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Peru: The War Between Gisela and Magaly

Peruvian television has a colorful cast of characters. Among them are Gisela Valcárcel, the former “queen of daytime television” and wife of a top executive at one of Peru's main television stations, and Magaly Medina, who has a popular celebrity gossip program on a competing channel. They also both publish gossip magazines about Peruvian celebrities. The two women have a long-standing feud and have clashed over the years. In their most recent bout, Valcárcel claims her privacy was breached by one of Medina's photographers who was trying to take pictures of her while she participated in a charity run. In these days of media frenzy over celebrities, this is the Peruvian version.

It's no surprise to anyone that the quality of Peruvian television is very bad. It's either formulaic programs from Mexico or elsewhere, or Peruvian programs that leave much to be desired. Of course, there are exceptions. Once in a while, there's a well-made mini-series or an interesting documentary. There is also cultural programming on the state-run channel, and although not everyone likes it, it's pretty much the only option on regular television. Then again, who can forget the talk-show hosted by the infamous Laura Bozzo, to mention the most well-known example of bad Peruvian television.

Recently, Peruvian airwaves got heated up by a confrontation between Magaly Medina and Gisela Valcárcel. Actually, it's really just the latest chapter in an old war for ratings. This time, as almost always, Magaly emerged the winner, which of course doesn't mean she's right. Sonia Luz tells us about it in her post, Public Women and Television (ES):

Se trata de dos personajes de la televisión peruana que tienen mucho en común: ambas provienen de sectores pobres, han logrado el éxito económico y son para muchas mujeres pobres paradigma del ascenso social. Una era y es- pese a infinidad de retoques de bisturí- bastante feúcha; la otra fue siempre atractiva aunque ahora la cirugía y los tratamientos la muestran con mayor glamour.

De rato en rato se enfrascan en unas peleas que no tengo ni disposición ni tiempo de conocer en detalle. Pero parece que en estos días exponen sus distintos criterios acerca de lo público y lo privado. Como no podía ser de otro modo, lo hacen a través de las pantallas. Y supongo que cada una lo está haciendo en su particular estilo. La feúcha, ejemplo de sarcasmo y agresividad chillará su condición de inimputable periodista y la bella defenderá con sus armas de etiqueta social su derecho a la intimidad y el respeto a su vida privada.

They're two Peruvian television personalities who have much in common: they're both from poor backgrounds, they've attained economic success, and for many poor women, they are the role-models for social improvement. One was, and continues to be —despite her infinite surgical touch-ups— a bit on the ugly side. The other was always attractive; although now, her surgeries and treatments give her a certain glamorous look.

Every once in a while, the two get caught up in battles I have neither the desire, nor time to understand in detail. Recently, it seems they've both been espousing their views on what constitutes the public and the private. Since they couldn't do it otherwise, [their battle is] via the TV screen. And, I suppose, each one does it in her particular style. The ugly one, sarcasm and aggressiveness [personified], shrieks out she is an untouchable journalist. The pretty one, using social standing as her weapon, defends her right to privacy and respect for her private life.

Pueblo Vruto gives us more details about what happened in More Circus: Magaly vs. Gisela (ES):

Los dos personajes más representativos de nuestra farándula local, la vomitiva Magaly Medina y la figuretti de los humos estratosféricos Gisela Valcárcel vuelven a jorobarnos con esa vieja bronca kioskera que traspasa lo admisible y soportable. La una que abusa del derecho a la información y la otra que se da aires de superioridad amparándose en su marido, el Canal 2 entero prácticamente.

(Gisela se cargó) al torpe fotógrafo que no atinó a defender su trabajo (no se acordó del artículo 2º de la Constitución) amenazándole e insultándole junto a todos los que no tienen carrera universitaria, los desconocidos (para Gisela si no tienes el privilegio de ser su conocido, eres delincuente), los malolientes… Otro tanto hizo Magaly al computarse defensora del gremio y fingir indignación ante un hecho que seguramente estará viendo como sacarle el mayor provecho, cosa que también podría estar pensando Gisela como toda businesswoman que dejó atrás (?) su tormentoso pasado.

