How Does Fandom Influence Society?

How Does Fandom Influence Society?

This project is being done because fandom creates a multitude of positivity for society. As long as there have been artists, there have been fans. Fans admire artists such as actors and actresses and the art they create such as movies and television shows. Fans of television and movies unite and create their own unique fandoms. The work these fandoms have done is worth being recognized. Through research more individuals may consider becoming a part of fandom, knowing the good that it has done for individuals and on the larger scale of society.

The study of fandoms is relevant today because massive groups of individuals composed as fandom, benefit society in various ways through their actions. These actions include activism, charity, philanthropy, and social inclusion. The missing knowledge of this study are the long-term benefits of what fandom has done. The new knowledge being added to this study are the different charities. Readers should care about the influence fandom has on society because society is made up of millions of people. Fandom could have touched the lives of individuals in a positive way without them realizing. In some cases, fandoms have joined together and donated money to mental health organizations which is benefitting more people than just fans and celebrities.

The goal of this study is to discover, highlight and emphasize the positive domains of what fandom does for society. These domains include charity, activism, philanthropy, and social inclusion. These domains will be explained through the peer-reviewed literature and additional sources for the support of the creative project. To accomplish the goals of this study, the examination of previous literature relating to the topic will be beneficial. The structure of this paper is divided through the four subheadings. These top questions include, “What is fandom?” “The History of Fandom,” “What Activities are Fandom Taking Part In?” and “Where is Fandom Headed?” Each subheading is directly related to the goals of the literature review. All the literature in this piece supports the domains and relates back to each other.

Fandom helps to connect people who relate to specific types of stories with others who feel the same level of kinship and understanding.

— Laura, Chino Hills, CA

Literature Review
What is Fandom?

Fandom consists of a group of people varying in races, ages and genders who are fans of celebrities, television series, movies, music and beyond. These individuals group themselves together in what is called fandom. This paper will be focusing on fandom of television shows and movies. Fans come together in fandoms over their common interest and admiration of the same thing, their favorite television show, or movies. Individuals tend to cling to television and movies that are comforting and interesting to them. As time goes by, their passions and interests grow, and they connect with more fans in their fandoms.

Through fandom’s drive and passion for their common interests’ individuals often put their energies towards good. The creation and support of charities, social inclusion, activism, and philanthropy are amongst the important factors of fandom. Having a major admiration for celebrities, television shows and movies in fandom are more than that. (Lewis, 2020, p. 17) “Fandoms are about creating something. You might connect with follow fans all over the world, sharing opinions, trivia, and jokes and making memes, videos, and podcasts.” (Lewis, 2020)

Fandoms exist primarily on social media platforms. These platforms give fandoms a place to communicate with each other across the globe. Dear Evan Hansen, a Broadway show that brings attention to mental health awareness had massive success and attention through fandom on online platforms. #YouWillBeFound the message of Dear Evan Hansen has been used millions of times through fan art and fan expression. Social Media in this case is the interactive platform where fans are connecting with each other and spreading awareness.  (Rush, 2021, 120)  “Teenage mental health is a widespread sociocultural concern… Such interactions seem to benefit fans by eliciting feelings of social inclusion that are as empowering as the depictions presented onstage.” (Rush, 2021, 122) This created social inclusion and activism towards mental health awareness.

The History of Fandom

Fandoms have been existing for decades. Lewis explains tracing back all the way to 1842 American fans were enthralled by Charles Dickens. They were desperate to catch a glimpse of Dickens on his visit to America. They followed his every move. (Lewis, 2020, p.16) This was only the beginning of fans coming together for a common interest. Years continued to pass by. By 1972, conventions were held for fans of the Star Trek movie franchise to come together. They are referred to as Trekkers. Conventions in this case are events hosted by companies where individuals can interact with the celebrities they admire, make connections with fellow fans, and celebrate the art they love in their fandoms. In some cases, conventions could raise money for charities. These fandom groups also harbor a positive environment for social inclusion.

