Just a couple of seconds ago I paused a movie I was really enjoying just so I could do this, write about how being a fan has turned into a connection that has become, for the lack of a better word, mental. Nowadays there are so many ways and means to connect with people and that means there are more and more ways to connect with celebrities. And before you know it, being a fan is literally being dragged on a leash by the social media. Candid pictures, photo shoots, selfies, fan pictures, official videos, fan videos, homemade
porn videos, Google+ Hangouts, interviews, tweets, FB posts, Snapchat conversations, Instagram images, Tumblr posts, tags, hashtags, Vines, Dubsmash battles – the more we are able to get, the more we want! In other words, being a fan has become a state of desire which implies that the need to be fully connected with a celebrity is extremely high. And therefore, being a fan, is exhausting!
There was a time in my life when my celebrity driven obsession was manifested in physical form. I had posters, I had magazine cutouts of various handsome 90’s pop icons as well as a filled out notebook of all possible One Tree Hill facts. I was, like I already was brave enough to mention, mental and that’s okay! There’s no harm done with being a fan, except when you are a crime-prone-human who might do something illegal, in which case, it’s not okay. In other words, having a healthy outlook on life and functioning as a person whilst being a fan is completely normal and in a way, a rite of passage.
Growing up is difficult, and for many, growing up is a solitary action – having nobody to talk to, being alone with your troubles and feeling left out among the popular. So having those role models, who nowadays could all be categorized as celebrities (I mean, even J.K. Rowling qualifies as a celebrity), is actually helpful and necessary. I truly believe and understand that a song, a movie, a character etc. could open up a meta-conversations between fans and those celebrities closest to that specific form of conversation. But I also feel like the Internet has opened up a whole new level of possibilities, and more information, and the more I receive, less meaningful that connection with a celebrity feels.
Some years ago, around that time when I started calling myself an adult, the idea of what it was like to be a fan somehow changed. Gradually I felt less and less emotional about celebrities, that person behind the character, even towards the singer behind a song because I had became an appreciator (a fan who is not able to achieve the highest level of emotions in relation to everything really). I appreciate people who put themselves out there, who act, sing, dance, write, compete; people who’s name is familiar to many. I appreciate their work, and how they work and the way that work affects me emotionally (on low to medium levels), but most of all, on an intellectual level. I appreciate celebrities because through the recognition of their work, I am most likely to experience more of their work and the more I see, hear and read, the more love I gain towards culture.
We live in a time where culture is everywhere. And not just the culture of our own but the culture of others around us… everywhere. I see cultural elements from China, Italy, Australia, Canada, you name it, I have seen it all and though I might not recognize it now, someday I will. And that day will be when I stumble upon a celebrity, who I follow on Twitter, and on Instagram, and who happens to make vlogs on Youtube, and said celebrity will mention something, anything really, and that will take me to that sticker on my neighbors mailbox and I would be like “aaaaaarghh, that’s from Mr. Robot!”, and I will like that neighbor now because he likes cool stuff.
Sure, I do think some celebrities are overrated, while actual cool people like Felix Baumgartner have to skydive from space in order to make headlines. Yes, the things some celebrities say are too stupid to print while words of an unknown, highly talented teenager are hidden inside of a drawer. But there are great celebrities, and being a fan of theirs and appreciating them isn’t only about entertainment, but about personal growth. And for each one of us, growth is an individual journey which allows us to like, love, appreciate or desire whomever we want and whenever we need! Sometimes some people happen to have the same kind of period during their journey and you might form a group, the more the merrier. But what should not happen is the criticism and lack of tolerance towards those people who happen to be on a different part of the journey, liking other things, loving some other celebrity. In other words, being a fan is not about violently and rudely defending your celebrity!
True, even I sometimes feel the urge to bash somebody’s crush because I happen to remember that interview back in the day when he/she said something bad about something I happen to like. But I don’t act on it! Maybe it’s because I’m too dead inside to care that much, or maybe it’s because I actually managed to grow into a nice person. Or maybe I find that I’m not invested enough emotionally to comment on such matters because I have chosen to appreciate rather than scream and sequel in excitement when something awesome happens. Or maybe I work a lot, and have no time to know everything about everything, and therefore be validated as a fan. Being a fan, no matter how you are doing it (except don’t do it violently), or even if you are just appreciating, is exhausting – but it’s also fucking awesome!0
Uh… would you describe what I’m doing in my 29 Days of Bowie series…. mental?
Yes but not defined as a negative thing but more as an emotional and intellectual deep connection that manifests in real life through expression of art, posts or simply discussions. I guess I should have clarified in my post but sometimes I take things granted and don’t express them thoroughly.
I must say I’m not entirely sure why you wrote that piece or what the point is, but the people who “violently and rudely” defended Tom Hardy when a hack ‘journalist’ trashed him on twitter around Christmas (!!!) are definitely fans so you got that wrong. Sometimes you just can’t be nice nor you should be
I wrote it because I still don’t think violence is the way to go. Sure, defending on the Internet, is one thing.. but I have had words thrown into my face in real life for simply stating my opposite opinion and I don’t find it very fan-friendly. Guess I’m simply a weak person when it comes to those sorts of things but I think being a fan is sort of a subjective opinion, and it’s really just idiotic to trash somebodies opinion if it isn’t hurting anyone.
Yeah but someone calling a person a ‘twat’ on a twitter probably deserves that person’s fans outrage…I don’t even visit HitFix or whatever that website is called as a boycott method
Sure, these idiots deserve the anger, but I doubt it will change them and their ways. I don’t know. Sometimes calling somebody out on their rudeness helps, other times, it just makes things worse.
Oh boy, did I have a ton of posters on my walls growing up!! And yes, I printed out many pictures and made collages with friends… we were absolutely insane teenagers, thinking Orlando Bloom was the most beautiful man EVER. But we were totally normal, because that’s pretty much what teenagers did back then.
Now, not so much. The level of “connection” is through the roof. Back in the day the closest we could get to a celebrity was send them a letter, which meant that basically no one would contact them. Now it’s so freaking easy, it’s scary. It can be great if you’re a fan just appreciating your fandom, or someone simply manifesting their appreciation for someone/some work, but when you get to the negative side of things, or hysterical appreciation… jeez. I’m not sure I’d like to be a celebrity these days. It’s like all the weirdos have come out of their basements.
And you don’t even need to be a criminally inclined person because the internet gives you a boost of confidence through its anonymity and immunity that has normal people saying the vilest things. Also yeah, whereas when I grew up any info I got came from magazines and TRL, now I’m buried under it even when I don’t seek it!! So I think that also increases the madness, like you said, and for all and any fandoms.
It used to bother me more than it does now, though. These days I just shut fans/gossip pages off, unfollow them and whatnot. I guess we need to learn how to be selective on the internet, which can be hard. But then, like you, I work so much I don’t really have time to be consumed by fans or fandoms these days. Some of them are endearing, I love people’s excitement for a new book or whatever, but other fans… it’s scary.