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Noel Francis T.

Galinato En12-SO6

Prof. Louie Jon A. Sanchez September 14, 2013

Virtual Fandom

I. INTRODUCTION Over the past few years, the word like has found a new position in society. From a word that denotes interest, like is now the interest of many. Since its revolution from social networking site Facebook, like has emerged in the many fields of study such as marketing, psychology, and economics. A study conducted by Baker, Brison, and Byon, all professors from the University of Georgia, discusses how the decision on like-gating (a marketing strategy to have consumers like a fan page) by NAD, an institution involved in advertising, affect the sports marketing industry (Baker et al. 2013). A psychological study by Kosinski, Stillwell, and Graepel, the first two from the University of Cambridge and the latter from Microsoft Research, determines the correlation between Facebook likes and personal characteristics ( In the field of economics, a study entitled The Like Ecnomoy: The Social Web Transition by Gerlitz and Helmond each from University of London and University of Amsterdam respectively was also conducted. Other than like, the growing interest of todays society is following. Following started out most popular with the social network site Twitter. Eventually with the rising popularity of twitter and its follow feature, it was observed that Facebook added its own version, the subscribe button which was later renamed to its current name follow ( The impact of following in society, especially in the business world, has been tremendous for the past few years. According to a journal by Eun Sook Kwon and Yongjun Sun, Dell, a major computer company, generated $6.5 million through Twitter accounts. Facebooks own version of following also provides many avenues for growth and development to different people of different professions businessmen, entrepreneurs, celebrities, models, and fans. Anyone who follows a Facebook account gets the chance to view the accounts day-to-day public posts in his or her newsfeed or Facebook Home Page. The growing influence of like and follow has greatly affected many aspects and areas in society yet only few studies have been conducted about its significance to the world of fandom. Browsing through online academic journals, it is a challenge to look for a study showing the relationship between fandom and Facebooks like, or follow feature. Studies for like, or follow are always mostly related to marketing and psychology. Although it may be implied that one is a fan of something or someone if he or she likes or follows a particular person or object, it is still quite vague whether or not liking and following really reflect fandom. This is because of the many aspects that there is in fandom.

Hence, given the status quo, the main argument of this paper is that Facebooks like and follow feature reflect the fandom and the performances of fans of celebrities Daniel Padilla, and Anne Curtis. These two celebrities are among the most popular Filipino celebrities. Perhaps their popularity can be considered as phenomenal through the different performances of their fans on the web, and off the web. This paper is guided by a set of objectives that collectively prove the claim. The first objective is that this paper aims to investigate if fandom is a result of mass media. Furthermore, the objectives include the definition of different performances of fandom and, definition of Facebooks role in the arena of fandom, as well as define the Like and Follow features of Facebook and their significance in todays society particularly in the fandom subculture. Moreover, the researcher will include in this paper specific information of celebrities Daniel Padilla, and Anne Curtis such as basic information, and fan statistics. As such, the researcher would like to analyze the significance of liking and following towards fandom in association to the reason behind the actions of their fans. A. Fandom Popular Filipino celebrities have divided the country into two parties: fans and non-fans. Fans are often associated with screaming, sighing or even crying teenage fan girls. The definition of a fan given to us by authors Brian Ott and Robert Mack of the book Critical Media Studies: An Introduction is that a fan is someone who is enthusiastic and shows a special form of loyalty towards a particular celebrity, person, a media text such as a movie, a TV series, or a song, or activity such as sports like basketball and football (Ott et al 249). Hence, fans do not merely include the frantic teenage girls, but also the howling teenage boys or adult men who watch the annual NBA Season Finals or the quadrennial FIFA World Cup. Arbitrarily, non-fans are people who do not possess such characteristics. Many fan clubs are continuously growing in the country such as KathNiel for the love team of Daniel Padilla and Kathryn Bernardo. Lisa Lewis, editor of the book The Adoring Audience: Fan Culture and Popular Media, gives the origin of this modern subculture; the fan is a result of the current modern celebrity system and mass media. The fan is described to be a response or a result of the celebrity who is attributed or characterized to be someone who is passive and is simply brought into the world by these two parties (Lewis). Collectively, fans form a specific aspect in the pop culture known as fandom. Many scholars and books have provided definitions for fandom. The first wave of scholars, as stated in the book Critical Media Studies: An Introduction, view fandom as interpretative communities whose creative and productive activities empowered fans and challenged the hegemonic culture. These scholars were John Fiske, Henry Jenkins, Camille Bacon-Smith, and Constance Penley (Ott et al 250). Another book entitled Audience Analysis gave a categorization of the word fandom. According to the book, the weakest form of fandom is one that is centered on the attraction of a particular medium, while the strongest form of fandom is one that is centered on the attraction and loyalty towards a media personality. Hence, based on such criteria, movie fandom is a weak form of fandom (McQuail 121). Other than positive regards

