If you’ve ever been on social media, you’ve probably seen a fan page or know someone who runs one. Twitter, in particular, is a platform for multiple fan communities to interact with each other based on their interests and admiration for their celebrity. That interaction can give off a sense of belonging to a fan and make them establish a loyal tie to their fandom.
Romantic Interest & Possessiveness
Most of the people in fandoms feel very entitled towards their particular artist; whenever their idol seems to have a new romantic partner, fans express their hate for the new love interest by throwing insults and even sexist/racist slurs. Supposedly because these fans think that they ‘know what is best’ for the artist. Most k-pop artists are not even allowed to date because of this phenomena.
Recently, EXO’s Chen has gone public about his love life, and this was quickly followed by criticism from his fans. There had even been a movement of Chen fans selling off their merch & having minor protests. They did this to show that they feel ‘betrayed’ by his actions. Thankfully, the identity of his partner has been kept a secret (for now). Instead of hating on an artist, fans should aspire to support their faves instead of trying to put them down.
Fans think that because they have been supporting their bias from day one, their idol belongs to the fandom. Because they have been investing so much into supporting their bias, it somehow justifies their sense of entitlement. Even when their favourite celebrity stands next to anyone of the opposite sex (or of the same sex), fans will storm into that person’s direct messages/comments and throw derogatory statements towards that person.
Oversexualisation of their idols is also a pretty common thing in fandoms. Lewd fanart can easily be searched on Google, even if the idol is a minor. ‘Smut’ fanfiction adds on to the fantasy that these idols are objectified and owned by the fans as well.
Money & Promotion
The entertainment industry feeds off the fact that the youth are their main audience and source of income. Songs like “Little Things” by One Direction that talk about insecurities and/or specific characteristics in songs. This makes fans think that they are the ones who the lyrics are about. Many artists also appear in reality shows to showcase that they are boyfriend/girlfriend material, traits such as friendly, and (essentially in the eyes of fans) perfect. These things are simply a promotional device to get vulnerable young people to be more engaged with their content.
Celebrities sell their talents at a fixed price and fans buy them. It’s considered a reasonable exchange of goods from an economic perspective. You buy a particular item to increase your happiness level, that concept is used for a lot of things like clothes and food that might be considered a ‘splurging’ expenditure for self-care. However, there are a lot of fans that take their obsession for merchandise to a whole other unhealthy level.
Some fans have spent millions of dollars on expensive gifts; such as billboard advertisement spaces as a celebration for their idols birthday, and even buying stars and land under their idols name. There have also been reports of fans contributing positively to society. There have been projects of building a library in countries like China (TVXQ). Bruneian BTS ARMYs have even made efforts in conservation as a gift for Kim Namjoon by planting a forest in his name. A donation towards a village reconstruction in Cambodia has also been done by Block B fans. These actions indirectly (and directly) contribute to the promotion of a celebrity’s fame.
As positive as some of these projects can be, if we really think about it, why do fans do these things? Why raise money to make your idol look good? What has your idol done for you other than creating content, to make you invest that much time, effort and capital? Most of these celebrities are perfectly capable of donating money to important causes and afford expensive items, so why would anyone have to do such things for their favourite celebrity?
I have done a lot reflecting on my personal endeavours ever since Justin Bieber’s recent marriage to Hailey Baldwin. When I remember the days of going on Twitter, calling Hailey “basic”, I can’t help but laugh. I would reblog aesthetic pictures of Justin and my other favourite celebrities that I admired. After spending hours on my phone doing this (the source of my ruined eyesight), I would also make friends with people in my fandom, and I’ve met so many amazing people on that platform. Of course, I am still a fan of these artists and I love their work. But these seemingly small activities took a large amount of my time in secondary school.
That time and money could have been better spent cultivating healthier habits, making more friends in real life, and studying for better grades. Why did I spend so much time on a group/person that is not even aware of my existence? Whenever I bought a piece of merchandise from my idols, I felt happy. I feel like I’m content with myself and my life because my idols were ‘there’ for me. And this is what a lot of people feel every day.
I hope that any fan reading this does not feel hurt by anything that this article mentioned. At the end of the day, if listening to a particular musician makes you happy, then do that. But do not take your obsession to a level that has real-life repercussions, such as financial troubles, impaired physical and mental health. Life is more than just what you’re obsessed about. There’s a whole world out there worth exploring and full of unlimited opportunities. Grow and thrive as an individual because you are so much more than just the fandom you’re in.
Written by Yasmin Raquq