Lucy Blakiston: “If I was allowed to recommend a whole film about fandom here I would, but since I don’t want to take up TOO much of your time, an article about it will do. ‘Turning Red’ is probably the animated film I have felt the most seen in ever, purely because of the devotion the main character (Mei) and her friends felt towards the fictional band 4*Town. Aside from the great music (written by Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas who know a thing or two about the importance of fans), in ‘Turning Red’, fandom frees Mei from her self-doubt, it glues her and her friends together, and in the end, it shows you that there’s nothing wrong with getting emotional and loving things really hard.”
Die-hard fans know that multiple things can be true at once. You can be a Harry Styles fan and care about the ongoing protests in Iran. You can love Beyoncê and the environment. You can care deeply about a celebrity or movie or band and still be a functional and productive member of society. (Yes, that last one should be obvious to everyone, but you’d be surprised by how much vitriol us fans can stir up!)
For me, being a fangirl taught me so much that I should put it on my resume. I learned how to edit (thanks to reading typo-riddled fanfiction), photoshop (if I’m not going to meet Harry Styles I should at least be able to crop myself into one of his photos), build community online, make memes, and most importantly, feel part of something.
In fact, I co-founded and built a media company, Shit You Should Care About on the foundation of those skills. And I’m not alone: All over the world, people are taking the strengths they developed from a lifetime of fandom and applying that passion to their work, families, communities—you name it. Because sure, it’s easy to poke fun at fangirls, but we’re not bothered by the hate. We already know our energy is better spent elsewhere.
That’s why I’ve gathered some of my favorite pieces about fan culture, to cheer on my fellow fans (whether they stan rock stars or Wordle) and celebrate the ways the internet has helped drive that enthusiasm forward.
LB: “This is one of our very own episodes of Culture Vulture (our pop culture podcast) based on a piece of writing that I did, basically laying out everything that fandom has taught me, all the skills I was too scared to put on my resumé, the difference between how I was treated compared to my brothers (who liked sports) and how, until we started Sh*t You Should Care About I didn’t feel like I could make a career out of being a fan of things. Oh, how wrong I was!”
LB: “A defining (and disappointing, tbh) era of 2022 was the Harry Styles/Olivia Wilde/‘Don’t Worry Darling’ era, because it showed one of the worst sides of fandom. This piece, written by fandom expert Sacha Judd, looks at the dangers of feeling ‘ownership’ over a celebrity and their life - and how we respond when it doesn’t ‘fit’ our ideal reality (like when they date someone the internet decides isn’t worthy.) It’s an honest and objective look at the online ‘hate engine’ in action, from someone who’s a big fan of the people involved, and yes, it does talk about #spitgate.”
LB: “This essay starts off with: ‘It says … something about the human race that this time last year my Twitter feed was filled with live updates on the insurrection at the nation’s capital, but today is full of people feverishly tweeting their scores from Wordle.’ And goes on to make you think about WHAT exactly it says about the world. Does it say we’re ready for unification rather than fragmentation? Does it tell us that in a post-monoculture world, we were all excited to have a collective love for something again? Was it not that deep and we in fact just loved playing a silly little word game? To find out the answer, you should read this think piece about the Wordle fandom.”
LB: “A piece all about how fan edits are an art form? Yes please! If you scrolled my TikTok ‘For You’ page you’d see video after video of Harry Styles, Matty Healy, Kendall Roy from Succession - and not just their performances—mash-ups of them being moody/ steamy/ hot/ funny - you name it. What you wouldn’t see is the labor of love that goes into creating such edits, and the reaction and collective swoon they evoke in the viewer. And they’re not new! This piece talks about the evolution of the fan edit—from VHS to the FYP. They’re a love language - from the creator to me, from me to my fellow stans who I think would enjoy them, from us to the subject of the edit.”
LB: “While I’m the biggest advocate of being fans of things (and crushing deeply) it’s always important to note that there is a line. The internet is great because it allows celebrities to let you into their life a little bit more (if they want) by doing things like hosting live streams, jumping into group chats, or sharing their tumblr blogs. The internet is also NOT great, because this can lead some people to have incredibly strong parasocial (one-sided) relationships with their fave, which can lead to intense feelings of ownership. These parasocial relationships, coupled with the fact that everyone has a space to share their innermost thoughts (whether they are nice OR nasty) can be a recipe for disaster, as this piece investigates.”
Lucy runs Sh*t You Should Care About—an online media company—with her two best mates Rubes and Liv. Her goal is to help people make sense of the world around them by explaining the world in words we all use (and understand) and in a way that won’t leave you feeling down in the dumps!
How does she do this? She gets up each day at 5am to send out a daily newsletter, wrapping up the news of the day, she chats on their news podcast The Sh*t Show and pop culture podcast Culture Vulture, and of course, she posts on Instagram. She also has an extremely healthy obsession with Harry Styles.