I've been meaning to write about Isabel Granada. And I am not kidding. Her death affects me in a very peculiar way.
That we belong to the same age group is not really what bothers me. I am feeling a bit bad because I had never paid attention to her when I was all about That's Entertainment in the 80s. There was nothing to dislike about her except that in the 80s, too, it was not very cool to be trying too hard in school. And I felt like she had the effect of being that person who tries too hard.
I remember having a conversation with my cousin about why Melissa Gibbs ifs more appealing because she would always make it appear like she’s got better things to do than to be singing or dancing in front of an audience. Her body language would always almost read: “This is so baduy (in bad taste) but what the heck, here we go..."
Her reluctance was so appealing. Her superb singing voice was elevated by her cool demeanor. Each performance was rendered with effortless perfection, even her reading from a long list of sponsors was just so attractively ambivalent. She definitely marked a distance between her and her very own performances. She was graceful yet so not invested.
Isabel Granada would be the opposite. She always gave it her all. She was too earnest for comfort. There was no distance between her and a pop tune, it was almost ridiculous. Her sacred seriousness was almost alienating. She never made it to the headlines of nasty gossip shows as she was perhaps friends with everyone.
One might question how deep those friendships were as they must have been devoid of an “other” or an "enemy" that keeps friendships solid and real. And it is all because Isabel Granada did not look like she was interested in marking people as her enemies. She did not have time for that. Her time did look like it was divided between performing and practicing for those performances. She was just there anywhere and everywhere where compulsion reigns.
So we were not just into her, this Hispanic looking actor who also seemed to represent all too Pinoy values. But not until a couple of years back. Pinoy showbiz would feature her in the most provocative way: "Must see! Isabel Granada beauty and body still explosive after all these years." She created a stir, and it is all true. She embodied what is required of women who are just about "to let go of themselves."
Contempt against women
If you are a woman of Granada's age (40s), misogyny or that ingrained contempt and prejudice against women demands that you constantly look like you are just about to turn 18.
So for the past few years, what Granada was for women who paid attention to her re-entry into showbiz is a symbol that amplifies an effective value. This is the value of looking like a young girl in middle age. This is not an obsession of women in general but it certainly affects most in the middle and upper classes.
In a way, Granada as a symbol also became a replacement for a commitment to looking like a young girl. It is actually less an addiction to a physical regiment that could actually make one look like a young girl than a fascination for Granada's ways and means to "stay young and attractive." All of which are on YouTube and her personal Instagram account.
Despite her death, Granada continues to play a role in what seems to be a contradictory phenomenon of being addicted to another person.
Living the game
What the Marxist-Lacanian philosopher Slavoj Zizek would call interpassive delegated addiction is clearly explained by another philosopher in the same tradition, Robert Pfaller. Pfaller points to substitute activities or “interpassive practices - such as bibliomania, photocopying, collecting video recordings” as “forms of addiction that rest on the principle of play (115).”
These interpassive practices are also called substitute activities because they function as "symbolic, protective measures, (which) serve to overcome an impulse of hatred towards something that is outwardly loved but latently hated (115).” Obsessive-compulsive photocopying, video copying, book-buying function to keep at bay the rising displeasure for reading, consuming television, and so on.
We are supposed to maintain a positive attitude toward keeping fit and healthy through the consumption of organic meatless food and a focused and efficient workout. "Just do it," is Nike's command. Following celebrities like Granada on social media helps us through it all.
This act of following social media accounts of beauty and fitness icons is an activity that interpassives love to stage in order to postpone or avoid carrying out what is to be done to actually look fit and young.
I personally feel ambivalent about this particular activity. On one level, I feel frustrated for wasting away time watching "explosive beauties" instead of actually turning myself into one, which is too insane of a secret wish to mention. On another level, and definitely on a higher plane of intellectual and political maturity, I do think that to make myself valuable under the system of capital is the height of misadventure, and thus delinking from the capitalist value chain is the goal. Of course, doing nothing and eating everything will not cut anyone off from participating in all that capitalist and crisis-driven spiraling.
In all this, I only think it is fair to remember Isabel Granada, the earnest and invested young girl who, to some people's delight and dismay, turned herself into a young girl yet again in her late adult years.
Yes, misogyny’s prescription for women to look perpetually young and attractive has resulted in an addiction. And some of you might have already heard about how psychoanalysis characterizes addiction as a form of play. Yet Granada did not look like she was addicted to this play. She lived the game. - Rappler.com
Sarah Raymundo is an assistant professor at the Center for International Studies, University of the Philippines-Diliman. She is currently a lecturer at the City University of New York (CUNY)-La Guardia Community College and faculty fellow at CUNY-Graduate School’s Center for Place, Culture, and Politics through the Fulbright Scholar-In-Residence Program 2017-2018. She chairs the Committee for International Affairs of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).