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Twitter and Fan Culture - Cancelling your Fave?

Has Coronavirus and the BLM movement proven that maybe your favourite stars aren't everything you thought they were?

I originally was going to write a piece on Twitter culture and how having a fan account should be celebrated. However, because of recent events, I want to explore what it feels like when you have to "cancel" the celebrities that you admire or look up to.

This came about as an actor that I have loved and supported for years reacted badly on social media following a tweet they made about BLM and the police. It was so strange to see this person that I have admired for most of my teen years behave in an almost childlike way to well-constructed responses from fans about the importance of educating yourself about systemic racism and the police system. It took a couple of days for the actor to realise that they were in the wrong and they tweeted a reply saying that they were going to listen more and educate themself about BLM. They recognised their mistakes but there was no apology for the ill behaviour towards fans.

All of this sat really funny with me and I was unsure of how to feel.

I was angry. Angry about the fact that the actor acted in such an ugly way towards the people who had supported them and put money in their back pocket for years. I was angry about the fact that they didn't apologise or show any remorse to those who had received the backlash. And, like with any notable figure, I was angry about the fact that some dismissed the issue completely.

Don't get me wrong, from what I could see, the majority of their followers agreed with me and identified that the star was at fault. In a classic Twitter fandom fashion, it was written in a secret code of sorts, with people hiding the celebrity's name with asterisks or describing the events without having to name the party involved. Of course, that is what Twitter is all about - sharing your opinion with the world in a much more formulated way than you could with say Instagram or TikTok. This also allowed a greater discussion about the event itself and the conversation was truly flowing. It was really interesting to see how many others in my little fandom bubble had mixed feelings about it all.

It's been less than a week since this all happened and the final outcome was that I felt that I didn't want to support this person anymore. I didn't want to associate myself with them. I devoted so much of my time (and money sometimes) to them. It felt (and still feels) completely soul-crushing when one of the people I believed could do no wrong messed up in such a huge way.

I obviously don't hate this person. Hate always seemed like such a strong and harmful word in my book. But I certainly don't see them as the person they once were.

They were one of my heroes: being a political activist and continuously standing up for important rights. But now my opinion of them has changed. I feel foolish when I think about how much of an impact this person had in my life and now I can't look at them in the same way.

The silver lining to this story is that I know I am not the only one who feels let down by their "faves". J.K. Rowling's behaviour on Twitter towards Trans people in the last couple of days, for example, has caused a huge uproar in not only the Harry Potter community but across the world. Lea Michele might not be the angel that she has always appeared to be. The BLM movement also has shown the true colours of many celebrities. Not only in terms of past actions but also in active engagement with the cause and ensuring that they use their powerful outlet to educate their followers.

Our current climate of isolation and disarray has shown that stars and those endowed with fame perhaps aren't what they cracked up to be. At this point in time, the majority of the world is stuck in the same situation so allowing celebrities to experience the same sense of normality as the rest of us might have damaged the job title entirely. Despite the glitz and glamour of the business, I think that we sometimes forgot that these people are just like us - that they are human and nobody is perfect (unless we are talking about Zendaya, I mean the woman can do no wrong).

So feeling upset or angry about the fact that figures you have idolised for years have let you down is completely ok. Letting go of these people is normal. Change and growth is a standard part of life. I like to think that you go through phases throughout your lifetime and there will only be a small number of people, whether they be a physical part of your life or not, that you will always be supportive of and admire.

There are many celebrities I could name who, in the last few months, I have seen in a completely different light. So the one thing that I ask is for you to follow and support people who will fight for rights and actively work to inspire change in our complicated world. For me, one of those people is Ariana Grande: not only because she is my ultimate fave but because she has always encouraged and fought for a variety of important issues. She is just one of the many people I look up to and there are plenty of others, especially during BLM.

I understand that having a connection to a star or notable figure isn't an integral part of life but it's something that happens to everyone at some point. Make sure that these people are working hard to ensure that the world is a positive place for everyone, irrespective of race, sexuality, religion or faith.

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