When I first saw the movie poster for Darryl Yap’s Tililing, I immediately knew a sh*storm was impending. Yap’s studio Vincentiments and woke Twitter haven’t had the best relationship over the years – and this one was no different.
Liza Soberano, Twitterverse, and even media outlets condemned the poster, which featured the likes of Baron Geisler and Gina Pareño in exaggerated displays of people with tililing – aka people deemed ‘crazy’. The opposition argues that it stereotypes those with mental health problems as straight-up lunatics, while Yap stubbornly stands by his work, as he has usually done in the face of past controversies.
So as both camps debate back and forth in a social media culture that thirsts for validation, who is in the right and in the wrong? I would argue that it depends on perspective.
The wokes have a point
As a 20-something who’s a pro in existential crises, I’m no stranger to anxiety, irrational anger, depression – all of which are common mental health struggles. It’s true: mental problems are a broad spectrum, and caricatures of nutcases don’t give them any justice. Especially in a country that has struggled with the ‘macho‘ mindset, where showing an inkling of vulnerability is subject to ridicule.
It’s understandable then that for people who are educated and well-read on the subject, Tililing is offensive. The look bears the standard fair for Yap, who relies on loud and crass humor to sell his content to his audience.
Jowable started out as a viral skit of a drunk lady cussing endlessly while spouting hugot lines. Yap’s latest film, Pornstar, features a trailer where its cast of 90’s sexy stars gyrates while making orgasm noises.
It’s juvenile, it’s WTF-inducing, and it’s definitely not for everyone, but with over a hundred thousand likes and shares, it works for Yap’s audience. And I think that’s what tends to get neglected in the argument: Who is Tililing for, specifically?
…but so does Yap and his defenders
Let’s not pretend that the Filipino masses are the ‘deepest’ of audiences. If you think I’m being insulting, just look at Bato Dela Rosa getting elected as senator for no other reason than being on TV often, acting like a jester half the time. Or that the rationale for voting Bong Revilla boils down to budots, or as one voter puts it, ‘kasi pogi siya’
It’s also why the Metro Manila Film Festival churns out horrendously brain-dead films every year, despite the constant clamor for ‘better’ entries. The MMFF took a chance in 2016, littering its roster with indies and passion projects, and it turned out to be the lowest-grossing festival in recent memory.
Ang Probinsyano has been around for 5 years because it’s so easy to consume. People cry, Cardo goes ‘bang bang’, something explodes, rinse and repeat.
This is Yap’s audience. Tililing’s poster, with its over-the-top and shocking visuals, is not for us.
It is for the ales, the tinderas, and the manongs who couldn’t be bothered to discuss the nuances of mental health because they’re busy living one day at a time. The same people who jeer at our mental health problems because of their ignorance. Getting their attention needs to be bombastic, otherwise, they’ll just tune out.
‘But we have to uplift them, or else, they’ll be stuck in the rut forever’, you argue. I agree, but we also have to start somewhere. Name me one mainstream local film about mental health that wasn’t made for ‘intellectuals’, film students, or auteurs. Does ‘Gusto Kita With All My Hypothalamus’ sound like something your local tambay would be inclined to see?
When we teach a baby to walk, do we push them down a flight of stairs, hoping for the best? I hope you said no, because otherwise, I’m calling the police.
We teach them to crawl first, and from the looks of it, Tililing hopes to do just that. Yes, the poster is highly offensive to those who are knowledgeable. But the reality is that this is the type of content that pulls in those who aren’t. And what good is advocacy if no one is around to hear about it?
But whether Tililing succeeds in its goal or just becomes another reinforcer of a stereotype remains to be seen. We’ll just have to wait until the movie comes out, and I, for one, will be ready for another sh*tstorm when it does.