When Fandom Goes Too Far

Fandom is one of the most important parts of art. Without it, artists lose one of the biggest reasons to create. The impact that fandom has is so immense that entire organizations have been created around organizing them. Fans can be supportive, loving, and much more. Being a fan is a great thing, but like anything, it can go too far. However, there are fans that take their love too far. They can love an artist so much that they will defend them against all actions. They can gatekeep art from anyone who wants to become a part of its community. They can even take their love so far that it attacks the art itself.

A good fan will be supportive of their favorite art, but they won’t follow it into the depths of hell. Take an artist like Kendrick Lamar. His first major album, Section .80, was such a hit that gave him a small but dedicated fan base. Soon after, he created his critically acclaimed breakout album, 2012’s, Good Kid Maad City. The album was so monumental, he instantly became one of the most popular artists in the world. To this day, he continues to be one of, if not the world’s best rappers. His fans continue to support him to make new music out of his comfort zone, as seen with his newest project, Mr. Morale And The Big Steppers. This is how a fan base should operate. They are supportive and always want him to continue to make music.

Not all fans are created equal though. One of the most rabid fanbases are those that defend an artist like it’s their one goal in life. Artists like Travis Scott and Kanye West have fanbases like these.

Travis Scott undeniably is one of the most successful rappers on the planet. He has released hit after hit, starting with the outstanding, Rodeo. When it comes to Travis Scott, the tragedy at the Astroworld concert shows the toxicity his fans can have. For those unaware, the tragedy at Astroworld refers to an event at one of Travis’ heavily populated concerts where nine people were crowd crushed and sadly died, while the concert continued for another thirty-seven minutes. It’s up for debate whether the blame falls on Travis alone, however, when some fans insist that what happened sucked, but it wasn’t his fault at all and refuse to listen to anything else. It has been proven that an artist can stop a concert at anytime. A perfect example of this would be when Dave Grohl stopped his concert to prevent a child from dying the same way everyone in Astroworld did. Like stated before, it is debatable whether all the blame falls on Scott, and thankfully nothing like this has happened at a Travis concert since then. The problem with defending is more than the controversy surrounding him, it’s that rabid defending turns people away from Travis’s music.

The other man that has a fanbase like that is Kanye West. Kanye West needs no introduction, he has been one of the biggest faces on the planet for almost twenty years since his first studio album 2004’s The College Dropout. Controversy and Kanye West are almost a packaged deal at this point. Some of West best-known controversies include, interrupting Taylor Swifts acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV VMA Awards, calling himself a living god, proclaiming his support for President Trump, his toxic relationship with Kim Kardashian, his very many Instagram and Twitter rants, and his recent antisemitic attacks. Though Kanye hasn’t done anything on the level of Astroworld, his many controversies end up doing the same thing, and those defending them turn people away because they get this picture of him and his fans that looks like if Andrew Tate became a successful rapper.

Beyond that fans that get too attached to an artist, there are fans that get too attached to the idea of being a fan of the artist. This often leads to becoming a gatekeeping fan. Good examples of this are artists like Drake.

Drake’s fanbase is a lot more complicated. They don’t gatekeep Drake himself so much as they gatekeep his newer releases. Up until 2015’s If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, Drake’s music is very beloved. However after 2016’s Views, his music has been plagued with mixed reviews. That’s where his toxic fans come in. They believe that the people that the people who dislike his newer releases only dislike it because they can’t understand it because they haven’t been Drake followers for as long as they have. Obviously this turns people away because they feel unwelcomed into the community.

The two types of fans listed before both indirectly hurt the artist by making them lose potential fans. The last group directly attack the artist. The most relevent example being The Weeknd.

The most recent example of that type of fanbase are the fans of The Weeknd. During one of the concerts in the After Hours Till Dawn Tour the Weeknd lost his voice after three songs. After going backstage and discovering he can no longer give the audience the show he wanted to give them, he went back on stage and directly addressed the audience. He apologized to the audience and directly told them that he would give full refunds and would reschedule the concert. After his address to the audience, he was booed of the stage. Obviously there is cause for disappointment, but when he can no longer perform, it is an overreaction to have an outburst like that.

Ultimately, fandom is an amazing thing that can elevate an artist from the underground to the mainstream and bring them incredible success. But when fandom goes too far be it gatekeeping, worshipping, or attacking the artist themselves always ends up hurting the artist and ruining the art.