Sunday, February 28, 2021

Review: 'Fandom and The Beatles: The Act You've Known for All These Years'

No band can have a real career without fans. Fans are the bodies who crowd the floors at concerts, the wallets who purchase tickets and albums, and the voices who advertise their fave groups and recruit new fans. No band has had a career like The Beatles' and no fans have been as integral to the history of the band they worship as Beatlemaniacs have been. How many other fan groups have their own, widely known name? 

The ten essays in Fandom and The Beatles: The Act You've Known for All These Years look at different aspects of Beatlemania throughout history. Candy Leonard's "Beatles Fandom: A De Facto Religion" attempts to piece together a core Beatles philosophy mostly by cherry picking a dozen songs that support the band's "All You Need Is Love" ethos. The essay might have been more compelling and nuanced had it made room for the less palatable philosophies of songs such as "Taxman", "Dr. Robert", and "Run for Your Life". Punch Shaw's look at Lennon's role as cultural and political icon could have used more analysis and fewer objective bullet points of Lennon's most noteworthy and inflammatory moments, although Shaw's willingness to acknowledge Lennon's hypocrisies fleshes out the discussion a bit. Co-editor Kit O'Toole's essay on how Beatle fans engage with online media overdoes the statistics and underdoes the analysis. More insightful is Katie Kapurch's "The Beatles, Gender, and Sexuality", which challenges sexist stereotypes of Beatlemaniacs as mindlessly screaming girls. Other essays deal with fan fiction, cover bands, and how the young Beatlemaniacs of the twenty-first century express their fandom online and elsewhere. 

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