On Saturday, the #SenCalKapimi twitter fandom set a record high 2.1 million tweets for a dizi, the first million reached in about 2 hours, while it trended in 37 countries. It also made it into the top 7 twitter trends in the United States, where the show is neither available as mainstream entertainment nor watched by hundreds of thousands of viewers.
To someone who watched the campaign gain momentum just over a few days as the original ask spread like wildfire across the many Instagram, twitter and facebook fan accounts, it is a true example of a group effort that showcases how amazing things can be achieved when we meld our minds together.
This particular fandom is predominantly comprised of women, with ages ranging from mid-teens to 60 – 70 year olds (at least in English speaking markets, where I have access to audience data). I would probably put the median age of the global fandom in the mid-twenties who are increasingly active on social media, unfiltered in sharing their opinions about topics of gender quality, stereotypes, sexuality, justice, social stigma and more. Several of these shows become fertile ground for many such discussions and debates, where we are no longer contained by our geographic limitations or our physical circles of influence where, historically, such discussions could only be held with social and/or professional peers.
Access to digital media has democratized the process of engaging in dialogue in incredible ways, and the opportunity to nurture a growth mindset is immense.
When Sen Cal Kapimi came on screens, the proposed pairing of Kerem Bursin and Hande Ercel was highly anticipated in a script led by Ayse Kutlu Uner, who immortalized herself as the creator of the poetic foundation that led to the global success of Erkenci Kus. And the team did not disappoint, offering a unique interpretation of the oft portrayed trope of a rich boy who meets a poor girl, and sparks fly. You can read my reviews until Episode 28, to get an understanding of what the show’s most ardent fans loved about the show, as my essays are not only my own interpretations but also incorporates perceptions gathered after hours of reading varying points of view across various social media platforms.
In the last ten episodes, the production house has been experimenting with a change of writers and, though each episode has its own clever take, those of us who grew with Ayse’s creations from the beginning, noticed a growing divergence in the characterizations that begins to strip away the many beloved layers of the characters Ayse painstakingly unfolded in the first 12 episodes. As the plot continues to lose its initial flair, disenchanted fans share their sadness and frustrations across the various platforms, some openly imploring the producers to bring back the soul of the story. Unfortunately, this is not an easy code to crack and the segment of disheartened fans is growing.
In contradiction, this does not lessen the social media engagement regarding Sen Cal Kapimi, because the show is now bigger than the story and the casts’ followership has a life of its own. Kerem Bursin and Hande Ercel have become incredibly popular, increasing their Instagram following by the millions, as their interpretations of Serkan and Eda capture an excellent chemistry between the characters, as well as the actors.
Reel life has blended with real life and, for the past few months, rumors have been swirling about an off-screen relationship. There are plenty of social media conspiracy theorists to support such notions and this additional dimension offers fodder for daily social media content, keeping the Sen Cal Kapimi fandom entertained even when the story fell into a decline with its power. And with these constant interactions, digital friendships have grown, alliances formed, and the Sen Cal Kapimi fandom has grown beyond an ordinary fandom; it has become a family.
On January 30, the fandom had reached a new high with the social media rating, clocking in at 578K tweets and this caught the attention of a number of twitter dizi news sharing accounts. On February 1, @huyde12 (Fisildayan ADAM), challenged the Sen Cal Kapimi fandom and asked whether it could reach more than 1 M tweets, a record previously held by Gunesi Kizlari, one of Hande’s earlier shows. 4 hours later, @Lili_Rose_29 posted that reaching 1M tweets is our objective and that we will do it together, even though at the time she herself didn’t believe that we could.
I began to see calls for the campaign on my TL (timeline) on and off but it intensified from Thursday as several large accounts started encouraging the fandom to participate. The goal of ‘Let’s Reach 1 M’ is simple to communicate, and for the novice twitter user, there were helpful guides on how to post to get it to trending.
I have seen photos of this nature across various platforms, including on Instagram and Facebook forums, which have hundreds of thousands of followers. I belong to multiple groups on Facebook and there are a couple that have more than 40K followers EACH. The following for this show is formidable, and I could see the information spread quickly.
New twitter users were also told that they had to get to 50 followers for their posts to count, and several existing users supported the growth of these smaller accounts, giving them the required following overnight. Several accounts also created backup accounts in case their main accounts got shut down by the Twitter Police due to perceived ‘spam’. All we had to do was wait for MF Yapim to release the hashtag for the episode and the team, a mixed group of pros to amateurs spread out all across the globe, rose to the challenge. If they couldn’t create their own posts, they helped by quickly retweeting.
