BY GIVING awards to and considering nominations for gag shows and variety shows which contain scenes that imply sex, violence or oddity, does the USTv Awards remain faithful to the same Catholic attitude and plan of action it was founded on seven years ago? Has it allowed commercialism to have the upper hand in determining its winners or is it simply illustrating the students’ freedom in their TV program preferences?

During the last USTv Awards, Bubble Gang received its sixth Best in Gag Show award while other nominees for the same category included programs such as Goin’ Bulilit (ABS-CBN), Banana Split (ABS-CBN) and Just Kidding with Sexbomb Johlan and Tabachingching (QTV). Nominees for Best in Variety Show included Eat Bulaga (GMA), Showtime (ABS-CBN) and Wowowee (ABS-CBN).

While Banana Split, Just Kidding with Sexbomb Johlan and Tabachingching, Eat Bulaga, Showtime and Wowowee may not display outright obscenity, a main attraction in these programs is the presence of girls in skimpy outfits. Whether these half-naked women are made to dance, sing, host, or are just used as mere ornaments in certain segments, the absence of sex scenes or promiscuous skits does not dismiss the possibility that these shows still bank on the salability of flesh.

This does not only apply to female cast members. There are times when half-naked males perform and some are made to cross-dress as well.

On the other hand, the content of children’s gag show Goin’ Bulilit is also questionable. A recent episode of the show included a sketch that depicted an open shoot-out between rebels and members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) while making a joke out of the entire situation. Another scene jested about the recent military “pabaon” issue, which unearthed corruption in the AFP.

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While the show might encourage its adult audiences to keep abreast of current national issues, one may just wonder if the children in Going’ Bulilit comprehend what they are talking about. The show not only exhibits violence and satire, but also uses children to illustrate this.

Some of the USTv awards, such as the Student’s Choice Award, were established to recognize that TV and mass media are both powerful and pervasive. It is also a reminder that there is always a constant need to critically appreciate and constructively critique TV programs’ content and form so they are encouraged to uphold Catholic teaching, enrich family life, and aid in responsible social communication.

It was during the seventh USTv Awards that the University’s Rector, Fr. Rolando de la Rosa, O.P., reminded networks that the recognitions were given to them not to boost ratings, but to encourage shows to continue in upholding moral values.

“USTv also allows students to be involved with the media and contribute towards the improvement of the quality of local television,” said De la Rosa during the latest USTv Awards.

Award-giving bodies like USTv aim to be catalysts for change to further improve Philippine television in terms of content and form that are appropriate for all audiences.

But if variety shows and gag shows are given recognition despite the display of flesh and violence, does this not contradict the USTv criteria that highlight Thomasian values and Catholic instruction, or are these elements a welcome change that come with the uprising of commercialism especially in mass media? Alyosha J. Robillos

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