The Rise of Stan Culture: How the Beyonce Beyhive Gained Power


    Beyonce’s loyal fans are notorious for their coordinated attacks in defence of their favourite pop star. However, to understand the Beyhive’s media domination requires looking back at how modern “stan” culture was shaped.

    A theory

    Prior to the advent of social media was MTV’s Total Request Live (TRL). Launched in 1998, the interactive countdown gave fans the chance to vote for music videos. Thus, it allowed them to see the significance of their devotion as they helped secure the top spot for their favourite artists.

    The timing of TRL’s debut was important as it accompanied the increasing availability of the internet. As such, the momentum sparked by broadcast media continued online via discussion boards and fans were no longer isolated in their obsessions. Instead, they had a places to meet and bond over their budding stan egos.

    Then, the comment section became a thing. Rather than congregating in the relative privacy of forums, stans took their eagerness to promote and defend artists public. Blogs became new spaces to engage each other and they extended their digital reach.

    Of course, Twitter changed the entire dynamic between stans and celebrities. Now, the former had direct access to pop stars and their rivals, and they used it to their advantage.

    The Beyhive

    There are several fan groups on the web, including Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters and Mariah Carey’s Lambs. Yet, Beyonce’s loyal Beyhive has gained incredible notoriety for their aggression against anyone who offends their “queen.”

    For instance, after the release of Beyonce’s Lemonade album in 2016, the Beyhive made headlines for their coordinated attacks on Rachel Roy. Assuming the fashion designer was the “Becky” referenced in the music, the stans targeted her across social media. Furthermore, those who confused the spelling of her name, misfired and insulted celebrity chef Rachel Ray instead.

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    The Beyhive is notoriously vicious. On the other hand, their actions provide good business for media outlets in need of headlines and viewership. In fact, I was guilty of capitalising on their behaviour to drive the  hits of Trini Trent TV.

    A different perspective

    I spent much of the last five years of my blogging career complaining about the Beyhive and Beyonce’s inability to calm them. However, I stumbled because I was simply reacting to their antics just as they reacted to all presumed threats.

    Now, I choose to practice compassion. Instead of judging their behaviour, I understand that it has been shaped by years of media conditioning. Also, I choose to be gentle with myself because like them, I thought it was righteous.

    Trini Trent TV explores these issues and more in greater detail.

    “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama