Fans have been known to do some shocking things to get closer to celebrities, from getting Kardashian-Jenner tattoos to stalking Taylor Swift. It’s not unheard of for misguided groupies to make extreme decisions based on their infatuation with pop stars, actors, royals, or influencers. Superfans have been around for ages, all with different reasons for their actions. Out of love or pure obsession, a fan might transform their life or appearance to mirror the object of their fandom. They will fiercely protect their star icon, sometimes at the expense of others.
Social media has made fans feel like they have more access to stars than ever before, which sometimes is the case. Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok conversations between celebrities and fans make headlines from time to time, but not always for the best reasons. While it’s great for celebs to control their narratives online and get chummy with their fanbases, social media also perpetuates a false illusion that everyday people can know their favorite stars personally. As public figures’ lives are on display, fans cling to every detail and become quite involved in affairs that don’t necessarily concern them. There are classic screaming fans, and then there are bizarre devotees, passionate celeb worshippers, and obsessive imitators. Which celebrity fandoms have the most unusual factions of supporters?
BTS has the most organized fandom ever
The BTS Army is probably the most organized fandom of all time. They have their own set of rules, they join forces to give money to charities, and they genuinely care about protecting Jungkook, Jin, Suga, V, Jimin, J-Hope, and RM. A subset of the fandom, called the Purple Ribbon Army, took inspiration from V, who lovingly tells fans, “I purple you.” The Purple Ribbon Army has been spotted in airports wherever BTS would land, with the fans barricaded by a purple ribbon to keep themselves and BTS safe. At concerts, the Army has given out purple ribbon wristbands as a symbol of respect.
The United States BTS Army website elaborates on “Army Etiquette” with tips like “Ignore rude Tweets” and “Share why you love BTS.” The Army’s guidance doesn’t stop there. People who browse the website can check out an Army dictionary, BTS fan chants, a concert survival guide, and more. Other fandoms have a lot to learn from the Army, which is technically an acronym for “Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth.” The most surprising but best thing about the group is that it’s unbelievably charitable, wanting to do good in the spirit of BTS. A couple of examples are the Love Myself campaign to end violence in collaboration with the Korean Committee for UNICEF, and the OIAA (One in an Army) group’s vast charitable causes. Time reported that when BTS donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter, the Army matched the pledge and accrued even more donations.
Swifties defended Taylor Swift's honor
Taylor Swift’s relationship with her fans is enigmatic, but she seems to like having a connection with some of them. It’s common knowledge that the singer selects Swifties for her “Secret Sessions,” music events which have previously been conducted at Swift’s various homes. She has also been generous with donations to fans in times of need.
Swifties, in return, are devoted to their leader and take what she says to heart. Taylor Swift has swayed the opinions of her fans on occasion, maybe intentionally, maybe not. When she was insulted by a line in Netflix’s “Ginny and Georgia,” Swift took to Twitter to express her frustration: “Hey Ginny & Georgia, 2010 called and it wants its lazy, deeply sexist joke back. How about we stop degrading hard working women by defining this horse sh** as FuNnY. Also, @netflix after Miss Americana this outfit doesn’t look cute on you. Happy Women’s History Month I guess.”
The line that drew Swift’s ire: “What do you care? You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.” Fans responded to the joke and Swift’s tweet by flooding Netflix’s “Ginny and Georgia” Instagram post with “Respect Taylor Swift” comments. While Swifties took to social media to defend the singer, the show remained a hit.
Cardi B's fans are very invested in her personal life
When Offset interrupted one of Cardi B’s concerts in 2018 to try to win her back after their split, fans were quick to defend Cardi and roast Offset. One person even tweeted footage from the show and wrote, “Cardi B made Offset look like a fool LMAO.”
Cardi B wasn’t into her fans criticizing Offset on social media. “Violating my baby father is not gonna make me feel better ’cause at the end of the day, that’s still family,” she said in a series of since-deleted Instagram videos (via NBC News). “I just don’t like that bashing online thing.”She had to level with her fans again in 2019 when they started talking about her sister, Hennessy Carolina. In another Instagram Live (via Complex), Cardi said, “No, you cannot talk about my sister … I would take a bullet for my sister. So nobody could talk about my sister. I could be best friends with somebody for 100 years. Once they say something slick about my sister, you’re getting cut the f*** off, period.”