of fandom, a thesis from the UP Diliman College of Mass Communication stated that another theorist or scholar named Henry Jackson (1992) views fandom in a pathological perspective where it is considered as a symptom for social dysfunction (Martinez). Nonetheless, all these definitions fall into one common point saying that fandom is a collective aspect in society and culture. B. Mass Media In the first chapter of the book Critical Media Studies: An Introduction, the collective critical media studies is given a much academic definition. According to the book, people learn in 2 different ways. The first way of learning is accomplished through the sense organs such as the eyes, nose, ears, tongue, and skin known as somatic learning. On the other hand, the other type of learning is achieved through mediators known as symbolic learning. In the book, a medium is defined as objects or people that mediate in the learning process. Examples of learning through mediators are learning through a book, a teacher, an apparatus, etc. (Ott et al 2). With the rise of technology, information has become readily accessible. The birth of mass media started when Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable printer that resulted in an easier spread of information. Hence, the definition of mass media is that it is a medium for communication brought to the people in remote locations through advancement of technology (Ott et al 3). Mass media divides itself into four categories: Print Media, New Media, Broadcast Media, and Motion Picture or Sound Recording with the latter being the most famous in todays society. An example of an icon for the motion picture and sound recording industry is Hollywood who pioneered the talkies or the synchronized motion pictures and sound in films (Ott et al 2). Amongst all the categories of media given by the book, New Media takes pride in acquiring the attention of many scholars because of its wide scope and vague definition. Lev Manovich defines new media as cultural objects which use digital computer technology for distribution and circulation. Manovichs definition provides no limitation to new media. Hence, as the computing technology grows, it will slowly include all other forms of media and therefore becoming a meaningless category. Potmodernity also plays an important role in media. As defined by Brian Ott and Robert Mack, postmodernity describes the historical epoch that began to emerge in the 1960s as the economic mode of production in most Western societies slowly shifted from goods-based manufacturing to information-based services. The book also explores the five key trends that affect the mass media in the era of postmodernity (Ott et al 8) The first trend being convergence is the erasure of the boundaries of the different types of media; overlapping of media into an integrated platform. During the 1980s, the convergence of mass media was considered to be a visionary when pioneers of this convergence, Nicholas Negroponte and others at the MIT Media Lab, started studying multimedia systems. However, two obstacles had to be faced by this convergence. The first obstacle was the noise associated with the analog signal waves which was later solved through the digitalization of the analog signals. The second

