Thursday, 7 June 2012
ARTICLE: The Problem With 'Stans'...
In the years since Eminem's infamous hit Stan was released, the term the rap juggernaut coined has since become synonymous with the qualities mentioned in the track itself: obsession, irrationality and implied illiteracy. The internet has since become overrun with denizens who proudly proclaim their 'stan' allegiance; most often given to the most popular female artists of today - Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Rihanna, though Nicki Minaj is now gaining stans as quickly as she does fast-food hits.
Do not be under the assumption that only the most popular artists have stans. Indeed, even alleged 'has-beens' the likes of Ashanti, Ameriie (the extra 'i' seeming to stand for her admittedly ill-deserved 'irrelevancy') and Christina Milian. One even encounters those who stan for models and video vixens.
Essentially, questionable though their reasons for 'stanning' for a particular artist or celebrity might be, 'stans' will do their best to justify those reasons and uphold the perceived achievements of those they 'stan' for.
However, with that often crazed allegiance comes some serious issues; several of which this article intends to discuss as well as the 'stanbases' that best exemplify each.
One of the problems many stans have is their inability to accept facts. Indeed, it is a well known fact that, even when presented with undeniable proof (be it statistics, articles or the view of the general public on a particular issue), a stan will adamantly hold on to their misinformed opinion. This is often best seen with the much-maligned Christina stans, or the Fighters, as they call themselves. Many maintain that the pop star has sold in excess of 80 million albums worldwide, when, in reality, the number is a lot closer to 50 million. Yes, the number is still commendable, but it is far from the claims of Ms Aguilera's stans.
Yet, despite the credibility of the media outlets that have affirmed such numbers as being factual, the Fighters appear to lack to the ability to accept that. They will argue vehemently that those numbers are wrong; despite the fact that they have no proof to the contrary.
But it would be unfair to imply that only the Fighters are guilty of this. Just a short while ago, The Unassigned came across an Aaliyah stan who insisted that the tragically deceased star had sold over sixty million records. This was despite the fact that he or she had no proof of these numbers and, when provided with evidence to the contrary, showed symptoms of BHAWS ('Banging Head Against the Wall' Syndrome - where a stan demonstrates an adamant refusal to accept facts or statistics that are seen to 'denigrate' their favourite artist/celebrity's achievements).
The Navy is also an example of this. Many are found claiming that Little Miss Sunshine has sold over 160 million records, despite the fact that that is both unrealistic and irrational. For with her current album sales floating under the 30 million mark, unless Rihanna has sold at least 130 million singles, it is impossible for her to have met this number. In fact, Rihanna's sales are a reported 85-90 million. Respectable, yes, but definitely not anywhere near the ridiculously high number the Navy at large is promoting.
However, a refusal to accept facts is not the only issue all stans have in common. One of the worst attributes stans possess is the inability to argue logically. Indeed, one only has to venture over to Twitter or the comment section on Youtube to witness this. Often, when presented with the aforementioned undeniable facts, stans will jump to another point or refer to another perceived achievement of the artist in question, without addressing the issue at hand. Or, they display an inability to follow a logical strain of thought, choosing instead to fall into the abusive and insulting methods of the stupid and foolish.
Another problem that stans commonly possess is the fact that they do not seem to remember that almost everything that their favourite is currently doing, has been done before by previous generations. They forget that artists the likes of Michael and Janet Jackson, Madonna, Aretha Franklin, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Prince and Tina Turner, have all garnered similar or greater achievements than those of today. In fact, it is arguable that barely any of today's acts will see the career heights that the aforementioned. Yet, their stans will argue vehemently to the contary, professing that not one artist has done what their favourite has or will do.
And, while it is true that 'nothing on this earth is original', it is clear that certain things were indeed invented by previous generations of artists and reused by today's. Video treatments, photo shoots, song structures; all these things and more were launched into the mainstream by the likes of Madonna and Michael Jackson. It is arguable that without the current pop culture that those two iconic artists created, many of today's acts would not exist for, much of what this generation's biggest stars are famous for is either influenced by or taken directly from the aforementioned. But this is something that stans of certain artists have yet to learn or appreciate.
In particular, the Monsters are most guilty of this. Many insist that Lady Gaga is completely original, despite masses of evidence to the contrary. In response to Madonna's latest insult, they have taken to ignoring, for one, the many musical similarities between Born This Way and Madonna's Express Yourself. This is in addition to the many various shoots, videos and costumes Madonna made famous that Gaga has since used as the inspiration behind some of her greatest offerings.
Rampant and dangerous delusion is another problem stans have. Claims such as 'Beyoncé is better than Michael Jackson' (a member of the Hive), 'Katy Perry sings better than Mariah Carey' (A Katy Kat) and 'Aaliyah sold more records than Brandy', are all statements that The Unassigned has seen made within the last week alone. The issue does not lie in the actual statements themselves, for we have grown accustomed to the largely irrational and delusional nature of most stans. It lies in the manner in which these statements are presented: as fact.
In regard to the last statement, one only has to refer to the RIAA to see that that is far from the truth: that Brandy has sold in excess of 50 million records, far more than Aaliyah. And, indeed, only a fool would claim that Beyoncé is a better artist than the legendary Michael Jackson. Anyone can see that the latter is superior in terms of musicality and a better dancer. However, this statement is more likely to be accepted as an opinion (a baseless one that implies that its maker does not possess any commendable knowledge of music or artistry, but an opinion nonetheless) than the other two.
