We thought we could avoid it, but after weeks of back and forth between her and her detractors, it’s pretty clear that there is no stopping Donnalyn Bartolome from saying her piece, which is well and good. It’s a free country. She can say what she wants as much as we’re allowed to tell her off about it.
But see, there’s something about people like her that will keep her going no matter how wrong we might think what she has to say is. And for as long as that keeps going, then yes, they will always have the ever-reliable hot take as a cheat code to relevancy for a week or so (which means that we won’t have to discuss that obvious reason and mention 8 other things instead).
8. Because on paper, it seems what they’re saying is right
Think about what most of these hot takes consist of. It often consists of people saying things we don’t dare say in polite society, and for them, they’re just telling it like it is. Now, we could quote the Glass Onion here — because it’s super tempting to say speaking without thought isn’t really speaking with truth, but there was a time when saying these sentiments out loud used to be perfectly fine.
Remember when we are told to “count our blessings?” To think about those who have less than us? It’s that kind of attempt to keep our spirits up that we used to accept blindly until we realized that it had horrible implications. Maybe people like her just didn’t get the memo and are still looking at the grain of truth in these outdated (in hindsight) aphorisms.
TL;DR – To some extent, they’re not wrong. And if they’re even a smidge in the right, why would they stop?
7. Because they have an echo chamber that will always defend them
Even the most micro of micro-influencers who manage to come across the general public’s headspace would still have enough fans to make them feel they’re unsinkable. That no matter how wrongheaded their takes are, someone will absolutely agree with them and call anyone who’s being contrary bitter or envious. This provides a feedback loop where the influencer gets emboldened, the fans feel seen, and both of them intensify their behavior more and more
6. Because they think it’s their responsibility
When you have fans as ridiculously devoted as Donnalyn’s fanbase can be, you feel like you have to be a role model somehow. Well, some people try to buck the trend by taking this on with “un”conventional wisdom. They give these amazingly bad takes that seemed revolutionary, maybe even disruptive (you can tell I just saw Glass Onion and loved it), but once out of their mouths, ends up coming across as… terrible. They are given too much credit, and, eventually believing their own hype, give themselves too much credit.
But because it caters to the base, it will keep happening. Why change now?
5. Because they think doubling down would make things clearer
Notice what happened when she got called out? Instead of apologizing (which she has done before, to little fanfare and fireworks), she’s more inclined to double down on what she says because she thinks that people just misunderstood.
No, they didn’t. They know what you were trying to get at, but they are merely pointing out what she might have missed when she said what she said. And instead of listening to that differing point of view, she goes back to the grain of truth she had in her original statement, which has always been loud and clear.
4. Because they (mostly) don’t intend any harm
If Donnalyn never intended to hurt anyone with what she said, then it’s okay, right? Just like her often ill-advised birthday celebrations (Imagine if anyone wasn’t listening too closely when they got invited to her “Kanto Theme” party. Uh-oh.), it’s pretty obvious she never really thought about the impact her actions might have on other people, and it takes bad intentions to make an act wrong, correct?
Actually, no. We apologize when we step on someone’s foot by accident, right? Intention isn’t magic. Good intentions don’t eliminate the pernicious elements of what we say and do. If anything, the road to hell is paved with… you know the rest.
3. Because they (well, some of them) are operating in bad faith
While you’d be hard-pressed to ascribe this to Donnalyn, there are a lot of influencers who are being disingenuous when they feign ignorance over the implications of what they say, and absolutely mean the horrible implication. Think about most homophobic or hyper-zealous or downright racist comments we’ve seen recently, and think how many of these people were just cynically pretending to be oblivious to the undertones of what they’re saying.
Want an example? How about the guy from MYMP who performed in blackface “as a tribute”? Really? In this day and age, we’re still unaware of how hurtful blackface is? Oh, please.
2. Because the incentives are too huge to ignore
The aforementioned attention they’ve been craving for, plus people who will financially reward them to “stick it to the wokes?” Yes, please! It’s so easy to bait people into reacting to a bad take and then ride that wave with people who automatically hate cancel culture, which leads us to…
1. Because cancel culture (especially in the Philippines) really isn’t a thing
Tell me honestly. Is there a single Filipino celebrity who ever got canceled for whatever? And no, going to prison doesn’t count. Even that infamous person with the equally infamous sister is still thriving to this day, even if nobody’s watching her movies. The reality is, that was never the result of her getting canceled — it was just that nobody cared about her without the backing of the country’s largest broadcast network. But would you say she’s canceled while her endorsements, money, and notoriety keep rolling on? Heck, no!
Ultimately, people will always make bad takes because the consequences for them in the Philippine setting are too meager compared to the potential clout and sheer exposure it gets them. That’s why your Donnalyns and Rendons and Xians will never ever go away — until we do the smart thing and not pay attention to them.
Unfortunately, in writing something like this, we *did* pay attention to them again, but maybe this can be the last time? Wishful thinking, I know.