August 02, 2014 01:00 By Veena Thoopkrajae
I'm not going to embark on a feminist mission and defend actress Janie Thienphosuvani. I'm not trying to join the "jury" in her divorce case either. I'm here to talk about her exit strategy, which to me seemed wise and utilised the media very well, especi
We probably shouldn’t evaluate the outcome of her case using the usual standard for A-list celebrities. Okay, she gets no financial compensation from her now-ex-husband, Chonsawat “Ae” Asavahame, but so what? If her ultimate goal was to legally part ways with Mr Right-turned-Mr Wrong, she’s achieved it.
And she’s a winner in the sense that she’s received a “consolation prize” in the form of public support and sympathy. True, the sympathy doesn’t alter the grim facts or stop the pain, but it makes her the victim, not a co-perpetrator. Janie showed the talent of a classy publicist in the way she did so little and let the social networks get the job done for her. She didn’t utter a word throughout the three weeks that people were gossiping about her failed marriage. I can’t help but surmise that Janie planned every step of her exit, possibly with her friends’ help.
She is no stranger to the social media’s inquisitiveness. Her photos posted to Instagram always offered clues about her relationship with Chonsawat, so why not let the social networks draw their own conclusions once the marriage foundered?
Janie scrapped her Instagram account that carried all the gushing about her romance and opened a new one – and it picked up 550,000 followers in a week. The Web’s Sherlock Holmeses jumped into investigative mode, though the mystery wasn’t that challenging to solve. She’s using “@janienineeleven”, with the “nine” and “eleven” meaning November 9, her birthday. The first photo she uploaded, on July 22, was titled “Begin Again”.
Evidently she’s been born anew.
The sleuths had spotted long before that she’d stopped using the hashtag “#JA” (Janie and Ae). Now the “A” is gone and she’s using “#bejanie”.
Then there were the leaks. The mainstream press played it safe when photos were circulated online of a badly bruised woman, saying it “looked like Janie”. The social-media detectives soon determined that the phone case seen in the selfies was identical to the one she uses. Her actress-friend Paula Buttery confirmed it was indeed Janie in the photos, “But bruises? I don’t know whether it’s real or production-set makeup,” she declared with seemingly deliberate vagueness.
With “Exhibit A” submitted, no one was asking who leaked it, but meanwhile the implication was clear: Janie had been the victim of domestic violence. Another piece of the jigsaw puzzle came in the form of a leaked, gossipy Line-app conversation among a group of men close to Janie’s girlfriends. Again, the source was anonymous, but Exhibit B helped confirm the rumour that Janie’s marriage had come apart at the seams. The boys also talked about her “losing” her luxury car to Chonsawat.
Next came an anonymous “announcement” from the same source or yet another one that Janie would hold a press conference on July 29.
She’s finally ready to reveal all? Talk about riveting the public’s attention! Speculation ran high about what she might say. Well, it didn’t happen in the end, but instead July 29 went down in Thai-celebrity history as the day Janie showed off her divorce decree in a photo posted on Facebook.
It turned out that the chit-chat about the “lost” car was true: The divorce agreement includes a clause requiring Chonsawat to return her Porsche. But the fact that we don’t know whether Janie is carrying real bruises or whether Ae did the bruising doesn’t matter, because “the public” at large has already jumped to conclusions.
Several prominent women voiced concern about the issue, one even going so far as to encourage her to file a complaint with police. But Janie has chosen her own path. The lightning divorce seems to be all she wanted. Going to court is no fun, and it’s even more distressing when your opponent is someone as influential as her ex. “The leaks actually help protect her in a way that she won’t be harmed,” someone noted online.
Janie’s timing was good throughout this messy ending and she coped well with the bad publicity and fumes of scandal. Her exit strategy might not be the best, nor suitable for all, but it achieved its goal, even as Janie dodged the news hounds. To her it was simply a matter of “the sooner the better”.
Only when her divorce was complete did she return to Facebook and Instagram to thank her fans and apologise to the press for not yet being strong enough to talk. The case was closed. Janie is now able to follow her “Begin Again” plan. Even better, she’s already paved the way for a comeback once she’s back from her planned month’s respite in the US.
Every woman has two choices when it comes to a failed relationship: Endure gradual but lasting pain or suffer big-time in one go. What happened, if that really was Janie’s exit strategy, tells us what choice she decided to make.