Pop Superfans Are Getting Politically Active. What Happens Next?

1 week ago

In recent weeks, K-pop fans have garnered attention for drowning out racist hashtags on social media, possibly crashing a police video-submission app with clips of K-pop idols, organizing financial donations to Black Lives Matter, and being part of a broader social media movement to flood the Trump campaign with fake ticket requests for his rally in Tulsa.

This has caused quite a media hubbub, but in truth, K-pop activism is consistent with a broader trend in the superfan — or stan — ecosystem: the emergence of listeners who are asking for more of their heroes than simply music.

It was there in the dust-up between J. Cole and Noname, fueled by the differing responses each rapper has deployed to the recent racial justice protests. It’s been there in the push for Drake to engage more directly with current events, and in recent years, in how fans have responded to Jay-Z’s alliances with institutions like the National Football League.

On this week’s Popcast, a conversation about the activism feedback loop between stans and the stars they obsess over, and how celebrities are increasingly indebted to their most intense fans, who may have political and social expectations that the artists may not be ready to deliver on.


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