Pop-rock legends Fleetwood Mac are no strangers to drama, but the band’s viral renaissance has kicked off a debate not even its members could have predicted: Gen Z listeners are currently arguing about gatekeeping the iconic band, interrogating ideas about ‘authentic’ music fandom in the process.
In case you missed it – and, at this point, I am sincerely unsure how that’s possible – Fleetwood Mac enjoyed a recent surge in popularity after California man Nathan Apodaca featured their hit Dreams in an extremely chill TikTok. Young guns worldwide are vibing on Fleetwood Mac as a result, and the clip’s popularity even propelled their 1977 album, Rumours, back onto the Billboard Hot 200 chart for the first time in decades.
It’s not all skateboards and cranberry juice, mind you. Taking to Twitter on Monday, one young user made a bold claim: the fact they listened to Fleetwood Mac growing up differentiates their experience of the band from new fans, who discovered their music on TikTok.
“We are not the same,” they claimed.
While thousands of users appeared to support that viewpoint, the backlash to the tweet was overwhelming. It was re-shared nearly 1,500 times, with commenters criticising the poster for appearing to gatekeep one of the most popular bands of all time.
The original user has since put their account on private, and PEDESTRIAN.TV has chosen not to share their username. But their withdrawal from the platform didn’t stop the dogpile, and many Twitter users remain incensed that someone dared to view their fandom differently to others:
i love people trying to gatekeep fleetwood mac LOL like dude they have been playing on the radio for longer than you’ve even been alive PLEASE go find something to do 😂😂😂😂
— pam margera (@maddlesmouse) October 19, 2020
im tired of seeing fleetwood mac gatekeeping on the timeline. like we were born 30-40 years after they came out, we’re already jumping on the bandwagon, it’s not like they weren’t already legends, stop tryna make ppl feel bad for just discovering them now.
— k (@lightning_lotus) October 13, 2020
they gatekeeping Fleetwood Mac
— hubert plant emoji (@postedinthecrib) October 19, 2020
Yes, there’s something to be said about the fact this is Fleetwood Mac we’re talking about, a band which sold tens of millions of records before many of its adult listeners were even born. But the backlash also speaks to the changing realities of music fandom, and the ways social media now drives much of our music consumption.
For many of us, our tastes are dictated by streaming algorithms and For You pages as much as they’re learned from mates, the local scene, or the music press. That’s to say nothing of stan culture, which is driven entirely by the experience of online communality. For better or worse, those experiences are authentic to fans; tut-tutting folks for discovering a band through fancams or TikTok increasingly feels like pulling the poseur card on anyone who found their favourite artist on the radio.
That said, I can’t help but empathise with the original sentiment. If your family passed you some of your favourite tunes, your relationship with the music will have a personal dimension, an emotional provenance, that algorithmic accidents can’t quite match. I get why you’d want to protect that, to mark it as different. Not the same? No, definitely not. But not inherently better, either.
I think there’s a different Stevie Nicks inside all of us: yours might sound like fading memories of a family roadtrip, fistfuls of sage burning in your ex’s grungy sharehouse, or the distorted crackle from a busted iPhone speaker. Whatever the case, it’s probably best to follow Stevie’s advice on this one: It’s only right that you should play the way you feel it.