When fans become stans

Being a complete fan of an artist is not new. There were fainting or riots in front of the Beatles, Elvis Presley or One Direction. Even Jesus Christ had 12 devoted followers, who would surely have fought to enter his 8 best friends on MySpace.


What has changed with social media is the conversion of these measured, harmless fans into extremely motivated and involved fans, whom we call “stans.” A Stan is a convinced, politicized and hyperactive fan, who will defend his favorite star even on his deathbed. Oh really.

In the United States, fan communities, which often meet on the X network, even have names. There’s Beyoncé’s BeyHive, Nicki Minaj’s Barbz, Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters, BTS’s Army and Taylor Swift’s famous Swifties.

PHOTO ANNIE MULLIGAN, NEW YORK TIMES ARCHIVE

Beyoncé is a fan during the movie premiere. Renaissancelast november

And these influential fans carry weight in the pop culture industry. When Justin Timberlake released his new single SelfishOn January 25, fans of his ex-girlfriend Britney Spears strongly encouraged their armies to “stream” the song. Selfish by Britney, a dark piece taken from her album Femme fatalepublished in 2011.

Result: the old song Selfish Britney Spears hot on the heels of a new song Selfish by Justin Timberlake on iTunes and Spotify. High-level “trolling”, just the way we like it.

Here is what Britney Spears revealed in her book the woman in me who aborted, about twenty years ago, a child of Justin Timberlake, who had no interest in being a father. Protective, Britney fans did not digest this revelation. And we’re not kidding about a Britney fan, okay?

“Fans have understood how the celebrity game is played. They know how algorithms work. Not only do they become fans, but they also mobilize resources to ensure that their artist is treated well and is safe. They offer unwavering support,” explains Jean-Michel Berthiaume, a specialist in popular culture and a doctor in semiology from the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM).

The word are It officially entered the Oxford Dictionary in 2017. It refers to the title of the song. are by Eminem (a duet with Dido), which told the story of a fan in complete delirium because his favorite rapper didn’t respond to any of his letters. The music video, filmed in 2000, ended in a massacre, when Stan killed his pregnant wife by committing suicide behind the wheel of her car. Very happy, all that.

The negative connotation attributed to the term. are fades with the years. Yes, there are toxic, overzealous fans who threaten to kill and intimidate detractors of their beloved pop star. But they are still a minority.

Ordinary fans do not appreciate extreme fans and ban them, recalls Jean-Michel Berthiaume of the UQAM Media School.

Quebec artists, of course, have many followers, whose rise does not rival that of their equivalents in the United States or South Korea. It’s strength in numbers that gives fans power. It’s this critical mass that allows them to influence the graphics, in particular.

Here, the singer Roxane Bruneau has a large group of fans, the Bruno’z, formerly called the Cocos. And we don’t joke with the Bruno’z, as I discovered after publishing a column criticizing her idol, champion of dubious gags in her chair. coach has Voice.

For several days, the Bruno’z inundated me with messages in support of the 33-year-old singer-songwriter. Like: “stop bothering Roxanne, you won’t feel good about yourself, dear.” Or also: “they don’t care about your opinion about Roxanne Bruneau, she doesn’t judge you.”

Nothing too unpleasant or threatening, I’ve seen much worse. There is even something moving about this indestructible devotion. To add some pressure, Roxane Bruneau’s supporters also launched an online petition calling for me to lose my job as a columnist at Press, a petition that was signed by four people, at last count. Roxane stans, unite! You still have time to fire me from my job.

The most curious thing is that Roxane Bruneau played, at the beginning of December, a version of herself in the daily series Indefensible of VAT. Her popular singing persona, Louna Rose, was being harassed by a cuckold who broke into her condo to smell her clothes. The stan in question, Mylène Kirouac (Rebecca Vachon), ended up kidnapping and torturing her own lawyer Inès (Nour Belkhiria), whom she had fallen in love with. A little Tuesday at the office, of course.

Angry fans, who descend into intimidation and violence, give moderate fans bad press. Because being a stan basically comes from noble feelings like admiration and respect. It’s like displaying a badge of honor, earned after hours and hours of X activism.

And as long as he doesn’t become an obsessive fiasco like the crazy fan ofIndefensible, no need to call the police. Or Leo Macdonald.

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