A NEWS item that came out in this paper last Sunday had me googling the words “videoke” and “killings.” Just when I thought videoke violence is nothing but media exaggeration caused by a dearth of newsworthy events on weekends, this story about a stabbing inside a videoke bar in my hometown of Pinamungajan convinced me the Aquino administration should now create a task force to investigate videoke killings in the country.

If it happens in Pinamungajan–or Timbuktu, or Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland–it happens everywhere.

The task force should be handled not by policemen or NBI agents but by musicians, particularly lyricists. You call the police or the NBI when it’s about drugs, or alcohol, or guns, or Joavan Fernandez. But when it’s about videoke violence, call the songwriter. Unless our law enforcement institutions include “Lyrics as Cause of Violence” in their training, drug raids and checkpoints will never solve videoke killings.

This is Google Research I’m talking about, the most reliable source of information for very serious researchers, like college freshmen and humor columnists. My comprehensive Google research told me video killings are intimately linked to the lyrics of the song that caused the fight. Take “My Way” for example.

A dozen articles dissecting the lyrics of “My Way” crop up when you google “videoke killings.” If you think I’m making this up, here’s an excerpt: “The number of killings connected to singing of the song (My Way) may simply reflect its popularity in a violent environment…The song’s ‘triumphalist’ theme might also be a factor.”

“The lyrics of ‘My Way’ increase the violence,” the study continues. “The lyrics evoke feelings of pride and arrogance in the singer, as if you’re somebody when you’re really nobody…It covers up your failures. That’s why it leads to fights.” The typical Filipino irritates.

It makes sense. Remember the last time you went videoke-ing with your friends, and there’s this guy in the next table singing “Making Love Out of Nothing at All” with all the braggadocio he could muster and you were so damn annoyed by it? Of course you don’t blame the lyrics. “I know just how to whisper/ And I know just how to cry/ I know just where to find the answers/ And I know just how to lie” is down pat annoying but only because you hate Air Supply to begin with.

You want to blow Hitchcock and Russell and their legion of fans to smithereens, not that drunk in the next table. And we’re not talking about the Bee Gees yet.

Now, imagine that same guy screaming, “For what is a man? What has he got? If not himself–Then he has naught…The record shows I took the blows. And did it my way.” Man, that guy’s annoying!

In fairness to Sinatra, he didn’t write “My Way.” It was Paul Anka, who re-wrote it from the original French, which he described as “a bad record, but there was something in it.” That “something” is murdering videoke singers all over the country. Creepy.

The Pinamungajan incident offers an additional twist to the videoke rage phenomenon. The song is not “My Way,” thank God, but Fred Berame’s Cebuano classic “Samtang May Kinabuhi.” In the context of the videoke rage in the country, the song sounds equally creepy.

No, we won’t dissect Berame’s lyrics right now. We’re running out of space. Besides, I hear somebody singing “My Way” at the videoke bar outside, and I have a mission to fulfill. Give me that gun now.

By Insoy Niñal
Sun.Star Cebu, July 20, 2010