The clip on the left features 3-year-old Cody, known for tearfully explaining her love for tween pop star Justin Bieber on YouTube, meeting Bieber in person on Jimmy Kimmel Live. While it's easy to watch this clip and think "isn't that adorable, kids say the darned-ist things," or conversely, "isn't that terrifying, girlhood is under attack," this clip brings up much more complicated questions about performing, policing, and negotiating the relationships between celebrities and fans.
In addition to aspects of community, cultural capital, and agency, the affective nature of fandom is also important to consider (just ask those sobbing during the LOST series finale). But the performance and display of such emotion in public is often the site of pathologizing certain fandoms, especially with young female fans, a la Beatlemania and "Bieber Fever." The particular instance in this clip negotiates those pathologies in part because Cody's extreme youth displaces the threat of any active female sexuality (a key element in the moral panic and othering of Beatlemania, Twilight fandom, and Bieber Fever) or physical harm. Cody's exclamation that she's going to marry Justin Bieber is in part dismissed as childhood fantasy, not as a worrisome break with reality or dangerous sign of stalker behavior.
On the other hand, dismissing Cody's affections as merely fantasy ignores the complexities of social power in childhood play. Rehearsing young, white, middle-class heteronormativity as early as 3 years old is clearly an issue here. But Cody’s declaration that “it’s okay to cry about Justin Bieber sometimes” is a desperate attempt to negotiate her mother’s policing of her emotions, an allegory for resisting the discursive othering of female fans. The way Kimmel (and others) frame Cody’s tearful love for Justin Bieber as funny and cute, however, implies that such performative fandom is acceptable for children, but not adults. This clip, then, at once challenges and upholds limitations for the affective sensibility of fandom.