Blood on the Red Carpet

(Oh, the things I do just to make my readers happy. Sigh. Wait, I’m just being sarcastic. As a journalist, I genuinely enjoy the stuff I write for you 90 percent of the time. 😉 There was a time earlier in my career when I covered regular Philippine show biz events, especially awards nights, and did fashion reviews on the side.

(I no longer do it, not because I find it hopeless to teach certain celebrities some fashion sense. I don’t, simply because I’m no longer part of my paper’s entertainment section. But to be fair to our local celebs, you’d be surprised because a lot of them do have good taste, either innate or honed through constant exposure to finer things.

GRETCHEN Barretto cries herself a river (starmometer)

(Of course, if all else fails, there’s the creative and well-paid stylist to rely on. But back when I started doing this in the late ’90s, stylists weren’t that many, and not all stars saw the need to hire one. Thus, it was a hit or miss thing as far as their wardrobe was concerned. And I “suffered” for saying it, as I incurred the ire of both stars and their designers.

(In an earlier entry, I told you that I would also post occasional nostalgia pieces and, if you would allow me, articles I wrote earlier in my career, which I hope you still find fresh and relevant in this day and age of blogs, Twitter and Facebook.

(The story below came out in the “red carpet” issue of Metro magazine sometime in 2005. Those of you who have followed my career would easily understand where I’m coming from in this essay.

(Originally titled “The Hazards of Red Carpet Reporting,” I’m sharing it again with you, especially to those who failed to read it the first time around.  Enjoy!–AYV)

IN the mercurial world of fashion, it has often been said that what goes around comes around. To a certain degree, the same condition also applies to the essential but thankless job of doing fashion reviews on the Red Carpet.

As I write this, letters from Maricel Soriano’s grateful fans are still coming my way via e-mail. After having cited their idol as the best-dressed female star in the recent Luna Awards, I have just earned profuse thanks from “Maricelians” the world over. This certainly is a first in my career.

One letter writer even went as far as calling the “Diamond Star” his “Inay” (mother). Does this mean they’re now ready to see her playing mother to the likes of Angel Locsin, Heart Evangelista and Anne Curtis? Another referred to her as his “life.”

GRETA, the show biz “royalty,” as her glamorous self (stylebible.ph)

Not a few thanked me, though, for my “unbiased” opinion in favor of Maricel. It thrills them no end, they said, whenever a “good and fair” review comes along.

Rather than feel elated, I shrugged off such feedback as part of the high that die-hard fans, who live vicariously through their idols, experience every time their objects of admiration are viewed in a positive light.

I would have left it at that, until it dawned on me who these people were: the very same guys who vilified me no end two years ago after a “biased” fashion review I wrote concerning Maricel offended them.

No, I hold no grudges against them. But it seemed no matter how hard I tried to explain my position to them then, they saw my piece as nothing but pure, unadulterated “thrash” dished out by an ugly and depraved “gay” who’s jealous of Maricel’s success. How can I argue with such thinking?

Like what an irate Rosanna Roces did to me a year earlier on TV, not a few of them challenged me to look at myself first in the mirror before I wielded my poison pen. (That I almost did, but not after I considered playing Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” to help me face up squarely to flaws I have yet to discover or acknowledge about myself.)

Worse, some have even accused me of being a hired hack working for Sharon Cuneta, Maricel’s rival. Excuse me, but why only associate me with the “Megastar,” I almost wrote back. Am I not good enough for Madonna?

Indeed, such have been the hazards of doing fashion reviews, and I have yet to go beyond what I’ve gone through with fans. The stars themselves, as proven by Rosanna and, to a certain extent, Gretchen Barretto, can be equally vocal about their wrath.

ROSANNA “Osang” Roces proves to be a heavy cross (on my part) to bear. Natch! (abante.com.ph)

What was laughable about it was Osang seemed to be flailing at an invisible enemy since, she, as well as 99.9 percent of all Filipinos, didn’t know who I am or what I looked like. There couldn’t have been a better way to waste precious airtime.

Osang’s anger was fueled by an article I wrote concerning her, one which she didn’t even bother to answer point by point. For someone who came close to saying cuss words on TV, she even had the gall to espouse peace in the end.

Instead of feeling aghast by it all, however, I found the entire experience weird. What did viewers gain from the entire exercise, anyway? If it was any consolation, I suddenly found myself becoming an enigma to the entire country, if only for a few minutes, thanks to the Flawless One.

Gretchen, whom I’ve always admired (not envied!) for being blessed with such a lovely face, was more melodramatic in her approach.

Unlike Osang, though, teary-eyed Greta didn’t mention me by name as she proclaimed to the entire world that I got it all wrong. Despite her ostentatious display of jewelry, not even in her wildest dreams did she aspire to be accepted in high society. Being part of showbiz royalty, she claimed, was good enough for her. Okay, if you say so.

Suddenly, the tables had been turned. Not only did these stars take my comments about their outfits out of context, they virtually put words into my mouth! From being a news reporter, I unwittingly found myself becoming a newsmaker.

And what about fashion designers? While not a few are genuinely kind and broad-minded enough to accept constructive criticism, some consider bad reviews as an affront not only to their creativity, but also to their character.

Although no one has yet to hurl a pair of scissors at me in public, I’ve heard a few times from sources that certain designers wanted me banned from covering their shows. Some eventually relented after taking their cue, perhaps, from the starlets they dress up: Bad publicity is better than no publicity at all.

MARICELIANS, not Maricel Soriano herself, make their sentiments known. And how! (pep.ph)

POPS Fernandez, often the object of my criticisms in the past, is a real lady to the end. The letter she wrote me expressed more her hurt than her anger. She even gifted me with packs of ground coffee. I was beginning to appreciate the gesture, until a colleague, a shade more malicious than I, told me that the coffee was Pops’ way of rousing me from my illusions. Still, I commend her for the gesture. (celebrity.hotspot.com)

This entire hullabaloo about covering what the stars wore on the Red Carpet reminds me of the misgivings my Dad once had when I chose to take up journalism during the twilight years of the Marcos regime.

We all know what happened to those who dared oppose the strongman.

Such was my father’s relief when I chose to focus on the relatively “safe and insignificant” realm of lifestyle reporting. That was, until the day he heard his son’s name being maligned on TV by an aging bold star.

True, unlike some of our beleaguered colleagues who deal with hard news, those of us in the lifestyle and entertainment beats don’t have to routinely dodge bombs and bullets in the pursuit of a story. Rather than face the firing line, we deal with hemlines and trends as we try to beat the deadline.

But if dagger looks, toxic talk shows and explosive e-mails from disgruntled fans could kill, I would have been dead and buried a long time ago. On the bright side, at least I won’t have to endure bad gowns, emotional fans and uncouth actresses in the after life.

2 thoughts on “Blood on the Red Carpet

  1. Hahaha, I have read this before but I still enjoyed reading it again. That photo of the has-been Osang is very appropriate! 🙂

    • Thank you! If only for Osang’s photo, I would have been paid in full. Now I have to find a topic that I could slip Marge in to even the score.;-P Remember, she was the snitch that allowed Osang to know in advance that a rebuttal from me is coming her way that Sunday. She booked herself in one of those afternoon showbiz talk shows and the rest is history. She and Marge were “classmates” in this esoteric organization (I’d rather not name it) that forbids its members from eating meat. Marge, di pa ako tapos sa iyo. Hahaha!

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