MANILA, Philippines – Fans can motivate celebrities to act on key issues and also help combat misinformation, according to the findings of a study conducted by University of the Philippines (UP) researchers.
“Fan Passion: How Fans Can Encourage Active Participation and Help Combat Misinformation,” a study by Professor Cherish Aileen Bryon and Gerard Martin Suarez, researchers from UP’s Department of Broadcast Communications, sheds light on the relationship between the entertainment industry, politics and fandom.
Researchers have explored how the masses can be at the forefront of combating disinformation, offering a new paradigm for citizen engagement and social movement through their own practices.
“When we talk about fans, we are talking about the social and cultural practices created and implemented by fans. We are mainly talking about how people, who are celebrity fans, have transformed this ‘passion’ into something else,” says Brillon.
“there [also] The increasing attention paid by the media to the voices of fans and netizens on social media. Nagiging sila ‘yung focus ng mga balita (They have become the focus of news stories), the researcher added. (Read: Propaganda Machine Meets Its Match: The Masses of Celebrities)
The study cited celebrities who refused to speak out or had a disappointing response to crucial social issues, including ABS-CBN artists Tony Gonzaga and Carla Estrada.
In analyzing the role of fandom in their study, the researchers filtered out the following hashtags:
- #Tony Gonzaga
- Carla Estrada
- The Queen Mother
- Tingog Partylist
- Kathniel Gissing
- pulling out
The data spanned from the 2016 vice presidential election through to the 2022 election. This period covers the shutdown of broadcast media giant ABS-CBN, and Gonzaga’s endorsement of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Supporters of Marcos Jr. – Sarah Duterte.
After conversations related to the entertainment industry, politics and fandom, the researchers looked at notable pages and analyzed the most engaged posts in terms of likes, shares, and comments. The study also noted the online citizen practices of Robredo and Marcos Jr. supporters.
The fans against Tony Gonzaga
After not renewing the franchise of broadcast media giant ABS-CBN – which has been widely criticized as an assault on press freedom – celebrity fans have called for silence on the issue, Gonzaga among them. (Read: ABS-CBN shutdown, Maria Ressa threat caused by Duterte’s “contempt” for the press – international human rights lawyer.)
Gonzaga is especially noted for her status as one of the biggest network stars.
Other notable Kapamilya stars who have spoken out about the case and protested the network’s closure were Angel Locsin, Enchong Dee, Anne Curtis, Janine Gutierrez, Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla, among other ABS-CBN artists.
Gonzaga’s silence about shutting down her home network for 16 years has turned her into a polarizing figure for netizens who have been either with or against the Duterte administration, according to the study. Gonzaga preserved this image when she showed her support for the son of dictator Ferdinand “Pong Pong” Marcos Jr. (read: [OPINION] On Tony Gonzaga in an interview with Pong Pong Marcus)
During this period, numerous articles, Facebook posts, and YouTube videos appeared, confirming the framing that fans – fans of Kapamilya and fans of various celebrities – are the source of such criticism.
For example, a YouTube video titled “Internet User, Minora Sinai Sarah Geronimo, Tony Gonzaga at ALEX GONZAGA!!” , to many celebrity and politics pages on Facebook. The video, widely shared online, may be among the reasons Gonzaga issued a sympathetic statement to the 11,000 ABS-CBN employees affected by the concession denial, according to the study.
Katniels vs Carla Estrada
Karla Estrada, star of Kapamilya and mother of actor Daniel Padilla, has also infuriated fans regarding the shutdown of ABS-CBN.
Their complaint against Carla is not because of her silence about not renewing the ABS-CBN franchise but her decision to become part of the Tingog Sinirangan, the party-list group whose current representative, Yedda Romualdez, voted not to renew the ABS-CBN franchise. French. (Read: Karla Estrada nominated by the party-list group that rejected the ABS-CBN franchise)
#WithdrawKarlaEstrada started trending as soon as the nomination of Estrada Tingog Sinirangan was announced.
