Last week, a writer named Amy McCarthy decided to do a deep dive into the world of “Dance Mums” Fandom on Instagram for Jezebel.
When members of that fandom found the article, they fought back.
“Dance Mums,” a Lifetime show that’s on its fourth season, follows the lives of a gaggle of young Pittsburgh-based competitive dancers and their overbearing mothers, as well as their coach, Abby Lee Miller.
You may be familiar with one of the show’s bigger stars, Maddy Ziegler, who appeared in two Sia music videos; the most recent one being “Elastic Heart” with Shia LaBeouf.
Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of the show myself.
This particular world of “Dance Mums” fans live on Instagram. McCarthy found, and reported, that many of the accounts exist as parodies of the actual cast members, or blatant fan accounts promising to share facts about the girls and their families.
None of the fans seem to actually know the girls personally, but they promise tons of facts and secrets, hoping that the cast members will notice them.
“Then I uncovered the strange Instagram world dedicated to the show’s barely pubescent stars, and realised that maybe “love” isn’t the best way to describe it. “Obsession” is more accurate.” McCarthy writes for Jezebel. “In fact, love barely seems present in the way that, over social media, millions of girls across the globe have carved out a fairly scary niche where they can share photos, chat, fight over, and tell stories about the group of young dancers that they see on their television screens every week.”
After McCarthy wrote her article for Jezebel, the Dance Mums fans came back in full swing, leaving hundreds and hundreds of comments on McCarthy’s Instagram and Twitter accounts.
Jezebel’s Jia Tolentino wrote a follow up about the reaction of the Dance Mums fans and some of the things she saw users writing about McCarthy.
“I don’t agree that she should be told to kill herself,” wrote another user, “but still what she said about us and the fact that she’s a grown women fighting with a bunch of teens is immature on her part.” Other Dance Mums fans chimed in, saying that even though they were getting blocked, they could use their other accounts to keep spamming. And the comments keep coming! It’s beautiful. It’s the most beautiful thing.
Business Insider talked to McCarthy about the experience.
Business Insider: So you wrote about Dance Mums. Did you, at any point, fear that any of these fans would read your story and fight back?
Amy McCarthy: I guess I did expect some kind of response, but definitely not the volume of comments that I got. Probably naive on my part.
BI: Have you written about crazy fan bases in the past?
AM: Not at all.
BI: When did you realise that’s what they were doing? Did it start with a follow on Twitter or Instagram, or a comment…what happened? What was going through your mind?
AM: I’m a fan of the show, and I followed the coach of the team on Instagram one day. As she was in my feed for a few weeks, I started to notice the craziness and was kind of sucked in from there.
BI: What are some of the things people wrote to you?
AM: It’s mostly inane, very immature nonsense from pissed off teenage girls who are doing a great job of proving my point.
BI: Did you respond to any of the comments?
AM: Not directly. I did delete some photos on my Instagram with nearly 1,000 comments, and maybe sent a few snarky tweets. It got out of hand in the early evening the first day the article ran. I had to put my phone on aeroplane mode to keep it from freezing. I was getting up to 10 comments a second at the peak of it all.
BI: Are the comments still coming in?
AM: Oh yes, but at a much slower pace.
BI: What was the best comment you received?
AM: There are so many I love! Probably “BTW OUR FANDOM IS SO SASSY WE WILL SLAY THE SHIT OUT OF YOU.”