Willing Willie: Child exploitation on TV

Both the name of the host and the TV program speaks for itself, you’d get no entertainment with redeeming value from Willing Willie.

Then last March 12, 2011, a 6-year-old boy became a constestant in one of the show segments in which each had to showcase their ‘talent’ be it singing or dancing.

Willing Willie
A 6 year old child performs a provocative dance amidst the cheering of Willie Revillame, his staff and the studio audience. (Image and caption by Definitely Filipino)

When a Snoop Doggy Dog rap tune played, I thought the boy would dance hip-hop or something, but instead he danced like a macho dancer. He was twisting and making waves with his body in a provocative dance that you would only see in a nightclub.

If you found it funny and entertaining, then there’s something wrong with your sense of humor and morals. I rarely watch Willing Willie and hardly pay any attention to Willie Revillame for since his days over at ABS-CBN, I’ve come to know him as someone who has a sick and perverted ways of entertaining and ‘helping’ poor Filipinos: humiliating and subjecting them to ridicule then dangling stacks of money so that they’d do literally anything to make him and his audience laugh or have a good time in to receive the money.

It’s the institutionalization of dole-outs in a demeaning way, all done on prime time television.

However, what happened last March 12, when a 6-year-old boy danced the dance of shame with tears falling down his cheeks, much to the thunderous cheer and egging of Willie himself and the audience, I was simply left speechless.

Allow me then to borrow the words of Judith Albano who said it via Facebook:

You do not laugh and let a child dance like a stripper, while tears are constantly falling from his eyes… You do not laugh, and let him dance the dance of shame. And then ask for a high-five, and laugh again and call for applause.

It wasn’t entertainment. It wasn’t a game show. It degenerated into a nightclub where the star of the night was a 6-year-old boy, crying as he danced like a macho dancer. And he was given money, lots of it, for the performance.

Concerned citizens have organized to address this incident. A page on Facebook has been setup to coordinate an action that has called the government’s attention to this alleged case of child exploitation on Willing Willie. As per checking the page’s news feed, the Commission on Human Rights has already received the complaint letter written by the collective formed around the Facebook page.

Several bloggers have already expressed their objection to this incident of child exploitation and humiliation. Twitter is also abuzz with various reactions mostly condemning the act.

How this story will develop, how Willie himself and TV5 will respond and how the government too will respond is something to look out for in the coming days. Ultimately, what would happen next to the 6-year-old boy hangs in the balance. Should let this kind of ‘entertainment’ go on or should this be the time we set our foot down and say enough is enough? If you are concerned, let your thoughts be known, blog, tweet or post on your Facebook account about this issue.

Image and caption by Definitely Filipino

2 Replies to “Willing Willie: Child exploitation on TV”

  1. What happened to that boy on TV was sad; even sadder is that his parents/relatives find nothing wrong with it. And even if people will complain about this “joke” made in bad taste, I’m afraid his folks won’t stand up to admit responsibility for it. I’m not preaching. But being poor is not an excuse for loss of morals and decency.

  2. I’m confused why they singled out janjan’s dancing in willing willie when in fact there’s a lot of tv programs in other networks showing unbecoming acts of children just to get the nods of the judges. For instance, the 8 year old girl who was belly dancing during the audition of Pilipinas Got Talent Season2. The girl was wearing a bra, her entire tummy exposed, her face and hair fully made up to make her look older as she danced seductively to the music. She got a “yes” vote from the 3 judges for this. Unfortunately nobody tweeted against it. At least janjan was fully clothed when he danced. And for the info of those who were not able to see the whole episode of willing willie, the boy did not cry because he was force to dance, he cried when he saw bonel balingit standing beside him, and who wouldn’t be? balingit is such a huge man. I bet most of you only saw a segment of the show which was maliciously posted in youtube, thus the hasty conclusion. Indeed, incomplete info is very damaging if someone has a motive.

    If we are really serious in protecting the rights of our children, the rules should apply to all other tv shows. Singling out one tv show is discriminating and only confirms the suspicion that there’s something fishy about this case. For me, using an innocent child just to get back at someone is what constitutes child abuse. If janjan had only danced in Eat Bulaga or in any ABS CBN show, I’m sure nobody would give a damn!

    To those artists, politicians and so called champions of children’s rights, instead of just blaming the parents and show organizers, they should have analyzed the root cause on why janjan and other kids like him, do what they do. As role models and legislators of this country, what have you done to prevent such acts? Or are we all being hypocrites here?

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