J-14 In­ves­ti­gates:

Stan Cul­ture

J-14 - - Contents -

Pic­ture this: You’re go­ing about your nor­mal day when you get word that some­one broke into your home, used your things, then took a nap in your bed. Sounds crazy, right? Well, for Tay­lor Swift, this night­mare be­came a re­al­ity just a few months ago when an ob­sessed fan snuck into her house. The scari­est part? Tay­lor is only one per­son in a long list of celebri­ties who have dealt with this dark side of stan­ning, or ob­sess­ing over a par­tic­u­lar celebrity. While stan cul­ture has be­come in­creas­ingly com­mon and can be per­fectly healthy, there is a blurry line be­tween ap­pro­pri­ate and in­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­ior. To bet­ter un­der­stand the dis­tinc­tion, we en­listed the help of Dr. Donna Rock­well — a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist in pri­vate prac­tice who spe­cial­izes in fame and celebrity psy­chol­ogy.

WHY WE STAN

You’ve prob­a­bly used, or at least heard the word stan be­fore. But what ex­actly causes us to stan? “Our mind will fo­cus on what­ever is put be­fore it, so if we are liv­ing in a celebrity cul­ture, it’s very easy to get ab­sorbed into that men­tal­ity,” Dr. Rock­well ex­plains. “There is this ten­dency to glom onto an im­age that the me­dia is pro­ject­ing for us, and we can be­come ob­sessed with it.”

In ad­di­tion to this, stan cul­ture can be used as a men­tal get­away for many peo­ple. “It’s a great way to es­cape our ac­tual lives; we don’t have to look at what’s go­ing on in our own lives, and we can fix­ate on these other peo­ple’s lives,” Dr. Rock­well points out.

Be­lieve it or not, be­com­ing at­tached to a celebrity is in­cred­i­bly com­mon. A re­cent study on celebrity wor­ship — when some­one be­comes overly ob­sessed with the lives of a celebrity — in the gen­eral pub­lic found that one third of the pop­u­la­tion ex­hib­ited bor­der­line patho­log­i­cal lev­els of celebrity wor­ship. This patho­log­i­cal level is char­ac­ter­ized as go­ing be­yond the ob­ses­sion, to the point where it be­comes crim­i­nal and patho­log­i­cal be­hav­ior.

THE WARN­ING SIGNS

Dr. Rock­well makes it clear that con­nect­ing with a celebrity can cer­tainly be a pos­i­tive thing. “Peo­ple have some­one to look to and say, ‘These are the values that I find mean­ing­ful, and I want my life to look like that life,’ and it’s not a neg­a­tive thing to want to bet­ter our­selves,” she tells J-14. But there are also clear in­di­ca­tors that some­one is cross­ing into un­safe ter­ri­tory. “Spend­ing way too much time read­ing and think­ing about, watch­ing video clips of, lis­ten­ing to, or liv­ing in the life of an­other’s needs are all warn­ing signs,” Dr. Rock­well men­tions. So if you’re find­ing your­self be­com­ing overly ob­sessed to the point where you’re hav­ing trou­bling fo­cus­ing on your own re­al­ity, are fall­ing be­hind in school and are not eat­ing or sleep­ing all be­cause of a celebrity, then you should talk to a par­ent or a pro­fes­sional, Dr. Rock­well ad­vises.

STAN­NING SAFELY

Be­ing a stan can also mean go­ing above and be­yond for your fa­vorite celebrity, which can some­times re­sult in a per­son be­com­ing ag­gres­sive to­ward fan­doms out­side their own. But why does this hap­pen? “There is strength in num­bers,” Dr. Rock­well says. “When peo­ple feel that they’re not alone and that they are

rep­re­sent­ing a view that oth­ers also as­cribe to, a per­son can feel more em­pow­ered to give a voice.” When this oc­curs, it’s im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that there’s noth­ing wrong with stan­ning, but never do it at the cost of your own in­tegrity. Con­sider whether your be­hav­ior would make you wor­thy of be­ing stanned by oth­ers. “Keep your fo­cus on your own lives — you are the celebrity in your own ex­is­tence,” Dr. Rock­well in­sists. “See that you are the ac­tual celebrity in your life, and that celebri­ties are out there sim­ply as mod­els of po­ten­tial he­roes.”

An emo­tional fan waits on the BRIT Awards red car­petof to catch a glimpse Tay­lor Swift.tough Meet­ing fans can bea zoo for Justin. “I feel like an­i­mal,” he says. “Peo­pleme or won’t even say hi to rec­og­nize me as a hu­man.” “It’s hon­estly the most amaz­ing feel­ing know­ing that there’s this groupof peo­ple that has my back,” Tay­lor says of her Swifties. Justin’s in­ter­na­tional fans show their love and sup­port for him ata Nor­way con­cert.

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