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Op-Ed: Amazon Prime Show “Swarm” a Social Commentary on Fan Culture

From Nicki Minaj’s Barbs to Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters, fan culture (also known as “fandoms” or Stans) has become one the largest propellers of popular culture’s universal success. By definition, fandoms are described as large communities built around shared enjoyment of an aspect of popular culture ranging from books, films, bands, sports, and celebrities. While there is nothing wrong with sharing your love for a particular aspect of popular culture, at what point does this become obsessive? 

We’ve seen in real-life cases that fans have gone too far, from the death of Selena Quintanilla to Eniemem’s powerful rap “Stan,” which shows the lengths an obsessed fan will go. 

Even now, with the rise of social media, fandoms have access to celebrities at the tips of their fingers, bombarded with curated images of their favorite celebrity with seemingly perfect hair, skin, and lifestyles.  However, we need to understand that this image is not based in reality…and THAT is exactly what Donald Glover wants to shed light on in his newest show Swarm. A seemingly horrific parody of stan culture, some viewers speculate that the show is based on the real-life antics of Beyonce’s fan base ( referring to themselves as the BeeHive). 

The show was released on March 17th on the platform Amazon Prime and consisted of a seven-episode season. In the beginning, viewers are introduced to Dre (Dominique Fishback), a devout fan of mega-popstar Ni’Jah, a fictional stand-in for Beyonce. The storytelling follows the mental and emotional devolution Dre experiences as she travels the country in pursuit of Ni’Jah, leaving behind a trail of disarray and violence. While Dre’s motivations are never made clear other than her apparent dissatisfaction and acts of rage for non-supporters, we get the chance to see the darker aspects of fan culture. 

Like Glover’s FX show Atlanta, the show maintains aspects of Afro-surrealism by creating an air of dark and unsettling feeling to viewers. While this show may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it definitely has a powerful message surrounding the toxicity of fan culture. 

Be sure to check it out, now streaming on Amazon Prime!


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