A residual effect of this closeness was that the “real” personalities and lives of bandom subjects threatened to overwhelm the creative aspect of RPF. Studies of RPF often focus on the inherent flexibility of celebrity identity, because it allows authors and readers the opportunity to invent personalities for celebrities and fill the celebrity vessel with traits that align with the authors’ desires. The proximity of the celebrity subjects created a number of issues for bandom authors and readers, but became particularly intense in a controversy over some musicians’ performances of “stage gay,” in which the performers groped, kissed, or flirted with one another onstage. This practice stirred controversy because the band members’ perceived support for and sensitivity towards feminist and queer communities was of paramount importance to many bandom participants. Some bandom participants felt validated by these onstage displays of affection, connecting it with the bands’ stated support for gay rights. Others thought that “stage gay” was little more than sexual identity tourism, given that a majority of the musicians were in heteronormative relationships and did not have to face the social consequences of queerness. Questions over what the musicians intended by these actions, coupled with several hurtful comments made by some musicians on Twitter, created a situation in which the accepted “fanon” characteristics of these musicians were threatened by new canonic evidence. The feeling of closeness engendered by social media likely only intensified the sense of disappointment and even betrayal that some in bandom reported.
There is relatively little scholarship on RPF, particularly in light of how popular and controversial the practice is within fandom circles. This paper looks at what happens when RPF meets social media. Focusing on Bandom – one of the first RPF fandoms to really benefit (or suffer?) from the constant flood of new canon via social media – Hagen asks how much canon a fandom can absorb before there are no gaps left in which fannish creativity can flourish.