Fandoms at their core are about coming together over their common interests. Lewis emphasizes how there are fandoms for everything. Individuals can truly create a life beyond the movie, television show or actor that they are interested in. Through fandom, “You might write fan fiction, creating your own stories starring the characters you love. You might dress up and act out stories, go to fan festivals, or make artwork portraying your favorite characters as you imagine them,” (Lewis, 2020, p. 17)

 The emergence of the “digital era,” changed the way fandom existed forever. Prior to people’s lives existing without social media and cellular devices, fandoms would communicate in different ways through meetups or by mail. Unlike today, “Without any doubt, it is now widely accepted that these fan communities form an important part of the complex media ecosystem (Lamerichs, 2018). They occupy a special position as active audience members with distinctive reception practices and activities such as commenting, fan art-making, and online community building.” (Ding, 2022, 39) There are millions of fans on social media platforms who create accounts solely dedicated to their fandoms.

What Activities Are Fandoms Taking Part In?

The support of charities is heightened through fandoms. Tammentie examines fandom participation in charitable activities through the CW television show Supernatural. The lead actors of Supernatural Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles launched various charity campaigns for mental health through social media platforms. Their campaigns include Always Keep Fighting (AKF), Always Keep Fighting: Love Yourself First, Family Always Has Your Back and You Are Not Alone during the span of a few years. Their fans who either suffered from mental health issues or advocate for mental health were donating money leading to multiple successful campaigns. (Tammentie, 2016, 11) The proceeds are then going to organizations to benefit those who suffer with mental health issues. With social media fans have the tendency to feel closer to the celebrities, whose campaigns they support. “GISHWHES” standing for The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt, founded by Misha Collins a main actor of Supernatural put thousands of people to the challenge of creating artwork. “Together, GISH participants raised millions of dollars for charities and amassed eight Guinness World Records—” (GISH). Through the charitable donations, this fandom also reached Guinness World Records which lead to additional fun for the fandom.

Activism is very common amongst fandoms. A core trait of fandoms are their passions for their interests. Fan activism has empowered movements to exist in society in recent history. Through Brittany Spear’s conservatorship her fans began to concern for her well-being. Spears was put under a conservatorship in 2008. Riddick explores through social media, how Brittany Spear’s fandom created the #FreeBrittany movement. Their continued efforts and activism lead to Brittany’s conservatorship to end. Through the trials and tribulations but eventual success, “communities began engaging in broader cultural conversations,” (Riddick, 2022, 191) Without the persistence of Spears fandom, her outcome would be very different.

Another important fandom that has brought a great amount of activism to society is the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA). The popularity of Harry Potter has led to so much more than individuals admiring fans. A major goal of the HPA is their goal for encouraging younger individuals to be civically engaged. There are many themes throughout the Harry Potter series that the alliance uses as a blueprint for being engaged members of society. The HPA has worked with to support teens with mental health struggles. They’ve related their own struggles to struggles of the characters in Harry Potter and put that power for good. Positive examples through the Harry Potter Alliance include; “…the HPA joined forces with the Gay-Straight Alliance to battle homophobia in schools. Its efforts against bullying included both collecting signatures for the Make It Better Oath and making phone calls to voters in Rhode Island to urge them to support an equal marriage initiative there.” (Jenkins, 2012).

Where Is Fandom Headed?

In the age of social media fandom continues to grow to new heights. Ding refers to the way fandom exists in the “new media age,” is different than the way it has before. “Fans are prompted to rely on media to access their respective fandom and connect with respective fans across the world.” (Ding, 2022) In most cases, social media is ultimately where fandom thrives. Without it, there would be a massive lack in communication for fandoms leaving a lot of static. As social media platforms grow, fandom is going to grow with it.


