Sunday, 14 June 2015

Rant || Fangirls v The Rest Of The World

Many things annoy me greatly, but something that drives me absolutely insane is when people make fun or have a go at fangirls for being "obsessed". We are constantly ridiculed by others for our love of music and the lengths we go to in order to support our favourite bands, which to me is unfair when most of the time the people that are laughing at us are hypocrites.

Why is it that it's one rule for fangirls and another completely different rule for everyone else? Why is it socially acceptable for someone to support a football team and go to all home and away games, but it's frowned upon if someone goes to multiple shows of the same tour? Why is it fine for people to camp for days in order to buy the latest iPhone but not for people to camp to get barrier for a concert? Why is it newsworthy when people from across the world camp outside a hospital for a week in order to catch a glimpse of the new Royal baby, but it's ridiculous if us fangirls stand outside a venue all day to try and meet our idol?

It's just pure bigotry in my eyes. I don't understand why fangirls are considered crazy or obsessed when our actions are all too similar to those of many football fans, technology buffs or royalists! 

An incident which happened a few weeks ago spurred me on to write this blog. After seeing Take That in Manchester, we went back to our hotel and had a drink in the bar. We got chatting to two girls who'd paid for VIP tickets in order to get some of the best seats in the venue. We had pit tickets and queued from 9:30am in order to try and get front barrier. The other people in the bar were a couple (drunk but pleasant to begin with). The woman joked at first that they hadn't been to the gig, then we gathered that they had but had been sat right at the top/back of the arena and a child with a flashing toy had annoyed them all night. They were talking fine at first then all of a sudden the woman turned on us and kept asking questions as to why we queued for so long, why spend so much on tickets, why would we go to multiple shows etc. We answered her politely yet she was getting very aggressive, as if it was any of her business anyway!!

Her husband calmed her down and that was it for the time being. We continued to chat to the two girls about how good the show had been however all I could hear was the husband muttering to wife about us all being "obsessed" and that we "weren't right in the head" - when tackled on it, the man actually kicked off and started swearing and shouting at us, whilst continually drinking pints of beer.

I've genuinely never met such a pair of ignorant people in my life. People question us all the time, "why do you go to the same show more than once, it's exactly the same!!" "gosh you must be rich to go to all these concerts" etc but I've never had anyone be so aggressive when it's none of their business really. As an avid concert goer, I want to be in the thick of the action - I've been front row before and once you experience it, you don't really care much for seats right at the back of the arena like they had! I'm a self confessed ticket snob, and sometimes you have to pay more or queue in order to get the best tickets/view but for me it's so worth it in the end! More to the point, the atmosphere is almost always much better nearer the front - I would do the pits a hundred times over, being amongst people with a genuine interest for the music. I couldn't imagine anything worse than being sat up in the gods next to potential miserable sods like that couple - it would completely ruin the experience!

As for going to multiple shows, particularly with someone like Take That, their shows are so overwhelming that you can't take everything in and you always spot different things and see it from a another perspective when you watch it again. Also there's always the uncertainty of when they might tour again - Take That's last tour was 4 years ago, we wanted to go more than once this time as god knows when they might tour again! We did 3 dates each for both JLS and The Wanted's final tours as a reunion is never guaranteed. 

There's also the issue of queuing to meet your idol. "Oh they're just a normal person like you or me!!!!" - yes, they are a normal person but they happen to have a positive influence on hundreds and thousands of people and there's nothing wrong with fans wanting to meet them to say thank you! I've queued for hours to try and meet my favourites in the past, or bought meet and greet tickets when possible, and when you succeed in meeting them, there is no greater feeling in the world! I waited years and years to meet Gary Barlow - the last unsuccessful attempt saw me stood outside Cardiff Arena for 7 hours. However in December, a 4 hour wait outside Radio 2 meant that I finally got to meet him, as well as being fortunate enough to meet the whole of Take That at a signing later that afternoon. I don't regret a single minute wasted waiting because it was one of the most unreal moments when it happened!

