Imagine. An average citizen walks into a predominantly vacant café they frequent on a weekly basis. Expecting nothing out of the norm, they place their routine order, a Panini and a peppermint mocha latte, when a highly established, otherworldly celebrity figure enters the vicinity. As their eyes meet, recognition hits the café regular, now star-struck, customer square in the face. Something ignites within the salivating customer, emotions of excitement, hesitation, and denial, all of which can cause an unwanted scene. This eruption of emotions happens to even the most reserved people when they come in contact with a celebrity, especially one they admire.
“Fangirling” exists as an increasingly recognized social phenomenon that occurs when an overzealous individual, males included despite the terminology, completely “freaks out” when they see or talk about celebrities.
Three levels of fandom exist: entertainment-social, intense-personal, and borderline-pathological. The first involves minimal levels of celebrity worship through reading up on and gossiping about favorite stars with following their accomplishments and appearances via mass media mediums. To envision that a special bond exists between the fan and the celebrity results in the completion of the second stage, also known as the “para-social” interaction stage. The final stage progresses into obsession, stalking, and delusional feelings like the celebrity knows the fanatic on a personal level (Maltby, 27-29). These three stages of celebrity worship syndrome start out with innocent admiration and, in some cases, evolve into dangerous psychological mind games.
Celebrity worship advances through emotional contagion. When one acts as a dedicated fan to a socially recognized celebrity who another individual likes, then that individual acts like the initial dedicated fan to prove his or her equal devotion. Let’s take Miley Cyrus for example. Say an avid fan set Cyrus a fan letter package including a puppy and some joint papers. Another fan finds out and decides to one-up them by sending a puppy, joint papers, and actual weed, all of which would make the singer very happy.
A trending amateur-created “emoji” also exhibits the unhealthy, over-melodramatic state fans can reach, with hearts for eyes, sappy smile, and tears overflowing.
In the past, “Fangirling” resulted in several accidents, including injuries both to fans and celebrities, but overall it subsists as an innate part of society, rather than a problem. It lives within the human race as a fire triggered and ignited by certain people, living distinct publicized lifestyles. “People have “fangirled” for years; it just wasn’t called that. It’s at an all time high and on another level because celebrities now have Twitter and Instagram accounts where they let us see into their private lives more than ever before,” Radio DJ Alex Clark said, exemplifying the extent of platforms where triggers activate.
Truth, a company dedicated to exposing lies of the tobacco industry, currently promotes a campaign called “Finish It” to eliminate cigarettes for good. In frequently shown commercials, they acknowledge “fangirling” through the use of images. After showing a multitude of well-known celebrities smoking cigarettes, the commercial progresses with a photograph of teenage girls crying over those celebrities. The point of the photograph in the commercial exists to show that Truth holds nothing against those smoking; in fact they remain fans. This, with trending hash-tags on Twitter such as #fangirlproblems, subsist as additional sources relaying the popular cultural phenomenon of the act of “fangirling.” Whether crying uncontrollably, fainting, screaming, or other irrepressible actions, within everyone lives a “fan girl,” but its dominance depends on socialized individual desires and admirations.