Our two most well-known local entertainment personalities, the vomit-inducing Magaly Medina and the stratospherically attention-seeking Gisela Valcárcel, are once again bothering us with their tired street fight that goes beyond what should be permissible and tolerated. One abuses [us] claiming freedom of the press, while the other gives herself airs of superiority and relies on her spouse, which includes almost the entire staff at Channel 2.

(Gisela had it out) with a clumsy photographer incapable of defending his [right] to work (he couldn't remember Article 2 of the Constitution). She threatened and insulted him and everyone else who doesn't have a college degree, strangers (because for Gisela, if she doesn't know you, you're a crook), [and] people who smell bad… Magaly made her own scene, labeling herself the defender of [journalists] and pretending indignation over a situation [while] she is most likely trying to figure out how to get the greatest advantage from it, something Gisela is [probably] also thinking, as would any businesswoman who had left behind (?) her tumultuous past.

In general terms, what happened is that Gisela and her husband showed up at a public event. A photographer employed by Magaly began taking Gisela's picture, as did the other photographers who were present. But, Gisela got into an argument with Magaly's photographer and tried to take away his camera amidst threats and insults, not only from her but from her husband as well. Finally, the police arrived and took away the photographer in question. Omar Zevallos, the blogger at Lagartija (ES), tells us in The same old Magaly something about his personal experience with Magaly, and concludes:

La imagino feliz, regocijándose luego de haber conseguido los 40 puntos de rating en el segmento C con el escandalete de Gisela Valcárcel (su archienemiga porque triunfó antes que ella), y la escaramuza con el “urraco” imberbe que la acosó con su camarita, seguro impulsado por el deber y las indicaciones precisas del equipo de Magaly para lograr lo que finalmente logró.

Ahora ambas “divas” se enfrascan en una guerra mediática (diarios chicha, por cierto) con portadas a favor o en contra, poniendo en entredicho si los peruanos nos merecemos esa televisión de callejón. Quizá sólo habría que apretar un botón del control remoto y listo.

I picture her happy and amused after getting 40 points of rating … from the scandal with Gisela Valcárcel (her archenemy, ever since Gisela attained success before she did) and the skirmish with the young [photographer] who harassed [Gisela] with his camera, surely motivated by his [sense of] duty and the precise instructions [given by] Magaly's people to obtain [this very outcome].

Now, both divas are caught up in a media war (in the tabloids, of course) with headlines in favor or against [one or the other]. [It makes one wonder if] Peruvians deserve this type of alley [cat] television. Maybe, all we should do is push a button on the remote control, and be done with it.

Víctor Liza, of the blog Metiendo la Pata (ES), writes about Gisela, the ‘queen of daytime television’ as she was known when she was a television hostess, in his post The queen who never was wants “clean” television:

La señora Gisela Valcárcel se cree con derecho a exigir cosas, como televisión blanca, y respeto al derecho a la intimidad. Parece que no entiende que ya no está en la pantalla chica, ya pasó de moda. Sin embargo, alucina aún que es la reina. Por eso que maltrató a un fotógrafo, que, pese a que se haya portado malcriado, no ameritaba los insultos y la bajeza de quien se cree un manto de moralidad.

Sin embargo, insiste. Ha anunciado que encabezará una marcha contra la televisión nociva, y que para ello, convocará a muchos personajes de la farándula. Su objetivo es presionar a los anunciantes de publicidad para que ya no anuncien en programas como el de Magaly Medina, entre otros. Más allá de las discrepancias con Magaly, creo que los anunciantes son libres de poner sus avisos donde crean conveniente. Si les resulta viable y conveniente, lo seguirán haciendo.

Gisela Valcárcel thinks she has the right to demand things, like “clean” television, and respect for the right to privacy. It seems she doesn't understand she's no longer on the small screen or [even] in fashion. Nonetheless, she's hallucinating and thinks she's still the queen. That's why she mistreated a photographer who, despite acting rudely, didn't warrant the insults and low-blows from someone who thinks of herself as a paragon of morality.

