Why so serious? Online Backlash Against Janine Tugonon

Let’s begin with saying I don’t care about Janine Tugonon. Or BB. Pilipinas, for that matter. If it wasn’t for recent controversies regarding her statements and attitudes on Kris Aquino‘s TV Show, I would have no idea who she was. I saw a clip of that incident, I read people’s statements, and, hey, I still don’t care. What is more fascinating, however, is to see how people have reacted towards that incident and what this means for us as a nation.

For those who are unaware, Ms. Tugonon is Miss Universe-Philippines 2012 and first runner-up to Miss Universe. That’s not really important. I’m sure it is to some people. On a television program by Kris Aquino, both Ms. Tugonon and her then-boyfriend were cooking with Kris. (As expected, Kris Aquino was, of course, non-participatory in the cooking itself.) Okay, you’re runner-up for Miss Universe, you’re being ordered around in the kitchen by Kris Aquino, your boyfriend’s beside you, and you’re being annoyed by an excessively flamboyant gay man.

Then you mention that you’ve been casually texting and tweeting with someone from The Script (which I presume is a pretty popular band. I don’t listen to them.) You also mention how you and your boyfriend have been having problems.

Now, people, look: Because of that mere incident, you have been branded as an online slut, as a whore of Babylon, as malandi. Suddenly, you’re the butt of jokes and the victim of hatred. Sure, fine.

Can we look at the facts:

(1) She’s a human being. Sure, we love it when our “icons” fall down. It’s schadenfreude (Isn’t it interesting that the Germans have a term for happines at the misfortune of others?). We can laugh at it, we can mock it, sure, if it’s all done in jest. But it’s interesting how some of the people commenting on the issue seem so involved, it’s unbelievable. Note the difference:

—-> OMG, pare, have you heard about Janine? She’s so malandi! Hahaha. Okay, so yung basketball game…


—> OMG, pare, have you heard about Janine? She’s so malandi! I’m so naiirita. Bakit ba ganyan siya? Bakit ba ganyan lahat ng babae malalandi?

See the difference?

(2) She’s really no worse than you. Sabi nga ni Jesus Christ, let who among us without sin be the first to condem. Oh wait, that was from Rent. Well, I’m sure Jesus also said something to that extent. Anyway, was what she did really that bad? She talked about her personal life on TV — which IS what mass culture wants, the parading and fetishizing of the personal lives of icons. So she had an affair. So fucking what?

If we start measuring people by that standard, then I would be more than willing to stand and take equal blame. I’ve done worse things than that. And I’m sure you have. Please, let’s stop with the hypocrisy, let’s stop pretending that no one cheats around, no one sleeps around, that everyone’s nice and virginal. Take a look at your life. I’m sure there’s something there that if shown on TV could become a meme.

(3) We really shouldn’t call women sluts. Sometimes we joke about it, sometimes we’re earnest about it, but allow me to be politically anal about this but I really don’t like tossing words such as “slut” and “malandi” into the air. Sometimes I do if only to rob the word of its power, but people fail to understand that being labelled as a slut goes a long way into demonizing female sexuality.

OMG! She’s a woman who has two guys! OMG! She’s malandi!

Women are women, women are people, people have sexuality. I’ll be honest and say I’m not the best person to talk about it, I don’t understand female sexuality as much, what I do know is that they have it and we have to respect that and not demean it by labelling it in derogatory words.

Oh, and you want further proof of this point? Remember, she was “cheating” on the lead singer of The Script.

Has anyone ever called the lead singer of The Script a slut? Remember, he is “breaking up” a “relationship.”

(4) We can be mean, but we have to choose how and why. It’s fun to be mean and the online media is of course the best way to put this. But we have to be careful how and when and why we choose to be critical of issues.

In this case, perhaps, I wouldn’t call her a slut. Because I don’t want to make this a case of sexuality. I could, perhaps, call her immature. But then again that does speak more about the industry than it does about me. The best way, of course, is to call it none of my business and move on with my wonderful life.

Let’s quote Elle Woods though from Legally Blonde: The Musical:

Some girls fight hard, some face the trial, some girls were just meant to smile.

Maybe she’s just the last one. Nothing wrong with that, of course.

Remember, what Pedro says about Steve says more about Pedro than it does about Steve.

(5) Why the hell are you so affected? This is the part that I don’t get. As a society are we conservative enough not to understand female expression — whether it be traditional or devious? We’re actually all deviants deep inside, but we have this whole notion that we have to cover-up our perceived indecendy with a Maria Clara blanket. Be malaswa, just do it inside the bedroom. Outside, we will stone you because you are a whore. We are all whores and we will all pick up the biggest stones and throw it at you! It’s a domestic situation about a boyfriend-girlfriend break-up and infidelity that has escalated into ridiculously large proportions.

Guys, people are fucking starving all over the country. People are being murdered, blown-up, stabbed, raped, kidnapped, forced into slavery, beaten, bullied, massacred, and really all totally evil acts done all over the country.

Nakakahiya naman sa rants niyo ‘di ba?