When we started blogging about the controversy surrounding Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, we were interested in how social media can be used to share messages, whether you agree with them or not. Throughout the course of the last three weeks, we have written several posts and have gotten many comments regarding this situation. Outlets like MediaBistro, LatinHeat.com and Racialicious used our blog posts as material for their articles. The majority of comments from readers of this blog were positive and favorable to Valdes-Rodriguez, while others were less than favorable. As is our policy, we allowed readers to post their unfiltered comments and we responded to them, as we do with any reader who comments on our site.
One of the criticisms coming from readers about Valdes-Rodriguez’s style, tweets, and posts (saying rather passionately that they were personal attacks on Encanto Productions, Ann Lopez, Luisa Leschin, Lynette Ramirez, NBC, and CAA) claimed this blog had no relevant impact on Hollywood, that social media was overhyped, and that we were just a cheerleader for Valdes-Rodriguez. We take issue with that for the following reasons:
- We are the only blog right now that has documented the entire story, including visual images of what was posted and tweeted by Valdes-Rodriguez. If we were favoring Valdes-Rodriguez, why would we post comments that were critical of her as well as some of her more controversial posts and tweets?
- We also contacted other principals in this story via email and Facebook asking for comment, but no one ever responded. Nonetheless, we did additional research about Lopez, Leschin, and Ramirez to provide a better picture of the story. We tried to tell a complete picture, and it was our intention to do so. Why are we at fault as a blogger when the only person who wanted to talk with us was Valdes-Rodriguez? If you want to read newspapers, read the NY Times or other publications like that. We are just a blog. We will have opinions here, but we also try to present our reasons for why we have those opinions. We think it works, and so do most of our readers, whom we love.
- From the very beginning, we always said that we thought that Valdes-Rodriguez was savvy for understanding the power of social media and how it can help her communicate her message. Putting aside the way she communicated it (and that is an issue that riles some people, just read some comments on our previous post about this story), the fact remains: social media is an effective way right now to communicate an unfiltered message to thousands in a network. And if you share that message with the right social media influencers (yes, Hollywood, those bloggers who have a solid base of readers and can generate buzz in social media), the reach of that message can be amplified. There is no doubt in our mind that NBC asked Valdes-Rodriguez to delete her blogs, posts, comments, and tweets because they realized that there were hints at a possible social media Latino backlash against the network. That is our opinion and belief, and we can’t prove it, but we think that in this sense, Valdes-Rodriguez earned a social media victory in this story. For those who say she stained her reputation, we say that there will always be detractors and no one will ever get 100% support on anything.
- We still seriously question why Lopez, Encanto, Leschin, Ramirez, NBC, or CAA never even dipped into the social media waters to try and quell the issue. We are convinced that if they did and if they presented it in a respectful way, this story would have gone away. But they underestimated the power of social media because, and this is an opinion many other social media practitioners share, they still think of social media as an extension of traditional media and not as a another new, organic form of media. Social media is not old media. It is not traditional PR and pushing the message in a one-way stream. Social media is formative, it moves quickly, and it has the ability to form active tribes that, when brought together, can deliver a message from the ground up. This was a lost opportunity for the other players in this story. Valdes-Rodriguez took a social media gamble, and we believe that her objective—to have more say in what this TV pilot script might become and be more accurate to her original work—was achieved. Did it cause her damage? Yes. Did it burn bridges? Yes. Will time heal it if a year from now the show is actually produced and she is gaining success from her books? Possibly.
Nonetheless, we are not the only blog or source on the Internet who is claiming a social media victory. Tonight, TheRoot.com, one of the top websites that covers news from a variety of black perspectives (here is their Alexa traffic rating) posted a slideshow of Twitter’s Winners and Losers. The slideshow lists those celebrities on Twitter who have used social media effectively and those who have been burned by it. It mentions people like Chris Brown, TerryMcMillan, Tiger Woods, and Bill Cosby, who all use social media to share their message to their base, some better than others.
On slide 24, The Root added Valdes-Rodriguez and declared her a “winner” in her use of social media. Here is what they said on their post: “When the author of The Dirty Girls Social Club optioned the rights to her novel to Encanto Productions, she had no idea they would remove the diversity of the characters and replace them with trite stereotypes. So she took to Twitter to broadcast her message — gaining national attention for her plight.”
We were surprised to see that the phrase “gaining national attention” linked back to our blog and the post: Valdes-Rodriguez Keeps Tweeting and Posting. We don’t claim to be a national outlet, a Hollywood website, or an entertainment insider, but contrary to what some readers who have criticized this blog think, we have a very loyal reader base and a solid rating that keeps gaining new readers every day. Our main blog passions here are Franky Benítez, social media, and#LatinoLit (and last time we checked Valdes-Rodriguez is a Latina author).
We appreciate all our readers and welcome any comments from them. We also do not edit those comments nor do we delete unless there is severe language and profanity. Our philosophy is to share, share, and share more with others. If our readers wanted more about this story, we were going to oblige them (even though this is only a part-time venture and we do this mostly late at night).
The Valdes-Rodriguez story reflects what is good about social media and also what is bad about it. But there is no question in our mind: if you use social media to share your message and if that message is shared in the right network, it will get communicated. Will it get “national attention?” Maybe not at the level that traditional media people might think, but it WILL get attention. And the only way to combat that one form of attention is to use social media to divert it to your form of attention.
Most people who know social media understand that you have to stay about the fray and be respectful. No matter what you think of this blog, we hope that at least you can acknowledge that we do respect all opinions here.
And yes, we would still welcome any comments from any of the other players in this story. There will always be an open invitation. That is what social media is all about, providing forums for people to share their opinions and thoughts.
Thank you to everyone who had visited this site in the last three weeks.