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Stan culture is unhealthy for celebrities and fans

Stan culture is unhealthy for celebrities and fans

Stan culture is unhealthy for celebrities and fans
August 09
12:00 2020

Social media has birthed many cultural trends, but one of its most dangerous products is “stan” culture. Some people say the phrase “stan” is a mixture of the words fan and stalker. Others say the phrase is derived from Eminem’s hit song, “Stan,” which tells the story of a crazed fan. Either way, the phrase “stan” doesn’t have a positive origin.

“Stanning” has taken over social media networks, especially Twitter, where stans have constant access to their favorite celebrities. This unlimited access to celebrities has made people think it’s okay to obsess over them, discuss their personal lives or attack people who don’t like that specific celebrity. Stan culture glorifies stalking and promotes bullying. In my opinion, stan culture is unhealthy for everyone involved.

Privacy is essentially non-existent for celebrities, especially in the age of social media. For celebrities, stan culture is a risk to their mental and physical health. Stans have crossed dangerous boundaries by showing up to homes of celebrities, sending inappropriate fan mail or posting threatening messages on social media.

Popular Youtuber Julien Solomita was forced to post a video asking fans not to show up at his house. A more extreme stalking incident involved a man breaking into the home of Selena Gomez, the man was arrested and showed up at Gomez’s home again hours later. Other stans go further and threaten to hurt or kill the celebrity they’re fascinated with.

Taylor Swift had a stalker who contacted her father and threatened to kill her entire family. The same man was arrested in 2016 after he followed Swift from a concert venue to the airport. Before the arrest, Swift’s stalker had sent numerous creepy messages like this online: “Without her, I walk the earth alone forever and she’ll continue to experience failed relationships that break her heart.”

Stan culture has encouraged fans to obsess over celebrities and it’s given them a sense of entitlement towards them. For some reason, it seems like stans feel a sense of ownership about their chosen celebrity and it’s disturbing. Unfortunately, these obsessions have led to real violence. Singer and Youtuber Christina Grimmie who appeared on ‘The Voice’ was murdered by a crazed fan during a meet-and-greet after a concert in 2016.

On the other side, stans are developing unhealthy attachments to celebrities which fuel toxic behavior. They’ve formed their own communities where they discuss the object of their affection and attack other celebrities and their fanbases. Justin Bieber has the “Beliebers,” Taylor Swift has the “Swifties,” Nicki Minaj has the “Barbz” and there are countless more for different celebrities.

In my opinion, the most aggressive standom are the “Swifties,” because they relentlessly attack anyone who expresses a negative opinion about Taylor Swift. For example, when Swift’s latest album “folklore” was released, stans sent death threats to Jill Maples, the senior editor of Pitchfork, because she rated the album an 8 out of 10 in her review. This behavior is unacceptable, toxic, and shows how standoms act like they’re at war with anyone who disagrees with them.

Another example of toxic stan culture would be Nicki Minaj’s “Barbz.” The stans attacked freelance writer, Wanna Thompson, for suggesting Nicki Minaj should create more mature music. Minaj angrily messaged Thompson, which prompted Thompson to share the screenshots with her 14,000 followers.

Chaos ensued once the Barbz got involved, they told Thompson to kill herself, insulted her 4-year-old daughter and sent derogatory messages to her personal cell phone, email address and various social media pages. Thompson lost an internship at an entertainment blog because of the incident.

One self-proclaimed member of the Barbz named Shaheed told Rolling Stone  “It’s like a lion with their cubs, a female lion with her cubs, you don’t mess with the babies, and Nicki is our baby.”

Referring to a celebrity as your baby and taking on a maternal role with them is disturbing. Nicki Minaj is a grown woman and she doesn’t need a horde of stans attacking people when they disagree with a post on social media.

Stans spend too much time obsessing over celebrities and it can’t be productive for their own lives. When you concentrate on another person you start to lose your identity, and this is happening in stan culture. Stans lose themselves in their fascinations and they forget how to be tolerant of other humans.

Celebrities need to step up and create a safe distance between themselves and their fandoms. They need to communicate the importance of tolerance and address the toxicity within their fanbases. Hopefully, it doesn’t take more extreme stalking incidents and unnecessary violence for standoms to morph back into healthy fandoms.

Featured Illustration: Miranda Thomas

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Shelby Stevens

Shelby Stevens

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