in truth i was so happy for Kim Chiu, showing us all how she is human — a smart one at that — who knows what she owes showbiz reporters and what she doesn’t. it’s the same joy i had about Anne Curtis going crazy in a club, where her sense of self is revealed for all the world to see, and oh yes! there is bite in the sweetie-pie image after all!
the latter is why i think these moments are utter and absolute successes for the women who watch local popular culture. these are limited successes yes, but successes nevertheless. because in this age of manufactured perfection for our celebrities, these moments reveal to us how they are in fact human. they are not the dolls that local showbiz makes them to be; they are not stupid girls who know not what they are doing. this is not a simple case of a management company investing in them and controlling them: they are individuals who know exactly what they are doing, and what they are in the limelight for. they know what aspects of their persons are not captured by that camera at all.
and yes, they get tired, they make mistakes — as was the spin for Anne going bonkers and slapping people around (literally). but this one with Kim was no mistake. in fact i LOVED her for it, because it also reminded me of how vapid the local press can be, it reminded me of how deliberate they are in asking the same questions over and over again, almost to the point of badgering celebrities (and anyone really), until they get the answer that they want.
and this is the thing. this is not limited to members of the showbiz press. press nights for theater productions always remind me too about how very few are really there to do honest reviews of what they just saw. instead they are out to ask the easy questions that will allow them to understand the production better. and once the reviews are out, one realizes these are not reviews; these are feature articles, complete with quotes from the press night’s post-performance chika with the cast and production.
certainly we hear it too with the Malacañang press corps. questions are repeated to the point of redundancy, as if the spokesperson will change his answer from one minute to the next. it’s a waste of time really, when there are questions that can be about going deeper into an issue or asking the more difficult — because more complex — questions about it.
and really, it couldn’t be that there was nothing else to ask Kim at this point in her career. yes she was promoting a movie with Xian Lim, but my goodness, ask her about herself. did anyone at all ask her about this particular film genre that she’s found herself doing? where, unlike other actresses of her generation, her maturity has not simply been about doing older roles? where her uniqueness is in being able to do films where she doesn’t mind being funny, if not un-pretty? where she isn’t doing the rom-coms that are light and easy, but doing real genre comedy, with much of it premised on improbability, daring to be fiction and nothing else? why could we not ask her about this comedic turn, one that is also not just about delivering punchlines but is also about a lot of physical comedy, one that not even Toni Gonzaga does? in fact the only one who used to do this was Maricel Soriano.
and no, this is not to say she should be just as taray. in fact i believe that much of the image that ABS-CBN has created for Kim is exactly the real Kim — i watched her on Pinoy Big Brother after all. but there is such a thing as getting tired of questions that are the same, and there is always reason to put into question the ones who are asking questions. and in fact she was right: celebrities do not owe the press their personal lives. and in this country that’s been lived up by many others before Kim, including Maricel Soriano. say, Judy Ann Santos who announced the relationship with Ryan Agoncillo, and the wedding, on her own terms. say, Sarah Geronimo who is able to disengage from discussions about her romantic life.
one wonders why Kim can’t be given the same leeway. it’s not as if she’s some newbie who has to kowtow to the entertainment press. neither was there anything disrespectful with what she said, especially since it would’ve been great were there some respect for her, too. say, talk about the profession she is in, instead of her love life. elsewhere in the world the notion of “we don’t owe you our personal lives” is in celebrities suing the paparazzi for invading in their right to privacy. and yes that is different, but also, it is the same: the entertainment press has been about getting into the personal lives of celebrities instead of talking about the work they are doing. there is something fundamentally wrong with that.
and also: what would the entertainment press have rathered? that Kim evade the question to kingdom come? that all celebrities who are badgered with the same question that has nothing to do with the movie they are promoting, just sweetly answer no comment? the thing is, those questions are such a measure of the entertainment press’s limitations. that Kim felt she could answer in the way she did was a refreshing show of maturity from someone who has grown up in front of our eyes.
because this is a celebrity culture that creates women who are meek and voiceless, and the entertainment press — uncritical as it is — has gotten so used to the power they hold over this manufactured stereotype. this moment with Kim should be a reason to level-up, it should be reason for the entertainment press to prove that they’ve got more in their bag of tricks other than delving into celebrities lives. so many other showbiz writers and reporters have levelled up through the years. why can’t everyone?
because here Kim proved that she’s got something between her ears, and she’s coming into an independent voice that is so absolutely rare for ABS-CBN’s stable of stars — if not all of showbizlandia. and in the midst of women with fake bodies, and young stars selling whitening; in the midst of coy and timid answers from the female celebrity; given the capacity of celebrities like Kris Aquino to air her dirty laundry and talk about her sex life in public.
in the midst of all these kinds of women that celebrity culture sells us, is one Kim Chiu. she who dared chew the head off the stereotype of being a female celebrity. thank heavens for that.