in defense of gossip

the supreme court has ruled that romulo neri is right to invoke gma’s executive privilege and to refuse to answer questions that might could would implicate his president and her fg in the nbn-zte bribery scandal.

as a result, there is no way now that we can get to the truth of the matter. so biglang all the talk about gma and her fg’s involvement in the corrupt deal is reduced to the category of gossip, as in tsismis lang, because it is unproven or unconfirmed, and never natin mapu-prove o maco-confirm. unless of course the court reconsiders and reverses itself, which seems quite unlikely.

well. let’s look at the bright side. at least all the anti-gma nbn-zte tsismis is an improvement on showbiz tsismis that’s mostly petty and personal. how great that we’re swapping stories not only about gretchen & tonyboy, piolo & sam, sharon & kc, but also about political figures gloria and mike, luli and joey, jun and cory, the bishops and romy, on matters of national importance.

the thinking about gossip is right:

. . . gossip can be a form of political resistance to undermine entrenched systems of power and domination. Getting the scuttlebutt about salary discrepancies, executive perks, kickbacks, nepotism, conflicts of interest and the like ”benefits those excluded from power more than it helps those who exercise power since the former have less to hide.”

sometimes, gossip is our only revenge. just as it might be brian gorrell’s only revenge on the sosi peeps who he says lied to him and cheated him and stole from him.


  1. Hi, my take on this is this: We avoid gossip because it’s a matter of justice, of basic right and wrong. What if we’re the subject of the gossip ourselves? Since we don’t like that, we’d be wise not to indulge in it. Also, discussing public matters are never gossip. Showbiz gossip is a gray area. Showbiz stars are partly ‘public property,’ and that’s where the complication lies. There’s the assumption that they’re wiling for their personal lives to be talked about; the problem is where to draw the line. Brian Gorrell’s blog is totally unfair even if he’s telling the truth because those revelations are personal matters. The least he could do now is air the side of the people he accused, but he has permanently damaged all the personalities mentioned, and even those who read through the blog and the comments.

  2. hi, r.o.! good to hear from you. even if i don’t agree that gossip is wrong and we should not indulge. in the early 90s, when evolutionary psychology was new, the theory was that trading gossip was in aid of survival.

    “To judge by many hunter-gatherer societies where most behavior is public, and gossip travels fast,” Robin Wright wrote in The Moral Animal (1994), “. . . the most common commodity of exchange, almost surely, was information. Knowing where a great stock of food has been found, or where someone encountered a poisonous snake, can be a matter of life or death. And knowing who is sleeping with whom, who is angry at whom, who cheated whom, and so on, can inform social maneuvering for sex and other vital resources.”

    and, take note, not only pinoys but “. . . people in all cultures not only gossip, but gossip about the same kinds of things.” apparently, people have an inherent thirst for tales of triumph, tragedy, bonanza, misfortune, extraordinary fidelity, wretched betrayal, and so on, which are said to “match up well with the sorts of information conducive to fitness.”

    in other words gossip has a place in the human scheme of things. some of it is good gossip, constructive in the sense that lessons can be gleaned (anti-gma gossip); some of it is bad gossip, destructive in the sense of being mean and petty (most showbiz tsismis).

    i’m not sure though that brian’s blog is just bad gossip. he’s no writer, that’s for sure, but he has something to say, and he has a right to say it. that what he is saying offends some of us is not his problem, it’s ours. the internet informs us about the world, and about ourselves. the internet holds up a mirror through which we finally confront ourselves. only then can we move on. only then would we know where to start.

  3. I concede, though, that this is not a simple case of plain chismis out of pure malice. If Brian’s claims are true and he indeed has no alternate recourse to justice, well, who are we to say he’s being malicious and chismoso?