Sheldon Cooper, the socially-awkward physicist of the Big Bang Theory fame (currently #1 Comedy Show), popularized the word “Bazinga!” as his catchphrase for a cruel joke on the set. First heard in the Season 2 finale, the word gave birth to life in 2012 when a newly discovered specie, an orchid bee, Euglossa Bazinga, was named after it.
Sheldon himself has been immortalized in the heavens. With a global fan base, his fictional character was cultivated so well from the figment of his creators’ imagination that an asteroid, 246247sheldoncooper, is now also named after him.
With its narrators mastering the art of translating fiction to reality, the show’s legacy is secured – Big Bang Theory is now the most valuable money-making franchise of Continental Broadcasting Corporation (“CBS”).
CBS and Showbusiness
CBS also owns the rights to the controversial show Madam Secretary, where the US Secretary of State, Elizabeth McCord (played by award-winning Tea Leoni), punches the fictional Philippine President Andrada in the face after being groped from behind while on a diplomatic visit in Malacañang.
Currently the #1 network in the United States, CBS raked in more than $13 Billion in 2016 by delivering hits such as Big Bang Theory, NCIS and Blue Bloods, as well as owning Showtime, which made record earnings from the 2015 Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
But Cable TV is an extremely tough business, so the networks have to remain creative to ensure success in the most important measure that drives profits – TV ratings:
With 11+ Million viewers, CBS ratings are falling and under constant threat from NBC (The Voice, Saturday Night Live) and ABC (The Bachelor, Grey’s Anatomy). Hence its executives always spin new narratives for its shows, including Madam Secretary… and set the trap they did.
The DFA takes the bait
The statement from the DFA is a response to the genius of a gambit by CBS to develop a story around the Philippine leader, aptly described by Elizabeth McCord as “an erratic strongman…. insecure and weak, forcing himself on women to feel powerful.”
The statement generated significant coverage and publicity a week prior to the March 12 episode. Malacañang is worried that the show shines a negative light on the Office of the President of the Republic of the Philippines. But not quite, the whole world already knows of President Duterte’s prejudice against women.
In my years negotiating with the world’s top corporations – one principle holds true on how to capitalize unconventional situations: change the narrative to control the story.
Malacañang has three options:
- Continue the feud with CBS in social media. Further protests after the March 12 episode will not only renew free coverage, it will almost guarantee that President Andrada will again appear at a latter episode, bringing the show’s ratings to new heights.
- Change Duterte’s behavior. A president who disrespects women – with his multiple girlfriends, his treatment of his VP, his remarks on Undersecretary Berna’s legs, his comments on first dibs on an Australian rape victim – need I say more?
- Control the story by changing the narrative. DFA could send a congratulatory note to CBS for its courageous story of Women in power as depicted by the latest episode of Madam Secretary.
Similar to the creators of The Big Bang Theory, Malacañang could give life to this fiction by creating an alternate reality – one that promotes the Philippines as a bastion of Women’s rights.
Women’s Rights in the Philippines
The World Economic Forum places the Philippines 7th out of 144 countries in its 2016 Global Gender Gap report. Driven by measures such as women labor participation, literacy and health, the Philippines is a great country in Asia to be a woman (Laos and Singapore are at 43rd and 55th place, respectively)
The Philippines has the most comprehensive laws protecting women’s rights in Asia, including the Magna Carta of Women (Republic Act 9710) amongst others – guaranteeing the fundamental right to be treated equally as men in education, economy, society, health and politics.
But our culture and way of life speak something else. Having traveled and lived extensively across Confucian-influenced societies in Asia, I have witnessed women be treated worse than 2nd class citizens – from being dictated by decorum to walk a few steps behind the man, having career options limited to secretarial careers or being hopeless in the face of domestic abuse, amongst countless other stories.
Without saying that there still is a lot of room to improve women’s rights in the Philippines, I am grateful that the Philippines’ treatment of women is one of the most evolved in Asia – thanks to the Western influence brought about by the American occupation more than 100 years ago.
Sadly, President Duterte is threatening to set us eons back on these same rights. As Asia’s first democracy, we had lost these principles in less than a generation under the Marcos regime. We should not allow the same beating to happen with our progress in protecting Women’s rights.
Thank you Madam Secretary
President Duterte’s real-life actions and disparaging remarks against women is damaging the moral compass of our children, and the world knows about it…. It just took a modern-day parable in the guise of Madam Secretary standing up against a fictional leader to get an official statement from Malacañang.
Madam Secretary is showing women and children that success and power is not monopolized by men.
Madam Secretary’s latest episode is telling women and children to stand up even against the most powerful abusers.
Finally, Malacañang has taken notice.
And the joke is on Malacañang: its officials are barking helplessly while Madam Secretary is expanding its reach to millions of Filipinos, driving its ratings up, and imparting a valuable lesson to women and children alike. Kudos to the executives at CBS – Bazinga!