Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Dark side of Fandom or A Fan's Responsibility

This topic has been on my mind for several weeks. Been fighting with how to broach it and haven't had much success figuring out the best way. So I figured I'd just jump in with both feet and see where it took me.

Before I became a published author, I was fan. Still am a fan. Will probably always be a fan of something or other till the end of my days. Being a fan is an exilirating thing. Full of posibilities, excitement, drama, and agnst. Depending on how deeply something touches your heart, it can even make dreary days pass faster, giving you something to look forward to seeing or hearing when you get off work.



In our generation, the possibilities have never been so ripe for fandom. Shows, books, music, movies can touch people in the millions. All those people can then share with you the same thrill for the particular thing. The internet and email have opened up the virtual world so that no matter where you live, you can find people who love the same things as you. In mere moments, you can share news, gossip, rumors, ideas on your favorite episodes, actors, authors, plots. You can share homemade videos from clippings made from the shows, buy goods related to people or things, and have them sent to your very door in days.



Fan sites and news sites will have intimate details of every aspect of an author, model, actor's life all just a few keystrokes away.



So at what point is enough, enough? From talking to other authors, from hearing stories at or about conventions, there is a very dark side to fandom. A side that crosses the line from enjoyment and information of shows, books, actors, authors to invasion and madness.



Celebrities are expected, heck anymore, required, to have face time with their fans. Interaction with those who enjoy their work or product creates a feeling of closeness between all parties, and is normally a celebrity's way to give back to those who have supported them in their endeavors and at times even ways to get new supporters. It can be a healthy and mutually beneficial experience. They respect you for your patronage, you respect them for their work. But then things can also get ugly.



This may seem like something inane and rather obvious to state but...celebrities are people too! They have feelings, desires, frustrations, family. They covet time alone, want other to respect their space, want moments of peace and quiet. Heck, we all do! Yet respecting or even realizing they want and deserve these most common of things at times goes out the window.



To some, because a person is a celebrity, they suddenly aren't people anymore. They have become things -- property. As if the normal rules that are used for getting along and with everyone around you no longer apply - when nothing could be farther from the truth!



You're an actor or author and you go to a convention. People ask you if you'll take a photo with them, and doing your bit, you say sure. So far so good. But then as the individual poses for the picture, the fan reaches behind them and squeezes their bum! Goodness! While the fan has just received the thrill of a lifetime, what about the poor celebrity? If you were the fan and someone asked to take a picture with you, you'd scream bloody murder if they took such a liberty on your own behind. So then why are there fans that can't see they shouldn't do these things to others?



And what of people, who, due to the demands of fans and the fact money is a factor, will go out there and pursue celebrities when they aren't working, when they're trying to live their lives and invade their privacy so they can spill to the hungry masses every detail of all they see and do?



Stephen King was forced to buy the van of the man who ran him over just so it wouldn't be placed on eBay and bid on! The man was HIT, almost KILLED by this vehicle. Is buying it as a fan any real way to actually show you admire the author's work? How could anyone believe he would ever want you to do that? And that he would be happy about it?



Then there are the cases of stalking. Of fans telling others they are dating celebrity so and so, or married to them in secret, starting rumors and who knows what else. Some even seem to enjoy causing turbulence for the person they supposedly admire, bad mouthing them on the internet or in public. They don't even know the PERSON behind the character or writing they seemingly like. Yet it is as if they feel they OWN them.



As fans we must learn where the line is and not cross it. Let's respect them, respect their space, and who they actually are -- people. Just like you and me. :P





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