Charities are finding continued success through fandoms. A fan of the hit television teen drama One Tree Hill created Friends with Benefit Charity Events (FWB). FWB was created in 2016 by One Tree Hill superfan Raenia Agostino. Agostino had a massive love for the television series One Tree Hill yet also wanted to help society. (About Us, 2022) FWB is a non-profit organization that puts charity organizations at the forefront of their mission. In 2016, the television show was off the air for 5 years. It ran from 2003 to 2012 but the fandom stands stronger than ever today. Through FWB’s feeds on Instagram and Facebook, their previous and upcoming charity events are highlighted. (Friends With Benefit Charity Events, Facebook) The cast of One Tree Hill come together a few times a year participate in photo-ops, meet-and-greets and autographs all for their fans. While the money goes to organizations such as St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Dear Jack Foundation, The Girl Project, Oceana, and plenty more. (Causes, 2022)


 In 2022, a concert was hosted by FWB to support USO, a non-profit organization that supports members of the United States Military. (Wager, 2022, p.3) American singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw headlined the concert. Not only did FWB host a Veterans Day concert, but the proceeds went to members of the United States military.

  1. The design of my creative project is a website. This website will also have components of podcasting featured throughout with different interviewees who are heavily involved in fandom.
  2. The website aims to highlight the influence fandom has on society through different domains (charity, social inclusion and activism), questions and testimonials. It also aims to encourage others to become a part of fandom through the benefits it becomes aware of. This website will also have various interviews featured throughout from charities, fandom participants, fans who participate in activism and creators of social inclusion. The separation of each domain will be worked through so that there is a clearly defined difference between each domain displayed on the website.
  3. This way is effective in addressing the questions I proposed in the literature review because it is creative which leaves open ends of expression for answering the questions. It is not putting anything in a box. I could answer the questions through interviewee’s responses, graphics with information on them, various videos already on the internet, posts from social media, images from Google and beyond.
  4. The website will have 4 to 5 different pages. These domains will be supported by interviews from different interviewees as well as additional information that I find relevant.
  5. The structure of the website is being organized by different pages between: charity, social inclusion, activism/philanthropy.
  6. My narrative and storytelling strategies are asking the questions through my domains, charity, social inclusion, activism/philanthropy. In preparation for each interview, I prepared the questions based on what I want to highlight.
  7.  I am interviewing multiple people to support my creative project. I am interviewing Team Lead of Friends With Benefit Charity Events, Brittany Purtell. The founders of Fab Five Events which include Tammy Hibbs, Trina Cline and Tammy Rollings. Nicole Randone and Sarah Brown, Instagram Digital Creators heavily involved in fandoms. As well as Amanda Grubb who is a part of the Supernatural fandom and has participated in fandom activism. The interviews will be conducted through Zoom. There are 5 interviews in total with individuals who I find very relevant in the main research question, “how does fandom influence society?” If any of these interviews do not pan out, I plan on finding other individuals who are just as important to support my main research question.
  8. Online materials from other sources for this creative project will include vidoes from YouTube and posts from various social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook. Through those platforms I will highlight content posted by fan activists and fan activist events. Additionally, fan charity events and the accounts that run those charity events. Content from accounts that harbor social inclusion of fandoms on social media. Overall, I plan on using content taken from Instagram, Facebook and YouTube that highlight all of the things I have been discussing.
Interview Questions
Brittany Purtell, Team Lead, Friends with Benefit Charity Events

Click here to watch Brittany's interview.


  1. FWB began in 2016 by Raenia Agostino, when did you start volunteering and getting involved?
  2. As a volunteer, what has been your role?
  3. It’s safe to say you’re a part of the One Tree Hill fandom, what has that meant to you?
  4. What inspires you to continue volunteering with FWB?
  5. How would you describe the transformation from Wilmington to Tree Hill during FWB events?
  6. Through the transformation, hundreds of fans are coming from across the globe, the whole town of Wilmington is ultimately benefitted, can you tell me what that experience has been like?
  7. The main goal of FWB is raising money for charity, if you could speak on behalf of the team, what has it been like knowing that large benefit FWB has on society?
    1. The charities, the fans, and even the cast of One Tree Hill is benefitted
  8. What has it been like watching the cast come together for such great causes?
  9. So my main research question is how does fandom influence and benefit society? One Tree Hill is turning 20 this year and the demand to attend FWB charity events continues to grow, what would you attest that to?
  10. For fun, what has been your favorite FWB memory? What are you looking forward to in the future?
Fab 5 Events Creators - Tammy Hibbs, Tammy Rollings and Trina Cline

Click here to watch Fab Five Events' interview.


