Search icon


24th Apr 2024

What happens when fandom goes too far?

Anna Martin


Are you a member of any fandom?

Or is this the first time you’ve ever encountered the word? – no judgement obviously.

If it is, we’ll give a quick definition to put things into context; a fandom is a group of fans of someone or something and usually, they’re very enthusiastic. Like very very enthusiastic.

It can get to a point where it has real-life consequences for people.

Just one recent example of this would be the Nicki Minaj and Megan Thee Stallion beef that was everywhere across social media before it made the step into the real world.

TMZ reported that the cemetery where Megan’s mother, Holly Thomas, is buried had to increase security after the location was doxxed on social media by one of Nicki’s fans, collectively known as Barbz.

Nicki had nothing to do with the threat, but the brazenness was nonetheless regarded as a low point for stan culture and led many to ponder if that depth of celebrity stan-dom was a mental illness in itself. 

Credit: Getty

Stan culture is another level within fandom, often considered to be the more obsessive side of things.

It seems as though social media has given music fans a digital battlefield to defend their favourite artists and they will fight to the end.

People who criticise many of today’s biggest acts run the risk of being doxxed and harassed, behaviour that can’t simply be attributed to the quality of someone’s music or acting or anything else for that matter. 

Fandoms and stan culture aren’t anything new, we literally heard about it from Eminem’s track, Stan, about an obsessive fan that came out in 2000.

Yet you have to remember that this was before the internet was something you could carry around in your pocket and social media just wasn’t a thing.

The actions of these fans have surpassed admiration and headed straight into parasocial relationship territory.

Parasocial relationships, are a type of one-sided relationship typically with an everyday individual, celebrity or fictional character whom they have never met.

The term was first coined in 1956 by sociologists Donald Horton and Richard Wohl who describe it as a sense of false intimacy made possible by radio, television and cinema.

Speaking to Forbes, clinic psychologist Melissa Gentry explained: “In this digital age, we are increasingly connected to media personalities, celebrities and social media influencers through screens.

Kpop band BTS Credit: Getty

“While these relationships can bring a sense of connection and admiration, they also have potential risks and impact on individuals’ emotional well-being.”

This could be in part why fans tend to step in to friend the celebs they care about even though they don’t know them personally.

Stan-dom and the attention-seeking nature of social media have all combined to make fandoms powerful.

Fights between artists turn into social media battles and contests between fanbases.

Those who leave legitimate critiques of an artist often open themselves up to harassment.

In a way artists, actors and anyone with a following now have a responsibility to correct their fans and hold them accountable when they rush to their defence.