The second, discussing pop-star-of-the-moment Katy Perry, is a prime example of where stanning goes wrong, however. It is our belief that the argument that 'everyone is entitled to their opinion' has been allowed to go too far. Not everyone should be entitled to an opinion, and not everyone should be entitled to every possible opinion. Indeed, some thoughts are so inherently stupid that they must be viewed as just that. There is no room for 'opinion' when it centres around something that can be proven objectively. FOr example, if nothing else, it is a fact that Mariah has a wider range and better control of her voice, while Ms Perry can barely carry a tune live. Therefore, this is an example of where delusion due to the inherent bias of stan allegiance has come into play.
Another main stanbase that is subject to such delusion is pop starlet Justin Bieber. The cheesily-named Beliebers are prone to calling him the new 'King of Pop', despite the fact that he has yet to break a single significant record, or even score a number one hit in the States.
However, this delusion does not only show itself when artists are being compared to one another. It also pops up whenever an artist does something that is, very clearly, unwise or unspeakably foolish. The Monsters were guilty of this in September 2010, when Lady Gaga sported a dress made out of meat to the MTV Video Music Awards. Many celebrated it, arguing that it was artistic and daring. They seemed unable to realise the ugly truth: that it was an act stemming from a desire to seek attention and, rather than be a symbol of Mother Monster's 'greatness, if anything, it detracted from her artistry.
Team Breezy is another good example of a stanbase that excuses their fave's arguably stupid behaviour time and time again. Indeed, over the last year, it has become apparent that Chris could kill someone in cold blood and many of his most ardent stans would find a way to excuse it. One only has to take the events of Chris' last stint on Good Morning America as a instance of this. Rather than reprimanding Mr Brown for his reprehensibly immature behaviour, many chose to defend it; citing Robin Roberts' perfectly reasonable questions as having sparked his (foolish and disproportionate) outburst.
They seemed unable to understand that Robin's questioning was both fair and largely inoffensive and that, if anything, Chris was in the wrong. Indeed, many seem to forget that, if it were not for the events of early 2009 (of Brown's own making), Chris would not have even been subject to it.
But perhaps the worst problem that affects many stans is obsession. Indeed, it appears to accompany the unwavering loyalty that comes as a consequence of aligning oneself with a particular artist or celebrity. There seems to be a shared belief that, without a stan's vehement support, the artist in question will flounder and break down. This support, however, often goes too far and, ironically, can sometimes lead to the very thing stans seek to prevent.
The Beyhive is perhaps the best example of this. One of the most notorious and hated stanbases on the internet, they frequently 'drag', insult and denigrate other artists and celebrities; all in the name of the 'Queen B'. Just last week, they made the news yet again for abusively discussing the teenage daughter of the since much-maligned Dream Hampton. Indeed, they went so far that Beyoncé herself had to step in, posting the newly-created 'Golden Rule' on her website.
The Hive will often attack without justifiable cause or provocation, 'throwing shade' at particular artists or celebrities as a result of a miscommunication. They seem unable to wait for proof of the reported insult or slight, choosing instead to 'shoot first and ask questions later'. This has led to many of the internet's denizens using the Hive's behaviour as an excuse for their own hatred of Beyoncé (irrational though that might be).
The Hive is also home to Carly Muzyczuk who, just a few months ago, featured in The Sun as Britain's biggest Beyoncé fan. Proudly showing off her poster-plastered walls and assortment of B-memorabilia, and boasting about panic attacks and stating that her life revolves around the singer, the teenager seemed unable to realise that her 'stanning' had reached dangerous levels.
Another 'stanbase' that is a prime example of the dangerous obsession that plagues many others, is that of the Barbz. Having taken the alleged rapper Nicki Minaj to their collective bosom, the Barbz (and Kens) go out of their way to defend her. This is despite the fact that she has frequently displayed a lack of regard for those that put her in the enviable position she currently enjoys. One such instance is Nicki's sudden (and unsurprisingly temporary) departure from Twitter. After 'calling out' her biggest fansite, Nicki Daily, for their alleged crimes, she cited them as the reason for the deletion of her account. Subsequently, many Barbz took to their accounts begging their Queen to make her return. One poor, lost soul recorded her conseqeuent breakdown on camera and posted it on Youtube, making a fool of herself in the process.
After reading this you may have come to the assumption that we have nothing but contempt for stans. That is not true. Rather, we have nothing but contempt for the delusional, irrational and obsessive souls that prioritise nothing but stanning. Those poor souls who centre their lives around people that they may have only met once or twice, do not think about them individually on a daily (or even yearly) basis and do not pay their bills or keep food on their table.
When a stan insists that, in order to be viewed as such, people must prioritise purchasing everything their favourite chooses to release, regardless of one's current financial situation (as we witnessed just a few weeks ago), it has gone too far. If we do not venture out to buy Britney's latest re-release of the re-release because we chose to pay our electricity bill, she will not starve. Nor will she even have to go without buying yet another $10 million mansion. There are plenty of other people who are currently better financially situated to keep her in Louboutins.
We will always choose to prioritise ourselves and our needs because we are the only ones who will do so. If there is no food on our table, Lady Gaga or Rihanna will not knock on our door with a van full of Sainsbury's bags. Nicki will not screech to a standstill in her Ferrari at the bus stop because our car just got totalled. If we get arrested for fighting someone in the street because they slighted Michael Jackson, he will not rise from the grave to post our bail.
It is all well and good to take up for your favourite artist or celebrity. 'Dragging' a member of an opposing stanbase is often entertaining and harmless. Buying concert tickets, memorabilia, albums and singles is fine. After all, it is no one's business what you do with your money. It is also no one's business what you choose to do with your time. Just make sure that you're spending it in a way that best benefits you and your needs. Make sure that you're not going out of your own way to financially (or otherwise) support a particular artist or celebrity, just so you can call yourself a stan.