Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tomorrow's toilet paper is today's silly libel case

What's your take on the Piolo-Sam-Lolit brouhaha? The P12-million libel suit filed by the two actors against Lolit is, I think, ill-advised and silly. The issue about Piolo and Sam allegedly being seen at Sofitel Hotel would have died a natural death after a couple of weeks of breathless chatter. Such is show-biz. Chismis fountainheads like “The Buzz" and “StarTalk” simply move on to juicier topics after a controversy has outlived its 15 minutes of notoriety. But now that Piolo and Sam have gone to court, they've simply kept the issue alive and made it grist for more kvetching by everyone. Including me.

It's not the first time that Piolo has had his gender preferences questioned. I don't like Lolit Solis, but she is right on one thing. The likes of Alfie Lorenzo and Pete Ampoloquio in their sleazy tabloid columns have regularly accused Piolo of being gay without their being dragged before a judge. I heard from some sources that between the two, Piolo was more reluctant to hale Lolit to court, while Sam was all for it. A warning here: this being the show-biz grapevine, you need your oversized grain of salt when dealing with third-hand talk like that. However, I find the story quite plausible, given the far worse treatment Piolo has received from other quarters with nary a peep from the actor.

Somebody, or some people, must have goaded these two to formalize their hurt feelings in court this time. A jump from the frying pan to the fire, if you ask me. Now, not only are people chuckling at their dramatic “We're not gay!” protestations, the comments made by their counsel, Atty. Joji Alonzo, have fanned the flames even more with their undisguised cluelessness and condescension.

As Atty. Alonzo put it, they're pushing through with the lawsuit “Because up to this day, we all know for a fact that again, with all due courtesy to the members of the third sex, it is not still an accepted thing in this country.” Piolo and Sam are victims because their “bankability” as actors and commercial endorsers have been compromised. Sila yung pinagtatawanan, sila yung pinagsasabihan na, 'Ay, bakit natin susuportahan ang mga ganito sa pelikula, mga bakla naman 'yan, they're not saleable as leading men.'”

John Silva's smackdown of Atty. Alonzo is a must-read for the nuanced, elegant way he demolishes the lawyer's contentions. No, he's not out to prove that Piolo and Sam are indeed gay. With how Atty. Alonzo has framed the discussion, it's not simply about that anymore.

Mr. Silva takes her to task for the glib, offensive assumptions that undergird her defense of her clients against the vile-outrageous-horrifying “gay” tag. The points he raises are also what went through my head when I saw the picture of the two actors holding a copy of their court papers for the camera, with Atty. Alonzo in the middle nearly stealing the scene with her frightening tiim-bagang pose. Akting na akting si Attorney a! (Wait--that Inquirer photo is not online, I'll find a copy and post it here. Update: Here it is.)

Mr. Silva contrasts this case with the story of the former Hollywood heartthrob Tab Hunter, who lived a secret life as a gay man even as he rose to fame as a hunky dreamboat. “At the height of his career, 'Confidential,' a tabloid magazine ran a story about Tab caught by the police after raiding a private gay party. Tab was worried but his producer, the movie mogul Jack Warner didn’t pay the controversy any mind nor issue retractions nor demand that Tab go on 'arranged' dates. He simply told Tab 'Remember this. Today’s headlines--tomorrow’s toilet paper.'”


Lolit Solis was supposed to have seen, with her own two eyes, Piolo and Sam in an amorous situation at a hotel poolside. The actors’ lawyer, Joji Alonso, denied that her clients were there that day. Attorney Alonso contends that such accusations destroy the “bankability” of her clients and fans would no longer watch their movies or attend their concerts if they found out they were gay. The whopping 12 million pesos in moral damages being demanded in the libel suit was to make up for the “mental anguish, besmirched reputation and social humiliation” the actors are now undergoing for being branded gay.

Aside from the movies and the concerts, the two actors, using their grins and bods, have peddled on billboards practically every product known to mankind. If Attorney Alonso now categorically states that her clients can’t sell a can of tuna, and their movies will be boycotted, and they are now mentally distraught because they’ve been called gay, what do you think we gays feel? Suicidal?

Failed marriages, sex, and checking who’s gay is the redundant theme in show biz gossip. If you’re young and handsome and trying to make it in show biz, you’re automatically grist for the rumor mill. A P12-million lawsuit against a hapless columnist with a checkered background and whose writing isn’t worth getting one’s panties in a twist, seems like an overkill.

Lawyer Alonso gets the prize, though, for her reasons on pressing the libel suit. She says the gossip item is a crime against her client’s honor, their purity and dignity now destroyed. “Because up to this day,” she adds, “we all know for a fact that, with all due courtesy to the members of the third sex, it is still not an accepted thing in this country.”

Stating that one’s purity and dignity is ruined for being called gay offends and insults gays. Categorizing us under the politically incorrect “Third Sex” and saying our behavior is not an accepted “thing” in this country makes one wonder what country and century she inhabits.

Alonso seems to be oblivious to the fact that, barring a few morality crusaders, Filipino gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals live and work in one of the more tolerant and accepting societies in Asia. If Attorney Alonso believes that we gays are not an “accepted thing” in this country, I shall tell all my gay friends and supporters to boycott her client’s movies, concerts, and products. Why spare our hard earned gay pesos to people who don’t accept us? I shall also tell all my gay Fil-Am friends the next time Piolo and Sam want to crash the Fil-Am market. Gay power and gay dollars will teach Attorney Alonso the meaning of acceptance.

The network studio ABS-CBN should have repeated Warner Brother’s class act manner and counseled their twink stars to weather the gossip. After all, the studio has made so much money from their gay talents, gay writers, gay producers, gay executives and gay make-up artists, you’d expect a little more gratitude. Why, if the studio was swallowed up by an earthquake tomorrow, there goes half the gay population!

And where are the ad agencies and the companies who’ve overused these two stars to hawk their products? Doesn’t anyone of them have the gay balls to tell Attorney Alonso that it is BECAUSE of their sweet-handsome-probably-gay looks that sells and sells big?

(The complete blog entry here.)

Hay naku, Attorney. You may be a wiz in court for all I know. But out of it, Luz Valdez ka in basic PR.

[Photo copyright © Philippine Daily Inquirer]


stevie said...

Eh kasi naman, a Piolo-Sam coupling is many a gay man's fantasy! The two even have joint concerts. We can't get enough of either, eh the two of them as a couple pa. MAMA MIA!

gibbs cadiz said...

STEVIE, hehe, easy, me heart palpitation ka na! :)

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