BH Discuss: What is a healthy fan/idol relationship?
We’re launching a new weekly feature. Each week will highlight an interesting issue or debate and then we will ask you discuss it with us and each other in the comments. We hope this will start some interesting discussions. So please join in the debate!
When news broke this week that Infinite member L might be in a relationship with ulzzang Kim Do Yeon, there were some fairly extreme reactions from people in the Infinite fandom. With talks of ‘betrayal’ for leading fans on over Twitter, scathing attacks on the woman in question’s appearance and personality and exclamations of a ruined career, some of the behaviour exhibited seems a little unhinged. In real life, behaviour like this in the aftermath of a serious breakup might be enough to get the ‘crazy ex-girlfriend’ label but here we are talking about a reaction to the behaviour of someone that the vast majority of these people probably haven’t even met.
Other idols have also been showing the strain of overly intense fandom with EXO’s Tao having this to say on his weibo profile:
I really cannot stand the calls that come in the middle of the night; the endless kakaotalk messages. No matter where I go, there is always someone lurking around me; what’s the whole point? I absolutely hate people who disturb my private life! I like to go shopping, eat and meet my friends, but I do not like the fact that someone is following me; I am not a criminal! Is it a crime to step out of the house and go outside?! I just want to rest, have my own private time after work. But as of now, it doesn’t seem possible!
EXO are known for having a particularly obsessive fandom with fans having taken pictures of them asleep on planes, physically assaulted them and supposedly even recorded Tao singing in the shower (the link is here but it’s very creepy). This has come to the point where it seems to be having a serious impact on the wellbeing of the group.
But even if obsessive fan behaviour is not having a direct impact on the idols, can it have a negative impact on the fans themselves?
Can an extreme infatuation with a particular group cause lower self-esteem? Does a fascination with the relationship dynamics of the group (often in the form of shipping) affect someone’s ability to have good relationships themselves? Can fanwars and competition between fans cause an unnecessary amount of stress?
Fandom can be somewhere where individuals can find friendship and belonging and express their creativity (through fan art and fanfiction) but is it healthy?
What do you think a healthy fan/idol relationship looks like? What can fans do to make sure they participate in fandom in a way that damages neither them nor their idols?
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So discuss in the comments and let us know what you think!