And in 2020, the comments about Offset got so bad that Cardi deactivated her Twitter account. As Vanity Fair reported at the time, the rapper stepped away from Twitter after an Instagram Live session where she defended her relationship with Offset and expressed her frustrations with “a whole bunch of 15-year-olds telling me how to live my life like I’m … Ariana Grande or something, like I came from Disney or something.”
Demi Lovato's fans harassed choreographer Dani Vitale
In her YouTube docuseries “Dancing with the Devil,” Demi Lovato recounts the events leading up to her near-death overdose. The same night she was with friends celebrating choreographer Dani Vitale’s birthday, Lovato crossed paths with her old drug dealer and purchased the substances outlined in the documentary. Vitale was wrongfully blamed for Lovato’s overdose by some Lovatics.
In “Dancing with the Devil,” Lovato shared, “My fans are amazing. They’re very passionate. But they’re a little out of line sometimes because they want what’s best for me but don’t always have all the information.”
Lovato said the Lovatics who bullied Vitale were more than “a little out of line.” They sent Vitale thousands of hate messages, and she characterizes the long-term harassment as “the hardest thing [she’s] ever had to deal with [her] whole life.” Vitale lost her jobs and was driven to “severe depression, fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, disgust, numbness,” and isolation, as she explained in an August 2018 Instagram post. Lovato gave Vitale a chance to “clear [her] name” in the docuseries, and the choreographer did just that.
If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
Channing Tatum's fans try to get him on the line
As far as odd interactions with fans go, Channing Tatum’s example really dials it up. The “Magic Mike” star told MTV UK that an admirer has handed him their cell phone, but not because they wanted a selfie. Rather, they wanted the actor to talk to whoever is on the other end. And it sounds like this has happened to Tatum more than once.
“It sucks, like, to have it happen because you’re like, ‘Hello, hi,’ and they’re like, ‘Who’s this?’ And you tell them. You feel so stupid telling them your name,” he recounted. “And then they’re like, ‘No, it’s not.’ And you have to spend the next, like, 15 seconds of your life trying to convince somebody that you don’t want to talk to that it is you.”
Sounds thrilling for all involved parties. Things probably got really interesting once FaceTime entered the chat.
There's an entire Beyoncé-inspired church service
In addition to having one of the most established online fandoms of all time, Beyoncé has fans who have taken their love for her music to the next level. In 2018, Vice’s Nyasha Shani Foy went to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. The reporter participated in the church’s signature Beyoncé Mass, a service which is built on the musical repertoire of Beyoncé.
Rather than simply jam out to the singer’s hits, parishioners are invited to sing the songs as an act of worship to God. That doesn’t mean their love for Queen Bey doesn’t come through, though. The service bulletins and the Beyoncé Mass’ branding mimic the star’s 2013 self-titled album. In video footage of the service, one of the enthusiastic church leaders donned a “Don’t Worry, Be Yoncé” shirt. Hundreds of people sang along with Beyoncé’s music. “I am unapologetically a minister of the Gospel, I am unapologetically a biblical scholar, and I am unapologetically a Beyoncé fan—and I don’t feel like I need to apologize for any of that,” Reverend Yolanda Norton explained.
“Though I don’t consider Beyoncé to be a religious symbol,” Foy said, “like some of her most ardent fans, there’s no denying her strong use of religious symbolism throughout her music and performances, paying homage to everything from female African deities, the Last Supper, Black Madonna, and the Virgin Mary, herself.”
Ariana Grande doesn't like her fandom's name
Arianators may be obsessed with Ariana Grande, but Ariana Grande is not too keen on the name of her fandom. So much so, that she wrote in the physical “Positions” album (via Capital FM), “Thank you to the most loving, incredible fanbase of all time with the ugliest fandom name ever created.” The Grammy winner may oppose the moniker, but the Arianators aren’t going away anytime soon. They are hyper-protective of Grande, which was a good thing following the tragic bombing at her 2017 Manchester concert.
However, when Daily Pop host Morgan Stewart made some not-so-positive comments about Bieber and Grande’s duet at Coachella in 2019, Grande’s response prompted some Arianators to rally. In one since-deleted tweet, Grande said (via Nylon), “people are so lost. one day everybody that works at all them blogs will realize how unfulfilled they are and purposeless what they’re doing is and hopefully shift their focus elsewhere. that’s gonna be a beautiful ass day for them! i can’t wait for them to feel lit inside.”