However, according to the study, posts and tweets on Facebook revealed that the engagement and confirmation of Kathniel’s fans – on-screen couple Daniel and Catherine Bernardo – regarding Carla’s party slate selection issue has more to do with Daniel’s reputation than Estrada herself.
“Indian Lang Sila Artista”
“I think it is important ‘yung na-create na espasyo sa kasalukuyan, na hindi puwedeng tahimik lang ang mga paboritong artista sa mga bagay na nakaapekto sa amin bilang tao, hindi lang bilang fan’,” Brilon said.
(I think what’s important is to create that space, so that your favorite stars can’t stay silent about matters that affect them personally, not just as fans.)
In the past, the researchers said, the call for celebrities to be more political wasn’t quite that way. However, this changed because the norm preferred instant reactions in the age of social media. Fan criticism is starting to have consequences for celebrities.
In February, Gonzaga announced that she was leaving the reality show Benoy Big Brotherhaving hosted the show since 2005. She didn’t say any particular reason, but she left the show a day after appearing at the rally ad for the late dictator’s son Ferdinand “Pong Pong” Jr.
“I believe she (Gonzaga) was forced to resign as hostess to the Benoy Big Brother immediately after she announced her support for the unit,” Brilon said.
As for Estrada, Brilon said, “There is also an online petition that is about fans Magandang Bohaithat Regen Velasquez permanently replaces Carla Estrada even after the elections.”
According to the study, “This is an indication that fans are starting to see their favorite celebrities or idols as more than just entertainment personalities, but as an integral part of the country’s political landscape.”
Journalists are also beginning to realize the power of fans to drive political conversations, as the framing of news stories emphasizes fans’ role in criticizing celebrity’s position on certain social issues.
Fans and politics
What happens now when supporters of public figures and officials act like fans themselves, and public officials are treated like celebrities?
“In this election, we realized that there is nothing. Paket Barang Ang Daming Subrang Gustung Makilahuk Ngayon? Not only celebrities, but also fans. Paket Ngayon, Barang Ang, resorts to overt politics in the campaign period? Suarez said.
(In this election, we realized something was different. Why do so many people seem to want to get involved? Not just celebrities, but fans as well. Why now, it seems like there are so many overtly political people in this campaign period?)
The study cited record gathering numbers, voluntary efforts to secure performances by more than 30 artists, and the spread of Campaign song on Spotify charts.
“This is a game changer, in a sense, celebrities voluntarily campaign for public servants. Previously cruel, they supported for a fee. Kaya hindi naman masyadong uses ang ang values [nila]” Brilon said.
(This is a game-changer in the sense that celebrities voluntarily campaign for public officials. Because previously they endorsed for a fee. Whether they align in value has not been talked about before.)
Political participation in the 2022 elections
In assessing the key events that led to this active offline and online political participation of individuals in the 2022 election, researchers identified three: the Duterte administration’s response to the pandemic, the spread of community stores, and the closing of ABS-CBN.
With President Rodrigo Duterte’s disappointing pandemic response and his administration’s military-centric approach to a health issue, people have used social media to express their anger.
Community pantry, a food donation drive initiated by volunteers, has also spread across the country due to the poor response to the pandemic. In their study, the researchers said, “More than a ‘noble tool for helping others,’ the community stores served as a political message to the administration criticizing its failure and providing an example of an active alternative.”
The ABS-CBN shutdown has prompted celebrities and fans to finally break out of their comfort zones and take an “active and visible stand” on a political issue. It’s also important to note that the shutdown not only affected artists but also communities in remote areas who rely on the network for the latest news.
“We may have an abundance of entertainers and recreational practices in Filipino politics, but that doesn’t mean that people are complaisant and don’t stop caring about the things that matter to them,” the study said.
“In light of this, digital political participation in the Philippines is better understood as an informed response to the larger political context in which it operates, and has been an enabling force for democratic participation,” she added. – Rappler.com