When Eminem released his track “Stan” on “The Marshall Mathers LP” in 2000, nobody thought of it as a prophecy that would describe the modern-day culture of the intense bond between artists and their fans.
It peaked at No.51 on the Billboard Hot 100, a minor hit that turned out to be an unforgettable masterpiece that changed English language and opened a new field of social research.
Billboard published a follow up to their list of the 100 greatest songs of 2000, that included 3 Eminem’s songs with “Stan” ranked the highest, analysing the cultural impact of the track.
They started by comparing how “Stan” was received with how it changed the culture:
The song was not a massive chart success, peaking at No. 51 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in December 2000. But in the 20 years that have followed its release, “Stan” has been listed by several outlets as one of the greatest rap songs ever recorded, and became a culturally significant term encapsulating an entire culture of online fan communities in the 21st century. In 2017, the term was added to the Oxford English Dictionary to describe “an overzealous or obsessive fan of a particular celebrity,” which Eminem said was “crazy.”
The song inspired some sociological research early on:
Em’s lyrics certainly capture the over-the-top behavior some supporters will develop when it comes to their favorite stars, which has helped to identify the difference between the average fan and “stans” throughout time. Dr. Lynn E. McCutcheon, psychologist, author and founder of the North American Journal of Psychology, who has conducted research regarding celebrity worship, suggests there is likely an emotional component that is attributed to being a “stan.”
However, in the meantime, when all-penetrative power of social media changed the nature of fan-artist interactions, it became evident, that this phenomenon is more complex:
While “stanning” is not unique to the last two decades, the Internet and social media websites have opened up accessible platforms for fan groups to communicate with each other and their favorite musical artists. In her article, Dr. Stever notes that celebrities have created a more personal connection with their fans that wasn’t as possible before the advent of the Internet. “Things like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and blogs or video blogs are all being used now by celebrities to create that intimate day-to-day connection with fans,” she explains. This is a fact: Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey are two of many star artists who have taken to social media to interact, retweet and share aspects of their lives with their devoted fanbases (The Barbz and The Lambs, respectively).
“I think most of the people in these fan clubs are just normal people who admire a particular person and find [fandom] a social outlet,” Dr. McCutcheon says. “If I greatly admired [NBA star] LeBron James, and I sought out some friends who also admired him, that would give us something to talk about, and something that we can agree upon. It greases the social wheels in a way.”
Although it’s likely that Eminem never predicted “Stan” would be taken this far, there’s a chance stan culture would have made it to this point eventually even if it was never given a name on wax. Dr. McCutcheon suggests that “all media” has contributed to the rapid rise in celebrity worship, yet thanks to social media specifically, fans are given an all-access pass to view the professional and personal lives of their favorite artists. Fan groups have unified to bolster the support, popularity and sales of these stars online – however, the perceivably infinite access to these artists and other individuals could result in uninhibited behavior. It’s up to the fan to decide how far they’re willing to take their loyalty, and it’s up to the artist to draw the line in the sand.
It is good to know, though, that Eminem appreciates his fans and is grateful for their unwavering loyalty, as he told recently in his interview with Kxng Crooked.
You can read the full article on Billboard website: 20 Years of ‘Stan’: How Eminem’s Epic 2000 Hit Relates to the Fan Culture It Inspired
Watch “Stan” below: