the trailer of the movie “Ang Taba Ko Kasi,” a trailer that has been online since February 1, a good month and half ago, has been deemed by the Movie Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) as unfit for public exhibition. lead actress Cai Cortez posted the MTRCB decision on her instagram, obviously and understandably exasperated by the decision.
Cortez is correct to demand an explanation, not just for those who were part of making the film, but really, for the rest of us who are being told that we will not know how to handle this material, that we will be offended by it.
because that is at the heart of the MTRCB’s existence, yes? and this is what is wrong here: it imagines that it has the intelligence and maturity to decide for us what it is we can and cannot watch, what it is we can and cannot handle. of course in the process it just proves that it is nothing but a conservative institution, one that is so out-of-touch with the times, and absolutely uneducated about what it is we need at this point, that they still think a word holds only one meaning, and can only be used in one way, and can be taken out of context.
it’s hilarious really. i’d be laughing if it weren’t so dangerous.
because how many women have fought for our right to take the words that hurt us and use these as weapons, reclaim these and make it our source of power, say it and write it and insist it means differently, it means more than just what oppresses us, or insults us, or offends us?
and for contemporary film — in which the MTRCB should be experts — is this not a refreshing take on the rom-com, and the romance and the comedy separately? does this not instantly level-up the discourse on all these genres given the dominance of rom-coms with predictable stories and endings? given the dominance of comedies that use contemporary slapstick ala vice ganda? given romances that are becoming more and more impossible and unbelievable, and now going in the direction of unoriginal?
a film like Ang Taba Ko Kasi intervenes in this state of affairs, and “the strong offensive language / insult on the appearance of the person” which is the basis of the MTRCB’s x rating, reveals nothing but the fact that they just do not get it.
the MTRCB does not know of the cultural context that is integral to understanding the importance of films like this one; they have no sense of what’s happening in women’s discourses. if they knew better, they would realize that we are all ready and excited and willing to watch a movie such as this one.
after all: women are called fat by every TV commercial and billboard that asserts that we need to be a certain weight, and fit into a certain size. stand-up comedians make fun of women’s weight and looks all the time, on nationwide TV and in film, too. those are offensive, and hurtful, and yet no one censors these.
the MTRCB’s x-rating on Ang Taba Ko Kasi is not only a backward, conservative, ill-informed decision; it is also one that is anti-woman. and it can only weigh heavier on women’s month when what ultimately what we assert, what we have been taught to believe, and what remains true is that we have a right to define ourselves, by words that hurt, by words that empower, by words that are ours.