Recent events have prompted me to want to comment about the irrationality of fandoms in general. While I understand that this might be an sensitive issue to address, but it is incredibly disconcerting to see certain behaviours being portrayed by the extremist fans in their avid support of their idols. As such, I believe that it is important to discuss about such occurrences.
Over-zealous fans have existed for a long time ever since the concept of idols and celebrities existed. And given the booming idol industry brought about by KPop, the term “sasaeng fans” are now being used to describe them. Quoted from Wikipedia: “In South Korean culture, a sasaeng or sasaeng fan is an over-obsessive fan of a Korean idol, or other public figure, that has engaged in stalking or other behaviour that constitutes an invasion of privacy. ” Such fans are not only exclusive to South Korea, as such, the term is now being utilised universally to describe such fans. A casual Google search of the term “sasaeng fans” will illustrate the extent of which such fans go about in order to “get close” to their idols. From intruding their privacy to breaking into their house and stalking, the list of such incidents are too many to count.
Thankfully, in the context of Singapore, such incidents are fairly rare and few. Largely thanks to how Singaporeans are “discouraged” to commit crimes, to put it nicely. And yes, such actions are criminal regardless of what your intentions are, so please do not do something like that. With the knowledge that Singaporean fans (of whichever idol) are generally well-behaved and rational, the recent happenings made me question my belief. Seeing that fans are queuing for concert tickets many days in advance to harshly criticising individuals who do not share the same passion as they do, the behaviour of these fans are highly irrational, to say the least. As fans of whichever idol or group, you would want non-fans to also appreciate or understand the good points about your idol. But on the contrary, when the idol’s fans display negative behaviour, it only serves to give a bad impression on the non-fans about that idol. In other words, over-zealous fans are essentially shooting themselves in their foot. Let’s take the following incidents for example.
Taking the most recent incident where BTS concert tickets were massively bought out by unscrupulous scalpers for example. The rationale behind these scalpers’ actions can be explained in simple economics – supply and demand. When the demand is high and the supply is limited, the price of each individual ticket will inevitably go higher. Putting aside the various loopholes of the ticketing systems aside, what motivates these scalpers to do so are in fact the zealous fans. The knowledge that these fans will still purchase the tickets even if it goes up to many times the original cost serve as the motivation behind the scalpers to make a huge profit. Now imagine that the same concert, but the fans are calm and rational and do not actually display their desires to get the tickets outwardly. Will the scalpers be as willing to invest hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars to purchase the tickets in bulk, not knowing that they will be able to sell off the tickets in the end?
A Cat 1 ticket from scalpers can probably get you 10 or more tickets if you had bought from the official site. Well, the fault certainly does not lie with the fans who just want to attend their idols’ concert. It is definitely the scalpers’ fault, but it’s indisputable that it’s the obvious demand displayed by the fans that allowed the scalpers to exploit this opportunity to make a big earning. Once again, supply and demand. While there’s no certain way to prevent scalpers from taking advantage, but if you were to take a look at the bigger picture, do scalpers take action for each and every concert? The answer is no. It is not that other performers are less talented or less popular in their own right, but it is simply because people who want to attend those concerts are not as irrational, and thus much unlikely to purchase tickets if they go for a much higher price. The only way to stop scalpers from profiting is to not purchase from them. Period. Even if you end up not being able to attend the concert. Just imagine how much money the scalpers will lose if no one bought from the scalpers. This will discourage them from taking action for the subsequent concert, etc. Purchasing tickets from them only serves to tell them that what they do works, and they will only want to do it again and again. So, it’s your choice.
Another example will be verbal abuse. The pen is mightier than a sword is an old saying that gets truer each day, especially with the advent of social media. Words have the power to influence and inflict great amount of hurt onto someone and words have no boundaries especially with the Internet. Also, with social media, it is so much easier for public figures to engage with their fans and vice versa. As such, it becomes more important to watch what you say on the Internet. However, with the convenience and the pseudo-anonymity that the Internet gives everyone, it is so much more tempting to say things that you would never say to the same person in real life. (Note that no one is truly anonymous on the Internet because it is very possible to trace the IP address, hence pseudo-anonymity).
A general fact about opinions: Everyone’s entitled to them, because free speech. But you will have to bear the consequences of your words. Hence, no one is actively stopping you from saying the word “bomb” when you are on a flight, but everyone is going to say you asked for it if you actually do it. Case in point: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/man-fined-45k-for-bomb-hoax-on-scoot-flight. There is a very drastic difference between free speech and consequence-free speech, but safe behind the pseudo-anonymity on the Internet, it seems like a lot of people do not care.
Bringing it back to irrational fandoms, the most obvious incident was the social experiment held with once again, BTS fans. Google it if you’re unaware, but putting aside of how it was carried out and simply watching how certain fans reacted to an opinion that the idol group would not even get to see was horrifying. While there were definitely very rational and logical responses from few selected individuals trying to explain that the opinion was inaccurate (kudos to you guys, the sane people), but the loud majority of the reactions quickly delved into personal insults and death threats which were very uncalled for. Because there were no personal insults or death threats being issued to the fans nor BTS themselves, so you can’t even argue that it’s an eye for an eye. And when the situation seemingly “escalated” to jeopardise someone’s livelihood over an innocent and subjective opinion, these fans actually started gloating and figuratively patted themselves on their backs for supposedly costing someone their job. In other words, had the whole social experiment was in fact real, these extremist fans were actually proud that they cost someone their livelihood over an opinion that he was justified to make. It’s akin to you losing your livelihood because you said that XXX chicken rice’s standards have dropped and fans of that chicken rice started to give you death threats and personal insults. Just like food, music is a matter of personal preferences and is largely subjective. A man’s meat is another man’s poison. While it is reasonable to express your own opinions when you feel that the other party’s opinions are inaccurate, it’s a whole another level to resort to insults and death threats.
And in the long run, when more of such incidents as above happen, it will only simply cause other people to stereotype such behaviour as what ALL fans do, resulting in more criticism than what fans are already receiving. It’s a simple way of life, which is do unto others what you wish others will do unto you. If you wish that people will respect you, you will have to give respect to others first.
Disclaimer: The above is only referring to irrational/extremist fans and do not represent all fans in general.
Also, we’ve received a submission from Marie, a hand-drawn art of Joanna! Thank you so much! Everyone, keep your submissions coming in!
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