(Warning: Spoilers ahead!)
The votes are in, and viewers have posted their rave reviews — Antoinette Jadaone’s Fan Girl is, without a doubt, MMFF’s shining hope across a history of often one-dimensional movies. It’s risquÃ©, it’s relevant, and most of all, it’s relatable. Maybe too relatable.
Indeed, the relationship between Charlie Dizon’s obsessive fangirl and Paulo Avelino’s duplicitous celebrity-slash-idol exposes the starved character of our escapism. We risk our lives, our dignity, to defend, stalwartly and secretly, our revered idols from critics and even from fellow fans whose idolatry we deem lesser than ours.
If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Just in case Jane’s descent in her own obsession (and Paulo’s prosthetic phallus) made us miss it, Jadaone promptly reminded the audience that the idols we’re so deluded into worshipping aren’t always seen on the big screen; sometimes they’re seated in the MalacaÃ±ang.
As those two shots featuring our President’s face lingered on our laptop screen, we are subtly nudged into expanding our self-evaluations. Maybe, just maybe, the dick jokes, the abusive language towards women, and the blatant disregard for the welfare of their own blind devotees will hit as hard as any truths the movie expressed and will be as big of a deal to us as Paulo peeing with his penis out on the side of the highway.
And it isn’t just the parallelism between these symbols that’s disconcerting: it’s also the likeness between the fates of blind believers and Jane’s own fate within the film. In a cruel, twisted way, Jane’s unlikely access to the hush-hush horrors of Paulo’s patriarchy was a privilege: it shattered her deep-seated illusions and shook her out of her self-imposed hypnosis. It took Paulo beating a woman and kidnapping a child before she realized that enough was enough. She finally went against his will not because these acts were inherently immoral for especially her idol to commit, but because it was starting to resemble the life that she risked her dignity to depart from. She couldn’t afford to be afflicted by the same traumas twice.
Sadly, as necessary as Jane’s rude awakening may sound, we cannot consciously arrive at that point. This makes sense when we realize how much verbal abuse and mental torment Jane got and paid no heed to before she decided to cut the cord with Paulo. As unhealthy as our fanaticism may be, we cannot shake ourselves out of it except if our idols hit something close to home.
After all, there’s a reason why believers call themselves “die-hard.”