  1. What inspired you all to start Fab 5 Events?
  2. What events have you been to in the past?
  3. You’re all apart of different fandoms, what has that meant to you?
  4. In your mission it says that 5% of your proceeds will be going to charities, what does it mean to you to know your events will be making a difference?
  5. Your first event will be held this year, you’ve gotten big names like Chad Michael Murray. Can you tell me what that experience has veen like? I’m sure really exciting.
  6. What made you choose South Carolina?
  7. My overall research question is  how does fandom influence and benefit society? Your event is benefitting the vast and the fans
  8. What are you most looking forward to in the coming years?
Nicole Randone, Social Media Content Creator, 110k followers, Early 2000’s Fandom

Click here to watch Nicole's interview.


  1. You are a digital creator, with a large online presence as “Misss2005.” When did this start? What has that journey been like leading upto now?
  2. When you were living in 2005, were you enanmored by the music, television shows, and brands that were thriving… How did YOU feel in 2005?
  3. For you, why 2005 and the early 2000’s? This era has habored a fandom of its own. Can you tell me what that is like for you now in 2023?
  4. On Instagram you have over one hundred thousand followers, and almost a hundred thousand on TikTok. That is a lot of followers and engagement, what is this like for you, creating content? and etc…
  5. The bio’s of your social media accounts say, “bringing happiness to the present, through the past.” Studies have shown that feelings of nostalgia are very positive for people, improving mental health, was this something you considered early on in content creation? What does it mean to you to know you are making people smile each day?
  6. Your content is greatly appreciated by Millennials and Generation-Z, millions of people watch the movies and television shows you relate to and create content of… the brands you share… this creates social inclusion and a positive online environment of friends… Can you expand on that?
  7. You’ve worked with a lot of great brands such as Dunkaroos, Heelys.. You have been sent items by Juicy Couture and Dooney and Burke, as someone who is an individual content creator geared towards what you love, your fandom of the early 2000’s what does that mean to you?
  8. My personal favorite content that you create is when you share early 2000’s dvds, the motorola flip phone, iconic magazines and cd players, your treasure from this era. It shows that you are more than a content creator and the pieces of this era mean a lot to you, can you expand on that?
  1. Now, I want to ask each of these questions separately because they mean a lot
    1. How did it feel when you met Jesse McCarthy? An iconic American Actor and singer who defined the early 2000’s with his songs like “Beautiful Soul”
    2. How did it feel when you met Chad Michael Murray? An early 2000’s heartthrob of One Tree Hilll, A Cinderella Story, and Freaky Friday.
  2. Social media is everchanging, what are you most looking forward to in the future? How do you plan on keeping this special era alive?
Sarah Brown, Social Meida Content Creator, 15k, multiple fandoms + One Tree Hill fandom

Click here to watch Sarah's interview.


  1. At what age did you start becoming involved in fandom?
  2. What does liking television shows and movies mean to you?
  3. So what fandoms are you apart of?
  4. Why are you apart of these fandoms?
  5. You’ve brought your love for tv/actors to social media. Instagram specifically, what has that journey been like for you?
  6. You are a digital creator, making edits and posts, what is that like?
  7. Can you tell me what the creative process has been like for you?
  8. You’ve even made money through your creations, can you tell me a little bit about that?
  9. On your account, @Naleysbff, you have 15.8k. 15 thousand followers is a lot, What’s that journey been like?
  10. How have you built a community through Instagram?
  11. You’ve met and become friends with people across the U.S. can you tell me what that’s been like + your relationship with your friend Bonnie?
  12. Social inclusion and harboring a sage environment is a huge part of fandom life on Instagram, what does that mean to you?
  13. Overall, what are you most excited about moving forward?
Amanda Grubb, Supernatural fandom, Activism
  1. When did you become a part of fandom, Supernatural specfically?
  2. What draws you to Supernatural?
  3. The main actors of the show have started multiple campaigns and charities, which ones have you supported?
  4. How do you feel being a fan activist?

