Why that kind of mindset and thinking still has that kind of platform in 2023 remains to be seen.
***Trigger Warning: This article contains mention of suicide and depression***
As one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the country, noontime shows are normally a place for fun, laughs, games, lighthearted banter, and more. What they shouldn’t be though is a place to share or air out ideas or jokes that feel more appropriate for the 1940s than the 2020s. But sadly, some people did not get the memo, as seen by Joey de Leon’s recent comment on EAT that rubbed netizens the wrong way, and rightfully so.
On the September 23, 2023 episode of EAT, the hosts played a game of Gimmie 5: Laro Ng Mga Henyo. During the segment, a male contestant was given 45 seconds to say things that met the prompt “mga sinasabit sa leeg”. Pressed for time, he was only able to say necklace before Joey de Leon stepped in to say, “Lubid, lubid. Nakalimutan ‘yon.” Understandably, the comment, which has since caught the attention of the MTRCB, left a bad taste in many netizens’ mouths with the clear allusion to suicide. They called out the co-host on social media for the insensitive remark, especially considering how many impressionable viewers the show has.
This is a trigger warning clip about suicide and Joey De Leon can’t shut his mouth.— ALTStarMagic 💫 (@AltStarMagic) September 23, 2023
Really? Mga bagay na sinasabit sa leeg ay lubid? REALLY JOEY DE LEON???? LALA SOTTO ANO NA???? pic.twitter.com/YPF0jkPth3
It should be noted that this isn’t the first time Joey de Leon has made light of serious issues. In 2017, he dismissed depression as made up in an episode of Eat Bulaga saying, “Gawa-gawa lang ng mga tao yan. Gawa lang nila sa sarili nila” before apologizing the following day.
NO TIME FOR INSENSITIVE JOKES
For a show with as big of an audience as EAT, it’s frankly concerning that jokes and statements coming from a seemingly backward mentality are allowed on national TV. Even if de Leon intended for his comment to refer to the rope placed on the necks of animals, it’s not the kind of remark you say without proper context. While proper discourse on mental health in the Philippines has improved over the years, it still has its ways to go, with this incident on EAT being an example of that.
Considering that surveys have shown that one in five young Filipinos have thought about ending their lives and suicide remains a major health concern in the country, it’s the kind of ignorant statement that shouldn’t be made on one of the most viewed shows in the Philippines. It sets the wrong precedent on important issues. While Philippine entertainment can and should have space to joke about things, there’s a proper time and place to do it.
TV, especially noontime shows, are more than welcome to and should start important discussions on serious concerns, but making fun of the struggles of others is not it. This doesn’t bring any comfort to people who struggle with their mental health nor does it help destigmatize it. Local media needs to do better if we are to normalize open and proper discourse on mental health.
If you or someone you know needs help, the National Center for Mental Health (NCMH) crisis hotlines can be reached at 1553 (Luzon-wide, landline toll-free), 0917-899-USAP (8727), 0996-351-4518, and 0908-639-2672.
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