After receiving backlash for coming after bloggers, Grande clarified in another deleted tweet (via Nylon), “there’s a big difference between journalism and what was happening in that video. i was hurt for my friend. my apologies to anyone who was offended by my lumping them together.” The Twitter thread didn’t stop there, and the fans soon got involved.
A writer's remarks set off Ariana Grande's fans
A Toronto-based writer named Roslyn Talusan had some choice words for Ariana Grande on Twitter after the remarks about “bloggers,” and the Arianators went in hard. Talusan told BuzzFeed News she experienced “racist, misogynist, transphobic, and otherwise violent harassment [Grande’s] stans have waged in her name” online.
And then, Grande sent Talusan a direct message on Twitter. According to BuzzFeed News, this arrived as the Arianators were attacking Talusan not only for her tweets, but also for her 2019 Playboy article titled “On Ariana Grande and the Politics of Ambiguity.” In the piece, Talusan writes about Grande and cultural appropriation.
As for the direct message, Grande validated Talusan’s work as a journalist, and Talusan apologized for the language she used when tweeting about Grande. After the two had a meaningful conversation, the subject turned to the pop star’s vengeful fans. According to BuzzFeed News, when Talusan asked Grande to stop the fans’ harassment, Grande replied, “they’re just reacting with similar energy to what they’ve read honestly. your tweets were hostile. they’re upset and they’re passionate. i apologize on their behalf because i don’t love that type of behavior from anyone. they know that tho. i’ve said that to them a million times.”
Miley Cyrus helps people make life decisions on TikTok
Miley Cyrus is no stranger to having fun with her 12 millions of TikTok followers, and some of her fans have gone to great lengths to get the pop star’s attention on the app. As Today noted, one TikTok user filmed herself lip-syncing to Miley Cyrus and Dua Lipa’s “Prisoner” and wrote, “if miley cyrus comments on this ill legally change my name to Hannah Montana when I turn 18.” Cyrus commented almost immediately, writing, “WIG IS SNATCHED.”
Another video shows a couple dancing to Cyrus’s “Plastic Hearts.” In the TikTok, they kiss and embrace… and include a special message: “if miley cyrus comments we will get married.” Sure enough, the Hannah Montana star didn’t disappoint the eager couple. As Today noted, she replied, “Hope it goes better for you two than it did for me. Congrats.” Whether it be an interview or a TikTok comment, she sure keeps it candid about her split from Liam Hemsworth.
Suffice to say, Cyrus’ fans really put themselves out there to connect with the singer on TikTok.
Prince Philip is still honored on the island of Tanna
Even after his death, Prince Philip has one of the most unique fandoms of any royal. He leaves behind an adoring group of people in the South Pacific Vanuatu nation on the island of Tanna. According to Reuters, following Prince Philip’s death, Chief Yapa of Ikunala village offered condolences to the royal family, adding, “The connection between the people on the Island of Tanna and the English people is very strong.”
As The Guardian reported, “Villagers believe Duke of Edinburgh was born on Tanna and left it to woo and wed the Queen.” According to the outlet, the people of the region maintain “a great spirit inhabited” Prince Philip’s body and they “revere him as one of their own.” The tribe once sought to connect with the late royal, a journey which was shown in a “Meet the Natives” documentary. During their visit to the UK, Tannese men were granted a meeting with Prince Philip in private.
According to Reuters, Prince Philip “maintained a respectful 50-year relationship with the group.”
The Kardashians' fans literally want to be them
The Kardashian-Jenners have a noteworthy subset of their fandom, too. In 2019, MTV’s “True Life/Now” profiled three hardcore Kardashian fans: a stylist who devotes much of his existence to looking like Kim Kardashian, a woman who believes she “was born in the wrong family” and wishes she was a Kardashian, and another fan who shelled out thousands of dollars to achieve a Kardashian-inspired look.
In the episode (via TooFab), psychologist Dr. Cooper Lawrence links this behavior to celebrity worship syndrome. “One of the tenets of celebrity worship syndrome is the belief that you and the celebrity are gonna be friends,” she says. “It’s simply untrue, but you’ve convinced yourself that it is true. It’s part of the unhealthy part of it where a delusion has set in.”
In addition to the Kim devotees, a Kylie Jenner superfan made the news in 2015 for her striking resemblance to the star. Gabrielle Waters gradually transformed her look more and more into Kylie’s over time, and her Instagram photos are proof that she’s still a self-made doppelgänger.
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