Some Doja Cat fans say they feel alienated by the rapper after she posted — and later deleted — disparaging comments toward her fan base.
Last weekend, the “Juicy” rapper took to Meta’s Threads to tell fans who call themselves “kittenz” to get off their phones and “get a job.” After a fan account asked for a preferred fan base nickname, she doubled down, writing, “Just delete the entire account and rethink everything.” She also denied one person’s request to say she loved her fans. “I don’t though because I don’t even know y’all,” she wrote.
Following the heated exchanges with multiple fans, major presences in the “Kittenz” world, including the Twitter fan pages @DojaNews, @thekittensroom and @DojaHQs, signaled their discontent by deactivating their accounts. Earlier this week, the fan account @dojacatbrazil announced an indefinite break.
The online beef between Doja Cat and her fans has reignited a debate about what, if anything, celebrities owe their fans.
Fans behind two of these deactivated accounts spoke to NBC News about their decision and hopes that Doja Cat will apologize soon.
“She needs to just come out and apologize and be sincere,” said Jamun, owner of the deactivated page @DojaNews, who wanted to be identified by only his first name for security purposes.
She needs to just come out and apologize and be sincere
-The owner of the deactivated page @DojaNews
Amir, who runs the deactivated @thekittensroom account, said “artists don’t owe fans anything outside of surface level respect.”
“It’s a 50/50 thing, you know? I respect you for what you do, and you respect me in return for that support,” he continued.
“Deactivating our accounts was really us letting it be known that the support can stop for her anytime. We do so much campaigning and promotion for her that isn’t worth it if her comments are how she really feels,” said Amir, who asked that his last name not be used for fear that any fans upset about his stance could harm him or his loved ones.
He said Doja Cat’s Threads posts shocked him. “It just felt like such an out of nowhere thing for her to say considering her attitudes towards it just last year were positive. When we met last year, she expressed love for the page.”
Jamun said, “parasocial relationships” — one-sided emotional investment with a celebrity or fictional character — “do exist within fanbases. Some fans will legit put their life on the line for these people they don’t know.”
He speculated that Doja Cat’s comments stemmed from her being mad about fans’ criticism of her rumored boyfriend, comedian and Twitch streamer J. Cyrus, who is facing multiple allegations of emotional abuse.
“I don’t think fans wanting love from Doja or not wanting her to date a predator falls into the ‘parasocial relationship’ realm,” he said. “People’s outrage is warranted especially when she’s blocking victims and her own fans over him.”
Cyrus and a spokesperson for Doja Cat did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The controversy surrounding Doja Cat’s rumored boyfriend is one of the major reasons why Amir is on hiatus from the fan page. “It just feels odd supporting her right now, knowing his past and that she affiliates with him,” he said.
Others online disagreed with the fans’ convictions, criticizing them for overstepping the boundaries of Doja Cat’s personal life. “This is exactly what’s wrong with stan culture and parasocial relationships people out here thinking they can tell their favs who to be with like no,” one person tweeted.
Recently, pop megastar Taylor Swift also drew scrutiny over rumors of her dating musician Matty Healy, who was facing a backlash over offensive remarks mocking rapper Ice Spice’s ethnicity. Fans wanted Swift to break up with the artist who is a member of the band The 1975.
While these instances have been cited as examples of parasocial relationships that lead to emotional overinvestment in the lives of celebrities, one expert said, they represent standard behavior from fandoms.
“The parasocial relationship is a relationship that the individual audience member has with either a character or a celebrity,” said Gayle Stever, a professor at Empire State College who studies fan psychology. In contrast, she said, “fandom most often is conducted in groups.”
“I can’t see an individual person in a parasocial relationship investing and trying to tell her she’s in the wrong relationship, whereas, a group of fans on a fan page might in some way try to communicate their displeasure,” Stever said.
According to her, Doja Cat’s comments represent “a normal give and take between two social entities.” She said, “In this case, it happens to be a celebrity and fans, but people are responding in a very human way.”
Part of the confusion over the debate about Doja Cat’s private life versus her public persona also stems from her internet origins. She initially gained traction underground from SoundCloud music releases and later found mainstream virality from TikTok. The pop star, who also frequently livestreams herself on Instagram, told Time magazine earlier this year, “I grew up on the internet, constantly available to people, and I put myself there.”
Some fans have already begun to cut ties with Doja Cat — including requesting refunds for her concert tickets and unfollowing her socials.
Others are peddling theories that the weekend comments are a publicity stunt to promote her upcoming album. The performer’s latest single, “Attention,” grapples with fame and public perception.
If this theory is true, Jamun said, “there’s better ways to get publicity than trashing your entire fanbase.”
“It’s just somethings you don’t say as a global superstar with millions of people watching you,” he added.
Jamun said he still loves Doja Cat and hopes she weathers this episode. “As far as the situation regarding her boyfriend, that’s her business and I still don’t support it. She’ll continue to get dragged by the internet, I’ll just learn to ignore it.”
Even after the online fallout, Amir said, the community fostered by the fan page makes him inclined to continue running it.
“A lot of people look forward to seeing content from the page. It makes them happy,” he said. “That’s what I hold onto and will probably continue to hold onto despite Doja’s personal feelings.”