The Spiral of Silence in the Winx Fandom

Something bothers me. If you look at some posts about Aisha and Nex, you’ll see that they’re getting a lot of likes. Here are a few examples from Instagram:

Disclaimer: These numbers will change, but they’re accurate as of the writing of this post.

Some Winx fans have left negative comments, but the likes far outnumber them. Example #4 has 75 total comments. Some of them are positive, and occasionally people commented more than once. But even if all 75 were negative, they’d still be a drop in the bucket compared to the 1500 likes!

It’s the same on other sites. Speaking of “Legendary Duel”, I looked at the like/dislike ratio for the full episode on the official Russian Winx YouTube channel. Remember that this is the episode where Aisha and Nex become a couple. Rainbow even used a screenshot of them as the thumbnail:

The video has about 800 dislikes…but 8800 likes. That’s 8000 more likes than dislikes. Are they all for Aisha and Nex? No, but some of them must be. Regardless, why doesn’t this video — or the two Sirenix arc clips on the Italian channel — have more dislikes?

As for the comment section, I’m sure it’s full of complaints, but it only has 1400 comments. That’s 16 percent (less than one-fifth) of the number of likes. It’s a noticeable number, but still smaller than you’d expect.

If most Winx fans hate Aisha and Nex, who’s liking these posts and videos? Why are there so many more likes than dislikes and negative comments? And assuming that some of these people support this couple, why aren’t more of them commenting?

“Spiral of Silence” Theory

The Spiral of Silence. You may have heard of it, especially regarding social issues. Here’s how it works, according to a website about Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann, who coined the term.

The theory starts out with this belief:

Most people are afraid of social isolation. Therefore, people constantly observe other people’s behavior in order to find out which opinions and behaviors are met with approval or rejection in the public sphere.

No one wants to be shunned by their community, especially by friends and family. So we do or say whatever we need to — whether or not we agree with it — in order to fit in.

Isolation Pressure

People exert “isolation pressure” on other people, for instance, by frowning or turning away when somebody says or does something that is rejected by public opinion. People [who fear isolation] tend to hide their opinion away when they think that they would expose themselves to “isolation pressure” …

We get rebukes and dirty looks if we act or speak against what the public says is right. To avoid this negative attention, we keep our unpopular opinions to ourselves.

People who feel public support, in contrast, express their opinion loud and clear.

If we think that lots of people will affirm our beliefs, we feel more comfortable sharing them.

Getting Emotional

The process is typically ignited by emotionally and morally laden issues….The spiral is usually elicited by controversial issues.

The more contentious and emotional a topic is, the more likely the Spiral of Silence will decide whose opinion is spread the most.

The Spiral of Silence in the Winx Club Fandom

I rarely use pictures of characters besides Aisha and Nex, but this screenshot felt like a good illustration.

If this happens in real life, why wouldn’t it happen in fandoms? Let’s look at the Winx fandom.

  1. We can’t prove that most Aisha/Nex fans are afraid of social isolation. But if they are, that could explain why they’re liking posts instead of commenting on them. Liking is “safer” because you can remain relatively anonymous. (Do you know the names of all 1500 people who liked @winxclub’s screenshot?) But if you comment, everyone sees who you are and what you wrote. You become a target for the haters.
  2. Aisha/Nabu and Aisha/Roy fans exert “isolation pressure” on Aisha/Nex fans by bashing every comment and post about the couple. I’ve also heard people say that “true” Winx fans prefer Aisha and Nabu. A few Aisha/Nabu fans have even told Aisha/Nex fans to kill themselves! The message is clear: if you like Aisha and Nex, you and your opinions aren’t welcome in the fandom.
  3. Aisha/Nabu fans obviously feel like they have public support, so they’re not afraid to tell anyone what they believe. How often do you see their opinions? Every day and everywhere. (Aisha/Roy fans are becoming like them.)
  4. Shippers are notoriously intense and emotional, but the Aisha shipping war is worse because of Nabu’s death, which was controversial by itself. Her relationship with Nex is also controversial because of how he was introduced and the illusion that she would end up with Roy.

