2013-01-09 20:26:01

Did Puerto Rico's Social Media Just Slay La Comay?

Editor's Note: The man who voices a controversial Puerto Rican TV puppet reportedly resigned this week, reports Puerto Rico's El Nuevo Día. Puppet La Comay came under fire for making homophobic comments about the brutal murder of gay publicist José Enrique Gomez in December. The comments ignited call for a boycott of the show on social media and prompted dozens of advertisers to pull their funding.

On Tuesday night, Puerto Rican viewers noticed something odd about the gossip show “SuperExclusivo” (or La Comay): it repeated a previously aired show. Later that night, the news broke out: Kobbo Santarosa, the man behind the puppet, had submitted his letter of resignation to the network, WAPA TV, and the movement that began the boycott against “La Comay” took him down.

However, let’s backtrack. Readers may remember that during the first week of December, La Comay had made certain homophobic comments concerning a recently murdered man, José E. Gomez. Following that episode, a group was formed on Facebook and Twitter called “Boicot La Comay” (Boycott La Comay). Within a few days, followers had swelled up to over 40,000 people. That very week, companies who had previously advertised on the highest rated show in Puerto Rico pulled their ads from the show, citing the homophobic comments made by La Comay regarding José Gomez.

As companies continued leaving La Comay, WAPA TV President, Joe Ramos, spoke to the Huffington Post Live’s Alicia Menendez. During that segment, Mr. Ramos announced that the show would be prerecorded to subject it to the networks review and editing prior to airing in order to ensure that homophobic incidents (or any other kind of incident) would not repeat itself.

During the Christmas holidays, the “Boycott” movement toned down its machine in order to respect the holidays. Last week, it revved up the engines and continued targeting companies who still advertised on the show. By Monday of this week, sources tell Primera Hora (a P.R. newspaper) that the man behind La Comay would not accept WAPA TV’s condition of pre-recording the show, citing contractual obligations. As of Tuesday (and at the time of writing this article), all signs point towards La Comay’s demise at the hands of the social media movement aimed against it, spearheaded by the “Boycott” movement.

Carlos Rivera, founder of the “Boycott” movement, had previously spoken to Politic365, had distinguished La Comay’s statements from those reported by the media (regarding the circumstances surrounding José Gomez’s murder) by stating:

“Kobbo went well beyond simple reporting. While it is true that he reported the same news as the media, then the editorial commentary went well beyond that scope. They also gave a lot of time to the father of one of the suspects of the murder in which he directly said Jose Enrique had it coming.”

Adding that he and his group would stop at nothing short of the show’s cancellation, it would seem that victory is at hand. Puerto Rico’s “Boricua Winter,” to quote ABC’s Cristina Constantini, is nothing short of impressive. La Comay had generated numerous enemies and movements against its show in the past due to a slew of hateful, sexist, homophobic and racist comments (to mention a few), but the sky-high ratings always protected La Comay.

When the “Boycott” movement began in December, many were impressed but dismissed any long-term damage to the show. It couldn’t be done, they would say. Even Carlos Rivera admitted to Politic365 that he had never organized a boycott movement before, or any other type of movement, but that he had enough of La Comay’s hate and wanted to do something about it.

Yet the degree of hate spewed by La Comay during that fateful December show was too much for the Puerto Rican people to handle. With a dedicated and skillfully aimed use of Facebook and Twitter’s reach, supporters hammered companies on their sites, pages and phones until they announced they would withdraw their ads. When companies announced they were withdrawing their ads, supporters would flood their pages with positive comments. When they didn’t, supporters insisted.

This week, the “Boricua Winter” blew a cold gust of wind against the puppeteer from which he may not stand up.