Who runs the world?
Seriously, your purchases, social media posts, and attendance are what determines who gets the spotlight and who gets left in the dust. You made High School Musical into a massive franchise. You made One Direction’s “Drag Me Down” a hit on your own volition.
And with great power comes great responsibility. All that passion and feels needs to be wielded with caution. The fan-creator relationship is one built on trust, love, and support. If one party doesn’t hold up their end of the deal, things start to fall apart (cue Justin Bieber chucking his microphone on-stage).
We’re all guilty of putting our experience before the creators and fellow fangirls. It happens. But it’s time we make a cognizant effort to give our fan communities the best reputation possible.
Here are some habits to break:
1. Competitive fangirling
We’re proud of who we support and the community that we’ve made in the process. It can be hard when that community grows rapidly. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay to think less of someone who’s new to the fandom or only knows/likes a small fragment of the creator’s content. What does matter is that they’re giving their time, money, and energy to support that creator.
2. Inappropriate or overt touching
From hugs that last too long to groping, it’s uncomfortable for your fave who’s giving some of their time to meet and talk with you, whether in a formal or informal setting. Contrary to popular belief, they do not owe you any kind of interaction or attention. So show your appreciation and respect by following any rules given at formal meet & greets and in general, treat this person as you would want to be treated. They’re human too. Also, try not to scream or cry (I know, the feels are a wild ride), because that only makes things weirder. And be understanding of a meet & greet’s no touching rules, as they’re mostly there to keep your faves from getting sick while interacting with so many people.
3. Demanding content/attention/answers
Let me reiterate: no one owes you anything. The creator gets to dictate how much they give and share with the fans as well as when they do that. So stop harassing them online about when they’ll get a video up or the details of their divorce. Despite the fact that social media allows us to connect with our heroes like never before, that doesn’t mean you’re automatically granted insight into every facet of their life.
4. Asking inappropriate or personal questions
Fangirls love watching interviews with their creators. They live for that insight into the person behind the creation, the funny moments, the birth of inside jokes. This content is at the crux of the fandom. And sometimes fans get the chance to ask their own pressing questions. Whether in an informal meet & greet setting or as part of a legitimate interview, you need to understand and respect the creator’s boundaries. You should know what they’re comfortable with talking about and what is totally off-limits. And don’t try and pass off uncomfortable and inappropriate questions as “humor.”
5. Not respecting their right to privacy or personal time
It’s hard living a life with the media and fans’ attention trained on you at all times. We all make mistakes and go through hard times. So don’t hold it against your fave for taking some time off social media or having some fun off camera. They’re allowed to keep some experiences off Instagram. They’re allowed to have a couple drinks with friends. They’re allowed to live their life without you being tuned in. And if you do happen to cross paths with them IRL and see that they’re having a personal moment, maybe don’t ask them for a picture? Again: they don’t owe you anything.
6. Sexually harassing them on social media
I’ll leave it at this: the appropriate and correct response to a creator’s post on social media is not “fuck me,” “sit on my face,” “rape me,” or any other flavor of sexual harassment. And don’t you dare think about doing this IRL either. C’mon, they’re a person and they should be respected like everyone else.
7. Harassing their crew, family, friends, and significant others for information
Once again, let me remind you: No one owes you anything. I don’t care if your fave has been suspiciously laying low online or has been all too quiet as of late. I don’t care if you have a question about what time doors open or ticketing. That does not give you the right to spam the people connected and related to your creators for information. And do you really think their parents and siblings know those things?
8. Harassing their enemies and exes
As much as we love a little celebrity drama or feud, the world is a better place when we aren’t trying to tear each other apart. A breakup or a disagreement is not an invitation for you to go after your fave’s ex or enemy. Filling up their @ replies and Insta comments with hate isn’t making your fave out to be the better person in this situation.
9. Stalking them IRL
Just because they showed you the front of their house, their phone number is in the phone book, or the address of their office is posted online doesn’t mean you have a right to seek them out in real life. I don’t care if your intentions are harmless or you just want to send them a pizza, you are intruding into their personal lives without invitation. These are safe spaces and places of productivity for them; let them have it to themselves.
10. Ripping their clothes off during performances
These creators have stopped their performances to get help for someone hurt in the pit. They’ve made things that have brightened your day, encouraged you, saved you. When they make the choice to interact with you, whether in the pit or at a meet & greet, they expect and want to be respected, not robbed. Their attire is not meant to be turned into a memento. Especially for performers who have probably put a lot of time, money, and thought into their on-stage outfit(s), taking an arm band, shredding a shirt, or stealing a shoe impacts not only how they want to present themselves to you but also their ability to focus and perform. They shouldn’t have to fend off fans snatching their things.
The effects of these behaviors are more than just alienating fellow fans; this is about making a creator feel uncomfortable, unsafe, or hated in the clique they’ve gathered. So let’s vow to eradicate these bad behaviors from our fan communities so that everyone feels welcome, because fandom at its crux is about connecting and belonging.