Why fans throw things at the artists and celebrities they love

Why fans throw things at the artists and celebrities they love

Fandom and online pop music researcher, Kate Pattison, explains why fans throw things at artists and how social media has led to a rise in this problematic behaviour.

Kate Pattison, PhD candidate in music industry

Topics: concerts, live performance, etiquette, social media, fans and fandom, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, Adele

“Throwing things at artists on stage isn't new, but the proliferation of social media platforms has further encouraged this behaviour. Concert videos are all over TikTok, from Beyonce’s Renaissance Tour to Taylor’s Eras Tour, and these types of videos gain traction online.

“Generally speaking, fans don't want to hurt their favourite artists. If they’re throwing things on stage, it’s often a gift. When Harry Styles came to Australia, we saw videos of him catching different things on stage: from pride flags and crocheted accessories to an iconic Bunnings hat.

“Having an artist catch or acknowledge something at a show is one of the ways that fans can interact with their favourite celebrities.

“In this post-Covid era, opportunities to meet celebrities are limited, and so these acknowledgements have become more valuable. Fans earn considerable cache for being ‘noticed’ by the object of their fandom. It’s one of the key ways to gain capital within a community.

“But there's a fine line between which behaviours are celebrated, and those that are frowned upon.

“Each fan community establishes their own norms, and thus the bounds of appropriate fan behaviour can only be determined by each group. When fans are seen to have crossed a line, it can have a detrimental effect on their status within the community. Over the last few weeks, many fans have spoken out and distanced themselves from these more problematic behaviours.

“The artists themselves are also setting the tone for behaviours at their shows. For example, Adele recently spoke out at one of her Las Vegas residency shows, warning fans not to dare to throw anything at her. This is likely to help curb the behaviour as fans will generally listen to the object of their fandom.”

Kate Pattison is a PhD candidate in music industry at RMIT University. Her research looks at online pop music fandom, with a focus on fans of Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, Delta Goodrem and BTS.


General media enquiries: RMIT Communications, 0439 704 077 or news@rmit.edu.au


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