There comes a time in almost every music fans life, where they become uberfans. You know the type: The ones that plaster their walls with their posters, or refuse to listen to any other band than ‘theirs’. They’re the ones that scrawl the bands name on every single book, piece of furniture, and even public property they can see. They’re the ones that cut their hair, change their style, and even choose their partners based on what their music tastes are, and if they like ‘the’ band.
Uber-fandom isn’t just a phenomenon that’s occurred since the popstars of the late 80s and 90s, however. This is a ritual that has been dating back to the 60s and 70s, with folk-funk group Grateful Dead. The band of which gained an absolutely massive following due to the diverse spectrum of music that they played, and their excessive touring which could take years at a time to complete one leg. Their fans, definitely started the uber fandom league.
The “Dead Heads” were a group that would follow the bands port to port, watching them play, spreading their word, and recruiting even more members to their group. Some would consider it mildly creepy, and somewhat cult-ish, however they simply had a case of fandom. The Dead Heads are still active, as members of the band still tour (albeit, not all together) under different aliases, to ensure that they’re only playing for their fans.
These types of people could easily be summed up by one film: Almost Famous. The Cameron Crowe flick, starring Kate Hudson, follows the life of a ‘band-aid‘, a person who simply adores the band, and is around to provide muse services, as well as company and entertainment. The film documents several obsessive fans, including one young gentleman who becomes so terribly excited by the thought of seeing David Bowie he almost collapses.
Then in the 80s, the Duranees started. These were a group of people, fascinatingly enough mostly women, who would also follow Duran Duran around, country to country, watching them play. At last year’s V Festival in Australia, Duran Duran played to a crowd of generally older women. It was easy to see that the Australian chapter of the Duranees was still going strong, and taking over a good portion of the punters at the festival.
The 90s of course brought the super pop groups. Think of Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, and the like. With legions of female and male fans, the uber fandom had just begun. With dozens of magazines being distributed on a monthly basis containing entirely posters of the band, obsessive picture asphyxiation was not in shortage.
Fandom in the Noughties
But what about now? In this new century, what kind of fandom are we witnessing?
In a rather obvious trend over the past three years, it’s seen the commercialisation of “emo” music turning from an underground indie institution and moving towards a more fashionable and punk genre. Through this turn, a band called My Chemical Romance emerged from the ashes, rejuvinating an old genre, as well as refreshing fandom to new levels. The Black Parade was not just a highest selling album for the band, it was also the name of their mass amounts of fans who would all copy their dress and follow them across the world.
The Black Parade consisted heavily of girls in their teenage years, who rather enjoyed their black garb, running eyeliner, and severely bleached hair with black highlights.
This would be considered a tribe situation, in which like minded members of a community with a main focus on one institution would band together, copy dress and almost form an entirely different community within themselves.
Then of course, fan fiction comes into detail. Fan fiction started off rather innocently, with fictional stories taking place between the author and their object of affection. What used to be small stories about meeting the band, or playing with them took some turn towards kinky town, and now is mostly about sex.
Go to Google, type in your favourite band, followed by fanfiction, and be amazed at how many stories and forums are dedicated to raunchy stories and encounters between band members and fans. Something that used to be a private moment inside someone’s head, is now entirely public and out there – the oversexualisation of the world could be blamed for this. Or it’s just the prevalence of fandom and the ease of access of the internet.
Probably the most intriguing of all fandom groups are the Juggalos. The Juggalos are a group of people who follow the genre defying band Insane Clown Posse. Insane Clown Posse, fit perfectly with their name, causing chaos while having their faces painted entirely in clown makeup. A nightmare for most, is considered an amazing group for the Juggalos.
The obsessive compulsive tendencies of the Juggalos has reached almost God-like proportions with a daily set of rules, meetings and dress to be followed, rather like a religious institution. They even have a sacred item – the lotus flower. They move in packs, they are easily noticeable and flock towards other fans.
If you’re intrigued, or just in need of a bit of a giggle, go to Youtube or Google and type in Juggalos. It’s almost fascinating and terrifying at the same time – I guarantee hours of time spent looking them up.
Regardless of genre and prevalence of the band, there is surely no end to fandom. Once there is an item of value worth attaching to, that’s exactly what’s going to happen. When music influences your life as much as it does, it’s easy to get drawn into it, and let it take over your life.
It’s time for my confession – I am deeply, heavily, a Nine Inch Nails fangirl. Although, i’ve limited myself to one poster, no hilarious makeup, and tend to move away from the stereotype, i’ll always be a NIN girl at heart.