The #AlDub Tale: A Social Media Phenomenon
Posted by M&MDaclan
The formulation #AlDub pertains to a modern-day dyad of a young local actor, Alden, and a young YouTube sensation, Maine or Yaya Dub. The latter became an instant celebrity for her uploaded dubsmash videos that
showcase a carefree, no frills woman who does not mind making faces in front of camera, recorded or live. Dub is short for dubsmash while yaya is Filipino term for nanny. This dyadic relationship took off during one episode of Eat Bulaga TV show when Alden in the TV station was seen on TV screen by Yaya Dub while on the streets with her lolas (grandmothers) and the kilig moment was spotted by the camera. They communicate through the screen, exchanging songs’ dubsmash or flashing written words on paper. They are from different dimensions, not physically in the same location. They see each other daily through the screen. As the kalye serye progressed, they personally met but, the two-dimension setting continues. A usual scenario of present-day relationships separated by distance but connected by smartphones and internet. To this, many can relate with.
Emergence of a Celebrity Dyad
Georg Simmel’s principle of emergence expounds on the idea that the higher levels (celebrity state) emerge out of the lower levels (ordinary individuals) (Ritzer 2011). Viewers on site (the streets and TV station), on television (in houses or eateries or parlors) and online get hooked to this so-called kalyeserye (street series) as it combined widely used contemporary social media and esteemed Filipino traditions. The concept captures a wide genre of viewers since while it showcases present-day hype of dubsmashing and videoconferencing of the younger population it also highlights traditional Filipino practice of courtship that comes with numerous Filipino values as inputs from grandmothers’ generation.
According to Simmel, because a dyad depends only on two participants, the withdrawal of one would destroy the whole: “A dyad depends on each of its two elements alone–in its death though not in its life: for its life it needs both, but for its death, only one” (Ritzer 2011). Hence, people surrounding this celebrity dyad provide the support to sustain the relationship. People of Tape Inc., owner of the show Eat Bulaga, put on twists to the daily story to make it more interesting. Entertainment segment of other shows of GMA channel always include updates of #AlDub. Fans’ clubs organize and make noise wherever the dyad goes. Avid viewers logged in and tweet, re-tweet, like, comment and share #AlDub videos and photos online.
Hashtag in #AlDub: A Loop of Social Interactions
In the 2013 Hollywood film, Olympus Has Fallen, the apex of the plot had the Secret Service Director Lynn Jacobs (Angela Bassett) shout press Shift+F3 to Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) through online video communication when the latter did not understand Hashtag as he entered the passcodes on the computer to terminate impending massive missile attacks as commanded by the movie’s villains. Octothorp or number sign or pound sign with the symbol # is referred to in the worldwide web (www) as hashtag. It is deployed before a word or phrase on social media to loop the post into a wider conversation on the topic (Nicks 2014).
On social media where social interactions stream from techie people signed up and logged in from different points of origin
around the world, the post #AlDub with its numerous daily hashtag variants, e.g. #ALDUBKeeptheFaith (August 21), #ALDUBAgainstallOdds (August 22), #ALDUBTuloyangForever (August 24),#ALDUBLoveonTop (August 25), reaped millions of “Impressions” and millions of “tweets” on Twitter. Impressions refer to the estimate number of people who have seen the hashtag on their Twitter feed while number of tweets pertains to the posts using the hashtag, exclusive of re-tweets (Rappler 2015), on feeds.
Over 697 million people with Twitter account have seen on their Twitter feed the post #ALDUBAgainstallOdds while 5 million tweeted #AldubBattleForACause (please see Appendix). These numbers do not include the hashtags done on Facebook and those who have no social media accounts but watch the program where a television is on, whether in their homes or elsewhere. A bird’s tweet is counterpart of a human’s talk. These days in social media, a human’s tweet reaches anybody at any point in the world where there is internet connection. These numerous tweets make a topic on hashtag trend worldwide, aka, the most talked about topic.
Rewards Given and Received: Norm of Reciprocity
Kilig, like laughter, has contagious effect. It can be described as a spontaneous, jolty feeling over a romantic stimulus. With #AlDub, kilig resonates from the screen towards the viewers. The celebrity dyad became phenomenal. Waves of fans admitted in kilig state too. To the fans’ end, they look forward to the show’s airtime, to experience the kilig, to smile, to laugh, to be entertained, to be happy. To the actors’ end, consequently, in two to three months, the phenomenal relationship already brings them good fortune.
Consumer companies get #AlDub to endorse their products using the dyad’s communication format of combined dubsmash and written flashcards in two different dimensions. A telecommunication’s company (Talk n Text), an international food chain (McDonald’s), a laundry essential (Zonrox), and multinational company’s beverage line (Nestle’s Bear Brand powdered milk) trusted them with TV commercials of their marketing. These do n
ot include product endorsements done individually, separate from #AlDub but, brought about by the tandem’s popularity.
There is food (555 sardines) commercial by Yaya Dub and upcoming cellular phone endorsement (O+ brand of the USA) of Yaya Dub with granny (Wally Bayola). And, Alden already received gold record award for his new music album even before it was launched on 17 October 2015 (The Manila Times 2015). It sells fast it almost hit platinum (15 thousand units sold). In social-exchange analysis, social life is guided by what each person stands to gain or lose from the interaction.
