REGAL’S “BEN X JIM FOREVER” Leads Defend STRAIGHT GUYS Playing GAY LOVERS in BL Series

From a trickle that turned into a flood, the amount of boy’s love media that Filipinos have access to has become something that cannot be ignored. At first only seeing imported BL programs, local producers have started churning out their own works too. And as mainstream TV programming might still be uncomfortable with airing series featuring guys falling in love, these productions have made themselves at home with streaming platforms. Shows like “Gameboys” and “Ben x Jim” are freely viewable on the YouTube pages of their creators, The IdeaFirst Company and Regal Entertainment, respectively. But critics have pointed out how the media’s boy-lovers tended to be portrayed by straight guys.

Inquirer.net reports that “Ben x Jim” co-lead actor Jerome Ponce has something to say about viewers of boys love series who believe that such love pairings should be played by genuine members of the LGBT+ community. Asked about his opinion during a recent Regal Entertainment press event, Ponce notes that he always gives his best in whatever role he plays, even in his “Ben x Jim” character of Jim Alcantara, and he does not need to be LGBT+ himself in order to channel the characterization of a gay man properly.

“The reason we are called actors is that we are capable of not just pretending to be the character, but also of feeling it and living it,” says Ponce, who also happens to have past gay roles under his belt. When this was pointed out during the media gathering, the Kapamilya actor elaborated that he wanted to play as many varied roles as he could during this stage of his acting career, though he was surprised at how big his latest show, alongside Teejay Marquez, has become on online streaming. Marquez adds that there will always be those who will bash how they do things, but that they can deal as part of their jobs.

Regal Entertainment’s “Ben x Jim” ran seven episodes on YouTube, premiering from October to November 2020. In a way, it shares similarities with The IdeaFirst Company’s own BL series “Gameboys,” in that the lead characters ended up coming together with the COVID-19 pandemic as a catalyst. In the former’s case, it is about Ben Mendoza (Marquez), who is stuck at home during the pandemic and unable to graduate college, and his reunion with childhood friend Jim (Ponce), who returns from living in Davao to wait things out. Positive reception to the series led to Regal Entertainment announcing a sequel, “Ben x Jim Forever,” on January 16. It premiered on Regal’s YouTube channel this February 12.

Image from Philippine Entertainment Portal

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