obstacle was that the bandwidth limitations prevented the transfer of large data. This problem was also solved through the expansion of the bandwidth and the improvement of data compression. Historically, mass media wasnt very mobile or movable. It required that people go to the media source, rather than the media source go to the people. An example given by Ott and Mack is the instance when you wanted to see a film you had to go to the theaters. Now, with the development of various microprocessors and wireless technology, the public has the capability to bring media to their footsteps. This brings about the second trend, mobility which is evident in the act of downloading data from the Internet. Fragmentation is the third trend which is a result of the growth in media creating a more and more diverse audience that move towards the de-massiciation of media as coined by Alvin Toffler. An example given by the book is the increase in cable channels that diversifies the audience. Before, there were only 3 TV channels or TV programs that would monopolize the 24 hours catering to the huge mass of audience. The fourth trend, globalization is according to Brian Ott and Robert Mack the complex set of social, political, and economic processes in which the physical boundaries and structural policies that previously reinforced the autonomy of the nation state are collapsing in favor of instantaneous and flexible worldwide social relations. With globalization, multinational corporations that own media companies have the ability to bring their cultural products to the vast market. Simulation is the fifth trend described by the book. The book gives the origin of the current concept of simulation that is it is from the book Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard who describes it as hyperreality. The book states that the concept of simulation is important because it is fueled by the mass media. Given the various definitions and categories of mass media, no doubt one can conclude that fandom is one of its results. Fandom can mostly be expressed through new media as it fosters a sense of community and self-expression. Fandom is also manifested through the various forms of media such as print, motion, etc. E. Performances of fandom The manifestations and performances of fandom are often the usual fan conventions, collectibles such as fan shirts and fan action figures, fan fiction, fan art, and perhaps cosplay for the anime fans (Ott et al 249). Many fan collectibles can be found in the Philippines. In bookstores, one can always find spring notebooks wherein the cover is a famous Filipino celebrity such as Jolina Magdangal, or fans with faces of politicians, etc. Fan conventions are also held but it is most commonly practiced in the more urban places of the country. It is a rare occasion for a celebrity to hold fan conventions in rural or under-developed areas. In the light of the weak and strong categories of fandom, these manifestations fall as strong. Manifestations like these are executed to show the intensity of the fans loyalty towards a particular celebrity. Notebook covers are dedicated to celebrities and fans choose these notebooks because of the cover.

Social networking sites (SNSs) is a web-based service that gives people the opportunity to interact with one another as they create a public or semi-public profile. The invitation-only strategies used by the SNSs allow people to meet other strangers online as they expand and communicate with their friends, acquaintances, and colleagues (Khan 174). The existence of online celebrity fan pages, and Facebook accounts all support this claim. Social networking sites fall under the category of new media the use of computer technology in distributing or circulating information. II. DISCUSSION The researcher will discuss the involvement of Facebook in the field of fandom. The importance of Facebooks Like and Follow feature and its significance in todays society, the modern day fan, and to the fans of the aforementioned celebrities: Daniel Padilla and Anne Curtis. A. Facebook: what it is and how it all began Among all social networking sites, Facebook ranks number one. Facebook attracts users through its features that provide avenues for building relationships, providing entertainment, and opportunities for business expansion. Facebook features include creating a personal profile, uploading an unlimited number of photos, writing notes, and sending personal messages. It also provides the user a personalized privacy setting which is based on the preference of the user (Khan 174). The history of Facebook began at its launching on February 4, 2004. Founder Mark Zuckerberg originally designed Facebook for the students of the Harvard University as a platform where they can share their university experiences online. In 2006, Facebook was opened to the public aged 13 and above. And currently, Facebook has reached a member database of over 500 million (Khan 174). B. Liking: from what it was to what it is The word like can be used either as a preposition, conjunction, noun, adverb, adjective, or verb, with the verb form being the subject of this paper. The verb like according to the Oxford American Dictionaries pertains to an object that is agreeable, enjoyable, or satisfactory for someone (e.g. I like bananas). The verb like takes its origin from the Old English word of Germanic roots lcian which means be pleasing. Lcian is also related to the Dutch word likjen. Over the decades like branched out to the fields of marketing. Marketing professionals employ like to measure the effectiveness of their advertisements and promotions with the end result: likability of their product. Like was able to give the marketers an empirical measure on the effectiveness of their advertising. Hence, a likable ad is encoded in the brain as a pre-cognitive desire ( Now, in the 21st century, Facebook has changed the value of like. Many scholars argue that Facebooks addition of the like button devalues or degrades level of empathy in humans through one click, while some may argue that the like button provides benefits to the society.

