July 30, 2021
Writers: Alvin Joseph Mapoy and Jerwin Regala
Editor: K Ballesteros
Researcher: Nel Fortes
Graphics: Krystle Mae Labio, Tobey Fhar Isaac Calayo, and Jacklyn Moral
Tweet Chat Moderators: Christine Joy Salva Cruz, Ella Mae Militante, Marga Miñon, and Tobey Fhar Isaac Calayo
Documentation: Nel Fortes
Spaces Moderators: Alvin Joseph Mapoy, Richardson Mojica, Azie Libanan, K Ballesteros, Kamille Huelgas and the rest of the #UsapTayo volunteers
International Self-Care Day was celebrated on July 24th. Most of us engage in self-care through music and TV series. The stress that the pandemic has brought has made us explore activities and interests that would take our mind off from the problems we face.
At the onset of the pandemic, people were prohibited from going out— no more “gala”, no more gatherings. Stay-at-home orders were mandated to contain the novel corona virus; all of our favorite places were closed and shut down temporarily. Being stuck at home is boring and some people reached a breaking point, including September, who identified himself as an extrovert who always wanted to be with many people. He dealt with frustrations, anxieties, anger and even cabin fever, and found himself in a situation where he felt like he couldn’t handle things anymore. September lost motivation. As he struggled, he discovered KPOP acts like Red Velvet, a girl group, which eventually introduced him to the global community of KPop stans. He became a certified Reveluv (fandom name of Red Velvet), ONCE (fandom name of TWICE), and recently an ARMY, one of the world’s strongest fandoms (fandom name of BTS). KPop gave him the opportunity to discover more about his taste for music and develop a technique to keep him motivated. KPOP became a healthy distraction: “there is something in KPop music that keeps me sane and going”
October started listening to music when he was young. He was exposed to the music of the Beatles and Eraserheads through his father in 2000. From the Beatles, his love of music continued to grow as he explored music. In 2005, he discovered his love for pop punk music with All American Rejects, Fall Out Boy, and Paramore exploding in the music scene. With the popularity of the lyricism behind Taylor Swift, he became interested in popular music. He explored different genres of music, from BTS, Olivia Rodrigo, GOT7, EXO, Ben&Ben, BGYO, and SB19. He became and remained a fanboy of all genres of music.
Fandom: Good or Bad?
In her article, Wiest (2017) defined fandoms as a “group of people who all admire or support a particular entity in popular culture, usually in the case of television shows, book series, movies, artists or performers” .
As early as the 17th century, fandom behavior had been present. According to historian Vera Keller, consumers turned into fans in this period because of their enthusiasm towards ideas, values, practices, or objects. Vera Keller (n.d.) shared that individuals with similar interests exchanged “ideas, inspiration, and knowledge about their shared passion”. By 1887, the first fandom revolt happened as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes in the book, The Final Problem. This marked the moment where fans realized that they were active consumers of their passion. However, it was in 1926 when the first ‘official’ emergence of fan communities started when an American science fiction magazine called Amazing Stories started accepting fan letters . In the 1960s, music fan communities started to emerge with the Beatles. It was during their popularity in music when fandom became mainstream. “It was absolute pandemonium. Girls fainting, screaming… The whole hall went into some kind of state, almost collective hypnotism. I’d never seen anything like it,” Andi Lotihan told The Guardian during an interview. The phenomenon was known as Beatlemania. Fans of the Beatles were collectively known as the “Beatlemaniacs” .
Nowadays, music has become one of the main sources of fan communities. Artists like BTS, Taylor Swift, and Ariana Grande, among others have fan communities established. Bands, creators, artists, fans, and influencers became more intertwined with the digital age. The digital revolution established fan communities more quickly. Fans like, follow, pin, and save their passion through different social media platforms to connect with one another easily .
Weist (2017) stated that belonging in a fandom helps individuals connect with like-minded individuals for easier access to concert events. Belonging can help an individual define their identity and give a sense of excitement to an otherwise routine lifestyle (Weist, 2017). Being connected with people over shared passions is good for mental and emotional health because it provides a support system. Fandoms help establish a fraternity-like or family-like sense of security. It provides a sense of belonging that many adolescents may struggle to feel within their home, at school, or at work (Weist, 2017). Stieg (2019) stated that the fandom community can also be considered a personal hobby as it allows for “[a] greater expanse of these social connection networks”  with people who have shared interests.
However, there are instances in which toxic fandom behaviors emerge online. In a report by BBC News, online bullying occurs between fandoms of artists in defense of their favorite stars . Examples of which surfaced on social media. For example: fans of DC Comics harassed actress Anna Diop because of her skin color, and fans of Rick and Morty, an American adult animated science fiction show, harassed McDonald’s staff and customers .
