The US entertainment industry is currently rocking and reeling from the unmasking of the latest in a lengthening list of powerful predator-producers, Harvey Weinstein, who has been accused of sexual assault by many of his stellar victims.
The scandal’s shock waves have shaken the industry to its core, prompting retroactive punishment and vigorous calls for drastic reforms, to finally address and solve the long-festering problem.
The huge furor has prompted some people to ask about the sexual harassment and exploitation situation in Philippine show business—is it as pervasive and reprehensible here? Veteran show biz observers and insiders’ sad but realistic response: It’s just as bad, if not worse.
How have they come to this cynical conclusion? Experience has taught them that the temptation to exploit eager but clueless newbies in the biz has permeated down to the lower level of the industry.
Here, it isn’t just some powerful and well-connected producers and directors who exploit starlets whenever the opportunity presents itself—even “lowly” workers are on it.
One time, for instance, we learned that a production gofer “merely” assigned to contact talents to inform them of shooting schedules was “popular” with starlets and extras, because he promised them even one-day shooting stints, if they were “nice” to him.
Other “lowly” workers reportedly guilty of exploitation include those who charge a “commission” for recommending cameo players and extras for a project—truly, how “low” can you get?
But the allure of working in show biz is so strong and “promising” that otherwise totally unconnected and faceless talents will agree to onerous terms and conditions, just to be able to get a foot or even a toe in the show biz door. Their “logic” is that, once they get in, through fair means or foul, their “obvious” beauty or talent will interest and excite the “right” people and top decision-makers.
Tragically, however, even after they compromise their values and are “nice” to the small guys—the big guns still don’t know they even exist! Instinctively, the victims of sexual enticement or exploitation on the local scene are female and male, with gay or lesbian “facilitators” in enthusiastic abundance.
Again, many of them are low on the production totem pole, but they promise eager male hopefuls that they will introduce them to the big “pink” decision-makers who will transform them into popular and wealthy stars, practically overnight!
In fact, some male starlets declare that they find it easier to agree to “cooperate” because they’re guys and—“isang paligo lang ’ yan” (it’s easy to wash the guilt away). Also more noticeably evident on the local scene is the so-called “lesbian factor,” with some “lez” producers and directors “helping” some lovely and complaisant ladies go from starlet to star—again, in the wink of an eye.
By no means is this quid pro-quo arrangement the norm in the biz, with many producers and directors fully able to separate their professional work and decisions from their love and “lust” life.
But, when it does transpire, the arrangement turns out to be more successful and effective than the “gay padrino” agreement—for the simple desire that many more guys than gals appear to be ready, willing and able to be—exploited with consent!