A study by Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell from the University of Cambridge, and Thore Graepel of Microsoft Research has found a major significance in Facebooks Like feature and the society. According to their study, the pages a person likes on Facebook may give clues for a persons sexual orientation, intelligence, race, and drug use ( Taken from is the list of accuracy for their predictions using the like feature on Facebook: Single 63%, Parents together at 21 80%, Smokes Cigarette 73%, Drinks Alcohol 70%, White vs. Black -95%, Christian vs. Muslim 82%, Democrat vs. Republican 85%, Gay vs. Straight Man 88%, Lesbian vs. Straight Woman 75%, and Gender 93%. This gives substantial evidence that like does reflect a persons personality. C. Liking, the modern day fan, and fandom The modern day fan can still be defined through the classical definition stated in the earlier sections of this paper: a fan is someone who is enthusiastic and shows a special form of loyalty towards a particular media text (Ott et al 249). The only difference between the modern day fan and the classical fan are the advancements in technology. The advancements of the technology greatly decrease the barriers to communication in an inter-fan basis. Take for example the growth of Internet; once branded as a luxury, it is now considered as a basic human right by the United Nations ( It is a very effective medium for communication especially now that almost everyone has access to the Internet and that social networking sites, particularly Facebook, are becoming more and more popular among the masses. The installation of the like button or the like feature in Facebook provides a wider avenue for expression and communication. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argues to the American Appeals Court that Facebooks like is a form of expression and freedom of speech and that it is covered under the First Amendment of the US Constitution ( They argue that: With one click of a button, an Internet user can upload or view a video, donate money to a campaign, forward an email, sign a petition, send a prewritten letter to a politician, or do a myriad of other indisputably expressive activities. The ease of these actions does not negate their expressive nature. Indeed, under the district courts reasoning, affixing a bumper sticker to your car, pinning a campaign pin to your shirt, or placing a sign on of your lawn would be devoid of meaning absent further information, and therefore not entitled to constitutional protection because of the minimal effort these actions require. All of these acts are, of course, constitutionally protected That many people today choose to convey what they like or which political candidates they support by Liking a Web page rather than by writing the actual words, I like this Web page or I like this candidate, is immaterial. Whether someone presses a Like button to express those thoughts or presses the buttons on a keyboard to write out those words, the end result is the same: one is telling the world about ones personal beliefs, interests, and opinions. That is exactly what the First Amendment protects, however that information is conveyed."

This recognition of like as a form of freedom of speech empowers the Internet users, and, of course, the fans. As argued by the ACLU, it provides an avenue for expression - a concise method of expressing or writing down a persons interests. The consequences of liking are contribution to increased Internet traffic, and rapid spread of information. A very socially relevant example of this is the Cybercrime Act issue in the Philippines that impedes the rights of freedom of expression of the Filipinos by penalizing online activities that are considered to be violations of its libel provision (i.e. negative comments towards government) ( The Cybercrime Act caused great turmoil among the online community. Majority of the display photos of Filipino Facebook users were replaced with merely a black images in response to the said Act. The major key factors in raising the awareness towards the Cybercrime Act and changing the display photos were the like buttons on Facebook raising awareness and creating Internet traffic. How like empowers the modern day fan requires a much more specific discourse. The concern of the fan is not on social change but rather on expression of self, and sense of community. Like is a tool for empowerment given the different avenues it gives for the fulfillment of the concerns of the fan. On the note of selfexpression, a fan is able to express and declare his or her wants through like. As stated by the ACLU, the end result of like is expression of oneself. Fans declare to the world that they like this particular celebrity by liking his or her page and in doing so, the fan has become part of a community. As a person likes a page, he or she can view the different activities that occur within the page and among the page likers. The person is given an avenue to communicate with other fans, as well as get more information about activities regarding their community. This is results in the transformation of the fan page into an integrate platform for different people with unique or similar declarations. D. Daniel Padilla and the like Daniel Padilla is one of the most popular teen Filipino celebrities ( He is both an actor and recording artist who became popular from the Filipino TV series Princess and I. Frantic fan girls often follow him and attend his fan conventions. During one of his visits in Pamapanga, Philippines, girls even as young as 8 years old packed the whole venue ( His official Facebook page currently has 983,000+ likes. Based on related articles and performances of fans of Daniel Padilla, one can form a mental image of who the fans of Daniel Padilla are. His fans fit the definition of a fangirl, an informal derogatory term for an obsessive female fan ( The intensity of the fandom of Daniel Padillas fans can be found in one of his more recent issues. His fans recently bashed veteran Filipina actress Judy Ann Santos-Agoncillo due to her show Huwag Ka Lang Mawawala. Fans of the teen actor believed that the Judy Anns show should be cancelled due to poor ratings and its impediment to Daniel Padillas upcoming show Got to Believe ( The prevalence of new media in this society contributes to the current characteristics of the fans of Daniel Padilla. How like affects and reflects the performance of fandom of Daniel Padillas fans can be found in the different opportunities the button offers. First, like is a form

of self-expression. Similar to the other fans and the other Facebook users, fans of Daniel Padilla get to express their selves on Facebook through this tool; the declaration of their being a fan through the act of liking. As they click like, they integrate themselves into a community of fans and the likers of the actors fan page all posses one common characteristic, which is their love for the actor. Below is a screenshot from the fan page of Daniel Padilla which shows the interaction between the fans.

Figure 1 Fan interaction within Daniel Padilla Fan Page

Figure 2 Fan interaction within Daniel Padilla Fan Page

As shown in Figure 1, fans get the opportunity to view posts related to Daniel Padilla. This figure also shows the self-expression of fans online. This gives the sense of community among the likers of the page. At the same time, in Figure 2, fans have access to updates on activities such as fan conventions, making the act of liking as a step to access information. With these, one can gather substantial evidence to prove that Facebooks like does reflect the performances of Daniel Padillas fan and their fandom. E. Following: from past to present The American Oxford Dictionaries defines follow as a verb that denotes the act of going after a person or thing that is proceeding ahead (e.g. I will follow Louie Jon as he goes into the path of wisdom and righteousness.). It takes its roots from the old English term of Germanic origins folgian which is related to the Dutch volgen and the German folgen. Follow has evolved from a simple verb to another medium of expression. Follow, pioneered by Twitter, is also used in many social networking sites such as,, and Facebooks follow button was originally the subscribe button. The addition of such button is a convenience for people who have exceeded the limit to the number of friends on Facebook: 5,000. This allows the follower to get public updates or information that is being posted by a specific person ( The empowerment of individuals through this feature is, again, through self-expression and sense of community, and contentment as well.

Following a celebrity gives the follower a chance to see how the everyday life of this particular celebrity is, and comment or react to the celebritys follow post; anything that the celebrity chooses to publicly post is visible on the followers news feed, and can be commented by the follower. The comments are visible to all the other followers, thus the common point here is the celebrity. The celebrity, being the common point, has now become an integrated platform where fans react to a post, or share their interests. F. Following Anne Curtis Perhaps, Anne CurtisSmith, popularly known as Anne Curtis, can be considered as the most famous female celebrity of this generation. From a young Filipino teen movie actress, Anne Curtis emerged as a new icon and symbol mainly through her album launch of Annebisyosa and as a show host of noontime show Showtime. She holds the status of the first Filipina celebrity to have caught the attention of E! News Asia Special, a TV program that features famous celebrities ( Her Facebook account has 117,000++ followers ( Her Twitter account at the same time officially has 5,263,110 making her the only Filipino to have reached a million followers on twitter, and one of Twitters top 200 personalities while surpassing the rankings of other famous celebrities such as US First Lady Michelle Obama and champion tennis player Rafael Nadal ( The fans of Anne Curtis cover a wider scope of the population. It can be observed that her fans are composed of both men and women who mostly admire her of her beauty and physique. Anne Curtis as a model covers the fashion enthusiasts sector of the society, at the same time as a cover girl for a magazine, and as one of FHMs sexiest women has captured the male sector of the society. Despite her not being a strong pillar in the Philippine music industry, her concert Annebisyosa: No Other Concert was still sold out as written by Ricky L. Calderon of the Philippine Star ( Self-expression as a fan of Anne Curtis through Facebook can be found in the opportunities of following as well. Being able to have a glimpse of the day-to-day activity of Anne Curtis provides contentment and a sense of satisfaction for the fan. Even more, while reacting to a post by Anne Curtis is an avenue for self-expression of the fan. The photo below shows how the fans express their love for Anne Curtis through following her and commenting on her posts.

Figure 3 Fan self-expression through following 9

In providing a sense of community, Anne Curtiss timeline account has become the integrated platform for the interaction of her different fans. Though there isnt enough evidence to support the claim that fans interact with each other through her account, her followers share one common interest, which is Anne Curtis herself. That then provides the evidence that fandom is reflected through following her account. III. SUMMARY AND CULTURAL IMPLICATIONS A. Summary The researcher was able to prove the claim, attain the objectives, and define the necessary terms. Facebooks Like and Follow feature reflect fandom because of the different avenues and possibilities that liking or following a page or person offers to a fan. Moreover, the like, and follow feature empower the fans as it is a form of self-expression, and a platform for the development of a community. The fan is able to interact with other fans within a fan page through various announcements and fan-related posts. The fan is also able to give messages, and react to the posts empowering them with the right to freedom of expression. B. Cultural Implications With the penetration of fandom in the online world and social networking site, no doubt that technology is continuously taking part more and more of peoples lives. Todays average person is equipped with portable gadgets such as the smartphone, laptop, or tablet. Many movements in society are often done with the aid of the online social media and social networking sites. Facebook users react to current political issues by posting propagandas online and changing their display photos. Filipino Facebook users changing their display photos in response to the Cybercrime Law in the Philippines exemplifies this. Also, Candy Crush Saga is considered as the worlds most addictive game according to Yahoo! Finance ( It can be observed in todays crowd that there are a significant number of people who own a smartphone and use its games and applications to kill time. In relation with the growing technology, the Internet has now also penetrated through the different levels of social classes. Before, it was branded as a luxury but now the United Nations even considers the Internet as a basic human right ( This implies that the people belonging to social classes C and D (lower middle class, and poor) have easy access, and the right to Internet. A significant portion of the fans of Daniel Padilla, and Anne Curtis belong to these social classes. According to an article by, the new digital age has not only changed how people work or play, but it has also changed the characteristics of human specie as well. Humans have developed a new way of socializing. A study conducted by the Stanford University showed that students prefer texting rather than face-to-face interaction with their peers because it is less awkward or less risky. Also, the article stipulated that people are incredibly hooked on the Internet. One study from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan showed that there is a physical change in brain in frequent web users, and some studies say that the pre-


frontal cortex, which is responsible for decision making, is also experiencing physical changes ( Technology has reshaped culture to the extent that it has affected our biological makeup as well.

IV. CONCLUSION In conclusion to this paper, the Like and Follow features of Facebook reflect the performance of fandom towards celebrities Daniel Padilla, and Anne Curtis. This reflection of fandom provides a cultural implication that society is becoming more and more dependent with technology. Without these features, fandom would have been expressed differently. These features are popular because of their convenience and easy-to-access characteristics. These features thus reflect the growth of fandom as a whole fandom from the real world to the virtual world.

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