How the Internet’s super fans went from pop star to politics

In March, as soon as the first wave of coronovirus devastated the country after France entered lockdown, Lorien de Susa did nothing with time on its hands.

20-year-old De Susa, a hardcore smiler, a currency given to fans of pop singer and actor Miley Cyrus, created an account Context from Hannah MontanaPosting random scenes from iconic Disney Channel shows.

The account now has more than 65,700 followers.

“Everything really started in April, when I randomly posted that ‘Hannah Montana’ scene, which we can see Miley’s character moving out of her childhood home. … And today it’s original Roopa, in a very subtle way, has one of the biggest Miley Stein accounts on Twitter, ”de Sousa told NBC News.

Even as the momentum of the account gathered this spring, de Susa never anticipated that it would become a vehicle for activism and political engagement.

This year, however, as political and social issues dominated the discourse in the United States, while epidemics around the world devastated nations, more people devoted to digital spaces, Stan accounts – a pop star or celebrity – Forced both in the US and abroad. Used its platforms to support or influence issues such as Black Lives Matter and the 2020 US presidential election.

On Twitter, De Susa has Stan accounts Prafull, who serve as unofficial campaigners, de facto PR teams, and gossip columns for the stars he follows. At any given moment, there are dozens of accounts dedicated to a certain singer, rapper or star, with these super fans trying to figure out the artist’s next appearance when a new album will drop, sharing their favorite photos and meticulously Tracking and comparing sales and chart status of albums and songs.

Most of the more than half-a-dozen Stan account managers who spoke with NBC News allowed mass audiences to garner their followers to participate in social and political issues this year. He also credited the epidemic with pushing people online, where they were more likely to face stan accounts.

The phrase “Stan” is generally credited to the 2000 Eminem song “Stan”, in which the rapper portrays a fan, who lives with him to the point of insanity.

Like De Susa’s status as a smiler, Stance also has a sobriquet usually associated with the star he follows. Lady Gaga Stance is Little Monsters, Taylor Swift is Stants Swifty, Ariana Grande is Stance Ariantor, Nikki Minaj is Stamb Barbez (short for Barbie’s), BTS Stance is called Army and Beis Stain identifies as part of Bihive .

But sometimes the relationship between Stan and Star goes both ways, with steps affecting celebrity behavior. This mobilization around stars and celebrities can sometimes go very far and result in bullying and even racism in the community. Stents has also been criticized for implementing a black culture such as African American Vernacular English, or AAV.

Stems heat

Prior to the summer epidemic and social unrest, stan accounts began as normal.

A few weeks before the official release of the song Little Monsters managed to leak the lead single “Stupid Love” from Lady Gaga’s album “Chromatic”. Singer Rihanna’s fan Rihanna Navy hunted down if and when artists would release their ninth studio album. Swifties show the singer celebrating the cover of the January 2020 edition of British Vogue.

But after the death of George Floyd in May, Stan Twitter rallied behind Black Lives Matter and protested against black antisemitism.

“Of course I participated in a lot of movements this year, especially the Black Lives Matter movement. I remember that during these days, during that time my account was taken in a completely different sense. … Even though I am French and from Paris, I really felt concerned about these movements. “So in the meantime, I remember saying, ‘I don’t want to share my usual stuff in a crisis like this.”

Although all different types of stances joined together to support those fighting for equality, in many cases, fans of Korean pop music trolled K-pop stances, who stood in opposition to the movement Support stopped.

“Builds on these characteristics that make them the right activists and creators for change,” said 28-year-old Nicole Santero, a sociology doctoral student in Nevada, Las Vegas, studying the culture and social structure of the BTS military Yes, of course. One of the most influential Stan groups in the world. Santero is also a fan of BTS and runs the Twitter account ResearchBTS, which has more than 90,000 followers.

This year, K-pop has hijacked racist hashtags, flooding hashtags like #whitelivesmatter with nonsense or unrelated images. Images of K-pop groups and in some cases online police tip lines to shut down, in part. Later in the year, the K-pop stance went with his unsuccessful bid for re-election following a demonstration in support of President Donald Trump for the #MillionMAGAMarch hashtag, flooded with photos of pancakes.

“Getting on social media is very easy for fans,” Santero said. “They essentially do this every day. So trolling these racist hashtags and politicians, it’s more of a type of this super small example than the big, real-world ones, that actually make a positive impact.

