How ‘Knives Out’ and a Fan Page for Ana de Armas Harness the Power of Twitter Stan

Ana de Armas as Marta Cabrera in “Knives Out”. (Lions Gate)

The “Knives Out” social media team and the @ArmasUpdates Twitter account have a common goal: to celebrate last year hit thriller and, by extension, the film’s star, Ana de Armas.

But two of the actress’ biggest Twitter cheerleaders found themselves at odds this month after the 23-year-old moviegoer was behind @ArmasUpdates publicly exposed on @Knives out account to block it on the platform. The resulting feud went somewhat viral – albeit among a niche audience – even catching the attention of director Rian Johnson who, like many others, wondered what was going on.

When examined through a detective’s lens, the clash is a case study at the intersection of cinematic marketing and stan Twitter – a subset of social media dedicated to advocating or “tweaking” a certain celebrity, movie, TV series, etc. In their approaches to audience engagement, movie studios and accounts like @ArmasUpdates leverage the power of stan twitter to achieve the widest possible reach.

“Obviously we’d be nowhere [without] our followers, including @ArmasUpdates, and we are so grateful to have our fans who are willing to be good sports or even interact with us in the first place,” said Liam Santamaria, social media manager at the “Knives Out” team.

“At the end of the day, I think we’re just hanging out with hundreds of our friends online, and that’s just the way we have to approach it.”

The events leading up to the confrontation – and eventual collaboration between – @KnivesOut and @ArmasUpdates date back to April, when De Armas rocked the Twitter-verse stan by blocking one of his most vocal social media followers. .

“When it happened, I was surprised,” the @ArmasUpdates administrator, who goes by AJ to protect his identity, told the Los Angeles Times. “I felt a little hurt. I was disappointed, but those are her feelings. … I can’t be the person to tell her what she thinks.”

To the outside observer, an actor blocking a single Twitter account might not seem like a big deal. But it’s a stan Twitter account – a page dedicated to the De Armas hype and his meteoric career by sharing daily photos, videos and news alerts about his life. (The term “stan” derives from rapper Eminem’s 2000 song “Stan”, which is about an obsessive fan; it was added to Oxford English Dictionary few years ago.)

AJ, who had “been around stan Twitter a lot”, decided to create the account to support the Spanish-Cuban actress after she appeared as an empathetic AI in 2017’s ‘Blade Runner 2049’ and later as Marta Cabrera , quick-witted moral anchor of “Knives Out”.

“When I saw her in [‘Blade Runner 2049’], I knew she was going to be a star. She had…a performance that stayed with you,” he said. And also, because I’m Latin and she’s Latin, it’s exciting for me to have someone of my ethnicity thriving in Hollywood right now. I mean, it’s probably since Jennifer Lopez that we’ve had a movie star at this level.”

Since November 2019 – the same month that “Knives Out” opened in theaters – AJ has been using @ArmasUpdates to promote De Armas’ past, present and future projects. (Next, she starred as Paloma in the James Bond film “No Time to Die” and screen icon Marilyn Monroe in Netflix’s “Blond.”)

In the process, AJ has won his own fans, who appreciate the tongue-in-cheek captions he attaches. to the paparazzi shots of De Armas and her boyfriend Ben Affleck – by far the most photographed couple of the COVID-19 quarantine.

Although AJ claims he only started sharing paparazzi snaps after De Armas seemed ‘comfortable’ being photographed in public, he suspects it’s his loaded comment. wit on his personal life which ultimately got him snubbed by his idol.

His last tweet before the fateful block, for example, featured photos of De Armas and Affleck – informally known as BenAna – on one of their many walks, with a sarcastic caption that read: “Ana de Armas and Ben Affleck are walking their dogs outside instead of praying for the pandemic to end on Easter Sunday.”

Ana de Armas

Ana de Armas as Marta Cabrera in “Knives Out”. (Claire Folger/Lionsgate)

“Presumably in solidarity with Ana de Armas, because we will take her side on everything,” the @KnivesOut team admitted to also blocking @ArmasUpdates, despite being “big fans of the account” and no d between them does not remember. .

Although AJ said he privately reached out to the ‘Knives Out’ team months ago to try to resolve the situation quietly, it wasn’t until he called them out on Twitter last week that they answered.

None of the four men who run @KnivesOut – Santamaria, Eric Dachman, Sebastian Crank or Michael Castillo – remember hearing of AJ before their public Twitter spat, but “just decided to carry on” once they saw the online challenge from @ArmasUpdates:

“BREAKING,” AJ posted in his signature dramatic style, with the obligatory screenshot receipt. “The official Knives Out Movie Twitter account also blocked us!”

In return, the film’s social team really pulled out their knives, taunting @ArmasUpdates with cheap shots like“Thank goodness @ArmasUpdates can’t read this” and “Imagine that you can’t read [Ana de Armas’] tweets.”