There's no doubt that there is some obsessive behaviour within fanbases (how many times has #Cut4CurrentControversialPopStar trended on Twitter?) and those kind of things are without doubt abnormal and nonsensical. Just as idiotic as something like football riots! However it enrages me to see fangirls constantly getting slated for things which would be considered normal behaviour if they supported a football team, wanted the latest gadget or followed the Royal family. More to the point, there are reasons why fangirls adopt such behaviour and they aren't as ridiculous as what other people believe.

I watched a really fascinating documentary the other day that I recorded on BBC Three a while ago called Tom Felton meets the Superfans. The Draco Malfoy actor, having been in the public eye since childhood, wanted to understand why fans would go to extraordinary lengths for an autograph or a selfie and this was spurred on by his own superfan, an older lady in her 50's who'd followed his career for around 7 years.

Tom met several different fans on his journey and concluded with three reasons as to why fans would queue, travel or come and see someone multiple times. The three reasons were a sense of belonging, recognition and escapism - I can fully relate to all three elements and I think Tom concluded the whole subject in the best way possible having gained a real understanding of what fans want from their idols.

A sense of belonging is something all fangirls can relate to. When you join a fanbase, you're automatically thrown into a mix of other people who share your love for said boyband/actor etc. Social media has made it so easy to communicate with other fans now, and what may start as a little conversation here and there, can lead to someone becoming one of the closest friends you have, all thanks to a band. I've been lucky to make so many friends thanks to being a 'fangirl' - some friendships haven't lasted, but that happens in the real world too. There are a few friends that I actually consider family! I know people all across the country, even abroad in places like Australia, people that I would probably never have crossed paths with if it wasn't for certain bands. 

Recognition is another element that I relate to. In Tom's documentary, recognition was portrayed by a super fan in America who would meet the same actor or singer numerous times (Rupert Grint and Nick Jonas being some of his favourites). Tom went in disguise with this lad to meet Rupert outside a theatre - Rupert immediately recognised the lad and knew him on first name terms. This pleased the lad immensely and I can see why it would. I remember the third time we met The Wanted and as myself and mum walked into the meet and greet, Tom Parker said "aw we've met before haven't we?!" and I could have cried there and then. He didn't know our names or anything but the fact that he even vaguely recognised us considering the number of fans he meets on a regular basis actually meant the world! 

Twitter has certainly helped bands etc to recognise their fans and it's also a reason why so many people get attached to unsigned, up and coming bands. I became a fan of Kingsland in November 2012 and would tweet them regularly between then and their first social in February 2013. When it came to meeting them for the first time, several members already recognised us because of twitter, it felt as if we already knew them! Over time, the more you see a band, the more they recognise you, remember your name etc and I challenge any fangirl to admit that it doesn't give them a bit of a buzz when that happens, whether it's with an unsigned artist or a worldwide artist. That might be a silly point but a bit of recognition makes you feel closer to said artist, there's no doubt about it!

Finally, escapism. It is common territory these days that fangirling is a form of relief for those having a tough time. During Tom's programme, we met people who had been bullied or had suffered from depression, yet a love of Harry Potter had helped them to survive their difficulties. I would say that almost every fangirl is fighting a battle, whether known to other people or not. Reading a book, listening to music, going to gigs etc are forms of escapism where you can forget all of your worries for a short period of time. I have my problems like most people, but going to concerts is my escape from 'real life' and I live for those days away - last night I was stood in a Take That gig and for those two hours, all my worries faded into nothing. If I had my way, I would continuously be on the road but I'm not a millionaire so until then I still need to work haha. Unfortunately any problems or worries you have still exist, but it is nice to have an alternate world that you can escape to when you need to. 

I just wish people would be less judgemental of fangirls. At the end of the day, 99% of us are a nice bunch and we just want to support people the best we can. We're not harming anyone, going to gigs gives us a sense of belonging, not only feeling closer to said band/artist but also by making life long friends along the way. Our vices make us happy, at least we're addicted to boyband hugs and not drugs eh? 

Hwyl am y tro ✌️