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Can we support our faves and be fans without being fanatics?
At 40 and climbing, I have settled into a stage of my life where I am at peace with many things and seeking peace in those areas that aren’t quite settled as yet.
At this stage, for me, I have no desire to go to war. Not even a war of words. And if I’m dragged into conflict against my strongest wishes, you can bet and believe, I won’t be lobbing keyboard missiles after an opponent in a battle over an entertainer whose music I support. Maybe I’m ill informed, but I don’t think that’s the best way to celebrate them or their work.
Then again, I am 40 and climbing, so maybe that’s it.
Listen, I love entertainment as much as the other person, perhaps more. At least I think so. But entertainment, to me, is just that- entertainment.
I love entertainment because it’s supposed to be fun, it’s supposed to help me relax and unwind, particularly if I’ve already had a hard day. My entertainment should not be more stressful to me than my life’s problems. I shouldn’t need yoga or a therapist after entertainment.
And so, when it comes to entertainment, I’m sorry, but I’m not joining causes for trivialities such as one artist doesn’t like another or said something to offend the other. Listen, these are grown folk who, to be worth my time and money, should at least have the emotional maturity to work things out, and besides, to quote Kourtney Kardashian, “There’s people that are dying.”
Extreme fans are nothing new. They’ve always been around and you can find them in almost every field.
Take sports, for example. There are some people who take their passion for the game to the next level. In the 2013 article,Sports fans who go WAY too far, writer Amber Lee notes, “There is ... a fine line between ‘going the extra mile’ and going well beyond that mile marker into a much uglier space.”
Me? I like sports, but I won’t go into paroxysms of rage if the team I support loses a game, even if it’s a crucial one. And I’m not going to spend tons on a ticket to go to a stadium to get into a scuffle with another spectator either. Like that’s not the best way to spend my time or money.
Similarly, in theater and the arts, I like actors and actresses, artists, musicians. I like their work. I’d support their content, maybe even follow their causes if they are in alignment with my core values and ethics. But what I will not do is end a friendship, for example, if I like an artist and my friend really prefers the music of their “opp”. And I will most definitely NOT join a make believe social media army to fight their battles either. I’m sorry. Ridicule me if you will.
But, and this is an open message to entertainers: If I’m your fan and if you really care for me as a person, as a supporter of your work, you’d understand and agree with me when I say that that level of fandom is unhealthy and dangerous.
Recently, social media platforms and blogs were abuzz with talk of an argument between a prominent international artist and the fan of another. And then the respective armies rallied in, carrying the flags of war. The details, I won’t get into. It doesn’t matter. Suffice to say it got really ugly. My point of reference is simply this, and this applies to ALL parties: every battle isn’t meant to be fought.
Some battles aren’t worth a fight. And walking away, choosing peace, doesn’t make you a punk. It makes you selective. Sometimes it can kill an argument before it escalates on the simple basis that it takes two to tango.
Of the star who has a much bigger platform, here’s the thing. I understand that stars are humans, but to quote an old adage that could never be a cliché in my view: to whom much is given much is expected.
Social media can be a lot to take in. True. Trolls are the absolute worst. Agreed. So if it gets to be too much, maybe let your PR/ communications team handle it. Or, if you want that personal connection, then here’s a good human response when someone comes at you with negative energy. Silence.
Silence communicates: I don’t want to dance with you. Not today.
See, we have to be very careful about the things we give our energy to, and particularly on the internet. Because when it's out there, you can't take it back.
I also think that artists across the board have a responsibility to convey to their fans the energy that they want to represent them. Brands do this all the time. They are vigilant about monitoring the way they are represented. But sticking to artists and entertainment, way back in 2013, when some of Lady Gaga’s fans attacked music video director, Joseph Kahn, for liking someone’s music that she was not on good terms with, the artist issued a statement: "…using hateful or abusive language, and the provoking of others on the internet is not supported by me or anything that I stand for. What I’ve seen transpiring is wrong and upsetting to me." Simple.
To paraphrase, she said: When your words get ugly, they do not represent me.
In 2020, Beyonce who is known for being taciturn on social media, keeping herself a notch above the fray, supported, I’d say, a statement by her publicist Yvette Noel Schure after her fans began to attack the wife of Golden State Warriors owner, Nicole Curran, even to the point of issuing death threats when a rumor started that Curran was flirting with Beyonce’s husband, Jay Z, at a game.
In a social media post, Schure wrote: “It will bring no joy to the person you love so much if you spew hate in her name.”
And so, to conclude, I think that as fans, even super fans, we can show love without being toxic if we want to. If we really want to. Just as artists can protect their energy and brand if they want to.
But hey, what do I know? I’m only 40 and climbing.