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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

striking down gay stereotypes as media square pegs in parisukat

It is not uncommon for tabloids and, lamentably, even major broadsheets, to carry news stories whose titles alone are either misogynist or homophobic by temperament. Headlines that read “Lesbian Rapes Grade 5 Pupil!” “Sabik sa Balot, Tisay Pinilahan ng Anim,” “Gay Pimp Caught Peddling Minors,” “Atsay Nag-amok, BF at Dyowang Bading Ginilitan” and their ilk cast serious doubts on media’s credibility as an institution and on journalism’s supposed ethical practice. The patriarchal slants of such titles and their accompanying news stories evoke knowledge, veracity and ethics at the expense of the historically, culturally and politically oppressed females and gays.
At its surface value, Jonison Fontanos’ Parisukat seems to reinforce the aforementioned notion of the gay as victim with its teaser “Baklang Negosyante…Pinatay!” However, there is an attempt to subvert such an anti-gay stance with the unfurling of the crime’s least explored version (there are four, hence the titular allusion).
German (Toffee Calma) is a gay entrepreneur whose murder, according to police reports acquired by his former lover Jaime (Jobben Bello), was perpetrated by a “boylet” (loosely, a younger lover). Flashbacks reveal that not long after the two cruised each other in a café, Jaime discovered that his “Honey” was in contact with the boylet Hubert (Christopher Cañizares). In what appears as a trick of destiny, German’s lovers meet in the decrepit boarding house that Jaime rents out to the transsexual Xander (Darwin Taylo), who still obsesses over high school crush Hubert, and the newly-arrived nursing student Marcus (Jeff Tatsuro), whom Hubert introduced to his flesh trade.
German’s slaughter being entirely unsolved, the callboys accuse each other of having killed their common client, invoking two more versions of the crime. Running off anew from a misdeed he did not commit, Marcus slips away just before his landlord butchers the boylet that drove him to kill his businessman lover in a fit of jealousy, and the witnessing transsexual.
Of course, when the media scrambles over mayhem like this, the crime of passion fueled by such human emotions as jealousy and betrayal gets reduced to gendered documentations that treat the sexual orientations of the people involved as if these provoked the violation. Hence, irresponsible media portrayals of females as willing rape victims, and homosexuals as abusers, as exploiters and, in the cases of Parisukat’s German and Xander, as easy targets of mutilation, get perpetuated. Despite the overwhelming majority of crimes against humanity being executed by heterosexuals, banner news like “Straight Priest Fondles Devotees’ Breasts,” “Heterosexuals Collared for Human Trafficking” and the like remain invisible as opposed to macho-driven headlines mentioned at the onset.
More interesting than the possible depiction of the gay as crime perpetrator (yet again), Jaime’s character may qualify as a challenge to the gay typecasting as weak and cowardly because inflamed by grave circumstances, the gay—like any desperado—can kill. The initial indeterminacy of the accurate version of the carnage blurs the faces of the numerous suspects that the slain might have let into his room, a condition that eliminates the seemingly incapable gay from the picture. Therefore, what Jaime has massacred in the process are the stubborn, claustrophobic squares of stereotypes in which homosexuals are pegged by the gay-bashing media in particular and the male-dominated world in general.
Parisukat, which also stars Rosemarie Ibarrita, Hugot’s Alvin Espinoza and up-and-coming model Charlon Suerte, is still showing in Isetann Recto in Downtown Manila and in Cinema Eden in Cebu.

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