Name That Fandom!

I heard on the radio the other day that Lorde isn’t interested in naming her fans. She thinks that labeling an entire community just because they support your music is her choosing to define her fans. (From what I gather… admittedly, radio celebrity news is really poorly fact-checked and generally from extremely questionable sources.)

It’s just a bit of an interesting idea though me, because…since when have celebrities been the ones naming their fanbase? Granted, I can’t pretend to know the history of fandom development, especially the seemingly more celebrity-driven communities of bandom.
Some celebrities do name their fans – Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, to name a few. For a counter-example, however is David Krumholtz (of fame from The Santa Clause and Numbers) whose fans dubbed themselves the S.D.K.G. – the Slobbering David Krumholtz Groupies. Benedict Cumberbatch, whose fans have made a name for themselves through being particularly committed to creating online content, have named themselves Cumberbitches, which is a name that has the misfortune of making Benedict so uncomfortable he has refused to use the term in conjunction with his fans.

It’s just that a community of fans is…a community. As a community, there is a desire to have ingroup/outgroup distinction. That’s how people work. The way we feel included is by holding specific knowledge or shared experience that can only be understood from the viewpoint of someone on the inside. “Us And Them” can be a very alienating phrase, but the antithesis of that alienation is inclusion and belonging.

I think it will be interesting to watch this develop, because currently, being a fan of something can carry a great deal of weight when it comes to personal identity. I understand why a celebrity would not want to name their fans, but in this case, when the celebrity has made a clear statement about the intentions behind that decision, now the question is “how will that affect the fandom identity?”. Will they go a route of attempting to honour her position, or will the fandom take the single most basic step towards identity by creating a name.

Oh, internet. You’re so full of interesting things.

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2 thoughts on “Name That Fandom!

  1. This is really an interesting thought. I get where Lorde comes from but she defines a name for a fanbase like judging them when it is actually just a name for a team. As a celebrity it is easier for you to refer as ‘something’ to your fans and it creates a special, intimate atmosphere.
    Because it is free of all judgement and completely voluntary to join a certain fandom I don’t think it’s a bad thing. But I have alot of respect for her choice which she makes at an remarkably young age.

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    • It is kind of a team name, I like that analogy. I think you’re right about a name creating a more intimate atmosphere (it also just makes it a lot easier to address your fans, which, in the age of social media, is a lot more of a direct interaction than it perhaps used to be).

      I totally agree with you about the respect factor though. She hasn’t even graduated yet, and she is suddenly a world-wide commodity. She is being asked “What will you call your fans?” and it’s not a choice she wants to make. (I don’t think she should have to make it, either. Fans really do name themselves.)

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