July 8, 2022
There’s no doubt that Stranger Things changed streaming television. In fact, so many tuned in on Friday to watch the final two feature-length episodes of season four that it temporarily broke Netflix. That, however, soon became the least of everyone’s problems as the show delivered on its promise to turn the world upside down. With Stranger Things currently dominating every screen, we analysed online conversations around the show to uncover some interesting insights:
1. Nice Guy Eddie
It may not come as a surprise to hear that Eddie Munson is this season’s favourite. A search in Brandwatch revealed over 1M online mentions of Joseph Quinn’s character from the past month. Users have taken a particular interest in the character’s sexuality. A popular tweet reads: “eddie munson is the only man that confuse steve harrington’s mind and gives him bisexual crises #steddie.”. Between 1st and 7th July alone, there were almost 103K mentions of “steddie” online, with many fans choosing to ignore the character’s death, and fantasise about how this relationship might have played out.
It’s clear that fans are highly responsive to how the actors interact – both on and off-screen. One user writes, “only thing i love more than eddie munson and dustin henderson’s friendship is joseph quinn and gaten’s real life friendship”. Efforts to maintain the show’s ‘wholesome’ tone are hugely appreciated by fans. While we’re sure they’re both great guys, it seems there is a strategy behind their public displays of affection to give the people what they want.
2. Running Up That Hill: The Problem
Since featuring in Stranger Things 4 Kate Bush’s 1985 song ‘Running Up That Hill’ has broken three Guinness World Records. Though most people agree that it’s a great song, users are unsure about what its resurgence could mean. Our analysis identified four audience groups driving the negative conversation:
1. Long-term fans who loved the song and Kate Bush before “it was cool”.
2. Those who don’t like the song, or are growing tired of hearing it.
3. People that do not like how the song is being remixed and covered.
4. ‘Gatekeepers’ that wish to protect the song from becoming mainstream.
Gatekeepers feel they have a more personal connection with the song and/or artist, and are mostly members of the LGBTQ+ community. This particular group is concerned that people like the song for less meaningful reasons, and that its message will become saturated. One user writes:
“i am going to put my toxicity out there for all to witness. i’m kate bush gatekeeping (katekeeping if you will) because i don’t like tween tiktok stars using running up that hill in their videos. they will never understand the depth of that song. happy for miss bush though.”
A further search for “Kate Bush” and “TikTok” is also largely negative. Fans are criticising the app for allowing users to remix and cover the song. One user writes, “All these TikTok covers of Kate Bush are bad for the culture.”. In addition, some are concerned that Metallica’s Master of Puppets will receive the same treatment after its cover by Eddie Munson in the series finale. One user writes, “master of puppets is gonna end up like the kate bush song cuz of tiktok”.
3. The Piggyback
Following the premiere of season 4, viewers streamed over 7 billion minutes of Stranger Things between May 30th and June 5th. Of course, a show of this popularity offers a huge amount of opportunities for other brands to piggyback the conversation. We’re not just talking about product placement, either. Trending hashtags show both Xbox and Funko are successfully using the Stranger Things hype to leverage their products. Xbox is offering the chance to win a custom Stranger Things console and controller set when users follow and retweet using #StrangerThings4XboxSweepstakes. Funko have also used the release of the final two episodes to promote their Stranger Things competition, and advertise their new line of season 4 products. Collaborations such as these are in fact mutually beneficial, as giveaways incentivise users to participate in the online conversation.
Stranger Things 4 has been so popular that it’s even boosting the previous seasons. In fact, all of them made it to Netflix’s Top 10 in 93 countries over the weekend. Though the show speaks for itself, user discussion plays a crucial role in terms of exposure.
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