The pair, along with Tape Inc. and grandmother actor Wally Bayola, received the first Church-based social media award from the Catholic Social Media Awards, established by the Youth Pinoy and Areopagus Communications Inc. on 11 October 2015. The said award was for showing Christian values that people tend to forget from the past (Rappler 2015). Each happily received the award and promised to better their craft, to deliver their best performances, to strive to make those who believe in them, their fans, happy.
#AlDub’s Symbolic Interaction
The #AlDub nation or the celebrity dyad’s fans are able to socially interact on social media. Even they do not know each other in real life, fans and detractors alike can exchange nice or nasty words online. The anonymity of some, hiding through pen names or pseudonyms, allows them to express, without qualms, their thoughts and feelings.
The show’s inputs of Filipino values through the grandmother, heeded by the young man (Alden) and the young woman (Yaya Dub) are well received by the viewers. Max Weber’s claim that people’s beliefs and values shape society, basis of social-interaction (Ritzer 2011) confirms Filipinos receptiveness of #AlDub phenomenon. While embracing the world’s technological advancements, Filipinos remain romantic and retain respect for elders. The fondness for fairytales enmeshes the viewers; a handsome boy-next-door likes a simple, down-to-earth woman.
Symbolic interaction sees society as the product of everyday interactions of individuals (Ritzer 2011). Response to #AlDub manifests how Filipino fans shape the reality they experience. The numerous television viewers who spare time, or really make time, to watch the noon to early afternoon show to monitor #AlDub kalye serye depicts a de-stressed people. Finding time to just relax and watch a TV show in the middle of working days would be a rare treat for people in core countries. This pastime works best in societies where many are not a part of the so-called rat race. Despite being barangays of urban areas, many residents maintain what Max Weber called mechanical solidarity that ideally characterized rural areas. There is a blurring of urban character with fusion of rural in urban. After all, Philippines has only 44% urban compared to South Korea’s 82% or to Singapore’s 100% (PRB 2015).
Live shoots in barangays (village) broadcast viewers that swarm the streets where Yaya Dub (with other Eat Bulaga cast) is. This is suggestive of availability of these many people during working hours of the day, uncommitted to employers that own workers’ hours. This mirrors unemployment status of the country, which is concentrated more in high density urban areas, the usual locales of Yaya Dub’s daily shoots. On site viewers’ attendance to TV shoots accord them the possibility of winning generous prizes of “Juan for All” segment of the show. Others may be there to brush elbows with TV personalities. They constitute the “offline” fans.
The #AlDub fans who are in workplaces, the ones who could not squeeze time to watch the show during working hours, watch recorded version of the show online. Being online these days can be low cost with only few pesos. Around the country there are peso-coin operated desktops connected to the internet, the Peso-Net. Hence, online fans cut across social status; those on Peso-Net and on wired or wireless unlimited subscriptions.
On the whole, in this social construction of reality, people creatively shape reality through social interaction. In this tale, more of social media. Quite a bit of “reality” may remain unclear in unfamiliar situations. So people present their selves in terms that suit the setting and purposes, with guide what happens next, and as others do the same, reality takes shape. Most everyday situations involve at least some agreement about what’s going on. But how people see events depends on their different backgrounds, interests, and intentions.
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_____. 2015. 24 Oras. Channel GMA 7 show. Manila, Philippines.
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______. 2015.AlDub’s Alden Richards, Maine Mendoza to receive Catholic social media award. Rappler. Retrieved on 19 October 2015 from Rappler website:http://www.rappler.com/entertainment/news/108209-alden-richards-yaya-dub-maine-mendoza-cbcp-award-aldub
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The Manila Times. 17 October 2015. Alden launches ‘AlDub’ songs in first album. Retrieved on 20 October 2015 from The Manila Times website: http://www.manilatimes.net/alden-launches-aldub-songs-in-first-album/224261/
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Sample of Daily #AlDub Posts’ Impact on Twitter
(from Rappler Team 2015)
Hashtag Day Date Impressions Number of tweets
#ALDUBKeeptheFaith Friday August 21 211 million 250,000
#ALDUBAgainstallOdds Saturday August 22 > 697 million 800,000 tweets
#EBThankyouforaldub Sunday August 23 42 million > 40,000
#ALDUBTuloyangForever Monday August 24 > 500 million 500,000 tweets
#ALDUBLoveonTop Tuesday August 25 120,000 million > 260,000 tweets
#ALDUBangLihimNiLola Wednesday August 26 68 million 260,000 tweets
#HappyALDUBWeeksary Thursday August 27 120 million 230,000 tweets
#ALDUBGettingCloser Friday August 28 190 million >290,000 tweets
#ALDUBMaidenHeaven Saturday August 29 118 million 230,000 tweets
#ALDUBtheRevelation Sunday August 30 52 million 130,000 tweets
#ALDUBBaeYaya Monday August 31 58 million 120,000 tweets
#AldubBattleForACause Tuesday September 1 5 million