FEBRUARY 6, 2021
At the end of the 29th episode, disenchanted and disheartened by the directions my beloved characters had taken, I had already made my blog post stating that I would no longer do weekly reviews. Nursing my wounds as though I had parted ways with a loved one, and with no idea where this campaign could go or whether my meager contributions would even count, I still committed to stand next to my friends because it had become so important to so many who spend a significant portion of their time on Twitter. In these difficult times of isolation, I want to support any initiative that brings moments of joy to anyone, especially so many women who are tenuously connected through the shared love for the celebration of love.
The hashtag #kalpunutmaz released at 4 pm Turkish time and being on the West Coast of the United States, I was one of the latest to the party at 5:45 pm Turkish time. By that time #kalpunutmaz was trending at #7 in the United States, with already 825K tweets. I jumped in with a few and by 6:20 pm, we had reached the first million. At the end of the run, we had posted 2,115,948 tweets.
And this is how, ladies and gentlemen, magic gets created. Bigger than the production, bigger than the meandering story, bigger than the characters, bigger than the stars, is the global fandom whose love for the potential of the story, and whose devotion to each other, leaves us with one of the best examples of how we win together when we learn to focus on a common goal and choose to hold each other’s hands, forgetting any differences in opinions, philosophies, race, language or creed.
We are one.
THE POWER OF TWITTER
Human beings are predisposed to want to thrive; they just need the right environment to do so and find their moments to shine. Twitter is the frontier for fan driven content, where the most creative edits, comments, theories can be found. So much so, that it has inspired a whole new wave of twitter users, many of whom were more comfortable with being a part of closed group forums on Facebook. News spread the fastest on Twitter and influencers get established early through consistency, volume and quality of their content. The #SenCalKapimi family has many such influencers and the outcome of their generous effort is an astounding record that has set new standards around defining the power of an (international) fandom for the dizi world.
I know I speak for many when I once again entreat the producers to understand the great asset they have through us, and harness this power with respect for our one desire – to please maintain the soul of the story, the soul of the characters we loved. The elements most loved were the women of strength and integrity; couples who learnt to grow together through meaningful, poetic communication; intelligent, literary references that created cosmic patterns of love we could visualize; the gradual unfolding of a repressed man who needed the touch of love to find his true self; a kind-hearted, assertive girl who led with love; villains who are flawed characters but not caricatures in their villainy; lovers who understand the value of their love and are willing to fight for it, with humor and kindness.
One by one, so many of these elements have fallen by the wayside, that I find myself shedding tears for the sense of loss it leaves me with; because to write meaningfully about it for six months, I lived it through my soul.
Even though I stepped back from the reviews, part of my reason to stay with the show is the diverse, kind-hearted people I have met through the fandom. Joining the Twitter journey early, which has the most thriving social media fandom for many Turkish shows, I have watched its machinations from within, and have come to understand the passions of many of the most active accounts. Whether they are sharing scenes from an episode, focusing on the positives of the main love story, discussing the secondary characters, or ‘shipping’ Kerem and Hande as #HanKer, the underlying theme is invariant – these are hearts that celebrate love and seek a meaningful connection in this digital world. To have the ability to converge on the 1 M campaign meant something for this community, and I am grateful to have been a part of it.
I wanted to chronicle this journey so that we have a record of this amazing feat, achieved at a time in history when divisive politics and aggressive rhetoric often shape our daily lives and communication. I had already decided to do this before I started seeing ridiculous accusations of the production house ‘buying’ this twitter trend. If the production house really had that much money, they would spend freely to keep this vested fandom happy through an unconstrained authentic story. In reality, thousands of us provide their promotion for free in our desire to create social good.
I turned towards social media after the nasty campaign trail of the 2016 US elections, leaving me feeling like a social pariah as an American Muslim. I had read about the Los Angeles riots of 1992, and Rodney King’s famous (mis)quote of “Can’t we all just get along?” stuck with me. In many facets of our lives, we see strife and divisiveness deepen due to a lack of tolerance and lack of desire to understand the other side, but in this little pocket of life of our Twitter SCK family, finding so much love to bond over helps me keep my faith in humanity. We can agree to disagree, but we can always choose the high road and unite when it comes to creating and achieving something good. This predominantly female-led movement perhaps sets an example for collaboration and peer-to-peer sharing that can be used to harness its power for social causes that impact real lives as well. Maybe someday.
Today, I leave you with a video summary of this historic campaign. For all my twitter friends, know that I have loved getting to know you.
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