However, she [still] demands. She's announced she'll head a march against harmful television [programs], and will ask many entertainment personalities to participate. Her objective is to pressure advertisers to stop advertising on shows such as Magaly Medina's, among others. Beyond her differences with Magaly, I believe advertisers are free to advertise where they want. If it is viable and good for them, they will continue to do so.

Now, I quote two posts as a commentary about the preceding statement. First about Gisela, who has completely assumed her role, as Gamma of Gamma-Normids (ES) tells us in Divas…

La caracteristica principal de una diva es creerse intocable o que sobre ella ejercen leyes especiales (supongo que eso influye a que luego quieran desafiar hasta la de gravedad al recurrir a cirugias y tratamientos) o que las que se aplican a nosotros, no se aplican en ellas por ser quienes son. “Soy Fulana, por tanto, especial”. Paris Hilton fue detenida el año pasado por conducir ebria. Se le quitó la licencia, se le advirtió que no debia conducir, pero ella, insiste. Porque es Paris Hilton. La condenaron a 45 días en la carcel al volver a conducir con la licencia suspendida, no una sino dos veces, … Paris ahora juega de victima pero su unica defensa es que es Paris Hilton… y por eso, no deberia ir presa.

The primary characteristic of a diva is to believe herself untouchable, or that special laws should be exercised over her (I suppose that influences why later on they even challenge gravitas by recurring to surgeries and treatments), or that the [laws] that apply to us, don't apply to them because of who they are. “I'm So-and-So, so therefore, I'm special.”

Paris Hilton was arrested last year for drunk driving. Her license was suspended, she was warned she couldn't drive, but she insisted [on doing so] because she's Paris Hilton. She was ordered to serve 45 days of jail time when she drove yet again with a suspended license, not just once but twice… Now, although Paris wants to play the victim, her only defense is she's Paris Hilton… and because of that, she shouldn't have to go to jail.

Yes, Gisela spends a lot of time saying, “I am Gisela Valcárcel”. What an ego. This second comment is about this initiative of Gisela's to exert pressure so programs like Magaly's stop getting advertisers, and are consequently eliminated from the airwaves. Reasonably, some see this as a type of censorship. In television: gisela valcárcel, magaly medina and censorhip, El Morsa (ES) writes:

Más allá de la idea de censura promovida por gisela valcárcel, el hecho es que vivimos actualmente en una sociedad censora, que vigila y castiga moralmente al infractor: el borracho, el promiscuo, el homosexual. impone además gestos y formas en el periodismo, ya que el resto de la prensa debe, más o menos, moverse en los márgenes de magaly medina. es una censura silenciosa o un acuerdo tácito. la sociedad recibe con los brazos abiertos a la inquisidora medina y los titulares de la mayoría de diarios del día siguiente festejan. con magaly no hay libertad, todo se vuelve brumoso detrás de lo que ella considera ético o no. (algo parecido vimos con la promoción de una ética blogger). de ese modo, gisela valcárcel y magaly medina se confunden en un monstruo de dos cabezas.

Beyond the notion of censorship promoted by Gisela Valcárcel, the fact is we currently live in a censoring society, that watches and morally punishes infractors: the drunk, the promiscuous, the homosexual. It also imposes [a way of behaving] in journalism, since the rest of the press should, more or less, move to the margins of Magaly Medina. It is a [type] of silent censorship, a tacit agreement. With open arms, society receives Inquisitor Medina and the next day headlines in the majority of newspapers celebrate. With Magaly there is no freedom, everything gets foggy behind what she considers ethical or not. (We saw something similar with the promotion of blogger ethics). Thus, Gisela Valcárcel and Magaly Medina become [one], like a two-headed monster.

I think it's a bit exaggerated to compare this situation with the one dealing with the “blogger code of conduct”, although not with the arguments local bloggers had for reasons that had nothing to do with the code (see: The little blogger wars: The Battle of the Code of Conduct).

