Wednesday, September 3, 2008
In summer of 2008, a controversial video on YouTube, in which surgeons and hospital staff were seen and heard making fun of a patient as a deodorant canister was pulled out from his rectum, went viral. Much of the controversy revolved around professional ethics -- such as, why is it even allowed to video a patient inside the operating room? -- but of course, people were also curious about the story behind the, you know, insertion. The issue of disrespect for homosexuals was also raised.
The movie Eskandalo is centered on a similar event: A pen marker is inserted in a gay guy's rectum and a video of the act causes a scandal. An opening disclaimer tells us the story is completely fictitious, and true enough, the film did seem like it was pulled out from someone's ass, not from real life. It shifts the focus from the ethics of laughing at someone's misery to -- what exactly? It made me wish a film had been made about the true event instead.
As a film about a scandal, Eskandalo is toothless and not the slightest bit provocative. The victim (Emilio Garcia) is a 35-year old virgin who is essentially pure of heart. A scandal is waiting to happen because he's a teacher, belongs to a well-off family, whose father is a military man and mother is an active Catholic. The pen marker insertion is essentially an act of rape. And the guy who did it (Andrew Schimmer) is a callboy who temporarily went insane during that moment because of a life-long insecurity with his small penis. This is a story that doesn't raise questions. Of course, we will root for a virgin who gets raped. And of course anything can happen when some kind of psychosis is involved. Eskandalo doesn't have an issue to tackle; it only thinks it does. Would our feelings for the victim be different if he were a homosexual who freely practiced his sexuality? Would he still be called a victim if he were a willing bottom, and there was no rape, but thousands of people watched it on the net against his wishes? By being safe and obvious, the film avoids any real thought or discussion, which is a disservice really. Offhand, it seems to say gay men deserve our pity only when they're chaste and only when they're brutally violated. And whether or not the movie was based on a real incident as seen on YouTube, I still bemoan the choice not to confront the timely concerns staring us at the face, given the material.
However, some viewers may relate to Emilio Garcia's torment and repression. He speaks directly to the camera to express the self-pity and shame of a gay man who's not getting any younger and still feels trapped by his sexuality. His tearful confessions may be cathartic to some, and so too might the ending, when he finds his rebirth at the end of the scandal tunnel. But I still couldn't recommend a movie that packages the sentiments of a repressed homosexual into a shrug: That you're a scandal waiting to happen, and when it does, you move on; You're just being overly dramatic, but we'll cry with you through the movie's duration anyway.
Vicente Sotto Hospital Doctors YouTube Scandal a.k.a. "Cebu Doctors Scandal"