The Ins and Outs of Being a Stan
What is a Stan?
In 2000, several questions were answered for us. Would the world survive the Y2K scare? Yes. Would another son of a president become president? Yes. Is there a way to be too much of a fan? Definitely.
Now, you may ask the last question doesn't seem that important but it is. A whole cultural movement was based around the vivid premise of a rap song by one Marshall Mathers, better known as Eminem.
In 2000, Eminem was riding high off of the success of his sophomore effort, The Marshall Mathers LP with his first two singles becoming monster hits. And then suddenly he dropped an out of left field third single that would ultimately capture the times better than any other song of that era.
Stan is a song about a deranged Eminem fan who becomes so obsessed with Eminem through his music that he decides to actual take the lyrics of Em's songs to heart and attempt to kill his pregnant girlfriend because she runs her mouth too much and irritates Stan. However, Stan really did want Eminem to get this letter he wrote simply because he wants him to know how much he has influenced his life.
As daunting as the premise seems, it is not at all new but Eminem ultimately brought to light what many people knew all along: celebrities inspire a devotion and admiration that is almost hard to fathom unless you see it in action.
And with that one song, Eminem inspired a generation of fandom that has ultimately redefined pop culture.
What Makes a Celebrity Stan-Worthy?
Arguably, the hardest part to define about being a Stan is why someone would be a Stan of a certain celebrity. Usually this comes down to two essential traits: personality and career achievements.
Personality is important to all celebrities mainly because that's their bread and butter in drawing fans in. If you do not relate to the celebrity in some way, the only other factor that would get you to follow them is their career. The aspects of a star's personality that Stans favor are a sense of humor, intellect, ability to not take themselves seriously, and enthusiasm for their work/life. That being said, most celebrities with devoted Stans overwhelmingly tend to be musicians. Musicians are the easiest celebrities to relate to mainly because they put themselves out their via music. And in the past few years musicians are the main stars to benefit from social media outlets such as Twitter. That's not to say that there aren't Stans of other types of celebrities but if you think of a group of a Stans, you probably won't think of an actor or athlete but an artist.
Another attribute of Stan-Worthy celebrities are their actual talents. That may sound strange but in the age of the Kardashians, some celebrities still have to remind the general public that their are real ways of being successful besides homemade videotapes. Some celebrities are known for having one career while others thrive on being multi-hyphenates. Regardless, they all have their followings due to what they do best whether it's make us laugh or make us dance.
That being said the other factor in making a celebrity Stan-Worthy is their actual career. While most Stan bases build up over years of hardwork and loyalty, the new era of social media interaction has allowed for groups of Stans to connect and unite like never before. Stans surely are the first to know for any new release, event, or award nomination. Tracking a career has never been easier due to technology.
Stans may be more easily recognizable but they are far from a new phenomenon.
Stans By Name
Stan Collective Name
A History of Stans
The song may have came out in 2000, but Stans have long been around in popular culture. Rabid fans first gained the attention of the media in the golden age of Hollywood.
Since the early days of cinema young men and women looked up to those one the Silver Screen in many ways. Actresses such as Clara Bow and Shirley Temple started their own trends and inspired fans to contact them. From there, fan clubs were established for communication between stars and their followers. However, the phenomenon of fan clubs really exploded in the 1950s when rock music entered the scene.
A young man from Tupelo, Mississippi named Elvis Presley changed the world with one swivel of his hips. While his music and antics became the nightmare of parents everywhere, baby boomers reveled in the delight of a true American rebel making his way in music. And with that fan clubs exploded.
Other movements in music and popular culture spurred bigger movements of fans across the world. In the 1960s, when The Beatles entered the music scene the culture of being an super fan kicked into high gear. Finding strength in numbers, they got together to help meet their favorite artists and groups and promote their projects even more.
By the 1970s, with an explosion of teen culture on television and in movies thanks to shows and flicks like Grease and The Partridge Family, Stans gained more attention. At times it would turn deadly as many fans lost their life at concerts and other events.
As the 1980s rolled around, it so happened a little network called MTV changed the face and voice of fan culture. Fans had a direct way to see their favorite musicians promote and perform their music. It also happened to be the era of the highest selling album of all time, Michael Jackson's Thriller. Other artists had massive success due to the MTV's rotation of videos and active fan contests which enabled more communication with the celebrities.
At the same time, it was the era of the teen movie with such classics as Pretty in Pink and The Breakfast Club- starring the most famous group of young actors since The Rat Pack, The Brat Pack.
Fast forward to the 1990s where shows like MTV's TRL and Fanatic highlighted the joys of being a super fan. It also helped usher fans into the 20th century with online contests and message boards.
As of late, fans have a multitude of platforms online including fansites, message boards, twitter groups, fan fiction sites and more. Being a Stan is no longer confined to writing letters and dialing 1-800 numbers.
As it was mentioned before, Stans have various ways of staying informed. Most of them are online and have their own purpose.
Fansites: Quite possibly the most important resource for any fan, but especially Stans. Usually contains information on upcoming projects, television appearances, sightings, and so on.
Message Boards: This is a way for Stans in any fandom to stay united and share their opinion. Most fandoms have several message boards so depending on how you feel you join one or all.
Fan Fiction: These sites are for fans who imagine their favorite celebrity in different situations with everyday people and/or other celebrities.
Twitter Groups/Facebook Pages: Facebook and Twitter are now to the point where anyone seeking to do anything can get a page or account. Usually these are used in the same as fansites but can be faster in getting out up to the minute information.
Even though there are many ways to stay in touch, there are rules to being a Stan.
Rules of Being a Stan
There are several ways to being a Stan in the modern world but that doesn't mean the rules of civility and courtesy don't apply. Here are some rules all Stans should abide by:
- You Have a Right to Openly Support Your Favorite Celebrity: No matter what anyone thinks of them, what you think of them is why you are a Stan.
- You Have a Right to Defend Your Celebrity: Just like parents defend their children, it doesn't matter what anyone says, you can speak up for your favorite.
- Stans Have a Right to Be Critical: Just because they are your favorite celebrity, doesn't mean you agree with every move they make personally or professionally- sometimes it's healthy to agree or disagree.
- Stans Have a Right to Respect Casual Fans and Stans of Other Fandoms: One thing that is constantly present in this culture of internet critics, is that some Stans are not only disrespecting themselves but the identity of the fan base by being overly crtical to fans who aren't as devoted to the celebrity but more importantly fans of other celebrities. Sometimes it's best to keep your thoughts to yourself.
- Stans Have a Right to enjoy being a Stan: Sometimes being a fan is like being the most complicated long distance relationship ever. You may not meet your celebrity but you spend a lot of time feeling like you know them, but you always remember the times they made you laugh, the times they made you think, and the times they made you move.
Whether you are a Stan or not, the impact super fans have had on popular culture is quite remarkable. And we've only just begun.
Additional Reading on Stans
- Crazy, Stupid, Love: When Twitter Stans Attack | Vibe
Vibe Media is a premier destination for urban entertainment and media, Vibe Media creates solutions for advertisers looking to engage consumers via music, entertainment, culture and lifestyle 18-54.
- Why Pop Stars Rule the World -- Vulture
Today’s pop may be largely prefab, but it moves at the speed of digital.