As a sideline to my 9-5 job, this blog and having a somewhat fun sprinkled social life, I’ve been dabbling in a bit of social media promotion, which has meant I’ve had to deal on a daily basis with this new race of people called… fangirls.
Let me introduce you to the “fandoms” – these are the individual groups of fans for a certain band. Theres the One Direction fans, the Justin Bieber fans, The Wanted fans, the Lawson fans – I’m going to go with a “any male singers/singers who are slightly attractive develop a fandom” theory. What I’ve discovered is that this is a scary other world which is akin to stepping through the wardrobe and ending up in Narnia, you’re stepping through your laptop into a world where a band is your god and you are their lowly disciples… in between this there’s a lot of hysteria, alot of rivalry with other fandoms and a lot of hormone fuelled crazy.
We’ve all been a fan of a band & I for one am the first to step forward, hold up the foam finger han and say “I love boybands” – I always have, probably always will. One Direction and Union J are my current guilty pleasures but I’ve seen the best (and the worst) of the boybands come and go. Take That, A1, 5ive, Blue… I’m sure I’ve told you before but my boyband allegience was forever with Westlife. I heard “If I Let You Go” and I hot footed it to Woolworths and bought the tape, I played it religiously (I’d be playing that song and the B side “Try Again” then get up to turn the casette over – oh you people who’ve never owned a casette player make me feel old). I went to see them in concert, I had posters on my wall – but I never hit the extremes of these self confessed “fan girls”. The closest I ever came to being a fan girl was writing fan letters to and at one point believing I had one of their phone numbers. You live and you learn.
I think the fact that Twitter has come along has had a lot to do with this mass hysteria. Sure, there have always been mobs of screaming girls after these boybands, just look at the likes of The Beatles and the Bay City Rollers, but Twitter and social media in particular have taken these popstars off these pedestals and made them more accessible to their fan bases. In one instance this is a good thing, the more relatable the better and the more chance the record label have of cashing in on this cow. But on another… it creates this sense of ownership that the fans feel they have over their heroes.
I remember Shane Filan of Westlife once likened fame to the song “Larger Than Life” by the Backstreet Boys. Specifically the lyrics “I may run and hide when you’re screaming my name, but let me tell you now there are prices to fame” – I never truly understood them when I was younger, but I understand it now. Although the media circus that surrounded Westlife at the pinnacle of their career was immense, the magazines such as TOTP & Smash hits, newspapers stories and rumours, fan “craves” outside hotels, it was nothing in comparison to the type of hysteria that is caused nowadays by the likes of One Direction. I think of the young band members and then again of that lyric. If Shane felt that pressure and constant need from fans to always be “available”, the lack of privacy and invasion into a life that they’re trying to live which still following their dream of singing back THEN – how do these newer “breed” of bands feel?
With social media being a growing monster of a machine for the music industry, back in the day there was no Tumblr, no Twitter warriors, no rivalry between fellow “fandoms”….sure we “disliked” 5ive fans because they beat us to number one at some point. But it never got nasty. I’ve witnessed actual bullying and “trolling” of young and impressionable girls and boys of young ages because one is a Wanted fan and the other a Lawson fan. I also have had girls tweeting me saying that I have to let them meet XXX band or else they’ll cut themselves.
…& it baffles me. Its healthy to be a fan of a band, to love music, to love a song and some silly bit of music so much that it hurts – but this is next level craziness. I found this on one of the fan girls Twitters and thought it was very apt to close with….
…Oh, please, sign me up for this lifestyle *voice drips with sarcasm*