On March 1, Taylor Swift posted a tweet criticizing a joke in an episode of Netflix’s Ginny & Georgia, a joke made at her expense. Twelve hours and half one million likes later, the final sentiment in regards to the remark was that Swift was in the proper for calling out a drained and misogynistic joke. And which will have been the top of that, besides that Taylor Swift’s followers reside on stan Twitter, and are a part of a rising development in utilizing social media to guard movie star favorites and assault anybody placing down the celebrities.
Every day on the web, new micro-trends emerge, solely to change into outdated information 5 minutes later. In Polygon’s new sequence The Next Generation of Everything, we’re taking a look at what’s blowing up within the worlds and fandoms we comply with, and what the most recent shifts say about the place Extremely Online life goes subsequent.
In this case, the article of Swifties’ anger wasn’t Ginny & Georgia creator Sarah Lampert or any of the chief producers on the present. Even the writers didn’t catch that smoke from Swift’s righteously offended fandom. Instead of going after anybody with significant energy over the way forward for the present, Swifties turned most of their anger towards 24-year-old Antonia Gentry, who performs Ginny. They’ve replied a whole bunch of occasions to Netflix’s Instagram and Twitter posts, in addition to to Gentry’s private accounts, telling her (and typically, bizarrely, the precise character) to apologize. The theme throughout the feedback is similar: Taylor Swift has been harmed, and it’s Gentry’s fault. While Gentry is accountable, partially, for the broadly panned “Oppression Olympics” clip that went viral on social media final month, she is just not answerable for the phrases her character says throughout the remainder of the sequence.
I’ve come throughout individuals spamming the feedback of her social media posts, telling Gentry to “respect Taylor Swift.” People are accusing Gentry instantly of misogyny and telling others to not watch Ginny & Georgia. A couple of have made overtly racist tweets. Even although Gentry isn’t credited as a author, a whole bunch of persons are demanding that she take accountability for the one “joke” on the present that they disagree with. Fueled by Taylor Swift’s public annoyance, these followers — and trolls pretending to be followers — really feel empowered to behave aggressively with a view to shield Swift’s repute. This is a standard day on stan Twitter, the place something goes to guard the article of followers’ parasocial relationships.
Hey Ginny & Georgia, 2010 referred to as and it needs its lazy, deeply sexist joke again. How about we cease degrading onerous working girls by defining this horse shit as FuNnY. Also, @netflix after Miss Americana this outfit doesn’t look cute on you Happy Women’s History Month I assume pic.twitter.com/2X0jEOXIWp
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) March 1, 2021
Parasocial relationships are emotional attachments to media figures, from bloggers and journalists to YouTubers and politicians, that type over an extended time frame and contain repeated engagement with the determine or their work. We have a tendency to think about parasocial relationships by way of how followers behave towards the movie star they’re fixated on — within the case of Real Person Fic (RPF), boundary-crossing exchanges on social media, and even the acute instances of followers stalking their celebrity favorite. The assumption is that stanning is an expression of hardcore love of celebrities. And whereas it could begin from a optimistic place, that fandom can and does go far in the other way.
In Swifties’ focused response to Gentry, in addition to their response to this tweet about Ashley Reese’s Jezebel essay (to say nothing of their harassment of a reviewer last July after Folkore’s release), we’re seeing the opposite facet of the stan coin: The fixation that drives followers to cross boundaries with a celeb they declare to like will also be geared toward detractors as weaponized vitriol.
Stan Twitter can come collectively to precise care — you may see that within the responses to Azealia Banks’ concerning social media posts final yr — however so typically at this time we see followers selecting aggression in response to any perceived menace in opposition to their fave. Take the apply of “clearing the searches,” a stan Twitter apply to cease sure matters from trending when individuals seek for movie star names throughout a scandal. However, followers don’t simply spam matters on their very own. If a celeb’s psychological well being is in a fragile state due to a reviewer or a producer, followers will flood the mentions of the “perpetrator” with set phrases (e.g., “Doja Cat funny,” “Han best rapper”) coupled with aggressive memes, insults, and even threats. One of the motivations behind all of that is the worry is that if the searches aren’t cleared, the movie star will see themselves trending with adverse phrases (e.g., “bullying,” “racist”).
Report accounts are social media accounts created by followers to report individuals who could also be dangerous to a given movie star, each to Twitter and to the movie star’s administration by way of a devoted electronic mail. These accounts may be for a complete group, for particular person artists or members of a bunch, or for an actor in a present or movie. The follower counts can vary from a mere 300 followers to over 30,000. All seven members of Okay-pop group BTS have a number of report accounts of their orbit — and that’s to say nothing of those devoted to the group as a complete. Notable report accounts have sprung up for everybody from GOT7 rapper Jackson Wang to the younger girls of Blackpink and Twice.
Fans who comply with report accounts get detailed explanations, and even templates, of what sorts of emails to jot down to the idols’ administration. They’re additionally informed methods to successfully mass-report tweets to get customers suspended. If the difficulty is with a public determine (like what we noticed with the racism geared toward BTS from German radio host Matthias Matuschik on the finish of February), followers are aimed within the path of their administration. Fans play web sleuth and floor with contact data for radio station managers. They tag journalists’ editors. They electronic mail different skilled contacts. (And sure, this will rely as a type of doxxing, as among the data these followers discover is just not simply discovered public data.)
While a few of these accounts goal individuals who unfold malicious rumors or assault a celeb with insults, a considerable amount of these accounts goal different followers. Despite fandom offering a neighborhood for individuals to attach over their curiosity in an artist, followers can and do activate each other instantly. They’re coming for individuals who write RPF, who draw fan artwork, who’ve criticized an aspect of the celeb’s craft, or who’ve made a joke a couple of movie star that will get taken the unsuitable approach. The “offenses” that may get an outsider marked for mass-reporting are not any much less forgivable if they arrive from an inside fan.
Stan Twitter is a type of fandom fueled by intense feelings (normally love or hate), and when there are not any outsiders to purpose their frustration at — a journalist, a DJ, an overt anti-fan — all of that power has to go someplace. Increasingly typically, it’s aimed within the path of different followers or, as we noticed with Swifties coming for Antonia Gentry, one other movie star caught on the unsuitable place on the unsuitable time.