Meanwhile, in Magaly, Abimael Guzman and media violence, the blogger at TvBruto (ES), finds similarities between what happens on Peruvian television and what Shining Path used to do: “Similarities and differences between the “popular trials” and the current “media trials”. Is Magaly the only one that currently acts as the popular media judge?” He republishes a text from the year 2000 by anthropologist Carlos Iván Degregori. It's almost about the same thing, with the same characters except at the time, instead of Gisela, it was those showgirl-style dancer-performers called vedettes who turned out to be prostitutes, or at least that's what they say. Wasn't Gisela a vedette as well? I think that's when the quarrel started. I'll quote part of the article titled: Magaly, the vedettes… and “Presidente Gonzalo”:

Uno de los lemas más atemorizantes de SL era el foucaultiano: “El Partido tiene mil ojos y mil oídos”. El canal también los tiene: electrónicos. La colocación de cámaras ocultas en los lugares menos pensados y la impunidad de quien tiene el poder y los recursos, en este caso la conductora del programa, naturalizan la intromisión en la vida íntima de los ciudadanos y borran de manera perversa la separación entre lo privado y lo público.

Lo que hizo Magaly TV (el “ampay” de las prostivedettes) fue un ‘operativo de inteligencia’, término que en el castellano del Perú hace tiempo no se limita a la terminología militar y policial, a la lucha contra la subversión o la delincuencia organizada sino que, con ayuda de un líder de opinión tan importante como el Presidente de la República (fujimontesinos), ha ampliado su campo semántico hasta incluir prácticamente cualquier ámbito. El hermano mayor te vigila, no importa cuán pequeño y sin importancia seas.

Como en los ‘juicios populares’ senderistas, no basta que las condenadas en el juicio mediático reciban la pena máxima, en este caso la destrucción de su imagen, su muerte simbólica. Es necesario su aniquilamiento. Así como SL chancaba con piedra, cortaba el cuello con cuchillo sin filo, dinamitaba y volaba en mil pedazos el cadáver de sus víctimas, en este caso también hay que cebarse en ellas, destrozarlas en sucesivos programas, ridiculizarlas y humillarlas en los titulares de la prensa “chicha”.

Sin embargo, tal vez la diferencia clave sea el lugar desde el cual ambos ejercen su violencia. Guzmán y SL se ubicaban por encima de todos y repartían premios y castigos cual divinidades sanguinarias. Magaly no se pone por encima de nadie. Afirma, por el contrario: “Yo soy parte de esta escoria. Yo también soy morbosa. Yo gozo con esto, no tengo problemas con mi conciencia, me gusta el rating”. En otras oportunidades ha reconocido en su propio programa ser “una basura”.

Pero, sobre todo, los juicios mediáticos envilecen. SL obligaba a participar como ‘masa’ a los habitantes de los pequeños pueblos donde hacía sus ‘juicios populares’. En Afganistán, cuando los talibanes cortan la mano al ladrón, o en China, cuando se fusila a delincuentes, la gente es invitada a presenciar la ejecución pública en los estadios. Ellos acuden por miedo o por morbosidad. Nosotros por morbosidad, aunque quién sabe qué papel jugará el miedo en la atracción fatal que ejercen esos programas. En todo caso, somos la ‘masa’ captada por los medios masivos y participamos del juicio como público (televidente). Y nos envilecemos.

One of the Shining Path's most frightening slogans was the Foucaultian: “The Party has a thousand eyes and a thousand ears.” A [television] station also has that: electronically. Placing hidden cameras in the most unsuspecting places with the impunity of the one who has power and resources (in this case, the hostess of the program) normalizes [that type of] interference in the lives of private citizens and perversely eliminates the separation between the private and the public…

What Magaly TV did (uncovering the dancer-performer prostitutes) was an ‘intelligence operation’ which in Peru [is a term] no longer limited to military or police terminology, the fight against terrorism, or organized crime. With the assistance of an opinion leader as important as the President of the Republic ([the Fujimori-Montesinos gang]), [the term] has expanded its semantic terrain to include almost any circumstance. Big Brother is watching; it doesn't matter how small and insignificant you might be.

Just like in the Shining Path's ‘popular trials', it's not enough that those found guilty in the media trials receive the maximum penalty. In this case, [it is] the destruction of their image, a symbolic death. Just as Shining Path hit with rocks, cut throats with dull knives, dynamited and blew into a thousand pieces the bodies of their victims; in this case, [the victims] are destroyed in successive programs, ridiculed, and humiliated in the headlines of the tabloid newspapers.

