The emergence of the social media and it’s ever spreading tentacles has transformed Earth in it’s entirety to a Global village. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many others provide boundaries and distance defying bridges uniting people of different Origins, backgrounds, Nationalities, class and Origin. The aspect of this phenomenon that we are concerned with is the narrowing of the gap between celebrity and fan. Thus leading to some sense of Familiarity and some times possession.
These Familiarity creates a deep connection. This sense of connection encouraged and bellowed the flames of “Stanship”. Stan is said to be a mix of “stalker” and “fan”.
The Stan culture existed before the social media and embedded itself in the entertainment industry since early 2000s. It all began from the greatest rapper of his time and arguably of all time Eminem releasing “Stan” in 2000. The song embodies a tale of a character Stan, who as the song progresses is portrayed as an obsessive fan who writes letters to Slim shady(his idol and Eminem’s alter ego). The first set of letters contain friendly, optimistic expectations of being acknowledged by slim but as the song goes on the next letters show a dangerously brewing upset and indignation at Slim’s persistent refusal to respond. In rage he ties his pregnant girlfriend,puts her “in the trunk of his car”, before driving off a bridge. Talk about being pushed off the edge! Eminem eventually responds informing Stan of his appreciation. Slowly, he however realizes that stan’s obsession actually leads to his and his girlfriend’s death. Damn!
Of course, Stan was at it’s inception synonymously used for overzealous and obsessive(I am using this word a lot more than I planned to) fans, two decades later it has grown into a badge of honour for committed fans devoted to the success of their chosen faves. These fanbases come with their International IDs : Stans for Eminem, Barbz for Nicki Minaj, 30BG for Davido,Wizkid fc for Wizkid(obviously),Icons for laycon, Outsiders for Burna Boy. The size and strength of these fanbases more often than not decide the trajectory of their favourite artistes. Potent examples are fans of the BTS who steamroll their way to awards and top spots on streaming platform, also the newly formed icons who handed laycon easy victory in a reality show and are sworn pillars of his budding musical career, he is surely going to smell his roses whilst he is alive.
The Artistes themselves are not aversed to the Stan culture as they also seem to understand that their relevance and strength is majorly based on the mere existence of loyal, determined great number of stans.
It’s a communism of mutual like minded loyalists. Poised on hyping and defending the flaws and crafts of who they Stan. A religion containing the two aspects of people. The extremists and the passive aggressive frats.It’s the perfect experiment for the human condition on belief behaviour. A theory for study.
Hence the regular shout-outs in choruses and concerts and a subtle riding of the current allowing stans to sometimes dictate their kind of music and it’s delivery.
Stans take up the responsibility of patrolling the social media streets for criticisms and pounce like hunting dogs laying waste to the critic.
Woes to anyone who dares to offer a contrary opinion about their beloved’s article or lifestyle, his mentions and comments would be riddled with foot soldiers. Peculiar groups have owned certain emojis and accounts with those emojis would move en masse to the offending critic. For fan bases, the potency of their online prescence is a flex. Overzealous ones go on to create multiple account with ridiculous usernames to supplement this huge prescence.
Seeing “nine as six” is unacceptable to them and there lies absolutely nothing you can do to argue, compliment or negotiate your Stand point. Sorta like devoted members to a Creed centered purely on the advancement of their chosen Artiste.
There is abounding evidence of the vile and violent nature of the Stan culture alongside the devotedness and commitment of the same culture, this the Stan jungle. The venomous, the vile, the wild, the peaceful, the notorious, the large, the small stans all cohabitating in the same online space. Busying themselves with unprovoked competition on hierarchy on the trend tables being grateful partners in a parasocial relationship with their celebrities.
Parasocial interaction (PSI) refers to a kind of psychological relationship experienced by an audience in their mediated encounters with performers in the mass media, particularly on television. Viewers or listeners come to consider media personalities as friends, despite having limited interactions with them
This is however not born out of premeditation but of deliberate indulgence and allegiance to stan culture.
Like in every culture, there are norms and customs of the Stan Jungle which must be heeded .