So yet another “queer” person put up an “art” stunt using Jesus Christ as a subject matter that went on to become the most recent outrage fad. These are, of course, people emboldened by the idea that anything goes nowadays; nowadays being an era where any schmoe can self-publish to a mass audience and earn instant fame thus turning these “art” scenes into a race to out-shock the other for eyeballs and engagement. With the scene set for anything goes, it is evident Pura Luka Vega who achieves Internet fame by mocking Jesus Christ in his drag shows is just another product of a system that rewards spectacle. Pura is therefore on point asserting, “I understand that people call my performance blasphemous, offensive or regrettable. However, they shouldn’t tell me how I practice my faith or how I do my drag. That performance was not for you to begin with.”
Not surprisingly, conservative Filipino Catholics are now up in arms screaming Bloody Blasphemy! Pura, however, is protected by the Constitution which guarantees free expression and, in principle, the secular state. This means Roman Catholic Filipinos cannot burn Pura at the stake. In short, the only real response Catholic purists deserve is simple: tough shit. These, after all, are the sorts of people the Catholic Church and its lieutenants in the Philippines’ top chi chi Catholic private schools rallied behind as key cohorts in the Opposition led by “former vice president” Leni Robredo. One sows what one reaps, indeed.
For their part, “queers” who use religious personalities and icons as fodder for their “art” are, themselves, not really much of an object of admiration — certainly not the “heroes” of free expression they fancy themselves to be whenever they find themselves on the wrong side of the latest outrage fad. As earlier mentioned, the social media landscape has become a vast wasteland hosting an escalating race-to-the-most-shocking. People like Pura Luka Vega like their more established ilk, Vice Ganda, make a living on lowest-common-denominator artefacts. Turning religious collateral into caricatures is, to the “deviant art” community, what slapstick is to the comedy community. It gets the shock and the laughs out of a “creative” process that requires very little intellectual and artistic input.
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The best way then to regard this “battle” of ideas — blasphemy versus free expression — is by taking the view that this is all just a quaint catfight between two camps that both fail to grasp the real insight in all this. The real insight here is that this “battle” is a microcosm of Philippine society where the objects “weaponised” for this fight are but blunt blades forged from pig iron. Any schmoe, after all, can dress like Jesus Christ and act like a buffoon. And any stuffed-shirt Catholic can screech heresy over just about any modern cultural artefact that is not endorsed by scripture and dogma.
Considering the complex issues that dog the world today — many of these even posing existential threats to humanity — it is quite interesting that Filipinos spend their days dancing around and wagging their dicks over outrage fads created by morons and challenged by zealots. A predisposition of the Pinoy madla to gravitate to idiotic “debates” like these further highlights evidence of Filipinos’ consistent lack of capability to apply any semblance of intellectual depth and considered nuance to any conversation on where their society and country are headed. Art offers a vast landscape over which imagination can roam unbound. Surely there are infinite ways to express one’s art beyond the easy path to fame that mocking religion offers. Similarly, religious zealots may consider that simple mathematics prove that any finite human endeavour to mock a god approaches zero in an equation where the power — and forgiveness — of said god is given as “infinite”.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.