Time for Fans to Stand Back

Stans (stalker + fans) of contemporary pop culture stars and entertainment take their obsessions too far.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all had a celebrity we’ve liked. What’s not to love? The glitz, the glamor, the talent, the seeming perfection. Being a fan and in turn being in a fandom can be fun and can allow people to meet others with common interests. But as anyone who’s ever been on social media has seen, certain people, known as stans, can take fandom too far and can turn it toxic. 

Stans, a word combining stalkers and fans, have been around for decades. We’ve all seen those videos of screaming Beatles fans or of women fainting at the sight of Elvis. But while stans are not a new group, the internet and social media have only made it easier for fans to get entwined in this craziness. Plans to stalk and harass celebrities that may have once been obscure among fans are now easier to spread and have gained a lot of traction.

Every day on Twitter we see hundreds of tweets adorning a particular celebrity. While most of these tweets are positive and seemingly harmless, it only takes one faux pas from someone for these lesions of fans to turn hateful. These days, simply tweeting the words “I don’t like (insert celebrity’s name)” can cause someone to receive hundreds of death threats from certain fans. But what these insane people don’t realize is that these celebrities do not need you to defend them. In fact, it is embarrassing for the celebrity to have their fans act like crazy people, and embarrassing for those of us who may like said celebrity to be associated with their obsessive fans.

I can understand fans defending a celebrity in some situations. For example, if someone makes a racist comment about a K-Pop group, it’s perfectly acceptable for fans to shame, but not send death threats to, the commenter. However, making a simple mild criticism should never result in mountains of harassment.

Not only do these stans of toxic fan bases harass others, but they harass the celebrities themselves by making rude comments about or stalking the celebrity and their community, feeling entitled to know everything about this person (*cough* Harry Styles fans with his girlfriend Olivia Wilde). To be fair, many celebrities utilize social media platforms to connect with their fans, so it is reasonable for fans to expect a certain level of communication. But even if celebrities try to communicate with fans, they do not owe us anything. Fans choose to like them; they can stop at any time. It’s expected of celebrities to be respectful to their fans, and fans should return this respect by showing decency and allowing celebrities to enjoy the few moments of privacy that contemporary life allows. Yes, it would be nice of celebrities to engage with their fans, but that doesn’t mean they must provide fans with every detail about their lives.

For fanbases centered around a television show or movie rather than a specific celebrity, things can get even worse. It is not uncommon to see fans harass an actor over a poor portrayal, a bad movie or because they straight up suck. For instance, many Star Wars fans think that because they have watched the movies, they can harass a nine-year-old to the point that s/he has paranoid schizophrenia, send death threats to actors of color or actors who played a character they dislike (Jar Jar) and spend years bullying the creators of movies they claim to love. Please, there is no need to be a defensive “fan” of these movies. People should just ignore what they don’t like. Nobody is holding fans hostage and asking for their obnoxious opinions. 

Ultimately, these fans go insane for celebrities who do not know them and who probably never will. To these people, we’re really just a sales figure for them. Sure, they may be appreciative of their fans, but it is nearly impossible for them to care on a personal level. So please, there is no reason for anyone to become a psychopath for these people.