Band of Brothers
A look at the wild, wild world of fan clubs
By Sally H
Jesus Christ is the first
recorded person to have a fan following. His crew of loyal (except Judas) apostles adoringly followed and stood by every word he said. Being a ‘super phenomenon’ can really be a
Just as the Son of God had Judas, the legendary singer-songwriter of The Beatles, John Lennon, had Mark Chapman, while the life of rising Mexican-American superstar singer Selena was ended tragically by Yolanda Saldivar, who was none other than the president of her fan club!
Taking a leaf from the perspicacious and hardworking stylings of Johannes Gutenberg, fan clubs have web sites that publish the words and the works of their leader. These forums, pages, and websites feature photographs and reports on the
object of their affection.
The power of such fan sites was referenced, validated, and glamorised in Nick Hornby’s seminal work on contemporary pop culture, Juliet, Naked. Let’s now look at some of the most popular, surprising, and interesting fan clubs from around the world!
Before there was Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber or Hannah Montana, there was David Cassidy. The shaggy-haired, pretty-faced and harmless-looking androgynous boy from New York became the face, voice, and phenomenon of The Partridge Family. Cassidymania was born and a million girls were in love and didn’t fear getting stampeded in his concerts. David Cassidy had the biggest fan club in history, some say even bigger than Elvis Presley and The Beatles combined! At the height of his superstardom, a fan reportedly hid in his air conditioning duct for almost a week!
The Noughties was a moment of many greats - one of them being a little something called Justin Bieber. His fans, called the ‘Beliebers’, may be young and small in size but they take competition seriously; even if it comes in the form of a girlfriend or a competitor. Beliebers aren’t as homicidal as Mark Chapman but many a time they have shown aggression to ladies linked to the Biebs. As young as they are, they do seem capable of clubbing Chapman to a pulp!
Far from the land of young
Beliebers, there’s the group of ever-growing and slightly unhinged ‘Li’l Monsters’ - fans of Lady Gaga. All credit goes to the pop sensation, for it’s her tweets and tributes to her fans that make the number of her tribe increase.
MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO
If there ever will be a book
dedicated to fans of a film or TV series franchise, the comically-dressed, fanatically-obsessed fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who would
warrant the most number of pages.
Harry Potter fans might write the best fan fiction but the Whovians (Doctor Who fans), Trekkies (common name for Star Trek fans), and Star Wars fans are most popular. Fans even have spin off films, audio dramas, parodies, video games, journals, and the like. Eg: How the Sith Stole Christmas, Darth Vader’s Psychic Hotline, Run Leia Run, Star Trek: Hidden Frontier, Redshirt Blues, Borg War etc. Interesting side-note: Queen Elizabeth is a Whovian, as are film-makers Peter Jackson and George Lucas, folk poet and singer Bob Dylan, legendary Queen guitarist Brian May, and football icon
David Beckham, to name just a few.
Doctor Who is, in fact, such an integral part of British culture that the song ‘Doctorin’ The Tardis’, by The Timelords, reached the top spot in the UK Singles Chart in 1988! The lyrics referenced characters from the Doctor’s universe while its melody was inspired by the score of the show.
In the mist-laden land of Harry Potter fandom, the biggest name has to be The Leaky Cauldron, Calling itself ‘The Most Trusted Name in Potter’, it’s in this forum where you can find all that’s new and current in the fictional world of the boy wizard and all that JK Rowling, Daniel Radliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint & Co are up to. The website even has its own song, called none other than ‘The Leaky Song’, by Brad Mehlenbacher of Draco and the Malfoys. In the recently opened Pottermore Shop, £1 million was made from the sale of Harry Potter e-books!
WITH RED GUNS BLAZING
The (right!) North London football club, Arsenal, has one of the most interactive fan forums. The club hasn’t won in as many as seven seasons but their fans are easily the most loyal of the lot; no matter which club we’re discussing in any continent. Fact: Arsenal has the most followers on its official Facebook and Twitter pages. Unofficial fan pages like ‘At Arsenal, We Don’t Buy Superstars, We Make Make Them’, continue to update fans of all the popular matches (EPL, CL, FA), and even those that go under the radar (Women’s Squad, Reserves, Juniors, etc.). Speaking of loyalty, there are no other fans as loyal as the Gunners (aka Gooners). The club, aware of its fans’ allegiance, compiled a list of the ‘Gunners’ Greatest 50 Players’ and ‘Gunners’ Greatest 50 Moments’ based on votes. It’s not all serious business and fawning over itself in North London as the football club continues to laugh at itself and its players by releasing hilarious videos like ‘Special Report: Carl Jenkinson's haircut’.
Fans were once again the
forerunners (and lucky winner) when Citroen, the club’s official car supplier, raffled off a C4 model with caricatures of players (Robin Van Persie, Manuel Almunia, etc) and manager Arsene Wenger drawn by artist Gerald Scarfe for the Teenage
Cancer Trust. However, the footballer with the most fans is Real Madrid galactico and Portugal national Cristiano Ronaldo - with almost 42 million fans on Facebook alone. Messi, you ask? Forget about it. Here’s some food for thought: Michael Jackson, not an athlete, has 47
million- plus fans!