People screaming at the top of their lungs for the rock band that they idolize; an individual buying all the books and imitating the writing style of his favorite author; a young girl imitating the clothes of her fashion idol; the aforementioned instances are familiar examples of people who are practicing the idea of fandom wherein they are becoming huge fans of famous personalities or things. The idea of becoming a fan is perceived by people in different ways.
There are individuals who look at the idea of being a fan as simply liking something or someone in a degree that is not common to other people. On the other hand, there are also those people who negatively look at fans, as individuals who are going crazy or psychotic for something or someone to the point that they are becoming obsessed. There are even allegations that fans eventually become stalkers, who do untoward decisions and actions. The opposing perspective of the term “fan” entails a more in-depth study about the topic.
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To be able to fully understand the meaning of being a fan, it is necessary that it is given due attention and importance. In doing so, I conducted an interview with three individuals, who have different backgrounds but is idolizing the same pop star.
The pop star that I focus on is Miley Cyrus. My main motivation for looking for individuals who idolizes Miley Cyrus is due to the popularity and influence of this personality. In 2008, Miley Cyrus is included in Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
Due to this, I want to find out the reasons why people idolize her and its corresponding effects to their life. Moreover, by conducting the interview with three individuals who idolize Miley Cyrus, I learn more about the idea of being a fan. Summary of Cavicchi’s Book and Argument Based on the book of Cavicchi (1998) the term “fan” is used as both descriptive and prescriptive when it comes to describing individuals that are regarded as fans. Cavicchi even states that,
On the whole, it [the term “fan”] is used both descriptively and prescriptively to refer to diverse individuals and groups, including fanatics, spectators, groupies, enthusiasts, celebrity stalkers, collectors, consumers, members of subcultures, and entire audiences, and, depending on the context, to refer to complex relationships involving affinity, enthusiasm, identification, desire, obsession, possession, neurosis, hysteria, consumerism, political resistance, or a combination (39). The interest of Cavicchi with the concept of “fan” is rooted from the fact that Cavicchi himself is also a self-proclaimed fan.
The book that he wrote entitled Tramps like us gives an in-depth research and analysis of being a fan, especially when it comes to its corresponding effects to the individual who is a fan of something or someone. Cavicchi uses Bruce Springsteen as an example for his central argument that fandom is actually a useful and meaningful behavior, which allows individuals to form their identities, establish communities, and make sense out of their lives and the society as a whole. Cavicchi (1998) points out that the contribution of Bruce Springsteen in the world exemplifies the advantageous effects of fandom.
In the past, many critics have noted that the songs of Bruce Springsteen is unique from other singers in a sense that it actually exist in world of its own with its respective characters, settings, words, and images. The world that Springsteen creates is actually very relevant to other people wherein individuals who only have little knowledge or none at all about Springsteen can still relate with his music. Springsteen emphasizes the world of highways and factories, loners and underdogs, and many others. As such, the themes of the songs of Springsteen actually embody the ideals and struggles of most ordinary Americans.
Being the case, Springsteen was able to substantially influence the American pop culture and also different societal debates. Springsteen has the ability to not only speak for his fans but actually to them with directness and sincerity, which actually touches the lives of his followers.
Cavicchi uses three years of ethnographic research and his own experiences and impressions as a fan in writing his book. He provides an interdisciplinary study of the ways by which ordinary individuals who have special and sustained attachments to their idols actually were able to change and affect their lives because of fandom.
Furthermore, it challenges the negative perception about the term “fan”, specifically the stereotypes of fans as being obsessive, delusional, and to the point of having mental problems. Cavicchi strongly emphasizes that fandom is a normal socio-cultural activity that aids in shaping the identity of individuals. Object of Fandom Destiny Hope Cyrus also popularly known as Miley Cyrus is an American pop singer, songwriter, and actress. Her rose to fame started when she stars in the Disney Channel as Hannah Montana.
After the success of her television series, she released a soundtrack CD of the songs that she sang in the Hannah Montana Show. The popularity of the soundtrack CD in the American market, especially for teenagers enables her to create a solo music career with her debut album, Meet Miley Cyrus. In her first album, Miley Cyrus was able to create her first top single entitled “See You Again”. The increasing popularity of Miley Cyrus paved the way for her to launch her second album called Breakout. Both the albums of Miley Cyrus top number 1 on the Billboard 200.
In addition, the single of Miley Cyrus entitled “Party in the U. S. A. ” was recognized as the highest charting and fastest selling single that reach number 2 in the Billboard Hot 100. The influence of Miley Cyrus reaches different nations, which is proven by the record-breaking sales of her albums that reach more than 15 million records. Miley Cyrus also shines in the field of acting. Miley Cyrus first extended play was The Time of Our Lives. Miley Cyrus also performed in the concert/film Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert.
In relation to this, Miley Cyrus also starred in Bolt wherein she recorded the soundtrack for the movie, which enables her to be nominated in the Golden Globe Awards. The hit show Hannah Montana was later produced in the film with Miley Cyrus as the lead star of the movie. Moreover, the prominence of Miley Cyrus in the society is recognized by Time magazine when she is included in the “100 Most Influential People in the World and she also ranked 35 on the “Celebrity 100” list of Forbes magazine for earning $25 million in 2008.
