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I CAN vividly remember the unbearable number of times people had asked me the same series of questions following Justin Bieber’s arrest in 2014. “How stupid do you feel supporting a pop star with a jail record? You support drunk driving and drag racing?” People waiting for Justin Bieber to tarnish his reputation fnally received their chance to gloat about how much of a “disappointment” he was.
After Bieber’s arrest, he continued to “spiral downwards.” His face was plastered across tabloids, most of which discussed how he had allegedly let down his fans. But not all Beliebers had been disappointed, and most showed no support for his actions. This disparity between media and reality stems from confusion over the characteristics of a “fan.”
A fan of an artist is someone who enjoys that artist’s work.There are sports fans, music fans, fans of television shows, and so on, all of whom demonstrate an appreciation of the object of their attention with varying degrees of dedication. Yes, while it is true that some fans are more extreme than others, it is not fair to quickly generalize a whole group of people just because they enjoy someone’s work.
Some people like to assume that just because you’re a Bieber fan and stand by him in his down times, you immediately support drunk driving or egging your neighbor’s property. I enjoy his music, but not his actions. Believing that any given fan acts like or condones the actions of an artist is ridiculous. It is ofensive that people can jump to rash conclusions solely based on someone’s taste in music or who they idolize.
Although stereotyping Justin Bieber’s fans is common, I’ve noticed that other types of fans receive comparatively little criticism. Baltimore Ravens fans weren’t denounced as supporters of domestic violence after Ray Rice’s arrest. No one assumes that Michael Jackson’s fans support pedophilia. Defning someone based on who he or she admires is wrong, but the fact that the fans of some celebrities are scrutinized much more than others is simply outrageous.
All this can be avoided if we refrain from stereotyping altogether. Society has taken huge steps in condemning stereotypes based on race, gender, beliefs, and sexual orientation. The next step we can take is to free fans from the stereotypes cast on them based on their preferences in entertainment. It’s clear that the actions and lifestyle choices of celebrities do not represent the actions and lifestyle choices of their fans, so let’s stop acting as if they do.