Schadenfreude and Tulfo

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The latest brouhaha involving that supposedly least evil Tulfo Brother, an extremely entitled grandma and a poor teacher who found herself suddenly without a job had sparked an online debate about the unfairness of it all.

Composite photo of Raffy Tulfo and the complainant. | Photo from Youtube.
Composite photo of Raffy Tulfo and the complainant. | Photo from Youtube.

It’s interesting how the case involving public school teacher Melita Limjuco had generated a lot of online buzz and sparked an outrage among netizens.

Questions of propriety, of the lack of due process, of the broadcaster acting as judge-jury-executioner, indeed of the ethics of it all were raised.

That is just as well. All concerns raised by netizens are valid, mind.

But the bigger question is this: Why now?

What happened to Limjuco was deplorable, but what of others who were equally humiliated, shamed, tried in public?

Before the Limjuco episode, some of us applauded Tulfo, called him “idol”, thought nothing as processes were circumvented and institutions and proper fora ignored.

People’s lives and dirty linen were washed in public. It was Jerry Springer and Face to Face all over again, but brought up to eleven. Nasty family secrets are laid bare, someone’s bad breath, his nasty body odor, her smelly underwear all were discussed with the gravitas of a court hearing.

“Disappointing ka Raffy Tulfo.”

That was what one netizen said when he saw how far his idol has fallen, implying that the concept of a very public barangay hall-cum-courthouse is quite acceptable.

The main concern, apparently, is not that Tulfo acted like a judge-and-jury but that he went too far. But hasn’t he, by having his show to begin with?

The Limjuco episode is again an indictment of our society. Ordinary people no longer trust the system to settle grievances no matter how slight. The prevailing perception, rightly or wrongly, is that the justice system mostly skews to the rich and the powerful, and those who have the right connections.

In other words, the likes of Tulfo did not invent the system. They merely exploited it.

And the fact that people still continue to tune in — and weigh in their own opinions about the episode’s “verdict” — implies that mob mentality and trials by publicity are very much alive in our society.

And now, more than ever, other people’s miseries are our source of entertainment.

We have front row seats to society imploding.

And we seem happy about it.

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