Maybe the key difference is the place from which each exercise their violence. Guzmán and Shining Path placed themselves above everyone else, and handed out prizes and punishments as if they were bloodthirsty deities. Magaly doesn't place herself above anyone else. On the contrary, she affirms: “I am part of this scourge. I too am morbid. I enjoy this, I don't have problems with my conscience; I like the ratings.” At other times, she has admitted her program is “a piece of trash.”

Above all, media trials degrade. Shining Path forced the inhabitants of the small towns where it carried out its ‘popular trials’ to participate en masse. In Afghanistan, when the Taliban cut off a robber's hand, or in China when criminals are shot, the public is invited to view the execution in stadiums. They go because of fear or morbid [attraction]. We go because of our morbid [attraction ] although who knows what role fear plays in the fatal attraction that these programs exercise. In all cases, we are the ‘masses’ captured by the mass media and we participate in the trial as a television-watching audience. And we degrade ourselves.

I think I went overboard with the quotes, but my point is not that I am very interested in the Magaly-Gisela affair as I am in what lies behind it: the fight for ratings, the right of the press to inform, the interference of the press in private lives, the false private life (meaning, the one that only exists when it is convenient), the right of everyone to say what they think, the trash media, Peruvian society and its morals, etc. There's a lot to delve into in an apparently unimportant matter as this one.

Not everyone treated this matter so seriously, as the drawing by Carlín, linked by Ocram of Útero de Marita (ES) in his post Carlín comments on Magaly vs. Gisela, demonstrates. As a side note, in the blog Apuntes Peruanos (ES) in the post titled Confession by, there is a statement made by Gisela: “I will not be cowardly, never again…” I forgot the meaning behind the “never again”. I just almost never watch television… But what I do see is that the one who is supposedly aggrieved is dying to return to television and be talked about by everyone even though it's due to a scandal, while the other one gives her exactly what she wants, which reminds me of those false wrestling bouts where, at their conclusion, everyone ends up friends, and after the match they go have a couple of beers together.

If you want to see a narrative of the events and see some photos check out the post Photos: Gisela fights with Magaly's reporters and threatens her in El Francotirador in Blog de la Tele (ES). You Tube has some videos of the scandal, just like the ones Magaly showed on her program and shown on other entertainment programs.

Translated by Alejandro García.

  • Patricia

    La verdad que la gente habla cada cosa que es increible, en primer lugar gisela nunca fue simpatica cuando pasaron el video de ella como “vedette” (de cantina barata eso es lo que parecia) su cara regordeta la hacia parecer en mi opinion como porky y de bailar sinceramente creo que eran unos pasos de una seccion gimnastica para adelgazar…. a esta senora lo qae si no se puede negar es que ha hecho muy buenos negocios en cuanto a su vida personal se refiere pero eso no quiere decir que pretenda que nadie le tome fotos?? ella es una figura publica pasada de moda si pero sigue siendo conocida en el ambiente, todo el mundo habla de la invasion a la privacidad de magaly y en realidad no entienden o no quieren entender que ese es el desarrollo de su programa el chisme y los ampays .. ella es como un paparazzi pero desde casa… ademas la gente es tonta si es conocida y hacen animaladas es normal que salgan en tv pero bueno asi son mis queridos compatriotas como a la muchacha que el marido la dejo toda marcada, hablo tanta porqueria del tipo y ayer otra vez juntos, y encima todo lo que ella declaro era incomprensible… familia de gisella talvez??

  • http://midios ady villamizar

    saben algo gisela es la persona mas querida q yo he conocido y nada ni nadie me va hacer cambiar de opinion,no soy peruana pero aprendi a quererlo atravez d gise y todos los q hablen mal de ella son unos envidiosos por q no pueden ser como ella…gise sigue tal cual como ers asi t qeremos desde colombia.

  • William

    Could some one explain to me the situation with prostivedettes and Monica Adaros role in this . Could you respond in english if possible, thank you

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