Being part of a fandom is a social responsibility. As content creators become more prominent due to social media, fandoms continue to prosper in the digital age.
Pop stars Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Rihanna and others established fan communities in late 2000s and early 2010s. The steady rise in popularity of pop music also contributed to establishing K-Pop music reaching international audiences . The Korean wave or Hallyu became a global phenomenon due to “its distinctive blend of addictive melodies, slick choreography and production values” .
In 2009, the Wonder Girls cracked the Billboard Hot 100 with their crossover hit, “Nobody”. The Korean wave further solidified with the emergence of PSY, Super Junior, SNSD, 2NE1, Big Bang, TWICE, Red Velvet, BLACKPINK, and BTS. With the latter being the uncontested United States success, fandoms further emerged and reached heightened recognition .
Filipino talents in singing and dancing are unlocked by Korean trainers to the triumph of K-pop groups . Filipino artists such as Regine Velasquez and Sarah Geronimo have fandoms even before PPop groups have emerged. Local Filipino groups have come out to the scene to further strengthen the Asian pop scene . P-Pop groups are here to provide quality entertainment in the new normal. Fandoms became more prominent with the rise of these groups . Here are some of the P-Pop groups to watch out for as they dominate the Filipino music scene:
SB19 is a five-member Filipino boy band who were the first Filipino group to chart in Billboard’s Next Big Sound as well as the first Southeast Asian act to enter the top 10 of Billboard Social 50 .
BGYO debuted last January 29, 2021 as the newest representatives of P-Pop. BGYO stands for “Be the Change, Go Further, You and I, Originally Filipino.” BGYO also charted in Billboard’s Next Big Sound .
4th Impact is a P-Pop girl group with amazing vocal prowess known for their performances in the international reality search, X Factor UK .
The Juans is a Filipino pop band known for their hit, “Hindi Tayo Pwede” . The song has over 70 million streams on Spotify and over 53 million views on YouTube.
BINI is a P-Pop girl group launched last June by Star Hunt Academy. They had their pre-debut single, “Da Coconut Nut” released last November .
Ben&Ben is a 9-piece band with more than 587 million views on YouTube and over 947 million streams on Spotify. “Ben&Ben has endeared itself to many with their heartfelt lyrics, unique musicality, and their electric vibe onstage.” 
MNL48 is a Filipino girl idol group based in Metro Manila, the 3rd international sister group of Japanese girl idol group AKB48 (PPop Wiki, n.d.). Baby Blue, a sub-unit of the group, debuted with the lead single “Sweet Talking Sugar” in September 2020, which topped the Egg Music charts in Japan, making them one of the first Filipino artists to make it to Japanese music charts .
Other P-Pop acts that are gradually making a name locally are: ALAMAT, LUNA, This Band, 1stOne and PPop Generation.
Relaxing through Netflix: Drama as coping mechanism
Fandoms are not limited to musicians. Television shows have also contributed to the establishment of fan communities.
Even before the popularity of Netflix, Filipinos were long-time fans of imported dramas. In the early 1990s, Mexican soap operas such as Marimar and Rosalinda hit the airwaves with ratings of more than 50 percent of the national audience for television .
In the late 1990s, the popularity of Asian dramas reached global status. This popularity transcended non-Asian audiences despite cultural differences . The cultural impact of Korean dramas reached the Philippines in 2003 when GMA Network broadcasted the Successful Story of a Bright Girl. The show led to a string of successful Korean dramas in the Philippines broadcasted by the two major television networks including Endless Love: Autumn in My Heart, Stairway to Heaven, and Lovers in Paris . The popularity of K-dramas has often been compared with telenovelas in their plot and themes . The global phenomenon of K-dramas resonated in the Philippines because of its generic similarities with telenovelas.
The success of Korean dramas also prompted ABS-CBN and GMA Network to do remakes of Korean Dramas with My Girl and Stairway to Heaven . In an interview by the Korean Times (2010), Joey Abacan, GMA Network vice president for Program Management stated “Filipinos love drama and stories that we can relate to. Most of the time, the Korean dramas are quite escapist and moving. Aside from the touching plotlines, the production is really a visual experience of places that most of us are not accustomed to seeing”.
The stories that capture audiences should be “refreshing, forward looking content, promotions, fanbase, and shorter programs” as Erik Paolo Capistrano of the University of the Philippines’ Korea Research Center stated in a report by ABS-CBN News. With the rise of Netflix, Korean dramas such as Crash Landing on You, It’s Okay Not to Be Okay, and The World of the Married became popular in the age of social media .
