From TARDIS to Hobbits, from bishonen to Maroon 5’s next album release, there is no denying the existence of fangirls and their respective fandoms. They have taken over the internet with websites and social media accounts dedicated to a person, a movie, or a book, and it is imperative that this phenomenon is here to stay.
Fangirling, in all its glory, has multiple meanings, depending on the context. Some define fangirling as a one-way relationship with someone and, on a subconscious level, believing in the reciprocation of affection. Others define fangirling as an intense involvement or an act of displacement or temporary relief from psychological distress.
However, most of the time it is defined as a form of expressing deep fondness, a wave of emotion that comes over a person when they are stimulated by the sight, sound, or idea of the object of affection.
Amidst all the screams, OTP’s, and asdfghjkl’s, why is it that these devoted aficionados freak out when their objects of affection do something that they don’t agree with?
A person needs to keep all their beliefs consistent to avoid mental discomfort. When that consistency is disturbed by an act that is undesirable or inconsistent/in conflict with their expectation, the discomfort they experience is called cognitive dissonance. A person experiences cognitive dissonance as a result of the excessive mental stress and discomfort experienced when confronted with new information that conflicts with their existing beliefs.
This is the reason why some fangirls all but curl into a ball and cry when a beloved character from a movie dies or when a pop idol does something indecent in public, like a simple fart for example. This disrupts the image the person has built of the object of affection, and it causes mental distress. The actions cited are physical manifestations of the distress.
Usually, to solve the stress the brain undergoes, the person must decide on what to do, and most of the time it’s supposedly the option that takes the least amount of mental effort. That can be anything to anyone, from tweeting to ranting to a friend; to just shrugging the entire thing off. It depends on how the person copes with stress.
An example of this is what happened to the Lostprophet’s front man Ian Watkins. As with every other artist, the Welsh band had started small back in 1997, but over the course of the band’s run it had garnered a pretty big fanbase worldwide. It was not until 2012 that Lostprophets reached controversy. Their lead singer, Ian Watkins was charged with 13 sexual offenses to young children, which included a one-year-old girl. The world was shocked by the revelation, and by late 2013 Watkins was sentenced to 29 years in prison, plus 6 years on an extended license. In the aftermath of the controversy, people, fan and non-fan alike, have expressed their distaste for the singer.
One writer wrote that he felt he was being judged because he was listening to a song by the band, when in fact maybe he just had the song louder than the passersby would have liked it to be. That kind of reaction is the writer’s brain undergoing stress because something that he believed was okay to listen to in public before was debunked into a source of the anxiety. Later on the writer defended the band and its music, saying that what we do, despite the reputation of the singer, is entirely up to us. And I totally agree.
Fangirling, in its purest sense, is just a way for us to portray our utmost support for someone or something. However, like everything else, it can have both positive and negative aspects. It can be a source of camaraderie, or a cause of added stress. All in all, fangirling is inevitable in such a close-knit society, its just a matter on how to properly handle the “feels.”
Brown, D. (2014, February 18). The Science of Fangirling [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVJRGUlZUEs
Gibson, K. L. (2013, September 17). Are fangirls dangerous? Retrieved from http://www.personal.psu.edu/afr3/blogs/siowfa13/2013/09/are-fangirls-dangerous.html
Lostprophets. (n.d.). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved August 9, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lostprophets
Pereyo, H. (2013, November 8). Fangirling dissected. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/haley-pereyo/fandom-meaning_b_3890201.html
Watson, O. J. (2014, January 17). The Lostprophets are not a lost cause. The Tab [Cambridge]. Retrieved from http://cambridge.tab.co.uk/2014/01/17/the-lostprophets-are-not-a-lost-cause/
Edited by: Zoe