Eileen Meehan

Eileen Meehan's Gendering the Commodity Audience: Critical Media Research, Feminism, and Political Economy

The Wowowee Phenomenon
by Paolo Castillo

Eileen Meehan uses the critical approach to understand how the audience commodity is formed in contemporary time. She uses academic intention in her study of the audience and its engenderment as a commodity to certain media forms. She mentions that she has focused on the internal structures of the media-based corporations which shape the form and content of cultural commodities and how these corporations interact with each other externally and through this the media markets are formed. She then takes the feminist approach where she explains how certain media engender their market.

Her analysis focuses on the commodity audience of national television. She begins how critical researchers described the media as consciousness industries that made texts embody dominant ideologies, which are absorbed by the general audience members as naturalized and common sense. Then she argues that according to Smythe(1977), the media manufactured only one commodity, and that would be the audience. He meant that the audiences were assembled, packaged, and sold to advertisers. Media was neither factories of dreams nor consciousness industries, they were considered as hunter-gatherers of the audience.

She then mentions that importance of the element concerning the audience: that advertisers wanted bona fide consumers who have disposable income, access, the desire to purchase brand names, and to buy on impulse. Then she mentions that the audience is a market where they are sold as information packages acting as advertisers of a certain product as well. They become facts and figures more than real human beings.

Looking at the media giant ABS-CBN, they have produced countless shows that have assembled, packaged, and sold audiences nationwide and today, on an international basis through the TFC channel. They have been part of the media that creates gender markets where their rating dependency is on the gender that watches. One specific show that they have produced and has been one of their most successful shows in terms of market share of the audience is the noontime show Wowowee. This game show that premiered in 2005 is hosted by the Willie Revillame and currently co-hosted by Mariel Rodriguez, Valerie, Conception, and Pokwang.

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http://www.filipinasoul.com/wp-content/uploads/2006/12/wowowee.jpg http://psychogoddess.files.wordpress.com/2007/09/willie1.jpg

How has this show created a market that is considered engendered? Beginning with the host to be male is something that has affected its creation of a market. As a male host, Willie Revillame symbolizes a man who would be there in one’s darkest hours and lowest moments. This image is further strengthened with him sympathizing the not only the Filipinos as a people, but the Filipinos as individuals as well. He would ask how almost every contestant on the show how they are and depending on their reactions whether sad, happy, grieved, betrayed, and every other human emotion out there, he would act as if he gave a damn. Through this he has become an image of a dominant male that sells to the audience composed mostly of women who have been in different crises of their lives especially those who belong to the lower class of the Filipino society. When he offers his lending hand not one manang from a sari-sari store is waiting, but tens of thousands of them nationwide. With the use of an image as the man who seems to have it all and is willing to offer a hand (giving away free money, who wouldn’t want that), thousands flock to him almost as if he were some god. In this light the women of the lower class of society have been packaged into a commodity that becomes part of the engendered market. Not only that, these women also become advertisers of the show where they would spread the word about this man on television willing to help out in the turmoil that Filipinos face.


Women aren’t only a bulk of the engendered market that Wowowee creates. With the use of women in their own show, they engender their market to be male-oriented as well. They do this by putting attractive female co-host alongside the dominant male host. These co-hosts are actually advertising models that have had a career in show business for quite some time. As these women act as permanent co-host, not only women are attracted to watch the show because of Willie, but the men of society as well. With these attractive hosts wearing short cocktail dresses and dancing to the beat of the music and sometimes performing certain songs, the male gaze is definitely caught in the whirlwind that shapes the show’s market. What reinforces their attraction of the male gaze is their past exploitation of themselves as sexy models for different ads such as underwear ads or ads concerning weight loss. From here the audience is constructed according to the male gaze where men are also able to enjoy this light noontime game show.


Not only are the co-host feminine, but the dancers as well. Almost every dancer onstage is a thin, light-skinned, attractive female that dances as the game show progresses. Not only do they dance for the show, they also advertise certain products that sponsor the show. They read out lines from cue cards and express the advertisement in a sultry manner.This makes Willie truly look like he has it all, money, women, and influence. From this men can see Willie as a role model because his image as a gentle, loving and caring host seems to be rewarded with money, fame, and women. This image sets the standard for the male audience of the show. Here men are made into audience that role play and wish that they become someone like Willie. Here the market is engendered as men-oriented.

In conclusion, this show definitely gives Meehan’s argument reinforcement in gendering the audience commodity according to how the industry disseminates its information. In my opinion, the show Wowowee has done a good job in hording a market of audience commodities but when it comes to the method, it’s just pure trash shown on television.

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