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What Doesn’t Make a Man

Review of This Guy’s In Love With U Mare! (dir. Wenn Deramas)

Skilty Labastilla

Let’s cut to the chase: This Guy’s In Love With U Mare! is shrill, unfunny, and disturbing.

Vice Ganda plays Lester, a beauty salon owner who has been in a three-year relationship with Mike (Luis Manzano). When Lester forces Mike to propose marriage to him, Mike breaks up with him because he has converted to a new religion that forbids homosexual relationships. Lester is devastated. When he finds out later that Mike is seeing a girl named Gemma (Toni Gonzaga), Lester vows revenge by pretending to be straight so he can woo Gemma and break off her relationship with Mike, who he hopes will come back to his arms again.

The plot, though highly improbable, is not the problem: it’s how simplistically and haphazardly Deramas and co-writers treat their characters. You don’t believe for a second that these are flesh-and-blood people: they are cardboard cutouts manipulated by the scriptwriters’ strings. For instance, it’s never shown why Lester would hastily decide on doing a risky undertaking just for somebody who he barely even knows: it is intimated that throughout their three-year relationship, Mike is pretty much an absentee boyfriend and his only motive for staying in the relationship is because his education was sponsored by Lester. But he does anyway. Why? Maybe the sex is good? But we don’t know that for sure because we’re never told. He just has to get Mike back because the script says so.

Mike does not realize (even if it’s obvious) that Gemma’s parents don’t want him to be their daughter’s partner. He endures the humiliation of never being invited to sit down at Gemma’s family dinners. But he stays. Why? Because the script says so.

Gemma is shown to slowly fall in love with Lester because 1) he beat up four people to save her, and 2) he took her to an Aegis/April Boy concert. That’s it. So she kisses him (or so she thinks) on her front porch and conveniently forgets that she has a boyfriend. Even if there’s zero chemistry between them, Gemma has to fall in love with Lester. Why? BECAUSE THE SCRIPT SAYS SO.

But the film’s bigger sins, in my opinion, has little to do with its filmmaking and everything to with its peddling of disturbing messages. I list down three:

1. To be deemed as a straight man, one has to be physically violent.

To impress Gemma, Lester had to pretend-maul his friends who made like masked robbers about to victimize Gemma. They got her bag, but instead of running to save her life, she watched for at least five minutes as Lester pretended to beat the crap out of his friends. When Lester was done, she thanks her knight-in-shining-and-shimmering-armor and brings him to meet the parents, who were equally impressed with his fighting skills, unlike those of Gemma’s “lampa boyfriend”.

When Lester and Gemma go to a comedy bar, the gay hosts immediately outed Lester. He took the hosts backstage, told them that he needs to pretend to be straight, so he mauled the hosts onstage, and everyone in the bar, including Gemma, was happy because he has proved his manhood.

A related incident is when Mike and Lester are in the zoo. Mike, having been fed up with Lester’s entreaties to become his boyfriend again, punches Lester in the gut and locks him inside a tiger’s lair. And the audience is supposed to laugh. Does this finally stop Lester from pursuing Mike? Of course not. It only makes him more determined. If that isn’t a reinforcement of a twisted tolerance for abusive relationships, I don’t know what is.

2. Making fun of people whose looks do not meet society’s standards of beauty is completely OK.

A constant butt of jokes is a character who is dark-skinned, short, snub-nosed, and has a pockmarked face. This is actually the type of humor that is commonly found in our country’s comedy bars, where Vice Ganda began his career. It’s utterly childish and superficial.

3. Gay men will lust after every young man they see. They just can’t help it. It’s in their nature.

When Lester fetches Gemma from home so he can bring her to her office, he suddenly sees a group of young, sweaty men on the street. He ditches his date so he can hang out with the guys (who don’t know him). There are many more scenes just like that: Lester blissing out in a men’s locker room, Lester playing basketball with Gemma’s brother so he can feel him up, etc.

This is not to say that these scenarios don’t happen in the real world. But what’s dangerous is it reinforces the stereotype of gay men as voracious sexual predators. Vice Ganda is arguably the most well-known gay man in the country. With great power comes great responsibility, Spiderman tells us. Vice didn’t write the script, yes, but he has the power to suggest revisions to the script to avoid negative portrayals of gays in movies.

If blockbuster movies are like windows to a nation’s soul, Filipinos should be scared. Star Cinema does not need your money. If you’re planning to watch this, do yourself a favor and give your P180 instead to someone who needs it. Your soul will be much happier.

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Image from: entervrexworld.wordpress.com

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Posted by on 12 October 2012 in Film Review

 

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