Popular show "Willing Willie" has come under attack after the host forced a crying 6-year-old to perform a dance on camera.
"Willing Willie" — along with its host, Willie Revillame — was pulled from the air Monday after a viral campaign, sponsor pullout and allegations of, at worst, child abuse, and at best, really tasteless TV. Little Jan-Jan comes on the show and gets to meet a basketball player, to his evident excitement. (Watch the whole thing here.) However, then he's forced to dance and gyrate, tears pouring down his cheeks, while adults look on and laugh. For this he and his family were paid 10,000 pesos ($230.)
Whether or not it's ruled abuse, the incident is obviously traumatic for the little boy, and it's not "entertainment" by any definition. (Then there's this video, titled "Willie Revillame and Willing Willie DID NOT ABUSE Jan-Jan according to his Parents." It's not in English, but you can hear Willie mention the word "abuse" in reference to Jan-Jan.")
The resulting outcry has prompted an examination of the show in particular and television culture generally. Says ABC,
Philippine-born theater actress Monique Wilson, in a widely circulated email carried by local media, argued that such TV shows "dumb down audiences (and) disempower them by creating a mendicant society with game shows that promise 'quick money.'" Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman last month condemned "the emotional abuse and humiliation" the boy suffered and said the program violated a law against child abuse. It was not clear if Revillame and TV5 will face charges. The Commission on Human Rights and the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board said they were investigating.
This isn't the show's first brush with infamy: in 2006, 74 people were killed in a stampede at a taping of "Willing Willie." But it's this little boy who may spell its end. What do you imagine Snoop Dogg thinks of all this?