Discussion of suicide, murder, threats of violence, and self harm.
So I admit that call myself a “literary stan” in my social media bios.
And that I identify as a Beyoncé stan (Beyhive stand up!).
And that I have overall dabbled in “stan culture”, the descriptor for digital communities that idolize celebrities on an extreme level (the first webpage I’ve built was a stan page for Angelica Ross). “Stans” are named after a persona that Eminem took up in a song of the same name, spinning a story through fan mail, where one of his more extreme fans had progressed into a violent, homicidal-suicidal rage after waiting too long with no response from Em. And while the violence of stan culture has definitely scaled back from murder and suicide depicted in the “Stan” song and music video, it doesn’t cancel out the everyday violent behavior that it makes room for (anyone remember # Cut4Bieber?).
Your interaction with Stan Twitter usually goes like this:
1. You twote a tweet, probably involving an opinion on a prominent celebrity, most likely naming them
2. In your mentions, a profile with the celebrity’s photo and a handle referring to said celebrity appears
3. Your mentions may or may not blow up with accounts of various photos and handles dedicated to the same celebrity
4. You wonder how these people even found you and maintain your opinion on said celebrity because you’re a grown up and this is Twitter (it’s because they spend hours searching their idol’s name and you spoke their idol’s name)
5. Your account receives threats, backlash, and replies written in really janky AAVE (African American Vernacular English) & misplaced vocabulary that originated in Black queer communities and you wonder who the fuck they are talking to
6. You may or may not end up with your account suspended or doxxed when you ask them who the fuck they are talking to
6-ish. Alternatively, you block them and depending on how bad the Stan Attack was you might decide to never speak of that celebrity on that app again
“How bad is that bad?” you ask.
If you’re lucky you’ll run into K-Pop stans who’ll just put videos of their favorite group under literally ANYTHING and tell you to stream. But historically the Barbz (Nicki Minaj stans), are notorious for threatening to jump people, while our very fave, Beyhive usually takes to Instagram by decorating the comments section of Bey’s enemies with the 🐝emoji. # Cut4Bieber was carried by the Beliebers way back in 2013 (started by 4chan trolls), in response to knowing that Justin Bieber smoked weed. So the answer is pretty fucking bad.
There’s also a trend that started with many stans who will have a photo of their fave as their profile pic. This is no problem if there wasn’t one of those really strange things that happen with the internet happening called “digital blackface”.
Here’s a video that can explain it quicker than I can, holla at me when you’re done.
Okay, done? Forreal? You get it? Cool, let’s review.
Blackface is the practice of costuming yourself as a Black person using charcoal or dark face makeup. Used in minstrel shows, it’s got a really ugly history that persists to this day.
Digital blackface is a practice costuming your internet persona as a Black person using GIFs, language, and occupying spaces. Because the language in Black queer communities is beautiful, colorful, efficient and expressive, it’s widely admired.
Enter Stan Twitter.
“YASSSS Queen.” “Okay bet.” “Now sis….” “I’m GAGGING” etc. etc. etc.
Now combine that with the fact that a lot of the celebrities that Stan Twitter is centered around are women of color, particularly Black women (although K-Pop stans are quite the army). This is further complicated with how we hold Black women to an impossibly high standard of being.
You know, Beyoncé’s flawlessness, Rihanna’s slayage, Cupcakke’s electrifying looks. The praise is beautiful until you consider the psychological and physical effects of that standard.
Beyoncé internalized it in her womb, having birth complications with her twins. Cupcakke was hiding suicidal thoughts because she felt obligated to be this upbeat, goofy personality all the time. Whenever an artist deviates from the standard or is caught in between stan wars, they get nit picked.
Now imagine that.
A bunch of non-Black people performing digital blackface, rebranding Black queer culture as “stan culture”, while nitpicking at Black women celebrities and publicly berating Black women for something as simple as disagreeing.
It’s convenient for people who actively participate in misogynoir to participate in stan culture.
(Misogynoir is a term that alters the word misogyny, a hatred of women to define the hatred of Black women prevalent in dominant culture.)
Non-Black Twitter fingers typing out “drag her sis” and all the harsh insults that comes with dragging someone doesn’t sit right with me.