Throughout fandom culture, both stars at the centre of Hollywood, and the fans themselves, have always faced a sexist double-standard in the levels of respect that they receive from the media. From male celebrities being praised while female celebrities are bashed over the same thing, to the ongoing discourse of fangirls versus sports fans, Ellie Jupp explores how the mockery of women in celebrity culture is driven by the underlying misogyny in today’s society.
‘fangirls’ of celebrities and artists have always been considered a bit of a punchline by modern society, a mockery driven by misogyny
Fangirls vs Sports Fans
With packed stadiums, faces painted, voices screaming and chanting, and merchandise sold to the masses— the two cultures are starkly similar. Yet, sports fans showing their passion is glorified, while fangirls are commonly vilified by the misogynist demographic.
Throughout pop culture, ‘fangirls’ of celebrities and artists have always been considered a bit of a punchline by modern society, a mockery driven by misogyny. Dubbed as ‘crazy’ and or ‘obsessed’, young girls and women are constantly made fun of for dropping considerable amounts of cash on concerts and merch, which is often the same sum that sports fans will throw at an NFL game — the average pop concert ticket costing around €137 (£117) in Europe, whilst NFL tickets averaging at around £125, according to data by SeatPick in 2023.
While it’s considered ‘cringey’ or ‘weird’ to be passionate about a singer’s pop-culture history and their discography, many misogynistic critics of the fangirl culture don’t bat an eye when football fans study and memorise statistics and scores. When speaking to my brother and my dad about this exact social issue – two of the biggest sports fans I know – they kindly warned me to be explicit in that this sexist view against fangirls is not shared by every man that enjoys sports. While this may be true, the sad reality is that it’s enough of a majority to make this ridicule of young women and teens be a widely discussed conversation in recent years.
only one of these cultures is dubbed as ‘crazy’ and ‘toxic’ by our modern society
The statistic that domestic violence increases by 38% every time England loses a football game has been circulating the internet for years, sparked by a study conducted in 2014 that also found that even if England won the match or drew, this statistic still skyrocketed to 26%. Conversely, during Taylor Swift’s concerts on her Eras Tour this past year, fans rallied together in their shared passion. They would even share and exchange friendship bracelets with strangers, a tradition sparked by a song from Swift’s most recent album ‘Midnights’, which featured a sentimental lyric about making friendship bracelets. And yet, only one of these cultures is dubbed as ‘crazy’ and ‘toxic’ by our modern society, still rooted in sexism. The violence instilled in sports culture is commonly excused as just being ‘part of the game’, but this vindication needs to come to an end.
The Rachel Zegler Hate Train
Another misogynist mockery of young women that has come to light in recent years, largely due to the influence of social media and its ability to spread hateful slander, is the hate train on young successful female celebrities that come into the spotlight – especially if those young women are open about expressing their own inner fangirl for their own idols. The most relevant example of this is the hate and backlash received by Rachel Zegler. The star of the recent Hunger Games sequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (2023) became an overnight Hollywood sensation, but not in the way any young actress aims to become.
The Rachel Zegler hate train stands as a prime example of double standards in celebrity culture
In a 2022 interview regarding her upcoming project Snow White (2025), Zegler expressed a feminist critique of the original film. Zegler told Variety: “I just mean that it’s no longer 1937… she’s not going to be saved by the prince, and she’s not going to be dreaming about true love; she’s going to be dreaming about becoming the leader she knows she can be.” While in certain taste, this may have been too critical of such a classic that many people love and respect for its original value of true love, a value at the centre of the Disney Princess plot, it was received with a disproportionate amount of hate and backlash for what was merely one comment in one interview.
The Rachel Zegler hate train stands as a prime example of double standards in celebrity culture; on the red carpet of the premier of her film Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023), Zegler mentioned to a reporter that she had joined the DC Extended Universe by taking the role, because she ‘needed a job’, followed by ‘I’m being so serious’. This was also met by backlash from social media as she was labelled as ungrateful for her opportunities. And yet, when Jacob Elordi, Hollywood’s most recent heartthrob following his role in Saltburn (2023), told a reporter who’d asked about what his next project would be, ‘I’ll play whatever they give me. I need a job’, Elordi’s comment was met with a humorous response, further reinstating this double-standard between men and women in the spotlight.
Why are fangirls viewed as crazy and obsessed, when sports fans are just passionate?
To conclude, we must ask why the 21st century’s fandom culture has these double-standards. In most cases, the vilifying of female stars and fans is senseless, while similar actions from their male counterparts are excused and even respected. Why are fangirls viewed as crazy and obsessed, when sports fans are just passionate? Why are young female celebrities crucified and cancelled disproportionately for their comments and actions, when their male counterparts are allowed to get away with the same things? How can we put an end to this senseless, sexist double-standard which somehow still exists in what is meant to be a progressive society?
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