As is historically writ in Western culture textbooks since the early 1900s, teen girl music fans are extra. They are hysterical, loosely diagnosed as mentally ill – cause: caring, earnestness, a sense of joy that hasn't yet been slowly drained through living – by armchair psychologists and tabloids; unintelligent – since emotions and factual knowledge are at opposite poles; and ultimately, silly. Whether it be in pop, rock or genres further afield, the stereotype of how girls behave in showing their appreciation and dedication for music and musicians is solidified and unlikely to change anytime soon.
But does anyone think to ask teenage girls what they think about other fans – older people within their fandoms, male fans who carry more perceived cultural clout, or the fans who are both older and male aka the critical, Pitchfork-reading, vinyl collecting, ideal fan. Has anyone actually sat down with teen girls and collectively thought… other fans: they're quite boring aren't they? They're not saving up weeks and weeks pocket money for meet and greet tickets are they? How do we know they know much about music? What are they actively doing for the cause? Who are they?
I met some teen girl fans outside Irish ex-1D lad Niall Horan's Shepherd's Bush show who were more than happy to profile male and older fans, along with a bit of advice on how to be a more engaged, knowledgeable and enthused fan. Here is what fangirls think:
OTHER FANS AREN'T OUT HERE BUYING MERCH
Lily: Girls buy way more merch, it's a more feminised thing. We want to show how we have a common interest – you see a girl who has your band T-shirt on and you go 'ooo err, she's into them too'. Being a fan is part of me, so having merch shows that. A lot of boys are embarrassed to identify with a fandom so can be weird about wearing it unless it's cool, especially if it's one that girls like too. They probably feel left out, bless 'em. They should feel less embarrassed, really. It's nice to have things in common. There's nothing wrong with being loud and proud. If you like someone and want the merch, I say go for it, boys.
OTHER FANS DON'T KNOW THE WORDS
Lily: Female fans always know the words. You go to a concert and there's boys and men there who are just there, standing, nodding their head along. How boring. If you don't know the words you're gonna be judged by someone, simple as. There's a song that'll play at this show tonight that was only released yesterday and if you don't know the words, well, that's embarrassing isn't it. But the girls will know them. If I like someone I'll listen to the music loads and I'll listen to the words and they go into my brain. It doesn't matter if guys don't know the words or not – don't worry, it's still alright if you come.
OTHER FANS DON'T KNOW AS MUCH
Preena: Female fans are way more into stanning people. We want to know everything and know so much more than boys and older fans that way. We wouldn't be here in this queue now if we hadn't researched everything possible.
Noisey: Do you notice that imbalance of knowledge in interactions when you talk to boys about music?
Ugh, I don't really talk to boys about music.
Lea: I can always keep up with boys or know more than them with music.
Preena: Older fans haven't grown up with social media so I don't see how they can ever know as much as us. We watch artists' careers completely through Twitter and Instagram. I dunno how they find music even. Through their children or other old people?
OTHER FANS DON'T GO TO MEET AND GREETS
Lily: Guys and older fans never come to meet and greets. I'm a massive Shawn Mendes fan and you'll see maybe one male fan out of 500 people. It's a more feminised thing but also to do with money. It's a stereotype but I think lads are so tight with their money. They probably think, 'I'm seeing them onstage with my own eyes, I don't need to pay all that to meet them to know who they are, I could spend all that on…' *shrugs* whatever it is they like, god, I don't know. In that respect, I don't think guys make anywhere near as much of an effort to meet a person. Even if they have no money, girls will wait outside before or after a show to to meet them. Guys can, again, join us though and make an effort, we won't judge.
OTHER FANS CAN'T BEHAVE THEMSELVES AT GIGS
Rach: At heavier gigs especially they're so arrogant. Don't know if I'm allowed to swear but they're *ahem* that. Obviously some of them aren't so bad, I don't want to stereotype.
Sian: I was elbowed in the face by a 6 foot 5 guy to get me out the way at a gig once.
Rach: I've had a few guys touch me up too. I'd rather you don't touch me up when I can't do anything because we're packed like sardines, thanks. Any show at bigger venues, like Alexandra Palace, it's happening. London is the worst for it.
Sian: Girls are too focused on the actual show to do that. And not pervs. God, you do still get girls pushing through to get to the front but at least they're not weirdos, you know what I mean?
OTHER FANS DON'T GO TO FESTIVALS TO SUPPORT ARTISTS
Sian: I went to Summertime Ball and paid god knows how much just because Niall was going to sing two songs.
Rach: I went to Reading to see Halsey and Neck Deep and mainly only went because she was there, so paid £73 just to see two artists.
Sian: Guys don't even go to concerts as much as us to be honest.
Rach: Guys go to festivals to get their heads off on ket. That's cool, like, enjoy that.
Sian: They do go to see a bit of music but it's an excuse to just get wrecked. There are definitely drunk obnoxious guys at concerts but it's at festivals where it's really a thing. I'll ask guys who aren't into music who they saw at festivals and they can't tell you. It's a trophy thing to say you went to Reading or whatever. Is that cool now though?
Rach: 'I was too high to remember'.
OTHER FANS DON'T LOOK LIKE THEY'RE GETTING VERY EMOTIONAL ABOUT IT
Alysha: They don't have as much sense of the emotional side of it. I think whether it's the way they've been brought up or whatever, girls just feel more. Boys seem to have a colder approach to music. They hear a new song and it's just appreciated as a new song. Even on TV, when One Direction did their last performance I couldn't stop crying. I feel sorry for them if they don't feel that. Sometimes you see girls there with their boyfriend and the boyfriends are just stood there. I wouldn't say older people lose the sense of the fun but…yeah.
OTHER FANS ARE BABIES ABOUT THEIR MUSIC
Sian: Especially with rock music, it's the typical 'can you name five songs that aren't singles?' thing. It's like, duh, don't talk to me. Also why are you talking to me about a subgenre of a subgenre that I'm supposed to know about. Or they have this stupid genre thing where just because I like One Direction it's invalid for me to like any other type of music. It's always boys, never girls who think that way.
Rach: I had that at an Issues show. A guy was like, 'Can you name anything?'. I go, 'Right, here's their entire discography, named back to front and back again, I'll give you the first note they hit on this song and I can play the guitar riffs.' He was dumbfounded, don't try me again. They're shit. Sorry to swear.
Sian: They get defensive over what's their music. Even when I was younger, my older brother liked Busted and when I liked them he was like, 'No, why don't you go listen to Tweenies' or whatever. Or it's the opposite: my dad would tell me what to listen to when I was a kid. Like, I'm a little kid, I don't need your indie dad rock pushed on me, are you serious?
OTHER FANS ARE BEHIND THE CURVE WITH GOOD MUSIC
Theresa: It's only when men start liking something that the general public including other men start to give it attention. I've noticed that online a lot. You got that recently, for example, with One Direction who everyone hated as being generic pop. Everyone now discussing their solo careers and saying, 'Oh, maybe they are quite good' but we've been saying they're all decent for several odd years. No one listened to us; everyone judged the band or artist on the fanbases. They're so slow to catch up with us. It was probably the same with NSYNC and Justin Timberlake and always has been the case.
Michelle: You can really tell this happens because girls are more upfront and want to talk about younger artists in their demographic. We'll get really into something and talk about it.
Theresa: It's better for you if you listen to us, really.
All fair. Thanks, girls!
You can find Hannah on Twitter.
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