Fandoms can either have positive or negative influences. Thankfully, OTH has a positive influence. You truly just feel loved by the whole community and even the cast of OTH when you get to interact with them!

— Abbey, Walnut Ridge, Arkansas

Community Outreach


  1. The non-profit organization I plan to use for my project is Friends With Benefit Charity Events. It is a non-profit organization that hosts charity events with the cast of the hit television show One Tree Hill. Their homebase and events are located in Wilmington, North Carolina. Generally, they raise money for charities by hosting fan events throughout the year. Fans of One Tree Hill come to Wilmington, North Carolina to meet the cast.
  2. Their objective is to host events throughout each dedicated to different charity organizations. These include St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital, Dear Jack Foundation, The Girl Project, Drew League Foundation to name a few. These activities help to improve the community and society as whole because thousands of dollars are being donated to really important causes that help people live better lives. In addition to that, the whole community of Wilmington, North Carolina is being benefitted when the hundreds of fans are flying to their town, as tourists and paying into their businesses.




One of the main objectives of this organization is to support various charity organizations by hosting events with the beloved celebrity cast of One Tree Hill. 80% of their profits go to charity organizations such as St. Judes Children’s Research Hospital.

This aligns with the goal of my project because I sought out to highlight how being apart of fandom of various series could lead you to donating money to charity organizations where children are in need of help. Besides making your dream come true by meeting your favorite celebrities you are also making a difference in the world.

Another main objective of this organization is to bring fans together, make their dreams come true and create enviornments of social inclusion. This aligns with the goal of my project because I have discovered that through fandom people have created environments of social inclusion whether it occurred through in person fan conventions or online on social media platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. People have made lifelong friends which have enhanced their life.




I plan to help the organization improve their activities and achieve their objectives in various ways.

  1. To help the organization achieve goal #1, I can continuously share their events so that people are aware of them in order to donate money to the charities. In addition to this, I can send out a newsletter ahead of time to notify people when tickets are going on sale and when the events are occurring.
  2. This could be done within the next month through the development of my website.
  3. The anticipated outcome of this is a continued interest in the events being hosted by them as well as continuous loyalty to the organization.
  4. To help organization achieve goal #2 I can create a fan forum/fan group on my website so that people can connect with each other when they are going to events or if they just want to speak to other members of the fandom series they are a part of.
  5. I can set this up within the next month as I continue to build up my website. As I share it across social media platforms to gain traction.
  6. The anticipated outcome of this are a group of fans becoming friends with each other, they will have a place where they can discuss life and things going around as well as their continued interest in their series. It is a safe place where people can share what is important to them.



“About Us.” Fwbcharityevents, 2022,


“Causes.” Fwbcharityevents, 2022


Ding, Junfu. “Fandom and Popular Culture in the New Media Age Specialization.” The Frontiers of Society, Science and Technology, vol. 4, no. 10, 2022,


“Friends With Benefit Charity Events.” Facebook,


“Gish.” GISH,


Jenkins, Henry. “‘Cultural Acupuncture’: Fan Activism and the Harry Potter Alliance.” Transformative Works and Cultures, vol. 10, 2012,


Lewis, K. (2020). The Rise of Fandoms. Scholastic Scope, 68(5), 16–19


Riddick, S. (2022). Points of Contact Between Activism, Populism, and Fandom on Social Media. Media and Communication, 10(4), 191-201. doi:


Rush, A. (2021). #YouWillBeFound: Participatory fandom, social media marketing and Dear Evan Hansen. Studies in Musical Theatre, 15(2), 119–132.


Tammentie, B. (2016). FANDOM AS AN ONLINE SUPPORT GROUP – A Case Study of CW’s Supernatural


Wagner, Renee, editor. “Gavin DeGraw Veteran's Day Concert Raises Funds For Friends With Benefit Charity Events.” The Magazine Lifestyle, 2022, p. 3.

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