I’ve come across people spamming the comments of her social media posts, telling Gentry to “respect Taylor Swift.” People are accusing Gentry directly of misogyny and telling others not to watch Ginny & Georgia.A few have made overtly racist tweets. Even though Gentry isn’t credited as a writer, hundreds of people are demanding that she take responsibility for the single “joke” on the show that they disagree with. Fueled by Taylor Swift’s public annoyance, these fans — and trolls pretending to be fans — feel empowered to act aggressively in order to protect Swift’s reputation. This is a normal day on stan Twitter, where anything goes to protect the object of fans’ parasocial relationships.
I’m in Polygon for the first – but hopefully not the last – time!
Building off of how many of Taylor Swift’s fans leapt onto Ginny & Georgia star Antonia Thomas to defend Swift from a joke made on the show at her expense, I look at how Stan Twitter encourages aggression as a form of defense and love. I even touch on “report accounts”, a phenomenon I find fascinating for how often the fans running and working with them… turn on other fans who aren’t doing anything wrong.
I live on Stan Twitter and so at times have had to pull back from the urge the spaces instill to support my celebrity favorites however I can. (And believe me, that means having to go “no, I do not need to dunk on a younger adult with a bad opinion about “my” group” and walking away from my computer or at least taking the whining into the nearest group chat.)
The behaviors that these fandoms urge as part of the parasocial relationship (which I find positive a lot of the time actually) can be great. We can get incredible amounts of social justice charity work, widening understandings of the world around us, and communities that help us be ourselves, but better.
But we can also wind up whipped into a maenad-esque frenzy in the name of our beloved celebrity and that’s not great. So let’s talk about that!
Since I’m still locked on main because the harassment won’t stop until I cease to exist, please feel free to share the Polygon link with anyone you think may be interested!