Twerking to infamy
The official campaign period for the 2016 national elections hasn’t started yet, but the circus has already come to town. The circus acts are bound to be more risqué and the gimmicks dirtier because of, first, the intense competition among the various political parties, and second, it is just so much harder now to entice people to come to political gatherings just so they can listen to some candidate regurgitate shameless self-promotion propaganda.
Gyrating dancers clad in sexy attires; singers who slither onstage and flirt with candidates and the audience; lewd and bawdy jokes and statements with double entendre or laden with innuendoes—these have always been the staple of political sorties for as far back as I can remember. My earliest memory of a political rally happened when I was a little boy and it involved a female singer in sequined shorts singing “Saging ni Pacing” onstage while feeding a mayoral candidate and his slate of mostly male candidates ripe bananas. In the last national elections, I actually witnessed the late Tiya Pusit singing “Pusong Bato” while literally taking liberties of the male senatorial candidates of the opposition onstage, much to the amusement and howling of the audience. These antics have been proven to get crowd all worked up—sex, after all, is a universal preoccupation. Unfortunately, it’s also difficult to contain these kinds of acts and they do stray beyond what is socially acceptable in most cases.
Fortunately, it is now easier to expose shenanigans in the campaign trail because everyone in this country happens to have a cellphone with a video camera which we all like to whip out at every opportunity. This predilection has reached what I think is a sad point where people already forego the opportunity to fully enjoy or savor special moments just because they happen to be more focused on recording the event and watching the proceedings from the small LED screen of their cellular phones, but I digress. We’ve become a nation of camcorders that events in this country are now set up so that they will actually look good in video footages. It is now customary for people to whip out their cellular phones at any event and take video footages as if their inability to record the event will diminish their appreciation of the whole experience. And of course we also like to share—videos, in particular, including those that really should remain private, but that’s another story.
I must admit that I, too, was outraged at the videos taken during a recent Liberal Party event (the birthday celebration of a congressman but which was attended by party bigwigs) which showed a group of female dancers twerking against the crotches of grown men, presumably politicians. In fact, I was aghast that no one among those who were present seemed to have had the presence of mind to think of the repercussions of such a performance finding its way to the Internet given the number of cellular phones that were recording it. The dance move (twerking) is already scandalous in the eyes and minds of many people as it simulates the sex act. Doing so with a partner onstage is taking it beyond clean fun. I fully understand why people are outraged—it’s not just about reducing women to sexual objects, it’s also about public decorum, particularly involving public officials.
However, I think it is quite a stretch to drag Liberal Party candidate Mar Roxas into the issue considering that he was not there. I find the attempts of some people—obviously from people who are virulently against a Roxas presidency—to insinuate that Mar Roxas was one of the guys a dancer was gyrating against quite foul. There were also accusations that the dance performance was a “gift” from Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Francis Tolentino although this has been vigorously denied.
What we know is that habits are hard to change and that our political parties continue to be ruled by traditional politicians who perpetuate sordid acts that sully our political systems. We also know that vigilance by ordinary citizens are making a difference insofar as changing the system is concerned.
Now that the twerking video has become viral and the culprits have been rightfully chastised, I guess we won’t be seeing girls twerking in political rallies anymore. This doesn’t mean, though, that candidates won’t be turning into clowns and wannabe singers and dancers and comedians.