Kid Cudi and Internet Fandom
My pop culture obsession began when I discovered Kid Cudi in 8th grade. Like many other teenage girls, I reveled in the edginess which I assumed my newly realized insecurities granted me. I remember scrawling “People told me slow my roll, I’m screaming out ‘Fuck that!’” in my math notebook. I often felt like a “Man on the Moon”, earnestly isolated in lunar melancholy while everyone else partied down on Earth.
Kid Cudi made me love feeling like an outcast, because his music was the gateway to a world of people just like me. Through Kid Cudi, I found groups of other angsty youth that felt like outcasts in society. I joined an online hip-hop listening club, a ton of subreddits, and even started my own Facebook group dedicated to bringing Kid Cudi to perform in my hometown, which got over 3,000 members. I become part of a group of people who didn’t quite fit in, all gathered around this one figurehead who was sensitive, emotional, unique, and, most importantly, cool as hell. In the most obvious paradox known to emo-rap fans, I felt accepted in this group of creative and emotional outcasts.
The internet provided a place for me to experience Kid Cudi’s art from the comfort of my bedroom, while simultaneously sensing the presence of thousands of other people tuning in to the same thing. Though my phone is only several inches from my face and my headphones drown out the world around me. I feel like I’m in another place - in a group of thousands, gathered around one person whom we love and want to support.
The internet has provided spaces like this for fans of many other genres and types of media through fan pages, message boards, and even the comments sections of articles and videos. Particularly, I’ve noticed this shared-experience phenomena present in the cult-followings of underground comedians. Through Vine, Twitter, and YouTube, comedians outside of traditional entertainment stardom have gained rabid fan bases who feel a fierce sense of loyalty towards their favorite hilarious and underrated comics.
I’ve also noticed that internet comedy followings are pretty different than the fandoms of traditional celebrities. Following a great internet creator feels like you’re in on a secret. Consuming their content feels intimate. It feels like you were the first one who unearthed their genius by sifting through hordes of other videos. You weren’t just fed the rising star on the radio or in the latest hit movie. You watch them on a tiny screen every night before you go to sleep, not in a crowded concert hall stepping over puke and fallen flower crowns. Finding an amazing underground rapper often has a similar feeling. It feels like you occupy a special part of their fanbase for knowing about them when they were just an unknown on DatPiff.com.
I wonder how the continued commercialization of social content will change these fan dynamics. Ads and sponsorships have certainly compromised (or at least changed) the nature of content creation, but they’re a necessary evil as creators need to monetize their content to create more. Time will tell if fans will stick around in the midst of monetization tactics that allow internet comedians to keep their videos coming. All I know is Kid Cudi is back and I’m running to my computer to talk about it.