Stan Culture: Nicki Minaj vs. Former SJU Student

Jennifer Hood, Contributing Writer

We are obsessed. We want their perfect hair, blinding-white teeth and status. We want what they have, and we will stop at nothing to get it.

With the emergence of different social media platforms, we now have the ability to keep up with all of our favorite celebrities without having to pry ourselves out of bed and or make a real effort. We can sit with our phone in one hand and the other stuffed deep into a bag of salty chips. Social media has not only given us the ability to be lazy while appearing like we are the next Kim K, but it has created a new beast; the superfan.

These fans are everywhere, scribbling “I stan” in every corner of the internet and bathroom stall. This phrase is one that elevates us. You don’t just love a celebrity. Now, you “Stan” them. “Stan culture” is a product of a 2000’s Eminem single called “Stan,” which referred to a crazed fan. It has since developed into a subculture of fans. “Stans” are known for their extreme action and willingness to do anything for the celebrities they idolize.

One former SJU student, Mya Abraham, felt the full force of “Stan culture” after she messed with the wrong A-list celebrity. Abraham attended SJU in 2016, and since then transferred out and landed an internship with BET (Black Entertainment Television). After her internship ended in August of 2016, Abraham was hired by BET as a music journalist, according to her LinkedIn.

She wrote articles such as “I Could Have Been A Victim Of Men Like R. Kelly” and “Wait, is ‘Old Kanye’ Making A Return?” None of the articles were particularly problematic until Abraham wrote an article about the Grammys this year.

It was then that Abraham wrote an article entitled “Cardi B Is The First Solo Female Rapper To Win Best Rap Album, And Fans Are Weeping” for BET. This article was posted to the BET Twitter page with the caption, “Meanwhile, Nicki Minaj is being dragged by her lacefront,” and Nicki superfans, better known in pop culture as “Barbz,” erupted in anger.

“You don’t deserve this disrespect,” wrote one fan to Minaj. Along with this tweet, the Twitter user posted a meme, which was directed at Abraham. The meme depicted a man holding a knife with the caption, “Had it not been for the laws of this land, I would have slaughtered you.”

This is dangerous. This is a threat.

“It [“Stan culture”] incites violence” 22-year-old Veronica Lee Tyson said. “That’s what the original Eminem song was referring [to].”

The violence and comments did not stop there. The comments on the Twitter post were riddled with “Barbz”, many of whom were outraged with Abraham. One user called for the network to “…fire whoever wrote that and make them apologize.”

BET was quick to respond. The Twitter account deleted the post and issued an apology. The apology, which came from an unnamed BET Spokesperson, stated that “BET loves Nicki Minaj,” and the network “… apologized to Nicki and her team.” BET also apologized to fans saying, “This never should have happened.” But it was too late.

Minaj saw the post and she was furious. With all of her fans behind her, she took to Twitter. It was time for revenge. Her retaliation was simple. The superstar took to Twitter, posting, “Young Money will no longer be apart [a part] of the BET Experience or award show.” Young Money refers to Lil Wayne’s record label, Young Money Entertainment, which Minaj is signed to.

One minute later, at 2:09 p.m., Minaj posted again. This time she posted no text, just four photos. Two of these pictures were BET’s Twitter post, one was of Abraham, taken from her personal Instagram, and the last was a picture of Minaj throwing up a peace sign.

Some Barbz replied with photos of Abraham’s social media accounts, so that others could locate her personal information. They were completely and utterly enraged, but this isn’t the first time that Minaj’s Barbz have gone this far. In August of 2018, Minaj invoked a mob mentality when a Toronto journalist, Wanda Thompson, expressed her opinion about the artist.

Other incidents with “Stans” include the recent Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson split. Here, Davidson wrote a note on Twitter, which hinted at a potential suicide, according to an article written in December of 2018. Grande “Stans” poked and prodded Davidson, wishing that he would “do it.” While not all Barbz or devoted fans may go as far as being violent, the question arises: When is it too far?

“It’s toxic, and people don’t know when to stop,” SJU senior Allison Villa said. “I have heard of times where fans find someone’s house and show up at their door.”

Is that true? Is it bad to be devout? Many of the Barbz were tweeting about the relationship between BET and Nicki Minaj. One fan wrote “BET stands for Black Entertainment Television, but you want to put down and disrespect Nicki Minaj, a black woman… [?]” Another wrote “What they tweeted was SO unnecessary and disgusting.” Some of the “Barbz” seemed to just want justice for Nicki.

It seems to be about balance. Justice and courtesy. Maybe we don’t threaten someone with differing opinions, but instead we use our voice.

“I don’t see an issue with standing up for a celebrity,” senior Matthew Sulewski said. “It’s one thing to be a fan, but then it’s also another thing to be almost stalk-like. I think there’s a happy medium somewhere.”

So there it is. “Stan” that celebrity you’ve been crushing on since middle school. Be a fan. Be a person who has opinions and shares them, but along the way, don’t forget to be kind.

Abraham declined to comment on the incident, stating that she “legally can’t comment on the situation.” However, as of Feb. 19, Abraham’s LinkedIn indicates that she is still employed by BET. The network could not be reached for comment.