Interviewee # 1
The first interviewee is Zoe, a 16 years old girl that describes herself as an avid fan of Miley Cyrus. Zoe is a Caucasian American, who is currently studying in a public school. The interview was conducted through phone wherein the queries in the questionnaires were asked and were substantially answered by the respondent.
The main interest of Zoe mostly deals with normal young adult hobbies like shopping and hanging out friends. In addition, Zoe also stated that she is very much interested in music, especially from modern pop artist. As previously mentioned, Zoe is a self-proclaimed Miley Cyrus fan.
She said that she first get acquainted with the pop star through her series in the Disney Channel, Hannah Montana. Zoe immediately likes the character of Miley in the series and she also took notice of her exceptional singing abilities. Zoe said “Miley has an exceptional and unique singing voice that can really attract its listeners, once I heard her voice she already mesmerized me. ”
Zoe opted to have the complete albums of Miley Cyrus instead of just downloading it from the Internet, which she said is a way for her to actually give worth to the singing ability of her idol buy adding to her CD sales.
In addition to this, Zoe is also a fan of Miley Cyrus in Facebook and she also follows her in Tweeter. The influence of Miley Cyrus on Zoe affects her fashion sense because Zoe admitted she is actually imitating the fashion sense of Miley. “
I always look carefully at the outfits that she wear, as I really admire her unique fashion sense”, stated Zoe. Zoe explains in the interview that she has not really done anything outrageous as a fan of Miley, the only thing that she did is make a scrapbook of her idol, which other people finds weird.
Moreover, Zoe strongly believes that Miley Cyrus exemplifies the normal life of a teenager that has to go through the awkward stage of adolescence, which Zoe can relate to. Zoe expressed in the interview that Miley Cyrus affected her life by making her believe in her dreams and do more things in her life, as Zoe said, “I can have the best of both worlds just like Miley”.
Interviewee # 2
The second interviewee is Samantha, a 13-years old teenage girl who is a die-hard fan of Miley Cyrus. She is an African-American that is studying in a public school.
Samantha’s interests usually involve watching television, playing computer games, and the occasional going out with her friends. Samantha exclaimed “I love Miley Cyrus so much! ” when asked in the interview on who is her idol. She explains in the interview that she was introduced to the pop star sensation while watching Hannah Montana because her parents only allow her to watch limited channels and this include the Disney Channel. At first, she likes the comic banter between Miley Cyrus and her dad because Samantha can actually relate to it because she said that she has the same relationship with her father.
Later on, Samantha is really entertained by the singing capabilities of Miley Cyrus. In relation to this, Samantha can actually relate to the lyrics of Miley Cyrus’ songs that talks about related issues about being a teenager. Samantha keeps a collection of different Miley Cyrus memorabilia like bags, school supplies, and others. She even said that “almost all my things are Miley Cyrus inspired”. In addition, Samantha also applauds the acting capability of Miley Cyrus, especially when it comes to comedy that is why she even created her own fan page for Miley.
Samantha informed me in the interview that she has not done any outrageous thing as a fan of Miley Cyrus because she believes that becoming a fan does not necessarily mean doing something “stupid”. Moreover, Samantha points out that Miley Cyrus is an inspiration to her and also to her friends because she represents teenager everywhere who are following their dreams despite the set-backs of the teenage life.
Interviewee # 3
The last interviewee is an 18 years old Asia who is actually on her way of going to college.
She requested that I do not state her name in the paper, as she is afraid that someone might know that she is a fan of Miley Cyrus. The hesitation of this girl in admitting that she is a fan of Miley Cyrus comes from the fact that most of her peers perceived Miley Cyrus as a loser. As a result, this girl does not have any Miley Cyrus memorabilia and she does not join any networking site about Miley Cyrus. The main reason of this girl for idolizing Miley Cyrus is because she can relate with the life of the pop star.
She states that “Miley Cyrus is just a typical teenager who commits mistakes like her photo scandal and other boyfriend troubles . . . she is being real to herself and to her public. ” The girl idolizes Miley Cyrus because of her courage to be true to herself and to others even if she is already popular. In relation to this, she also thinks that Miley Cyrus is a strong individual that can properly handle all the criticisms that come her way. Being the case, Miley Cyrus influences this girl to also be true to herself and never give up. Analysis
Based on the answers of the three interviewees it is quite observable that most of Miley Cyrus fans are teenage girls who are undergoing the difficult and confusing stage of adolescence. Their main reasons for idolizing Miley Cyrus are due to her singing and acting talents as well as the way she handles herself. The interviewed fans of Miley Cyrus have not done any outrageous or stupid things for their idol because of the reason that they have other outlets in order to express their enthusiasm and support for Miley Cyrus such as buying her albums, patronizing her products, and joining/creating networking sites.
However, in the situation of one girl, she cannot freely express that Miley Cyrus is her idol because of the negative perception of her friends when it comes to the pop star. From the answers of the interviewee it is clearly proven that Miley Cyrus becomes an influential and powerful personality in the society because she represents the life of most teenagers.
Miley Cyrus’ songs, television series, and even her life exemplify the issues and problems of an average American teenager. Miley Cyrus has substantially contributed to the American pop culture because most of her fans can actually relate with her life. Moreover, Miley Cyrus has her way of actually inspiring the lives of teenagers through her songs and the characters that she portrays, which embody a strong woman that will not give up amidst the challenges of life.
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