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Willing Willie, the most popular game show in the Philippines, is no more. Yesterday the program, hosted by Willie Revillame, was yanked by broadcaster TV5 over international outcry following six-year-old Jan-jan being egged on to “gyrat[e] in front of the camera like a ‘macho dancer’ in a gay bar would.” The scene horrified Queerty readers, and for good reason. Worse, Jan-jan’s aunt, who was paid $230 for the performance, was standing just off camera urging the crying boy to continue dancing.
Now who thinks the show’s cancellation had more to do with social welfare activists crying foul, or major advertising dropping out?
The outcry led major sponsors to pull out, including Procter & Gamble Co., Del Monte Pacific Ltd., Unilever and Philippine fast-food giant Jollibee Foods Corp. The March 12 episode also has prompted soul-searching discussions about the quality of TV entertainment in the Philippines. TV5 network said it wants to improve the program and work with television and advertising industry stakeholders on guidelines for the participation of children in all game and reality TV shows.
Philippine-born theater actress Monique Wilson, in a widely circulated email carried by local media, argued that such TV shows “dumb down audiences (and) disempower them by creating a mendicant society with game shows that promise ‘quick money.’” Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman last month condemned “the emotional abuse and humiliation” the boy suffered and said the program violated a law against child abuse.
Revillame, meanwhile, will being going on holiday for the next two weeks before he considers whether he wants to return to television. And whether audiences will have him.