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Is Taylor Swift's Fanbase a Cult?

If you have paid any attention to some sort of media, you probably know of some artist named "Taylor Swift." Swift recently released an album called The Tortured Poets Department, it was apparently a very popular album, topping the charts thanks to her fans. If you know anything about Taylor Swift, it is probably related to her fans because they have become insufferable over the last year or so, taking over social media and various other things.

This has left the question: Is Taylor Swift's fanbase a cult?

Well, the answer is yes; according to the Oxford Dictionary, a cult is a misplaced or excessive admiration for a particular person or thing. The Oxford definition of a cult perfectly fits Swifties, who admire Taylor Swift to extreme lengths. This has led her fans to cause many problems in just about any environment you can imagine, from threats on X to taking over football stadiums. The phenomenon of fandom has evolved in the digital age, giving rise to what is now termed as "standom." While "stan" culture isn't necessarily a bad thing as it can create community, it can also promote hostility, and this is what is happening inside of Swifts' fanbase.

Chris Panella of Business Insider

One reporter, Chris Panella, from "Business Insider," wrote an article critical of the Eras Tour; little did he know what was to come. Panella wrote in an article summarizing the situation, stating that "I was waiting in line to order coffee when the death threats started flooding my inbox." He also added that he did not know what the messages were about because, as a reporter, it could be about anything that he has written. Some of these messages included "kill yourself" and various slurs which would not fly in any situation. He only discovered what he was being targeted for when he checked X, where he found his inbox flooded with Swifties, who were doxxing his personal information and predicting how and when he would die. It went as far as one person tracking down his family and friends. He also added, "Anti-gay slurs filled my mentions."

Panella later added that this wasn't even the worst part though, as a group of Swifties tried to mass email Panella's boss in an attempt to get him fired. They created false narratives about Panella, telling his boss that he was a groomer and a pedophile, which is awfully ironic coming from Swift fans, as Taylor once dated a minor when she was 22 and he was 17. In the article in which Panella criticized the Eras Tour, he compared it to Beyoncé's Renaissance World Tour, which he was very positive about; thus, the criticism of the Eras Tour was very gentle. He even had positive notes about The Eras Tour, but that didn't matter. Panella figured that the harassment was par for the course as it is bound to happen if you oppose someone; he was just shocked by how far it went. 

In another statement, Robert Thompson, the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, states, "If you've said something they — and by they, I mean these large participatory communities — don't like, their approach is to try to impugn and indict you." Thompson also added that these communities will go to the farthest lengths to make you not credible.

Fandom dates back to ancient times, as the best Roman Gladiators in the Colosseum had enthusiastic supporters, but most people relate it to the hottest things at the time like, ​​The Beatles and Beatlemania, Star Wars and Star Trek, Michael Jackson and, now, Taylor Swift. But today, the problem does not necessarily exist in fandom, but rather in standom. With the advent of the internet, standom is easier than ever, as fans of someone or something can communicate through their phones from the comfort of their homes. Standom is OK, as there are good sides to it, in this case, Swifties often dissect her lyrics to figure out their true meaning, but they also like to take aim at someone who even says something remotely negative about Taylor, and this is the bad part of standom. Perhaps the worst part of the online standom is the anonymity that comes with it, so people can say just about anything they desire and get away with it, which is what happened in Panella's situation.

Fandom can foster a sense of community and shared passion. Still, standom often creates excessive adulation that veers into toxic behavior, as evidenced by the extreme actions of some "Swifties." But standom is not always bad, although it can become harmful when it jeopardizes someone's livelihood, like Chris Panella's case, revealing the darker side of standom.


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2 commentaires

Completely agree that taylor swift fans are a cult


The Swifties are definitely getting out of hand 😭 I love music but I can't imagine being that obsessed with a musician

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