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The Hmm ON Online Fandom

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On the 20th of October, we are finally hosting the first physical The Hmm ON… event at Felix Meritis together with The Hmm, platform for internet culture. This edition we are talking online fandom: what makes fans so powerful? And what role do their armies play in social media activism?

The act of idolizing has long surpassed just hanging some posters on your bedroom wall. With the rise of the internet, and especially Web 2.0, fandom has extended onto our screens—allowing fans from all over the world to always be in touch with each other.

We often talk about the power of social media platforms, such as Facebook. Online fans or stans, named after Eminem’s song from 2000, show that the power of users should not be underestimated. Online tactics rapidly develop within stan communities and are later mimicked or catered to by institutions, companies, and other organisations. Think about Kamala Harris’s “KHive”, inspired by Beyoncé’s BeyHive, or how the Marvel strategically places hints in movie trailers for their fans.

At the same time, social media platforms have turned being a fan into something that is not just about joy and community. On stan Twitter, possibly one of the most toxic places on the internet, stans are always working to hit their competitors with the nastiest clapbacks defending their faves, and stream statistics are compared as if it was a sports competition. This rivalry between stans is fed by mainstream platforms where everyone publicly comes together and where attention is a commodity.

Tonight, we’ll explore how stans organise and to what extent stan culture shapes our online culture. What makes stans so powerful? And what role do stan armies play in social media activism? Together with our guest programmer and researcher for this event, Sjef van Beers, we’ve invited three speakers with whom we’ll explore these questions.

Meet three stans: someone from the Rihanna Navy, the A.R.M.Y and a Smiler. Devica who loves Rihanna and everything she does, Oumaima, part of The A.R.M.Y and Sarah who is a Smiler but also secretly admired Selena Gomez.

Practical info

This program is English spoken. Doors and bar open at 19:00.

Besides a ticket to bring your body to Felix Meritis to attend the event, it’s also possible to attend digitally. This event is part of The Hmm’s hybrid event experiments. Tonight we’ll specifically explore the power of the chat. Instead of a simple and passive livestream broadcast, online ticket buyers can expect playful interactions with other viewers, a stan competition and emoji explosions.

Covid Certificate

To attend this performance you need to have a Covid certificate. Because of this, the 1.5 meter distance does not have to be kept inside the theater. A Covid certificate can be proof of vaccination, recovery of corona, or a negative test (from the last 24 hours).Upon entering the theater, we will ask you to show your corona certificate (QR code) through the CoronaCheck-app or by showing a print out version through CoronaCheck.nl. Don’t forget to bring your I.D. More information here.

The Hmm ON …

We’re using face filters to make ourselves prettier, track our daily steps on our iPhones, and rely on Google Maps to find our destination. But what exactly is the impact of these technologies? With The Hmm ON …, in Corona-free times hosted by Felix Meritis in Amsterdam, we reflect on these playful, serious, and sometimes disturbing developments in internet culture.

The series is kindly supported by the Creative Industries fund and Amsterdam Fund for the Arts.


Dan Hassler-Forest

Dan works as Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies at Utrecht University. He has published books and articles on superhero movies, comics, transmedia storytelling, zombies, among many other things. And he himself is being a fan of singer Janelle Monáe, about whom he recently completed two books. Dan will join us for a talk about how online fandom has shifted from transformative and subversive practices to a more promotional role.

Haaniyah Angus

“I’m worried that this has become the new norm for celebrity culture, and that the popularization of ‘standom’ has cemented this behaviour for years to come”, said culture critic Haaniyah Angus in an interview with The New York Times. In her teenage years, Haaniyah was a stan herself. While at that time feeling part of a community was very valuable for her, as she got older she also saw the problematic side of stan culture. Tonight, she’ll shed a light on how stan culture intersects with race.

Welmoed Wagenaar

As a PhD researcher at the University of Groningen, Welmoed focuses on ritualised dimensions of fandom. She will join us for a talk about fanfiction: a genre of texts written by fans in which they ‘borrow’ existing characters, worlds or public personas to write their own stories. To what extent can this type of cultural practice be seen as activist in nature? What relation-ship do fanfiction communities have with the texts or people they write about – and the industries behind them?