Affective fan experiences of Lady Gaga

  • Lise Dilling-Hansen Aarhus University
Keywords: Affect, Experience economy, Online fandom, Social media


The fandom of Lady Gaga is, like other fandoms, defined by its affective attachment to the object of fandom. However, if one asks the fans of Gaga why she is more appealing than other stars, they would be likely to highlight the personal investment and attachment of Lady Gaga herself and thus the mutuality of the relation. In order to examine this relation, which is experienced as equal despite being patently unbalanced, I investigate affective states of fandom through the lens of the experience economy on the levels of staging, co-creation, and self-direction in the experience of Lady Gaga and argue that authenticity, interaction, and empowerment are key elements of the fandom in question. Also, I discuss the personal investments of the fans and argue that the unwritten rules and norms of fandoms, as well as the hunt for positive affect, can trigger states of negative affect. The article is based on online as well as off-line ethnography.