Noontime variety show Showtime was criticized on Monday, November 9, over a question in a segment called “Mas Testing” where their guests were stars of a popular romance web series.
For its November 9 episode, the long-running noontime show guested Ian Pangilinan and Paolo Pangilinan, two leads of the web series Gaya sa Pelikula. The show, directed by JP Habac and created by Juan Miguel Severo, tells the story of Vlad (Ian) and Karl (Paolo), two boys who go from strangers, neighbors, then roommates and much more, as they spend time together.
The series, which was launched in late September, is the latest in a growing list of BL or Boys Love shows in the Philippines – a genre that entered the mainstream, thanks in part to the Thai series 2gether: The Series.
In the Showtime segment, the “Mas Testing” host was asked by Vice Ganda to choose who is “more straight” between Ian or Paolo.
“Mas Testing” is among Showtime’s newer segments, introduced just last August. It features a host or “tumpak tracer” to “correctly guess which between the two PUT or ‘persons under testing’ fits a description or does a challenge better,” according to an ABS-CBN press release about the segment.
Typically, the “tumpak tracer” is asked who is more of whatever word or phrase they’ve chosen. Once the “tracer” makes a choice, the hosts then reveal the full “context” of the question.
Comedian MC, who was the player in the game, said it was Paolo.
“Akala niya siguro ‘yung buhok straight eh (I guess it’s because you think it’s about who has straight hair),” said one of the hosts.
“Sino ang mas straight? Ang sagot mo kanina, si Paolo. Bibigyan kita ng isang chance pa. Sino ang mas straight? Ian or Paolo?” said Vice in the segment, trying to convince MC to change answers.
(Who’s more straight? You said it was Paolo. I’ll give you one more chance. Who’s more straight? Ian or Paolo?)
Vice eventually “revealed” that the full question was: “Sino ang mas straight – sino ang mas malapit sa member ng is-Straight Boys (Who’s closer to a member of the Straight Boys?” “Straight Boys” is a play on Street Boys, the long-defunct boy dance group that included Showtime hosts Vhong Navarro and Jhong Hilario.
Fans of Gaya sa Pelikula and advocates of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Expression (SOGIE) awareness weren’t amused at all by the question – or the “twist” – in the game.
At around 8 pm, or hours after Showtime aired live on TV, several hashtags associated with the segment were still trending on Twitter. “Vice,” “Showtime,” “PangPangonItsShowtime,” “Paolo,” and “PangPang” were all trending topics on Monday evening.
“PangPang” is the collective term fans use to refer to the two Pangilinans.
Fans, in particular, used the segment – which left many cringing – as proof of the importance of SOGIE education and awareness, especially for those working in media. Twitter users pointed out that both Ian and Paolo seemed uncomfortable with the question, since it put into a game question – for all the public to see – their sexual orientation.
Neither Paolo nor Ian have reacted to the segment and the backlash it received online, but Paolo, who is also a medical student, tweeted: “No hate only educate and aral exam ok!” (No hate, just educate, and study for the exams ok!)
He also shared an old clip of him talking about being asked about one’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“The mere fact that it’s still asked is in itself problematic. Kasi feeling ko (Because I feel that) there are so many dimensions to a person, irrelevant to their [SOGIE]. The mere fact that people are still asking about someone’s sexual preferences or gender identity is in itself a step backwards,” Paolo had said in a video conference, after he was asked if he was “ready” to be asked about their sexuality once the show premiered.
The show’s creative team and actors have been explicit about wanting to educate and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and SOGIE education, on top of telling a queer story. Gaya Sa Pelikula will air the final episode of its first season on November 13. – Rappler.com