“You can't be like pop stars, but you can be part of their story. You can be their fan.” ― Simon Cheshire, Plastic Fantastic
Before getting into the topic of a fandom, we need to understand the concepts of culture and subculture.
What exactly is culture?
Culture is a part of the external influences that affect an individual. Culture represents the influences that are imposed on an individual by a group of other individuals. It is a system of interdependent components which includes knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, customs, and so on. Culture is not something we are born with. It is learned as we go ahead in our lives. We are born into a culture. It is inevitable. It is manifested within certain boundaries and restrictions. For example, in traditional Indian society, girls are usually not allowed to wear short clothes in public. It is unacceptable behaviour in our society. Another example is public display of affection. It is looked down upon in our society and is completely forbidden due to the norms that we follow as a society.
Now, what is a subculture?
A subculture is a self-organised tradition of shared interests, lifestyles, opinions, norms, styles, or tastes, inside a culture. It is self-organising whereas culture is more of an overwhelming force. A subculture may include a hobby, a philosophy, a lifestyle, a fandom, or even a movement. Culture includes more of social groups such as a nation or a religion. Common examples of a subculture are fandoms, BDSM, gaming, clubbing, the obsession of social media, hipsters, and cosplay.
In this article, I will discuss how a Fandom is a subculture in our society. Fandoms are communities built around a shared enjoyment of an aspect of popular culture, such as books, movies, TV shows, bands, celebrities, YouTubers, and so on.
From Twitter to Reddit to Instagram, online communities from all over the world have been going strong since quite some time now. With the emergence of celebrities comes the arrival of their fans as well. People from all over the world have come together to form fan armies or fandoms to support their favourite celebrity/star. Literally, every celebrity has a fandom in today’s day and age.
Some of the most popular Fandoms are Barbz (Nicki Minaj’s Fandom), Swifties (Taylor Swift’s Fandom), Team Super (Lilly Singh’s Fandom), Logang (Logan Paul’s Fandom), and Potterheads of course! As you can see, fandoms are not restricted to one section of the entertainment industry. They are common to all. From movie stars to singers and even YouTubers! With the rise in the use of social media, forming fandoms has become an easy task.
As I mentioned before, With great fame comes a large number of fan following. Even though the large groups of fans can get a bit over overwhelming, they are basically the celebrity’s second family. Fandoms are not confined to one place or country. They consist of people from across the globe. From Australia to South Africa to India. They include all kinds of people from all over the world.
“The coolest thing about fandom is the friendships made along the way with people who share your passions.” ― Jacquelyn Middleton, London Belongs to Me
When millions of individuals work together for a reason, no matter how small their separate inputs are, the effect is usually huge. Unbreakable bonds and lifelong friendships have been developed among the youth through the various fandoms that they got involved with. This clearly shows how much of an impact a modern-day subculture can have on a young individual.
The fandoms that are present online have become extremely famous and well-known. For example, Team Super (Fandom of Lilly Singh, aka iisuperwomanii) has made its presence very noteworthy by becoming extremely popular on various social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram in a very short span of time. This was only possible with the immense amount of dedication and efforts that each Fan puts into supporting and motivating her every single day. Some popular Team Super Twitter handles are @TeamSuperIndia, @TeamSuperMumbai, and @TeamSuper_Miami. They have become so well known that even Lilly Singh herself has recognised them and has made it a point to stay connected with her devoted fans.
Another dedicated fandom would be the Swifties. It didn’t take a lot of time for Taylor Swift to become a strong force in today’s pop culture. She is one of the most famous artists that this generation is aware of. Her fans make sure to try and attend almost every concert or event that she performs at. Not only do they make accounts on all the social media handles but also take out valuable time out of their days to make beautiful fan art and YouTube videos. She has influenced people of all ages from across the world. Every time she has a show, the Swifties go the extra mile to queue up just to meet her even for a few seconds. Whenever they notice any kind of hate against Taylor, they ensure to be there to defend her before she does it herself.
The fans of any person are usually extremely concerned about that person and their mental state of mind. They ensure that their ‘idol’ doesn’t burn out and are basically act like a support system for them. They keep them going by non-stop encouragement and an immense amount of support. Every fandom keeps themselves up to date about all of the person’s events, travel schedules, shows, and so on. Their lives literally revolve around their idol and their life.
All of this may seem a bit creepy but the fans do it out of sheer love and good intentions. With the help of fandoms, people have become close-knit families which are inseparable right now. The amount of love and positivity that the fans give to their respective idols is completely genuine and heartwarming. The fan armies try their best to be loyal and faithful towards their idol. There are no said rules that fans must follow when they join a fandom. There is no sort of discrimination in fandoms. If a hater starts to target their idol, the entire army ensures to finish him/her. Even though they may get extremely defensive and sometimes a bit scary when it comes to their idol, they care the most at the end of the day.