MMK’s ‘Titibo-tibo’ trailer draws flak from LGBT community: ‘Being gay isn’t a phase’
Past its whimsical melody and Moira Dela Torre’s angelic vocals, the song “Titibo-tibo” has drawn controversy for its perceived message of what being gay means.
The title, which means “acting like a lesbian,” discusses how a tomboyish girl begins acting more feminine when she has a crush on a boy. Composed by Libertine Amistoso and interpreted by Dela Torre, it won at the songwriting competition Himig Handog in 2017.
It has since been adapted into a television episode on “Maalaala Mo Kaya” starring actress Maris Racal in the lead role. The episode airs on Saturday, June 16.
— Maris ⭐️ Racal (@MissMarisRacal) June 11, 2018
When Racal shared the show’s teaser on social media, fans were excited to see her as the main character and to see how a hit song would be played on the silver screen. However, some, especially those from the LGBT community, were not too thrilled about the episode’s message.
One argument was that the song could misinform the public that homosexuality is a phase that can be solved by finding someone of the opposite sex to be attracted to.
“Being gay isn’t a phase. Men aren’t the ‘cure.’ Spread the word,” wrote Twitter user @foliearousseau.
Kenneth Manuel (@theklmanuel) said mainstream media plays a role in why he still keeps getting asked if he will one day be attracted to women.
He cited that as “harmless” as the story seemed, the line of thinking “has led to forced marriages, psychologically harmful gay conversion therapies, LGBT+ torture, difficulty of coming out, and the misconception that being gay is a choice.”
He acknowledged that though the songwriter’s experience is true, there was danger in airing such a story to the general public as it could perpetuate “stereotypes and false generalizations” about the LGBT community.
Jan Angelo Ong (@Ongiel) agreed it could add to more confusion. “I love Maris Racal pero (but) this story, no matter how ‘true to life’ it is, will really only cause trouble in helping Filipinos understand LGBTQ++ people.”
“Nai-imagine ko na yung mga magsasabi sakin ng ‘so gay ka talaga like di ka macoconvert? e ba’t si Maris dun sa MMK?’”
(I imagine someone telling me, “So you’re gay, you can’t be converted? What about Maris in MMK?”)
The song—and the trailer—in its simple narrative, does not include nuances in SOGIE (sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression) as some pointed out.
Twitter user @keiakamatsu said that the song “ignores proper analysis of sexual orientation, gender identity & expression” and “reveals misunderstanding/mishandling of LGBTQ issues.”
Sexual orientation refers to whom one is attracted to. Gender identity refers to which gender one identifies with and gender expression is how one expresses one’s self.
However, the song seems to generalize acting like a stereotypical boy as “titibo-tibo” or like a lesbian, failing to distinguish that being attracted to the same sex is different from how one expresses his or her gender. In the trailer, it is hinted that the main character is attracted to a girl, then, later on, seems to be charmed by boys.
Some were thrown off by the timing of the episode, particularly that it was scheduled on Pride Month.
“How did no one in the team at least think na inappropriate ito (this is inappropriate) on Pride month?” wondered @hjoldr. “A story that portrays homosexuality as something that can be corrected (and correction being rewarded by the mom’s applause) pag nahanap ang (when one meets the) right guy.”
Amistoso previously defended her song in a November 2017 Himig Handog conference. “‘Yung song, hindi siya about sa tibo or lesbian. It’s about a boyish girl. Different siya sa lesbian talaga.”
(The song isn’t about being a lesbian. It’s about a boyish girl. It’s different from being a lesbian.)
On her end, Racal advised critics to watch the episode before drawing conclusions.
Sabrina Nicolas (@anothersabstory) contended that the show used sexuality as the song’s title to be “catchy” and that the trailer hinted that a handsome boy would serve as “conversion therapy.”
“Gwapo naman jowa ko pero bisexual pa din ako (My boyfriend is handsome but I’m still bisexual),” she asserted.
“Watch the episode and you’ll know,” replied Racal.
“Sana may realization man lang ang character mo dito na fluid ang sexuality,” Nicolas added. “Sana din may ipakitang struggle kahit papaano.”
(I hope your character realizes that sexuality is fluid. I hope a struggle would be shown somehow.)
“Meron. Kaya panoorin nalang natin (There is. That’s why we should just watch it),” the actress appealed. /ra
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