On Twitter, AJ played along, hitting back with pointed clips of Mariah Carey sings, “Why are you so obsessed with me?” Where Emma Roberts notices on “clowns in desperate need of airtime”. People logged into both stan’s Twitter and the film’s Twitter — including Johnson — were confused and entertained by the heated exchange.

Ana de Armas, Rian Johnson

Actress Ana de Armas and director Rian Johnson at work on ‘Knives Out’. (Claire Folger/Lionsgate)

But behind the scenes, AJ felt “harassed” by @KnivesOut’s “sinister tone”, and he told his fake opponents as much when Lionsgate finally reached out to him to apologize and make amends.

“We definitely felt bad,” social media designer Crank told The Times. “From our point of view, everything was jovial. We had fun with it. And when we realized… that we had hurt him, we felt bad. So we unblocked him and he was offered photos of Ana that had never been seen before, which were from Rian [Johnson] himself, as a peace offering.”

AJ enjoyed the gesture: exclusive stills from De Armas’ screen test for ‘Knives Out’, which he quickly posted via @ArmasUpdates – as well as a seemingly scripted reminder to watch ‘Knives Out’ on ‘4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD, and digital streaming platforms (free with an Amazon Prime Video subscription) for quality quarantine entertainment.”

This last flourish raised eyebrows and led some internet sleuths to suspect foul play.

“I knew people were thinking, ‘Oh, they probably paid them’, and I wanted to be ironic by posting this type of ad copy,” AJ explained, adding that no one from the @KnivesOut team had asked him to do so. that. “It was just that I was stupid, like I was promoting them.”

Although AJ used the overt promotional language as a joke, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume he was in cahoots with Lionsgate in a cyberspace where the lines between stan Twitter and movie marketing have become increasingly blurred.

After all, part of the reason AJ felt so betrayed when @KnivesOut blocked him was because he had already “done so much promotion and advocacy for this movie,” for free. And finally, @KnivesOut’s decision to engage with their #1 star on Twitter was, of course, a strategic one.

“Strategically, we always strive to speak with our fans, not our fans,” said Dachman, head of global social media strategy. “So we still use social media the same way our fans use social media because we’re fans too. We interact a lot with the @ArmasUpdates stan account because our @KnivesOut account is a stan account.”

Modeling the @KnivesOut brand after stan pages such as @ArmasUpdates means adopting a more “conversational” tone and “trying not to be too promotional” so as not to alienate their audience. This also means occasionally changing the @KnivesOut display name to “Chris Evans Sweater Stan Account”, check in regularly on loyal fans, and even crossing paths with other popular tracks such as Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite.”

“If there are other opportunities to see something I like and…use it as a potential cross-promotion…then we do it,” said social media manager Castillo. “Growing up and being very passionate about what you’ve always really loved has definitely helped us to date these stan accounts and share the love.”

When it comes to staying relevant in a rapidly changing social landscape, @KnivesOut and @ArmasUpdates have mastered the art of adapting the latest viral meme formula – and providing timely commentary on current events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The @ArmasUpdates stream has developed a watchdog reputation for holding BenAna accountable every time they go out without a face mask. As a medical professional who spends his stressful work days screening for symptoms of COVID-19, AJ knows all too well the importance of protecting himself and others with personal protective equipment.

“He transferred when the pandemic started,” AJ said. “I thought it would be a nice twist to have that self-awareness and be in on the joke with people. Like, ‘Yeah, we understand that Ana doesn’t do that too, and we hold her accountable. of that.’ We are not people who blindly worship him.”

De Armas representatives did not respond to requests for comment.

For the @KnivesOut team, which must first get content ideas up the Lionsgate ladder, encouraging safe health practices feels like Photoshopped key art from Jamie Lee Curtis wearing a maskor a socially distanced riff on a “Knives Out” movie poster featuring De Armas, Evans and bandmate Daniel Craig standing several feet apart.

“During the pandemic, there’s just a lot more activity on social media,” Crank said. “On Twitter, we’ve seen engagement increase pretty much everywhere. We’re always staying respectful. …but we also want to make sure we stay relevant.”

Despite the rocky start to their online relationship, @KnivesOut and @ArmasUpdates are using similar means for the same purpose. And AJ even considered taking his polished stanning skills to a professional level (cc: Lionsgate social), with the undeniable success of @ArmasUpdates and his 23,500 followers on his resume.

For now, though, he’s content to endorse De Armas as a stress-relieving pastime in the hopes that they can one day “agree to unblock”.

“Anyway,” he said, “stan Ana de Armas.”

11:58 a.m., July 20, 2020: This story has been updated with a clarification of the roots of the word “stan”.

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