By: Anaisa Kalita
“Fandom” culture, or groups of people who follow the same bands/tv shows/celebrities, has risen exponentially in the past 10 years. It’s no secret that the celebrity obsessed culture that we now live in has culminated as a result of our access to celebrities through social media.
My first “fandom” experience started in middle school on a little known website called Myspace where I obsessed over a trio of brothers that some people may have heard of as The Jonas Brothers. While I don’t exactly remember how I got involved with the fandom, I do know that it involved me setting up a second Myspace account and downloading a trial version of Photoshop every time they had a new edition so that I could edit photos of Nick Jonas (swoon) and share with my online friends.
There are some people in the media, and even people involved in fandoms, who criticize fandoms that gain notoriety. Of the fandoms I’ve been a part of, The Jonas Brothers, Twilight, The Hunger Games, One Direction, and The 1975 to name a few, I think most of them have received some sort of criticism. I’ve even been a part of the critics. Sometimes these critiques are valid such as stalker fans or mobs who ruin meeting a celebrity for everyone else, but sometimes there are no roots in fact and other online communities meet fandoms with purely opinionated hate. It’s often a similar declaration as those crying “not all men” or “not all [insert group that you identify with but are sometimes to be ashamed a part of]”. When something grows so large, you start to have people who ruin it for everyone else, such as when you have an artist who always brings an audience member on stage and sings to them but instead of people being happy for them they receive online hate, so the artist has to stop bringing people on stage.
However, from a Public Relations perspective, fandoms should be met with nothing but positive reinforcement. Honestly, it’s free advertising. I’ve seen fandom-based PR stunts that gain more attention and involvement from the fans than stunts through 3rd parties like radio stations or record labels. One of the most successful things One Direction did when they were trying to gain popularity in the US was create a contest for their fans to participate in and bring the band to their town. Dallas ended up winning the contests, and 17 year old me was heartbroken I couldn’t attend because I was in Houston.