The Beauty of Fan Culture 

By Anjali Nayak 

Ever since I fell in love with Prince’s music, I have watched the same YouTube video every weekend. Through my AirPods and alone in my room, I witness the icon rip a guitar solo to The Beatles “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” 

The cover is glorious. He joins the stage with legend after legend — Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood — and while they all carry the song in their own right, it seems like mere buildup to the moment Prince is handed a Butterscotch Blonde Fender Telecaster guitar. 

Sometimes, it feels like the things I care about do not matter, or are too trivial to be worth talking about. Time after time, my eccentric (and admittedly somewhat annoying) tangent filled rants are met with exasperated eye rolls and shrugs. Whenever I attempt to show my loved ones book pages, poems, or song lyrics, I often end up wishing I had not even tried. Suddenly, something I am excited to share with the world becomes a geeky guilty pleasure of mine — so I shut up. 

Over spring break, I visited the rock and roll hall of fame while visiting family in Cleveland, Ohio. Inside the hall of fame was a small theater screening famous music moments and events. Seconds after I walked in, the video of Prince playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was projected onto the big screen. Silently, I stared in complete awe and mesmerization. After three minutes of pure musicianship, myself and twenty other audience members shared the reaction — Wow. I heard small whispers of excitement and wonder. A moment I thought I could not share with anyone else was suddenly a shared experience held by a group of strangers. A love that I cynically assumed would never be reciprocated, became a commonly held belief. Everyone in the room understood each other, but to actually acknowledge the understanding would completely destroy it. 

Fan culture is often written off as naive and childish, but what is so wrong about a group of people who love something? Who find a common passion and goal in mind? There is a certain beauty in shared respect and admiration, an underlying sense of comradery no matter the many differences there might be. We all know the feeling. The moment the superstar comes out at a concert. Or the feeling of watching the first pitch at a baseball game. These moments of fandom bring people together in a way that few things do.