Stans and Fans: A Culture

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People are fans of all sorts of things, be it a certain celebrity, a sports team, or even movies. There are passionate fans who proudly express their fandom, and today we live in the age of social media, so people are able to express their fandom to the whole world. Unfortunately, people who express their fandom openly are often subjected to a lot of negativity. They can be viewed as delusional and not having the necessary mindset to live in the real world. However, what many people fail to understand is, fandom can have a very positive impact on one’s life, and to show that, I will recount some of my personal experiences as a fan of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

Matt Hills discusses “longevity” in his piece on fan cultures, and how in a world that changes so rapidly, and so often, our fandom can offer us a constant in our lives. At the age of five, when I was terrified by the thought of starting primary school, I can recall watching The Rock on WWE programming and in those few hours, my fears would melt away. Today, at age 21, I still find myself by the TV watching The Rock entertain and enthral me in movies like the Fast and Furious. Whether it’s a personal loss or professional struggles, The Rock still offers me the ability to escape and ease whatever pain I feel.

Pro Wrestling Insider journalist, Mike Johnson discussed The Rock’s use of social media: “his Instagram captions always read as genuine and are directed personally at his fans”. In mid-2011, I was taking my GCSE exams, and like all students, I was a nervous wreck and failure was my biggest fear in life. During this time, The Rock posted a message on his Facebook for all his young fans, and he told us to go “crush” our exams. While that message was meant for millions of people around the world, I felt like The Rock was talking directly to me. I felt as if The Rock saw that I needed an extra boost, he knew I needed my hero to give me the belief that not only was I going to do well, but I was going to “crush” my exams.

My fandom of The Rock has also inspired me to pursue the most challenging, and some of the most unlikely careers. In 1995, The Rock had seven bucks to his name, but he went on to become the biggest professional wrestler and the biggest movie star in the world. His success in these two incredibly creative worlds inspired me to do the same. Not only did I graduate in Film, but I created a documentary that was screened at the British Film Institute as well. I have also ventured into the world of professional wrestling, by writing weekly wrestling articles and putting them out for the world to see. These career choices come with a lot of struggles, be it in terms of stability or financial gain, but my fandom has shown me what is possible and what you can achieve when you set your mind to something.

“If fans were obsessed with anything, it was reality and authenticity” - Samantha Barbas

As fans, we find inspiration from what is real. Where many people may see a fictional show or a fictional character, we dig deeper and look at what goes into creating this show or character. Fans look at the creativity and the blood, sweat, and tears that go into achieving success. Our fandom offers us a chance to see the “reality” of what we love, and we allow that to inspire us to achieve the biggest and most unattainable dreams.

Humza Hussain