In this Oct. 17, 2012, a TV show called “La Comay” (roughly translated to "The Godmother"), is seen on a TV set in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

In this Oct. 17, 2012, a TV show called “La Comay” (roughly translated to “The Godmother”), is seen on a TV set in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (AP Photo/Ricardo Arduengo)

Opinion: Why Puerto Rico’s anti-gay puppet must go

It’s time for La Comay and WAPA-TV’s “SuperXclusivo” to go.

On December 4, the co-hosts of Puerto Rico‘s top-rated show, Kobbo Santarrosa (the actor who portrays the puppet La Comay) and Hector Travieso, made some very over-the-top comments surrounding the brutal death of José Enrique Gómez, suggesting that the slain publicist was asking for trouble by visiting an area in Caguas known for gay prostitution. It was classic victim-blaming and it was done in poor taste. As a result, a very public boycott went viral on Facebook, which has led to over 4o brands (and counting) pulling their ads in the last two weeks.

While this is not the first time that the famed puppeteer has engaged in homophobic or hateful comments, it may prove to be the one that hurts his bottom line the most.  To add insult to injury, a reader wrote to the program and was told in an e-mail from the show “anyone who criticizes the program is being influenced by gays,” adding, “We don’ t know whether you are gay or not but you give us the impression you are.”

WAPA has confirmed that the emails were authentic and also added that José E. Ramos, the company’s president, personally apologized to the individual who submitted the original email to “SuperXclusivo.” The following statement from Migdaliz Ortiz Martínez of WAPA’s Public Relations Department was sent to NBC Latino in response to our requests for comment:

“We agree that the email [the individual] received was highly inappropriate, and we are very sorry. As soon as we received a copy of the email, our president, Jose E. Ramos, called [the individual] personally to apologize for receiving this response.  It was not approved by WAPA and does not reflect the station’s values.”

Anti-gay themes continue to hound the show’s reaction to the boycott. Recently, a pro-Comay page suggested that if La Comay were canceled, it would be a victory for the “gay agenda.” The offending image has been deleted from the pro-Comay’s group Facebook page.

People in Puerto Rico are not the only ones who are taking notice. Earlier this week, after the boycott story made the The New York Times and the HuffPost, Ramos said the network will be monitoring the show’s content with more scrutiny, and even though Ramos said that the show won’t be cancelled, he made sure to add, “at this moment.” That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement.

Meanwhile, the show’s ratings plunged this week. The official reply is that the show is in reruns, but it was still a 12-point drop from November.

It is clear that one cannot build a solid foundation by constantly tearing down people, broadcasting fake stories, and using a bully pulpit to spew division, hate, and homophobia at 6pm every evening under the guise of real news. Eventually people are going to say, “Enough.”

I truly believe that is happening right now. La Comay could have been more humble in admitting its mistakes. It could have drastically altered the tone of the show in response to the boycott. Instead, the show got more stubborn, blamed it on “the gays,” and is now feeling the heat.

Puerto Rico is better without La Comay on the air. A new Puerto Rico is speaking out against anti-gay bigotry and using social media to raise awareness. It is time for the anti-gay puppet to go.

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