In June, BTS and their record label Big Hit Entertainment donated $ 1 million to support the Black Lives Matter campaign. In about a day, his fans matched that amount.

“Word spreads so fast in these networks. We really see how quickly fans can come together and take collective action. In terms of what we saw this year, K-pop fans and BTS fans certainly gained a lot of attention, especially with their participation in the Black Lives Matter movement, ”Santero said. “They are very aware of their power.”

Although Santero stated that K-pop stance was not trying to be political in its activism, some experts say the act of embroiling in an issue like Black Lives Matter, although outside the typical American political binary of left and right, is inherently Form is a political act.

“Everything you do is personal, political, which means that everything you do is informed by some systemic or political ideology,” said Cassidy Campbell, a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan, who is on the Internet , Studies technology and Black girls. “If I as a black person or anyone can offer a critique for what you do, there is something political in what you did.”

Politics and stains

As protests erupted through the nation in June and Coronovirus continued to devastate the nation, Trump was preparing to hold a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

His supporters encouraged him to reserve tickets online to participate. But once word of an internet corner such as Stan came on Twitter that tickets could be reserved for free, they seized the opportunity for trolls.

Although it is unclear whether Stan and Tickcock users who teamed for the trance had any effect on the rally’s low turnout, they did adopt a victory on social media.

As the election drew to a close, Steyn accounts used its platform to advocate some candidates.

“We were actively tweeting ‘Vote Blue’, so people were engaged,” said 17-year-old Moyin Cecconi, who helps run Doja Crave, a stan account for singer and rapper Doja Cat. “And he was just icing on top, when Doja said on his Instagram story that he voted.”

In most cases, the political bent of a stan account will take its cues from values ​​and is stanning the account from the Star’s public stance.

19-year-old Jake Phillips of Los Angeles said, “It just reflects our fan base, we can all rally behind Gaga and talk about her music, but we can also rally for the same reasons , Because Gaga is passionate about them. ” Angeles, which runs Lady Gaga, updated a Twitter account. “I think it’s important because I have it small that other people can get these resources from my account too.”

In 2020 Stance used his influence for reasons he believes in and has earned praise from some for his role in advancing social issues. But stan culture itself has long had toxic and problematic behaviors, including racism, the inclusion of black culture, and bullying.

Mainstream under a microscope

Although Stan culture entered the mainstream from an online niche group following its involvement in the social and political issues of 2020, this year’s spotlight has also bare the issues that have long involved Stan culture – particularly On social media.

Moyin said she is sometimes seen in the breed community and bigotry as “troll accounts”, only accounts created to incite crowds against those who feel injustice to her favorite icons Has happened.

“They would put Lady Gaga as their profile picture and then they would tweet outside, racist, xenophobic things so that people would get mad at Lady Gaga,” Moin said, an example of impersonation and racism occurring in the Stan community by stating .

Santero mentioned that many K-pop fans actually prefer not to be identified as stains because of the negative perception stains have gained over time.

K-pop has been plagued with accusations of appropriating black culture, for example, black hairstyles such as brads and corners, “talking black” and even wearing blackface, according to Vox .

In recent months, white and non-POC stains have also been investigated in the community for employing African American Vernacular English, or AAV.

“Language becomes appropriated, and often there is no recognition of where it comes from. It becomes artificial. “It could almost come as a caricature of Black folk,” Campbell said. “On top of that … you get access to various opportunities or when you really use your idea of ​​how you use language, it’s not fun.”

Campbell said there is a catch-22 when it comes to stan culture, especially stan culture has gone into the political arena this year.

Movements pushing for equality and efforts to end systemic oppression are appreciated, but the effort should be more than a one-time event – especially when so much of the culture is rooted in Black culture.

“There’s a line you should know you’re crossing. When are you getting affected and when are you taking too much?” Campbell said.

All account managers who spoke to NBC News acknowledged the toxicity present in the Stan community. But many said they wanted to advocate causes they believe in, saying that their participation in social and political issues would not end in 2020.

“I plan to use my account to support political activities again in the future. This is something I really want to do. This is something I still do, when I see something that I don’t feel right, or that I really want to stress on a social issue or anything, “de Susa said. “I just want to use my account to emphasize that and make more people aware of what’s going on.”

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