Pornography – the more entertaining alter-ego of religion

From a burst of Twitter exchanges Yours Truly (@benign0 on Twitter) had in the last 24 hours with Arnel Endrinal (@LeadPhilippines on Twitter), top political radio jock on his radio show Sentro ng Katotohanan which airs 8.30-9.30pm Tuesdays and Thursdays on DWBL 1242 KHz (AM Band, Philippines), I’ve recently acquired even more insight on the sort of logic some Catholics apply in coming to terms with the creative license some artists apply to their work.

The root of contention is in the way Arnel made an assertion that Catholics equate not just Mideo’s controversial work Poleteismo but the entire ‘Kulo‘ exhibit within which Cruz’s works were showcased along with other artists’ works, to pornography…

To Catholics, the Kulo exhibits is equal to pornography. Will the [Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP)] also show pornography because there could be art there somewhere?

In many countries, pornography is legal. In the Philippines, I am not quite sure whether it is or it isn’t. Who cares, anyway? All I know is that porn is legal in practice in the Philippines regardless of what the letter of the law stipulates. As such, film and literature that is fronted by a thin veil of “artistry” routinely passes off as material that can be exhibited to the Philippine public (including its Catholic majority, presumably).

So let’s start with a clear understanding of what porn is…

Pornography is content made available for consumption with an intent to titillate its consumers.

Porn in the Philippines is an interesting case study. It is a reality that everyone pretends is not there. Porn is the more entertaining evil twin of religion, considering that religion upholds the existence of things that are not there by convincing its followers to pretend these are real.

This bizarre relationship Filipinos have with their multi-million dollar domestic porn industry is a fascinating one. In my book, I cite some observations made by eminent anthropologist Michael Tan on the subject that pretty much sums up the national regard for sexually-explicit content:

In her article “Between Sensationalism and Censure” (Philippine Journalism Review, April 2002, pages 35-37), Diana Mendoza observed how the bizarreness of Filipinos’ regard for sexuality is reflected in Philippine cinema. Her observations are gleaned from among others, comments made by sociology professor Michael Tan of the University of the Philippines in the Sixth International congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific held in Melbourne, Australia from the 5th to the 10th October 2001:

Commenting if the Philippines could be at the forefront of education on sex and sexuality Tan said no, because “media have very sensational coverage but they still have this patina of moralism which is strange.” He said this brims over to the film industry that churns out movies carrying the “crime and punishment” theme — for instance, movies with pots of adultery that run steamy sex scenes but which towards the end, mandate that the adulterer, who is always the female, gets shot or imprisoned.

“With these endings, movies become a morality play after two hours of titillation,” he said.

Furthermore:

Tan said Filipino movies also carry the “crime and redemption” theme, in which a sex worker eventually realizes there is a better life outside prostitution, but only after the audience [have] been treated to several sexual episodes.

So coming back to the issue of whether or not Poleteismo or, for that matter, the entire Kulo exhibit can be considered to be porn, the key question to answer is this:

Did Mideo Cruz have an intent to titillate when he created Poleteismo?

Strangely, Arnel backtracked on his original assertion in a subsequent tweet

@benign0 because nobody can prove intent until one admits it or unless you can read minds. And oh, btw, I didnt say it IS pornography.

…which interestingly enough leaves us with what seems to be the real concern Arnel had about this whole debacle…

Is art more important than what Catholics would feel?

Perhaps that question should have been asked back in 1986 when the “Our Lady of Edsa” (or whatever the heck that building is called) was erected as a monument to the 1986 Edsa “Revolution” that transpired in that wretched thoroughfare, but with a slight twist: Is art — and the politics it might represent — more important than what Muslims would feel? Last I heard, there were Muslim Filipinos in Edsa too.

If you are a non-Catholic Filipino, what do you think should be the answer to this question?

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5 Comments on “Pornography – the more entertaining alter-ego of religion”

  1. I think anything that has a “penis” is porn for this Arnel guy…

    But seriously, these people are seriously insensitive to non-catholics. They attack the RH Bill because its against catholic teachings… same thing with divorce…

    And now he cant even answer your question and calls it pathetic…

    1. Filipinos need to ne reminded that Catholicism is not the only religion in the Philippines, nor is it the state religion. Trouble is, we’ve for so long taken this simple reality for granted. We have to thank the Church’s cadre of officials who for much of our history made sure their influenced is intimately enmeshed in every aspect of Philippine politics and the running of state affairs.

      1. The Church will deny any role in Politics, but it really is closely knitted since the dawn of Time. I quote from the bible:

        Numbers 1: The Census 2
        God spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai 2 years after getting out of Egypt,

        “Take a census of the whole Israelite community by their clans and families, listing every man by name, one by one. You and Aaaron are to number by their divisions all the men in Israel twenty years old or more who are able to serve in the army. ”

        They have and always will make sure their influence is intimately enmeshed in every aspect of any nation’s politics and the running of State Affairs because they have control of the people’s minds.

  2. What is pornography to other people; are art to some; but mostly enterprising Filipinos make a business out of it…Look at the sexually explicit photo dealers, in the nooks of some cities…
    Anyway, the bad name of Filipinos are already tarnished abroad; thru some of the inappropriate sexual behaviors of OFWS…

  3. I tell you what is “idolatry with pornography” as an adjective, the amount of religious Icons they worship in the Philippines, yet they confess to be Christians, yet they are in direct violation of the second and third commandments.

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