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On tantrums

I once had the opportunity to see a diva throw a tantrum.

Story telling time …

The taping was set for a certain hour. 30 minutes before the appointed time, everyone involved is present and ready … ‘cept the star of the show. The Diva everyone calls Madame.

The hours comes and goes, and still no Madame.

Half past the hour, she comes. She strides in through the door with a frown on her face, berating everyone for standing around. “We’re behind schedule, come on, come on!” Everyone is bewildered. Wasn’t she the one who came in late?

She takes her seat and brushes a stray hair from her face. “Where’s my camera?” she asks in an irritating nasal whine. Then she turns her attention to the floor director. “Why didn’t you fix the lighting?” she demands. You could see the director start to answer – how can we fix the way the light hits you when you’re not there to be hit by the light? But apparently being a veteran, he wisely decides to just shut up and fix her light.

She gestures wildly at the teleprompter. “That’s wrong! I’ve edited that!” She is near hysterics. The director mumbles into his mouthpiece and waits for a reply. “Madame, they don’t have an edited version.” For a split second, Madame looks flabbergasted. Then she realizes she has the edited copy in her hands. “Here, here! Why didn’t anyone take this from me earlier?” She rounds on her gofer. “You, Ruel! You really have to be on your toes.” Poor Ruel looks stricken. He obviously does not know what he’s done. “You know, this isn’t working. Maybe I should replace you. Direk! If this happens again, I’m walking out and never coming back.”

Ruel is rooted in place, unable to do do much more than crack a weak smile. “Well,” Madame asks. “What are you still doing here? We’re late! Roll tape now!!!”

Of course, you’d never see this episode on the news. Jove Francisco would certainly never report on it, even if the Diva – a presumptive first wife – is a much bigger public figure than the President. The difference, I suppose, is that the Diva aint the President, and the Diva isn’t as much the subject of public criticism as the President is. We all have have the tendency to kick people when they’re down, don’t you notice? And a President already unpopular is such an easy target for petty criticism.

Jove defends:

And I must say, our decision to use the footage of the angry president is justifiable, because it is news. Debatable? No. As a story it has in fact lots of layers in it. An unpopular and less than trustworthy president, waging a battle for her political survival, who by the way got sick before the weekend, was incognito during most of last week, was hit by criticisms regarding charter change and was shaken by the twin “pambabara” or non support from the leadership of the El Shaddai group and the Catholic church on her aim to amend the constitution. Plus the fact that she’s not feeling well until now, because as PDI reported, she visited 32 hospitals before being active again.

It is news that a head of state experienced a moment – however prolonged – of pique at finding things to be not ready for her scheduled taping? Or is it a story simply because she’s a woman? I imagine that if the President were a man, her “angry quest” (as Jove puts it) for a teleprompter would have been just another display of assertiveness and the determination to get things done right and on time. But let a woman do it, and suddenly, she’s whining.

Whining, contrary to popular opinion, has less to do with the tone of voice one uses as it has to do with the reasonableness of the anger being exhibited and the demands being made. Was it unreasonable for the President to expect everything to be ready for her the minute she got there? Were her demands for rectification unreasonable under the circumstances?

And Jove says the story had layers. What layers? The layers Jove mentions are an obvious attempt to frame the story as “President breaks down under strain of unpopularity and constant battle for political survival!” Puh-leeze. How about “Pissed-off President?”

Jove goes on to say:

Lastly, we are not being arrogant and we are not saying we have all the right to cover everything and anything under the sun, but what happened inside the halls of the NEB, happened right before our eyes and we can’t just close our eyes and pretend it didn’t happen.

Well, there’s really no debating that. Of course it happened, and it’s stupid to even consider pretending it didn’t happen. But that isn’t the point, is it? The point is that broadcasting this information and pretending it’s news is nuts. It wasn’t news – it was gossip. It was a juicy tidbit of what the pressure of the presidency does to a person, salaciously played out to an audience hungry for every least reason to heap criticism on an already reviled figure, meant first and foremost not to deliver news (I mean, what news? that the president is a bitch? everyone knows that already) but to rake in the viewership.

Bottom line: So, her iron mask of determination and steely control obviously slipped; so the fuck what? Happens to the best of us. We should all be thankful that we, at least, don’t have to see our private anger plastered all over the news and the ‘net for everyone to use for ridicule and criticism.

Still, if a public figure losing control behind the scenes is as newsworthy as he says, I challenge Jove Francisco – or any other journalist – to do a story on the DIva and her legendary tantrums.

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