Sep 17, 2021
We’re like family! The science of parakin relationships

Thanks to the reach provided by social media, fans can get closer to their idols than ever before. Canvas8 spoke to Dr. Fan Yang, an assistant professor of communication at the University at Albany, about the implications of the resulting parakin relationships for stars and brands.

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Lady Gaga has Little Monsters, Taylor Swift has Swifties, Nicki Minaj has Barbz, and Beyoncé has the Beyhive. Superfans, or ‘stans’, are often a celebrity’s infantry online. They initiate pile-ons when a reviewer posts a less than glowing review, nurture feuds with other celebrities, and even wield their influence on their idol themselves. [] Little Monsters, for example, managed to make a leaked Lady Gaga track go viral in 2020 before its release (much to the dismay of Gaga herself). [] Others are getting involved in their idols’ love lives – the #annamarietendler hashtag on TikTok has been viewed more than 13 million times after her ex, John Mulaney, revealed he and his new partner, Olivia Munn, were expecting a baby. Fans posted about being ‘triggered’ over the split and feeling overly emotional about the lives of famous people they don’t know and are likely to never meet. [] Some stans are also making decisions about celebrities’ careers. In China, actress and singer Mi Yang was due to take a leading role on a new TV show in 2019 – until her 106 million Weibo fans objected, leading her to resign shortly after. []