The Power of Fandoms to Mobilize Campaigns and Political Activism

Photo Credit to Medium Article by Sheila Lim

Having a tight community of fans is one of the ultimate goals of being an artist. What a fandom essentially encompasses is to put a group of enthusiastic people who support your work in the driver’s seat, to give them the ownership to become more than passive consumers of your work.

It’s important to note that the power of a fandom has the potential to exceed mindless adoration. Granted, there are different realms of admiration and support that fans could invest in a particular artist - these types of investment could range from purely listening to a song, sharing about it with their friends to a joining a fan club, writing fan fictions and even organizing events in the name of their idols. Ultimately, what brings these like-minded people into a community is the shared devotion to the artist.

The energy of the fans’ passion to create change should not be underestimated. A highly engaged fan base is a formidable force for artists to shine in the mainstream spotlight. They see the commercial success of an artist as a testament to their loyal support, and they relate to the artist in an unconventional level that goes deeper than the love for their music. Additionally, fans often meet other fans through such mutual interest and they build a sense of solidarity that could be so powerful it represents almost a family-like bond.

With the recent Black Lives Matter movement that sparked waves of protest around the world, it shed light on one notable issue. The K-Pop community, specifically the BTS Army (K-Pop boy band BTS’s fandom name) proved to the world that they are a legitimate force capable of equipping change in our society. After BTS put out a tweet to signal their support for the BLM movement and also made a generous donation of $1 million, it quickly sparked a fundraising movement by charity project One in An Army, led by their fans. What they had achieved as a collective fandom was massive – not only did the hashtag #MatchAMillion trend on Twitter, but it also drowned out the racist hashtags that included #WhiteLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter with tweets of K-Pop fancams, memes, and gifs of their favorite idols. Within a day, a throng of fans donated and they also raised a total amount that even exceeded the celebrity’s check of $1 million.

The sense of ownership that comes with being in a fandom is immense. It’s no surprise that the collective organisation and influence of a fandom like the Army goes way beyond just the musicians they idolise. The fan to fan relationship amongst them is strengthen by their allegiance to the artist and together, they have gone on to not only propel artists to commercial success, but also bring positive energy committed to bettering the environment through a number of charity projects. Here is an example of what One in an ARMY did in the name of BTS’s 7th Anniversary to support the Global Foodbank Network. Watch the video here:

With a plethora of social media options today at their disposal, artists should continue to prioritize building engagement with their fans, building an audience and connecting with them authentically. Harnessing the power of fans helps to enhance audience loyalty, and create shows that are successful and authentic. It is paramount to invite them to participate in formal ways so that they will have a continued sense of involvement in the work and progress of the artist. Over time, these will be their networks of allies who are going to amplify incredible content and create generous fan-centric events.

In a broader sense, what we have witnessed with BTS and the Black Lives Matter movement attest to the power of fandoms in political activism across the globe. It almost represents an organisation that culminates to become a force to be reckoned with, not just within K-Pop but also on the international stage. The zealousness and scale to which the Army could coordinate and bring about change gives the world hope that with unity, strength and a shared passion, the superpower of fandoms can become a force for societal changes and a conduit for empowerment.

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