Timothée Chalamet: Covid-19, Chalamania and the rise of fangirls

What was supposed to be a year filled with mega-cinema-hit-movies, press interviews, premiers and lots of interaction with his fans turned out a bit different for Timothée Chalamet and his evergrowing fanbase. The actor lauded to be Gen Z’s answer to Leonardo DiCaprio has charmed people all across the globe with his stellar performances in ‘Call Me By Your Name’, ‘Beautiful Boy’, ‘Little Women’, etc. and his goofy yet quick-witted personality. Whether you are a film buff or not, being on Twitter, TikTok and Instagram have made it nearly impossible to escape the presence of the 25-year-old actor. With the help of the internet, this adoration has resulted in a massive online following and even his own movement called ‘Chalamania’.

This movement is seen by flocks of fans, and as Antje Van Schelvergem, one of Timothée Chalamet’s fans mentions: “As a fan, I feel an immense amount of pride but I also feel as if I have connected with him even without knowing him on a personal level. I also think it is nice to follow up with Timothée and to support his career.”

For many Chalamet is a nice breeze of fresh air in the world of “stanning”. Being a stan can be defined as a dedicated fan that follows their entire line of work and loves the celebrity unconditionally. Today being a stan is mainly outed on social media platforms and whilst before the pandemic hit people could also express their love at premieres or big press events, 2020 has made us delve even deeper into our virtual realities. A reality the New York native has strayed away from. He has a rather sparse social media presence yet, therefore, causing enormous excitement when he does randomly appear to post, like or comment on stuff. “I always compare our fandom to others that stan someone who posts every second of a day. It would be exhausting to keep up with that much content,”, notes timmysfrench, a popular account dedicated to Chalamet on Instagram. This is a sentiment reiterated by many of his fans. Another fan, Haley mentions that his low-key social media profiles make what content he does share feel special and a novel each time and even goes on to say that “It’s probably healthier both for him and for stans to not always be airing everything out on social media.”

However, this year was supposed to be a year filled with Timothée Chalamet content gracing our screens whether big or small. With the sudden eruption of Covid-19, it has pushed back bound to be fan-favourites, Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of ‘Dune’ and Wes Anderson’s ‘The French Dispatch’ both starring Chalamet. With a bigger cinematic release in the future, another change has come along for film major ‘Dune’, a possible joint release on HBO Max. Film fanatics might have found this a troublesome result of 2020 yet fans of Chalamet and the franchise alike are seeing things in a more positive light. If this would secure a sequel they are more than welcome to see this movie be promoted on more platforms.

Last year the actor didn’t seem to return to Fallon, Kimmel or any other (late) night hosts to promote his new movies instead another time period had come along, a drought and apart from the occasional retweet or Instagram story, 2020 had seemed to be a rather quiet year for him. Yet his innovative fans used every scrap of content and created countless of edits as well as a viral TikTok trend of his dancing scene from breakout indie-hit ‘Call Me By Your Name’ to the music of Melanie Martinez’ ‘Play Date’.

After all the twirling around of old content, a new massive event appeared, his Saturday Night Live hosting gig. “After all the movie postponements in 2020, fans were finally able to see him acting for the first time in a year!” Darbie, who has a fan account on Twitter (@caladanchalamet), explains the excitement felt over his SNL performance. One look at Twitter or Instagram should’ve been enough to notice that this performance had brought back Chalamet’s charm to the overwhelming masses whilst his all-knowing fans were adoring to share their favourite person with the rest of the world.

And although his acclaim and following are often credited to his boyish good looks, it is his fandom that wants to push back from this narrative. To them, he is not just a pretty face with some good roles. They were drawn to him by the allure of his quality performances and excellent project picking. Another narrative seems to jump out from his stans, they are not to be classified as superficial beings often derived from gossip culture. No, Darbie even goes on to admit that to her stan culture is not about the private lives of celebrities and that for neither party that side of fandom would be seen as a healthy.

Van Schelvergem points out a rather toxic trait of a current phenomenon in the fandom sphere, “I often notice so-called “fans” that criticise him and don’t really have his back”. The comment is spun more about the way he presents himself and that the way she sees it is that some only appreciate him when he looks his best and ridicule him during other times. This however shouldn’t be seen as the overwhelming part of the fandom. As with many others when certain actors, artists, etc. become big, a certain level of “fake fans” and “toxic people” is to be expected.

It can be a slippery slope- too much idolisation of a celebrity creates a disconnect between your perceptions of someone who is a stranger to you and reality.

The rise of the internet and big scale fandoms also created new communities. “We all just share the love for one person and it brings us together in ways we have never imagined. I have made some of my best friends in the world being a part of this fandom. It is so rewarding,”, timmysfrench expresses. And Antje Van Schelvergem remembers all the times she sent Timothée Chalamet content to her sister, friends that know of her love for him and even a person she met at a party that she bonded with because of the 25-year-old actor. So will 2021 finally be the year to stop casting aside stan culture? Yes, fandoms can be toxic at times and social media can be overwhelming but being a stan doesn’t mean that their love is just thrown into a void. For most stans, the idea of celebrity culture is not a new concept. They have had the intellectual debate about how much of their time on each platform is deemed alright before the constant stream of content starts to be unhealthy and as Haley puts it “It can be a slippery slope- too much idolisation of a celebrity creates a disconnect between your perceptions of someone who is a stranger to you and reality.” No longer can people cast aside the talent, dedication and adoration of this large group of people, traditionally believed to be young females and maybe the Timothée Chalamet fandom is the start to something new.

The 25-year-old’s fandom doesn’t exist without drama, nothing these days does but one of the reasons given to his accepting and relatively easy-going fanbase are his social media breaks. Less content means less material to debate so him putting his wellbeing first ultimately seeps through to the millions of people watching his every move. “I think it’s very important to not get sucked into what can become a very vicious cycle of drama and/or over-stimulation just by the nature of social media moving so rapidly, and remind yourself a lot of fan spaces exist in a vacuum. It’s good to have other interests that don’t have you constantly engaged with social media,”, expresses Haley alongside mentioning that it is often better to keep yourself out of the drama and focus on your “own lane”.

Chalamet is so special to many because of his continuous focus on social change. “Learning about him and how he sees the world encourages me to be a better person,”, says Darbie. Unlike many of today’s stars, he isn’t promoting fitness shakes or his latest merch but rather homeless shelters in New York City for LGBTQ+ youth, racial injustice and social activism. And if there was ever to be an antidote for today’s influencer culture it would be Timothée Chalamet.

Written by: Lauren Dehollogne // Photo Credit: Mary Ellen Matthews

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