But despite the popularity of Korean dramas, Filipino teleseryes are a part of our cultural landscape. In the early 1990s to the early 2000s, iconic Filipino teleseryes became a part of Filipino daily routines such as Mara Clara, Pangako Sa’Yo, Encantadia, and Mulawin . In 2015, a study showed that most Filipino children still prefer to watch television after a long day at school. The study revealed that Filipino teleseryes such as Forevermore and Dream Dad were popular among Filipino children .
Filipino fandoms were also present in movies and television. The classic rivalry between Nora Aunor and Vilma Santos produced Noranians and Vilmanians. Sharonians also made waves in the 1980s. In the late 2000s until late 2010s, new breeds of fandoms were established through Filipino love teams. KathNiel, JaDine, LizQuen, and AlDub Nation were formed because of their massive popularity. Comedian Vice Ganda also has also established his own fan base group which were collectively identified as Ponies.
The popularity of television shows also piqued the interest of researchers. In a 2020 study, television shows, specifically Korean dramas, showed promising results to be used as a way to address knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors on school bullying among Asian American college students . Watching TV series also helped people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Individuals with anxiety symptoms facing a stressful situation due to pandemic lockdowns, health concerns, and deaths of loved ones used watching TV series as a recovery strategy . K-dramas can also be utilized to promote mental health education. In a study by Park et al. (2019), the feasibility of K-dramas as innovative and widely available health education tools has been positively responded by Asian Americans.
However, watching TV series can also become counterproductive. In the United States, 40 percent of the population use excessive television to cope with stress. Binge-watching television can lead to avoidance of responsibilities, increased anxiety due to stressful content, inactivity, and lack of sleep . According to Roseik et al. (2015), too much time spent watching television leads to a higher risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes  .
Why do we love watching TV series? We identify with what we see. Dinelka (2020) explained that a TED-Ed video illustrates how individuals relate with television series. Here are some instances that we identify with a television series:
Wishful identification. Individuals witness a world or environment they wish “to live in for excitement, power, prestige, and success” .
Parasocial identification. People experience a one-way relationship with characters they see on screen. They start to feel emotions that identify with the characters .
Perceiving Similarity. The similarity of the situation that viewers experienced before give them a feeling of empathy towards the character in the same situation .
How to maintain healthier coping mechanisms
Despite the benefits of music and TV series, it may also be counterproductive and the community of fans can be toxic as well. Social media has provided ways for toxic fandom to thrive .How do we maintain peace among fandoms? Etman (2018) listed ways to be a non-toxic fan:
Curate your content. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr have tools to carefully curate user feeds. Users can mute and block toxic fans .
Report toxic fan behavior. In line with curating content, users need to remove fans who promote negativity. The report feature on social media is your friend. This is not only for users’ own sake, but it benefits others as well. When users report toxic behavior on social media, they increase the chance that the user would be removed from the platform .
Hold people accountable. Call out toxic fans and educate them about their behavior. Try to change their minds. Educate them with kindness .
Promote positivity. A fandom is a community, creating and sharing artwork can help the community support the artist. If fans want their communities to stay non-toxic, they need to share love .
Walk away. As much as fans have the responsibility to maintain a non-toxic fandom, they also have a responsibility to themselves. Self-care is important. If things go out of hand and the toxic environment within the fandom affects their well being, it may be time for them to walk away .
While maintaining a non-toxic fandom community, it is also important to lessen screen time. Being part of a fandom, individuals tend to check their idol’s social media account, listen to music for extended periods of time, and watch TV series featuring their idols . Being in the fandom community can also make one a binge-watcher. How can we lessen our screen time watching TV series? Dinelka (2020) shared some things that individual fans can do:
Divide binge-watching time into chunks by episodes. Remember to set a schedule for watching episodes. This will prevent negative consequences that one can experience when watching TV series for an extended period of time .
Do some pushups, go for a short walk, or do some stretches. During a break in watching TV series, divert your attention to productive activities. Exercising between episodes can help fans be physically fit .
Start Dopamine fasting. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain that is released when fans take part in an activity that they are interested in. This neurotransmitter rewards fans with pleasure for doing the activity. Dopamine fasting or taking a break from activities that are pleasurable such as watching TV series can help control binge-watching .
- Which fandom are you currently part of?
- Show us your bias and bias wrecker!
- What are the factors that make music, movies, and TV series a stress reliever for you?
- How do we maintain a non-toxic fandom community?
- When is it unhealthy to engage in fandoms? How can we make fandoms safe and healthy for everyone?
- If there’s one line from your favorite music or movie/series that gives you the motivation and inspiration, what is it and why?
- How did your fandom help you in coping up?
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