IS SOCIAL MEDIA FINANCING IDOLISM?
▶ Foreigners in Shanghai discuss the intense culture of superstar fandom
Chinese-Canadian rapper Kris Wu made headlines after dominating the top of the charts on iTunes and beating American pop-singers Ariana Grande and Lady
Gaga with seven new songs in the top-10 earlier in November. It turned out that
the majority of Wu’s songs were downloaded by devoted Chinese fans who made multiple purchases per person just to support their beloved idol, thereby sending the iTunes algorithms into bumping the songs up into the top tier.
Chinese fans are famously fanatical about their favorite idols. In addition to the usual likes, shares and comments of Chinese idols’ posts on social media, they are also willing to spend their own hard-earned money to help boost an idol’s ranking on the pop charts.
But what about foreign fans? Do they act so crazily to support their favorite superstars? The Global Times recently hit the streets in Shanghai to chat with some foreigners about their opinions toward fandom and idol worship.
Nills from Germany admitted that he is a fan of some celebrities, especially athletes.
“They have a good influence on me. They have something I can look up to,” Nills said.
Jule from Germany said she is also a fan of certain musicians and actors. But she thinks modern fandom is not really different from in the past.
“People always admire other people, see them as their inspiration,” Jule said. “But today it’s easier to follow people on social media.”
Canadian national Andrew said he is a fan of professional sport stars, but he thinks modern fandom is a little crazy.
“It’s out of proportion. There are more people deserving of more attention than many other people who have attention. People are doing things in China and elsewhere that maybe are not getting as much credit as people on social media doing their hair and very frivolous things that are not very meaningful to people’s lives,” Andrew told the Global Times.
Valentina from Russia said she is a big fan of figure skating and she follows all international figure skating athletes.
“The fan industry nowadays is evolving, so that they even can financially support celebrities,” said Valentina. “For example, fans now can directly send money online to them.”
Mattia from the US said he is a huge fan of basketball celebrities.
“There’s now the social media so you feel more connected to the stars. It’s awesome and it’ll be more awesome in the future,” Mattia said.
The craziest behavior
Like Chinese fans who often go a bit crazy when showing their affection and support to
idols, foreigners also have some mad actions.
“If you go back to the time when Justin Bieber was still a big thing, where people were waiting outside for him just to get a picture, like stopping cars trying to get some attention. That’s really crazy. It goes too far. Especially young girls and young men,” Nills said.
Jule said that she has never experienced anything like this herself, but it is very familiar with reading on the internet that people follow their celebrity crushes everywhere or stalk them on the internet.
“I think it’s a bit too much,” Jule told the Global Times.
“If you want to be famous, you also have crazy people following you. It’s kind of the consequences of life,” Jule added.
Andrew thinks people are just “overreacting and screaming and crying over celebrities and singers.”
During Valentina’s teenage years, she was faithfully following figure skating competitions.
“Probably the craziest behavior was, after the event we were waiting for them trying to ask to take picture together. I don’t think it was something very unusual. I think all fans do that, because they want to interact with a celebrity,” Valentina said.
Supposing our interviewees themselves were celebrities, would they prefer if fans were more rational?
Mattia said that if he was a basketball superstar, he would love for his fans to get crazy about him and do crazy things. “It would be awesome,” Mattia said.
Jule prefers more rational fans and thinks that’s what everyone would say. Andrew also prefers fans who are a little bit more calm and realistic. “People should see you as a real person as opposed to someone above them,” Andrew said.
Valentina also prefers fans who are levelheaded. “Of course I don’t like someone interfering in my personal life. But at the same time fans can create an interesting environment around a celebrity, and help promote and engage more people,” Valentina said.
Nills prefers fans who are not too nuts. “I think it’s a lot of pressure for those celebrities because you have fans who look up to you, admire you and worship you. For me as a person, I wouldn’t like a lot people always observing me, watching whatever I do and judging me,” Nills said.
With the prosperity of social media, people feel more connected to their idols.
Andrew Jule Mattia