Still Kissing Their Posters Goodnight: The Shift from Individual to Communal ‘Bedroom Culture’ as Pop Idol Fandom Goes Online

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Many young women experience a stage during adolescence when the private world of their imagination is overtaken by a celebrity teen crush, often a pop music idol or band. As early as Elvis and The Beatles, every generation has embraced its own version of the teen pop pin-up. Girls have historically exercised their fandom within the confines of their bedrooms, employing a ‘bedroom culture’, where they listen to music, browse teen magazines, and hang posters (McRobbie 1991). But now with the Internet, this practice has changed. Where pop fandom used to be mostly private, fans can now conduct these activities online and communally, ‘drooling’ in unison (Clerc 1996). This new more community-oriented fan experience has dramatically altered the nature of pop fandom. This research is an ethnographic investigation that explores how feminine identity construction and sexuality are influenced by pop music subcultures. Of particular interest is the way in which the fan experience has changed historically with the introduction of the Internet, specifically how fans now connect via a hybrid of online and offline interactions and how such an interaction mix generates complex dynamics and hierarchies. By focusing on ‘mature’ pop fans as opposed to teens, this project endeavours to trace their transformation from the relative isolation of pre-Internet teen fandom into what has now become enduring and life-long adult fandom that is deeply communal, entrenched in a worldwide network of other fans. The subcultures examined are fans of a sampling of ‘heart throb’ pop artists spanning the last three decades, including The Backstreet Boys, Take That and Duran Duran.

Tonya Anderson, University of Sunderland / Fangirlsonline.org