Defeating the Spiral of Silence

If the Spiral of Silence is happening in the fandom, how can we stop it? The Noelle-Neumann website has answers:

The opinion of a minority may actually be perceived as majority in the public sphere if their partisans act assertively enough and publicly defend their opinion with emphasis.

What if Aisha/Nex fans actually outnumber Aisha/Nabu and/or Aisha/Roy fans? What if most Winx fans are ready to move on from Nabu’s death and are relieved that Aisha didn’t pick Roy? What if most Winx fans support Aisha and Nex or are at least willing to give them a chance? We may never know the truth if Aisha/Nex fans stay quiet.

Let’s fight fire with fire. If Aisha/Nabu and Aisha/Roy fans are so outspoken, Aisha/Nex fans need to be, too. That doesn’t mean picking a fight with them. It means not being afraid to state our beliefs as passionately and often as they do. If other Aisha/Nex fans notice, maybe they’ll join in.

Public opinion is limited in time and space….What specifically public opinion approves or rejects will change with time and differ from place to place.

Aisha/Nabu and Aisha/Roy fans may have the advantage of popularity, but Aisha/Nex fans have the advantage of time. This couple is still together. Rainbow is still developing their relationship, as well as the characters individually. There’s still a chance for public opinion to shift in their favor.

The only way to defeat the Spiral of Silence is to break the silence. Let’s post and comment about Aisha and Nex often on Instagram, Tumblr, Amino, YouTube, VK, DeviantArt, forums, blogs — anywhere. Some Aisha/Nabu and Aisha/Roy fans will complain or retaliate. Ignore them.

I have a way to make this plan easier. Every week, I’ll share a link to an Aisha/Nex post I found online. If you have an account on that site, write a comment (don’t just like) and tell other fans to do the same. You could start with the links in this post.

Let’s do this, everyone!

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NerdyPrincesses2 Mollz
NerdyPrincesses2 Mollz
May 26, 2019 11:59 am

I really like this idea! Unfortunately, I don’t have an Instagram account, so I can’t comment on those posts, but I’ll find something else to contribute.

I understand that people who run tbese accounts don’t have time to look through every single comment, but I feel like some extra support from the posters or moderators could help here. I recently watched this video on leadership (long story), and one of the things it talked about is the wonder of positive feedback. If you focus on the people who are doing things right and ignore the troublemakers, you can create an environment where the others thrive. The negative people will begin to realize what they can do to be the center of attention – i.e., not being obnoxious – and the quieter people will gain the confidence they need from being reinforced. This makes me think of the YouTube comments system – how the uploaders can like and pin their viewers’ comments, and hold inappropriate comments for review. Imagine if the uploaders only liked and pinned the comments that discussed this situation calmly and logically – no matter what opinion they side with. I imagine that other social media sites have a process similar to this, and it would be amazing if people could use it to promote positive and calm comments, and ignore the giant squids of anger. However, the posters are probably part of this silence as well – they think that if they state their real opinion in the comments, they’ll lose followers. Still, it is an idea.

May 26, 2019 1:59 pm

i had never heard of the spiral of silence

Reply to  Tori
May 26, 2019 5:16 pm

maybe and if it has I’ve probably never noticed

Reply to  Tori
May 26, 2019 5:46 pm

that’s interesting

NerdyPrincesses2 Mollz
NerdyPrincesses2 Mollz
May 26, 2019 9:29 pm

So, for a thing I’m doing that might be related to this, there’s two Aisha and Nex moments that I like, but can’t remember exactly what episode they happened in. I figured you would know, since you know a lot about this couple. The first thing is that time in season six when Nex tried to talk to Aisha, but he became tongue-tied, and then Roy pushed him out of the way so he could give her roller skates (or something like that). The other is the episode where they go roller-skating.

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