Sun. May 19th, 2024

Lara fantasised for years about meeting her celebrity crush. When she finally did, her world collapsed

Samantha Parker By Samantha Parker May11,2024
Fandom can give people meaning and community, but there’s also a dark side. Watch Insight’s episode Super Fans on 
Lara Jones was more than just a fan of singer Justin Bieber.
After years of following his career, watching his every interview, buying every piece of merchandise, and even tracking his movements around the globe, she felt she knew him.
“I had built such a strong connection to him,” Lara told Insight.
“I felt like I understood him. I felt like he would understand me.
“And if we did get the chance to meet, I think I truly believed that he would fall in love with me.”
After years of trying desperately to meet Bieber, one short conversation changed everything for Lara.
Her friend had won a competition to meet the star in Melbourne, and brought Lara along.

“We were so excited,” Lara said. “We planned out all these questions we would ask him.”

A teenage girl in front of a wall covered in posters

Lara’s world came crashing down when she finally met her idol, Justin Bieber. Source: SBS

“When we did meet him, he wasn’t rude. He didn’t do anything wrong. But he really just didn’t have anything to say,” Lara said.

Lara says she built up the conversation for many years in her head that she truly thought it was going to change her life.
“What I found out was that he was just like all the other guys at my high school, and didn’t have anything really that interesting to impart,” she said.
She said the moment left her “crushed” and changed everything about her feelings for the singer. It was the end of a years-long commitment, not just to the celebrity at the centre of her obsession, but to the friends she’d made through being a fan.
“I cried about the disappointment of him,” Lara said.
But the biggest blow to Lara’s life after the disappointment of meeting her idol in the flesh, was the loss of the fan community that she had been a part of for many years.
“But I also think I was upset to have lost that whole fan community, I’d put so much money, energy, time and effort and passion into it.”
“I think that was actually the worst part.”

What is a parasocial relationship?

According to Dr Catriona Davis-McCabe, a counselling psychologist and President of the Australian Psychological Society, social media has had significant impacts on parasocial relationships — where people like Lara feel a deep connection with someone who doesn’t even know they exist.
Parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships, particularly common among young people who seek connection and expend emotional energy, interest and time into a particular person.

“These days, we can watch everything on the internet. We can just download so much about other people’s lives, so that the person believes that they actually do know them, and that the connection is real,” Davis-McCabe told Insight.

While Davis-McCabe says these types of connections can be quite normal, there can often be a downside.

“A picture is often built up of a particular person in our mind and when they don’t act or behave how we thought they were going to, we can feel very rejected or let down,” she said.

an umpire at an AFL game

Stefan Grun is a former AFL umpire. He says he’s been subject to abuse by fans. Source: SBS

Dealing with fan abuse

For former AFL umpire Stefan Grun, it wasn’t players or teams who let him down — it was fans.
Stefan said he’d been subject to ‘plenty of abuse’ on and off the field,
“When you umpire football, you know that half the crowd and half the players aren’t going to agree with your decision, even if you know it’s 100 per cent right,” Stefan told Insight.
He said his role meant he’d signed up for ‘a fair bit of flack’ but fans did sometimes cross the line.
“I’ve copped plenty of beers tipped on me,” Stefan said.
“I’ve been spat on a few times.
“But probably the worst was [having] urine tipped on me, I didn’t sign up for that, that’s for sure.”
Despite the bad behaviour he’s been subject to, Stefan says the passion of the fans was what makes football so exciting for him.
While Lara’s no longer a ‘Belieber’, she agrees there’s something special about fandom.
“I can tell these stories now and have a little laugh at myself,” Lara said.

“I don’t think there’s anything to be embarrassed about being passionate about something”.

A man in a Harry Potter costume sitting down

Anthony is a Harry Potter super fan Source: SBS / Mike Crick

Separating the art from the artist

Harry Potter super fan Anthony Farah could relate to Lara’s disappointment in someone she’d once idolised.
After being bullied throughout his younger years, he says he found a safe haven in the ‘Wizarding World’ of the Harry Potter fan community.
He said it was very disheartening that the author behind the hit franchise, J. K. Rowling, continued to share her opinions on trans people, considered by many to be transphobic.
“It very much contradicts everything she’d built up in the Harry Potter series about acceptance and anti-prejudice,” Anthony told Insight.
But he said the author’s views didn’t stop him from being a fan of the series, which became a safe space for him as a child, and a continued source of fun and friendship in adulthood.
“For me, it’s easy to separate the art from the artist,” he said.
“Because if you really connect with and hold on to what you know, I feel like you can still find a place in the fandom.”
And for more stories head to Insightful – a new podcast series from SBS, hosted by Kumi Taguchi. From sex and relationships to health, wealth, and grief Insightful offers deeper dives into the lives and first person stories of former guests from the acclaimed TV show, Insight.
Follow Insightful on the , or wherever you get your podcasts.
Samantha Parker

By Samantha Parker

Samantha is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the truth behind the headlines. With years of experience in investigative reporting, she has covered a wide range of topics including politics, crime, and entertainment. Her in-depth analysis and commitment to factual accuracy make her a respected voice in the field of journalism.

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One thought on “Lara fantasised for years about meeting her celebrity crush. When she finally did, her world collapsed”
  1. Did Lara ever consider that her idol might not live up to her years of expectations? It’s tough when reality doesn’t match the fantasy built up in our minds.

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