tax payer money. Huge profits are being made off the injuries incurred in this brutal display called a “sport.” What sane adult would want his son to play football?


if you are born in a Christian family then yet you have to know which religion is the only true religion for us.