The Scoop

I’m nobody, who are you?

-Dickinson

At the risk of sounding snobbish, I still say I loathe watching entertainment talk shows. I have nothing but contempt for the sensationalism and superficiality of it all. They do promote movies and TV shows right and left but could not even discuss anything more intelligent than the actors’ roles and who is or who isn’t that these celebrities are dating. Unfortunately, I had to go to the beauty salon last Sunday [“had to” being the operative term]. The place was crowded and I had to sit in line. In the Philippines, beauticians’ idea of keeping the customers happy and occupied while waiting [fearing they would get bored and cross the street towards the competition], was either to distribute gossip or fashion magazines, or switch on the TV. Which are really limited options as far as I’m concerned. The gossip columns do not differ much from those on boob tube except that the words used are a little bit more creative, meaning, they sometimes masquerade as what is otherwise known as writing. I have long since avoided Vogue and the like as they always make me feel ugly, specially when I try out the [ridiculously expensive] cosmetic and other beauty products endorsed there and still fail to look as flawlessly beautiful as Petra Nemcova [not even close…sigh]. Hence, there was no escaping Showbiz Central, unless I forget having my hair, nails and scales, I mean skin, done [being a woman could not get more complicated than this].

The hosts announced that it was going to be an exciting afternoon as they have both the very controversial [an understatement but for lack of better term it would have to suffice] and warring bombshell Katrina Halili and surgeon/beautification mogul Dr. Vicki Belo in the house, albeit in separate dressing rooms. The drama unfolded just like the TV network anticipated it to. I could just imagine the sky-rocketing viewers’ share it gained with such a feat. Dr. Belo was interviewed first and portrayed the part of the poised professional, as well as the betrayed but generous and forgiving girlfriend, down to a science. On the other hand, underdog Katrina’s public breakdown and futile attempt at denial was gut wrenching and I have no doubt sincere, triggered by several factors such as: having the disadvantage of listening to the iconic doctor’s side of the issue [which of course made Ms Halili look worse than she already did]; the injustice done to her; the shame; the frustration. I was appalled by what transpired. The channel might have been savoring its success at the ratings war but I wonder if it has, including the hosts, even for a second, entertained any thought of how mercenary it appeared. Well, at least to people like me, to narrow it down. If I was prejudiced against these kinds of shows before, I have become even more so after what I witnessed. At first, I was blaming Ms. Halili for allowing herself to be put in such a demeaning position. She was adding insult to her already festering injury. But it turned out unavoidable. After not being able to work for several months because of the trouble that sex video brought her, she is now back to earn a living. And since she works for the same TV station, she had to go face those cameras with her trademark stiff upper lip and promote her new primetime soap. It was just sheer bad luck that her personal life is in shambles. It was a job to be done and the network obviously cared little what she was going through at the moment. She was choked with emotions and could barely speak yet the host, after poking her raw with those sensitive questions designed to bleed every ounce of theatrics for the show, kept on prompting Ms Halili to endorse her upcoming TV drama. Ultimately, it was to the network’s advantage that things were the way they were. In exchange for the “chance” given to Ms Halili, the station probably thought she owed them that live interview. Anybody who thinks Katrina benefited from that capitalization of her situation would have to have a morbid frame of mind. But if she was out to gain more sympathy, then she is getting better as an actress. Taking her word that she came to defend herself, I would not even dare speculate further on Dr. Belo’s real interests for appearing, save to uphold the generalization that women can be stealthily vicious when it comes to rivalries involving men. In the end however, nothing was resolved except that people’s thirst for scandals and intrigues was quenched once more. It certainly set every woman in that beauty shop buzzing. As for weird viewers like me, well, I must humbly admit I am not a loss to Channel 7.

I left the salon looking a little better but more perturbed than ever. In the bigger scheme of things, I was reminded how scary press freedom and the media have become. This is putting on the sidelines the evil things Dr. Hayden Kho did with technology, as well as those who uploaded that compromising video, spreading it all over the internet and probably profiting from it. People might crave for the fame and fortune that the entertainment industry can offer but they sure pay a very high price. A lot of women have been victims as Ms. Halili has been but due to their low, if not, nonexistent profiles, the scope of their humiliation has not been as wide as hers. More importantly, not all of them had the misfortune of being reduced into a pitiable, little big scoop.

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