Fan culture is often viewed in a negative light because it can get pretty toxic. Overly-obsessed fans are known to fight over, stalk, and even hurt the people they’re fans of. Even fan culture surrounding digital media, such as anime and video games, can get toxic, with fans at each other’s throats over contentious topics like the rampant sexualization of women and minors in those industries.

But what about the regular fans? You know, the ones who make up the majority? Why should they be viewed negatively because of the bad fans that make up the minority? 

I like to use K-pop as an example. Before anyone gets upset with me, I do agree that there are many terrible K-pop fans out there. There are some who fetishize Korean people and even some who have internalized xenophobia. But a majority of K-pop fans are just individuals who just want to support the artists they love — at least that’s a majority of what I’ve come across. And yet, K-pop fans are viewed as childish, obsessive freaks.

What got me thinking about fan culture and how horribly it’s viewed was an incident with James Corden on “The Late Late Show” a little while ago. He called the fans of the K-pop boy group BTS “15-year-old girls”: the biggest — and incredibly inaccurate — generalization I had ever seen. BTS has fans all over the world of all genders and ages, as seen in many concert videos. Any time one of the members advertised an adult-directed product such as a brand of alcohol or a car, those items would sell out. And who was buying those items? Certainly not “15-year-old girls.”

When I was a little girl, I was made fun of by my classmates because I liked One Direction. Some people might find their past obsessions embarrassing, but I personally don’t. One Direction’s music got through a lot of tough times, and they were my very first concert. I shouldn’t have to be ashamed of listening to and supporting the music of my favorite artists.

Now, as someone who listens to and supports many K-pop artists, I can say that this type of reaction is still the same. Throughout high school, I had rude comments about my love for BTS thrown at me. Tons of posts making fun of K-pop and K-pop fans also constantly circulate on social media, because gosh forbid you like music from another country (but that’s a topic for another time). “You don’t even know what they’re saying” was a common remark I would get.

I wish that people would just mind their business and stop acting like being a fan of an artist is “weird.” You can bully the psychopaths who throw shoes at their favorite artist’s face, but stop grouping regular fans in with them. At the end of the day, fans are just regular people trying to enjoy good music, shows, and games while supporting the ones who make it.

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