This essay hopes to examine the intersection of extreme pop fandom with specific focus on a young female audience and mental health. From the history of hysteria to online communities of support and others of delusion, I hope to unpack some greater questions surrounding this very particular enthusiasm, the positive and the concerning.
Before we get into the very real chronology of this mostly unexplored topic, we must agree and recognize that, historically, teen pop and boy band fandom has existed in a weird space of cultural celebration and critical marginalization: While the word has been shed of this particular pathology thankfully , in certain capacities, the way women express emotion is still demonized—especially in this world of fanaticism.
To Heine, lisztomania occurred in bursts of ecstasy when women saw Liszt in concert. Since this was pre-Internet, pandemonium occurred mostly in the physical space: There was a culture of collection, too: It, too, was maligned as mental difference. Similarities in behavior to Lisztomania and Beatlemania continue: There are differences, too, in the effect of modernization: The early Internet also offers interactive communities for this new fandom: Social media almost completely supplants those forums and becomes the dominate space for fan conversations, with Tumblr and Twitter at the forefront.
In the public space, swarming still exists. The supremely devoted go much, much further than the brooches and t-shirts of the past and tattoo their odes to the beloved boys. Likenesses are common; lyrics more so. While there remains the unwelcoming ideology that boy band fandom is uncool, unhealthy, excessive, and something for only young women to enjoy and if you are not a young women and enjoying it, something must be diagnosably wrong with you , the people within it are dedicated to writing their own stories.
Twitter and Tumblr manifest communities in a really interesting way: The most successful accounts are the ones with real personality behind them, which is why conversations usually extend past just minute-by-minute detective work. These blogs and Twitter accounts take the time to share individual fan stories and bolster each other in an attempt to encourage self-esteem. Girls submit selfies to these popular fan accounts. Shipping is the process of supporting a celebrity relationship.
To ship a fan means to chose who in the boy band they would best be suited to date. If someone were to ship me and Harry Styles, that means they would want to see us together. And they'd be correct. Selfies are a major proponent in personal interactions—they serve as tools for engagement. Worthiness is part of the basic package. These are moments of heightened emotional response that are celebrated instead of degraded to a word like hysteria.
In a sense, these mostly girls are taking control of their passions and writing the dialogue themselves. One Direction wrote songs to make fans feel good about themselves, 5SOS are writing songs about why they need those songs in the first place. The video does a good job of it too, serving to democratize the fan experience by placing the band and the fans on the same platform, all teary-eyed, singing the same somber song at the same time in the same way.
Instead of just cheering up the despondent youth like One Direction before them, 5 Seconds of Summer 5SOS for short tried to connect to the internal issue. Before we get into the mental health stigmas surrounding this kind of fandom, we should break down some of the language used to describe it. These words translate to the physical space, too: Obsession has always been a close friend of depression: In psychology, fixation is used as an avoidance of other things.
At its most extreme, it's ruminative—it can take on a life of its own. There are real ties to the latter platform, Tumblr, and depression—escapist behaviors, warped ideas of reality—but a certain awareness to it, too.
They exist in the same space. Unlike straightforward fandom, these are the folks who believe in a certain delusion: Then there are three other stages. When 1D announced its hiatus, a screenshot of a morning program in Australia made the rounds online, outlining how parents should react to certain behaviors in their kid post-1D. Never underestimate the depths of adolescent emotion 2.
Encourage them to self-talk themselves through the process: No one has died. What could happen next for the band? Will they all pursue solo careers? Use this loss as a teachable moment. Why You Should Listen It was truly an instruction manual on how to walk your child through the grieving process of losing your favorite band, but also of experiencing grief in general—validating the sort of emotional response inherent in fandom.
From being diagnosed as hysterics to taking ownership of passion to eventually transforming the object of desire as in, inspiring post-One Direction group 5 Seconds of Summer to write songs about the depression and anxiety they feel , fandom has proven itself an impenetrable force. One Direction's Evolution in 25 Pics Let's take a look back at the guys' incredible and sickeningly cute journey from 'The X Factor' hopefuls to the biggest boy band in the world More Galleries.