The AlDub Twitter Explosion and Why It Matters To Us

As of this writing, the AlDub Twitter stats already reached a whopping 23.7 million. That’s incredible for a noontime TV show in this corner of the globe. One should never underestimate the power of the collective falling in love of an entire nation. Let the haters hate. Let the bashers bash. Maine Mendoza and Alden Richards captured the imagination of millions of people in a way that has never been done before.

At the height of the online buzz today, internet memes started popping up, the most hilarious I saw is the famous comic strip where Batman smacked Robin in the face . The caption reads: “Puro ka AlDub at Pastillas, pero di mo alam na lumpo si Apolinario Mabini.”

This meme is funny if you saw the Facebook screenshot that came out this week where a Facebook user, on his way out of the theater, overheard a young couple wondering why in the Heneral Luna movie, Apolinario Mabini didn’t even bother standing up in the midst of a chaotic cabinet meeting. The couple may have missed the part in their history class where it was mentioned that Mabini was a paralytic.

As of this writing, that Batman meme got more than 38,000 likes, 21,000 shares, and more than 700 comments with subcomments, all decrying the fact that young people today are more interested in ‘kilig’ than in knowing the facts of history. In the less polite comments section, people cursed the public school system, the teachers, the parents, and the students for the collective ignorance of our generation.

It is hard to make sense what this all means for us as a nation. Our ignorance of history came to the fore when the movie Heneral Luna came out. I am certain that thousands of people went from the movie straight to the internet to find out who really killed General Luna and if Aguinaldo was culpable for his assassination. On the other hand, our propensity for ‘superkilig’ entertainment has reached a record breaking scale. I heard that the most tweeted event in 2015 was the Super Bowl XLIX, with 25.1 million tweets sent. That’s a sporting event with many players and big time celebrities put together in one show, not a blushing couple dating for the first time on live TV.

I’m sure those who decry the historical ignorance of our young people make a very valid point. If we as a people don’t even know where we came from, then I fear for the future of this nation. But do we really have to choose between history and entertainment? One look at that question and we all know it’s a false dichotomy. Knowing the facts of Heneral Luna doesn’t necessarily mean a person is smart, the same way that falling head over heels with AlDub doesn’t mean a person is less smart. We are far more complex than the caricatures we throw at each other. Why do we always think that we have to choose one at the expense of the other anyway? Why don’t we just get good grades, get our histories right, and love simple entertainment at the same time? These things are not mutually exclusive.

The reason why I say that is because more than the wild popularity of the AlDub love team, there is something in it that I’m sure we could all appreciate. The fame of the AlDub tandem fires up the ‘kilig’ in our imaginations because it is clean, innocent, and unpretentious. People are not afraid to publicly admit that they like it because it really is likable. AlDub reminds us that we are not a complicated people. We don’t need vulgar entertainment in order to be happy. We don’t need bitter rivalries, third parties, extramarital affairs, and bloody confrontations complete with extended “iyakan, sigawan, sampalan” sequences to be truly entertained. Deep within us, we only desire to find love in that one person we believe God prepared for us. We need simple pleasures. One person is enough.

I wish more compelling historical movies will be made, if only to cure our collective ignorance as a society. I hope the screen innocence of the AlDub love team won’t be spoiled by the usual intrigues and controversies of the local entertainment culture. But that is hardly the point here. We know that Mendoza and Richards will be offered movie deals, more commercials, and probably concerts. We know that in time the magic will fade. This is TV, folks, deal with it.

The point is that our entertainment gatekeepers now know that we don’t have to follow the over-sexualized entertainment trend of the West. Our movies and TV shows don’t have to be shocking, dark, and sexually driven. We don’t have to show skin and go for unnatural relationships to sell movie tickets. We only need to take what is already good and commendable and clean in our culture and run with it. This is the simple beauty of the Filipino heart. We are a religious, family loving people. We need movies and TV shows we can watch with our buddies, mothers, younger sisters, grandma, and girlfriend. AlDub gave us that so we went to the internet and gave Eat Bulaga a collective thumbs up via a Twitter hashtag party. Let the movie and TV producers hear that great chorus of 23.7 million voices today.