November 1, 2009

The Phenomenon Of The "Fan" (or groupie)

Over my career I've pretty much spend time with almost every well known actor, celebrity and/or pop star. Most are down-to-earth and live much the same lives as we do, to a certain extent, I'm referring more to the fact that they tune into Project Runway or want to discuss who's going to win American Idol. There are the exceptions, some are complete nutters but obviously for confidentiality reasons I shan't divulge those tasty tidbits.

But I'm more fascinated in the fans really. The ones that will spend days camped outside the theatres, sound stages, venues where their "idol" is to appear. Wearing handmade T-shirts, re-living with other fans the "I nearly met him/her once" stories. They wait patiently for hours hoping to get a glimpse or possibly their hand touched as the celeb is whisked past. On occasion some are invited backstage.

And this is how it goes: they walk in, usually in pairs - jittery, whispering, clutching each others arms, almost in hysteria. As they approach their object of desire, all goes very quiet - they just stop, stand and stare, feet shuffling not really knowing what to do. They share glances with their friend, mouth O.M.G a few times and then start to feel fairly self conscious.

Most well-known people are wonderful with their fans and will chat quite happily knowing that these meetings are sometimes awkward. Whats strangest to me though is - some fans are more interested in having cellphone photos taken with their "idol", then swiftly twittering or texting them out to their friends and others. They're not really that fussed about having any form of conversation with the one person they have lusted after, know the lyrics to very song or watched every film they've been in.

In a way its almost as though they have already played this meeting out in their mind and don't want to corrupt the fantasy.


Helena Halme said...

I've never been like that about anyone, or at least not since I took down my poster of David Cassidy at the age of thirteen. But I now feel at the age of xx that I could stand in the cold outside Donmar and wait for certain Mr West to make an appearance. Just as well I'm just too busy to make a fool of myself.

To be serious for a moment: I too have often wondered what makes fans behave in such an odd way. Don't know if you know that the police had to close off a road in London to stop the fans getting to the X-Factor house? And their object of desire: the awful, talentless twins. Human behaviour is strange to say the least.

So Lovely said...

Hi Helene: I read about the Twin thing in the paper. Do you think it might be the Emperor's New Clothes, its fascinating to watch it unfold. Sadly as soon as they're not "hot" anymore those fans will turn on them so quickly - I do hope the twins are ready for the adoration to be focused elsewhere.
Might I also add you have excellent taste in actors. x

mothership said...

I know exactly what you're talking about. My (very brief) brush with fame bears out exactly this phenomenon. I would be very pleased to meet fans and be ready to chat to them, flattered and humbled that they spent so much time and attention to my work, then they FREAKED ME OUT by putting up a glass wall between us, wanting a photo only and refusing to accept in any way, shape or form that I might be a human being. While in the midst of this period I had an encounter with a big movie star and I asked him how he dealt with it - it made me feel terrible and so very lonely. The response was shocking. His own defences came down immediately and all his insecurities came tumbling out (er, thanks, I think). The very thing he had lusted after to make him feel important had then alienated him from humanity and a sense of his true self even further. As to the fans, they are the flip side of this. They are seeking a mirror in the reflection of the star and thus they cannot afford to allow them to be fallible. If the worshiped person opens their mouth and f*cks it up then all that investment is RUINED
Oh. Sorry to bang on.

miss cavendish said...

I hear your first commenter: I sent David Cassidy a photo of myself when I was 8; was crushed to find my unsent envelope, years later, in my mother's drawer (she didn't want to waste the photo).

Your post speaks to, I think, how social networking is truly becoming virtual. A photo to post on Facebook is more meaningful, more material, more desirable, than a human connection.

Bob said...

What about that poor woman that paid to spend the day with Ozzy Osbourne and then they took the piss out of her on their show. I heard a rumour they gave her the money back. I hope so.