24 Pages


Lewis correctly observes that while fans are ‘the most visible and identifiable of audiences’, they ‘have been overlooked or not taken seriously as research subjects by critics and scholars’ and ‘maligned and sensationalized by the popular press, mistrusted by the public’ (Lewis, 1992:1). This situation reflects the traditional view of fandom, which situates it in terms of pathology and deviance, and reserves the label ‘fans’ for teenagers who are generally presented as avidly and uncritically following the latest pop sensation. These fans are often denigrated in popular music literature and, indeed, by many followers of popular music. Their behaviour is often described as a form of pathology, and the terms applied to it have clear connotations of condemnation and undesirability: ‘Beatlemania’, ‘teenyhoppers’, and ‘groupies’. The last can be considered an extreme form of such fan, moving beyond vicarious identification and using their sexuality to get close to the stars-even if the encounter is usually a fleeting one.