Save Us From Saviors

Although it's been many years since I've had to ask my parents for movie money, I still fall under the general definition of "youth." This makes me one of the people the anti-smut crusaders in the Philippines are trying to save. As always, no one bothered to ask us if we needed to be saved. No one bothers to ask us anything, as we are widely assumed to be idiots.

What exactly are these valiant crusaders saving me from? I hear the words "immorality" and "obscenity" tossed around, but I still don't get what they mean. To the censors, "immorality" covers any belief that differs from theirs. "Obscenity" seems to be anything that hints at sexual pleasure, as sex is strictly for reproductive purposes. "Pornography" is the target of the crusaders. No one can define that, either.

I'm not the only one who's confused. The Philippines is a staunchly Roman Catholic nation that takes pride in being a modern, Western-style democracy. We are neither conservative nor liberal, but all of the above. We uphold family values, but don't mind the fact that our president has several families by different women. After all, the Filipino male is supposed to be a passionate, macho guy, irresistible to women. As for the Filipino female, she is expected to be pure and virginal, which makes you wonder who the Filipino male is hanging out with. At the same time, the media are full of the " '90s Woman," who sports the latest fashions and attitudes from the United States and revels in her freedom.

The crusaders have denounced the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board as purveyors of pornography. Frankly, I like the fact that the board regards me as an intelligent human being capable of making my own decisions. It approves the showing of sex-oriented, "bold" movies as long as they are rated "For Adults Only." The board assumes that if I am old enough to vote for the leaders of my country, I can be trusted to choose the movies I will watch.

The general outcry against the board members would seem to indicate that the public wants censorship. It appears that there are two publics--the public that wants the board to guard its morals and cut out scenes it considers offensive, and the public that lines up to watch actress Ina Raymundo jump out of a cake clothed only in icing. The lines are long enough to keep producers churning out so-called bold movies. Going by my primitive logic, if no one watches these flicks, no one will make them.

The anti-smut crusaders declare that sexy movies are not protected by freedom of expression because they are not artistic. In my limited understanding, everyone is entitled to freedom of expression as long as he does not break the law. And who will decide what is art and what is not? Taste is always a thorny issue. Say we designate a guardian of our morals and she decides that nudity is damaging to our moral values. What is to prevent her from banning Botticelli's "Venus" or Michaelangelo's "David," who happen to be naked, too?

There are many things the anti-smut crusaders can do to help the youth whom they so passionately want to save. They can work on improving the educational system so young people will have the sense not to patronize bad movies. They can teach sex education in schools so that moviemakers will not leap in to fill the void. They can work on alleviating poverty so that parents will have the time and energy to teach values to their children, and to actually see their children. They can set examples for their children to emulate, instead of turning over the responsibility to movie stars. These require more time and commitment than holding a placard and making speeches for the TV cameras.

If the self-anointed saviors insist upon saving me, then save me from self-righteous hypocrites and opportunists. Save me from filthy minds and liberate me from those who declare that sex is evil. Stop invoking my welfare to promote your own agendas. And save me from those who would call me immoral simply because I disagree with them. Surely there is some way my aspiring saviors can save me without insulting my intelligence.