It took many years for Big Tobacco to be called out as an immoral industry — one that for years legally sold addictive poison to consumers who did not know better. In that context, perhaps this the time to really examine what media conglomerate ABS-CBN are really doing to Philippine society.
ABS-CBN products are, at best, like cigarettes and, at worst, as lethal as illegal drugs. Their products give a temporary addictive high to people who consume them, contribute nothing to mental well-being, and, instead, leave a permanent sense of crushing personal inadequacy in the average Filipino. The role models ABS-CBN “entertainment” put up are far beyond the reach of ordinary Filipinos. They are tall, fair-skinned, and exploit that debilitating social cancer that is Filipinos’ persistent colonial mentality.
ABS-CBN artistas are engineered to project a commanding presence that elicit Filipinos’ ingrained tingala reflex while, at the same time, disarming them with their pedestrian palengke-speak. They are products of marketing genius that reach out from our devices with those twin emotional hooks. The very nature of ABS-CBN’s business model — one that extracts most of its revenue from advertising — assures one that its products , at their core, aim to induce irrational consumerism.
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ABS-CBN is, of course, a player in the free market. The cornerstone of this free market is the assumption that consumers are free to make “rational” purchasing decisions. In a way, its character and that of its products mirror the character of the market within which it plays. In reality this market is nothing like the “rational” one that “economists” lead us to believe is in place. The market — specially the Filipino market — is really an emotionally-driven one and ABS-CBN is a razor-sharp knife that easily cuts through meat fattened and made tender by the emotionalism it so expertly serves.
Like users of social media, ABS-CBN’s audience are not their customers and, more important to note, they are not the people they claim to be “in the service of”. Rather ABS-CBN’s audience are the meat product (fattened by OFW remittances and hooked in by their artistas) that they serve to their sponsors and advertisers on a buffet table to be feasted upon. Just business. Nothing personal. The point here is that the Opposition narrative that portrays ABS-CBN and its artistas as “victims” in this circus is a flat out lie.
The truth is, there are lots of people, businesses, and communities out there that could quickly fill the void that ABS-CBN would leave if it were to vanish off the face of the Earth tomorrow. If ABS-CBN were to disappear as such, the Philippines’ arts scene would be vastly invigorated. Gone will be the Goliath in the industry that crushes all the little Davids that dare go up against it with their independent productions and imagination-rich original ideas. Indeed, it is interesting to observe that the biggest defenders and apologists of ABS-CBN are the very people who lament the artistic bankruptcy of Philippine mass media. Then again that’s no surprise given the track record of today’s Opposition — specifically partisans rabidly loyal to the Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan — in being selective in their chosen advocacies on the basis of whether or not these fit their preferred political narrative.
The time is ripe for ABS-CBN to be called out for what it really is — a big bad corporation that profits massively off the ignorance of the Filipino masses. It’s high time something is done about it. Shutting ABS-CBN down is, in fact, the least of Filipinos’ challenges. The bigger challenge is in undoing the vast and profound cultural damage ABS-CBN has wreaked across Philippine society.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.