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Brittany Spanos

Brittany Spanos is a staff writer at Rolling Stone who primarily writes about pop music and teen culture. Previously, she worked as The Village Voice's Club Editor, handling concert listings and writing weekly for the music blog. She’s written words for VultureNylon, SPIN, Pitchfork, and Rookie Magazine. If you had told her in 2001 that she would get paid for her boy band thoughts, she would have believed you, to be honest.

“She Loves You… Loving Him: On Fanfiction, Fanart and Homoeroticism”
Fandom, fanfiction, and fanart featuring both fictional characters and real life people have taken center-stage as the main form of expression for superfans. Primarily young women write stories that "ship" (romantically pair off) two characters or public personas and use drawings or creative photo and video manipulations to illustrate these typically imagined couples.

Homoeroticism plays an integral role in these expressions, especially within the stories and drawings created by young, typically heterosexual girls who ship their favorite male crushes. Homoerotic fan art is not a new creation: female Trekkies would write dirty stories about Captain Kirk and Spock and mail them off to one another in the ’80s.

In music, especially within boy band fandoms, "slash" fanfiction (fictional stories about romantic pairings between the same sex) has become an integral part of the connection manifested between young female fans. From the Beatles' John Lennon/Paul McCartney (referred to as "McLennon") to One Direction's Harry Styles/Louis Tomlinson (known as "Larry" amongst Directioners), girls have created new worlds and conspiracies surrounding the sexualities of their crushes.

While Brodie focuses on the greater idea of fandom engagement online and Maria zeroes in on fandom and self-healing, I'd like to explore female and teenage sexuality and fandom. To do so, I will parse through the history of fanfiction and fanart specifically within the pop world, exposing how it has evolved both in content and ways it's shared and the appeal of male homoeroticism to young, straight women. Does this make their crushes more attainable? From there, I'll explore the darker underbelly these fictional worlds can create, including conspiracies and distrust from the fans as well as intense reactions from the subjects. Has the quicker accessibility of slashfiction put pop stars' personal lives under more scrutiny than ever before?

“She Loves You… Loving Him: On Fanfiction, Fanart and Homoeroticism”
Music’s loudest voices are its fans. Young people specifically direct and motivate the waves of pop history with their dedication and fervor, making them the loudest but most undervalued influencers of the 20th and 21st centuries. The power of screaming teens packing arenas for everyone from the Beatles to One Direction has translated to online communities where the fans have made their voices not only louder but more connected. This three-paper panel—with each paper specifically focused on boy band fandom—will explore the influence and power of digital fan communities, touching on psychology, sexuality, and social media along the way. 

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