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Take Two: An unhealthy ‘stan’ culture

Emily Jacobsson and Pauline Woodley

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Stan: a combination of the words stalker and fan, someone who is overly obsessed with a celebrity, often to the point where it is harmful to both parties.

It’s safe to say that in today’s society, everyone is a fan of someone. Whether you consider yourself a Belieber or a Selenator, Team Jacob or Team Edward, there is some celebrity that you admire. And although it can be fun to buy t-shirts and make posters for your favorite stars, many young people these days have crossed the line.

Celebrities, especially teen celebrities, count on their young fan base for fame and fortune. But it’s sad to say that many young people are not able to control themselves when it comes to meeting someone they practically worship.

There is no more civility in the interactions between fans and celebrities. The deafening scream of crazy fans is enough to make a celebrity hesitate to want to meet their supporters. While things are bad enough during organized fan meets, should one of these “stans” see their idols on the streets, chaos ensues.

This obsessiveness translates to online activity as well. It’s not uncommon to see fan pages post things like, “I’m going to kill myself,” when the actors that portray their favorite fictional characters don’t get together. On the flipside, there are also the fans that have the same reaction when their favorite celebrity publicly shares about their relationship with their significant other. “How dare they date anyone other than me?”

This can be said of fans of TV couple Lili Reinhart and Cole Sprouse of the CW’s “Riverdale.” Their characters Betty and Jughead began dating in the first season of the show, and were affectionately called “Bughead” by fans. The couple was an instant hit, and the show’s fan base began to obsess over whether or not Reinhart and Sprouse were together in real life. On each of their social media posts, you can find thousands of fans analyzing each of their captions, trying to decipher any secret messages that point to their unconfirmed relationship, something that lies strictly in the jurisdiction of their personal lives.  

However, it’s not just the relationship statuses of their favorite celebrities that lead to fans going overboard. When Zayn Malik announced his departure from One Direction in 2015, fans started trending the disturbing hashtag #CutForZayn. Directioners were encouraged to take part in self-harm as a way to hopefully convince Malik not to leave. It’s truly horrifying when you see the lengths these young fans will go to, especially with social media encouraging them.  

This infatuation with celebrities personal lives is hardly a new trend, but it is sad to see it in such young fan bases. With social media as their outlet, these fans are further affirmed in their thought processes by other fans with just as unhealthy of a relationship with these celebrities. Hopefully one day these younger fans will be able to take a step back and differentiate what it means to support a celebrity versus letting these celebrities consume their lives.

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Take Two: An unhealthy ‘stan’ culture