Who or what is a fan? The dictionary defines it as “an enthusiastic admirer.” Sounds harmless enough but did you know that the word ‘fan’ is a shorter variant of the original “fanatic?” In this case the definition is a lot less innocuous as a fanatic is described as someone whose enthusiasm borders on the extreme and goes beyond normal limits.
We are all fans of some kind at some stage of our lives. Many of these fixations come and go, ebb and wane as time passes. On the whole our admiration of the person doesn’t go beyond the surface. We listen to their music, buy the books, wear the clothes, go for the concerts and that’s it. For all intents and purposes they are a complete stranger to us, far removed from our everyday existence and really does not configure significantly in our lives or consciousness. By the same token the recipient of our admiration really doesn’t know us from Adam and in most cases wouldn’t give a fig.
It is when we go beyond all normal boundaries that the drama unfolds. The danger lies in the mistaken belief that we are more than fans and that somehow, someway we play a far more significant part than is warranted. Granted any celebrity’s relevance and career advancement depends on the degree to which he/she can garner support in the form of fans. After all even the best critical reviews do not put food on the table, one still needs the mullah that the buying public can bring. These are the real critics as far as the artist is concerned.
But to what extend do we feel we have the right to denigrate and critique all that goes on in an artist’s life? Is it within our the right to demand, command and dictate the what, whys and hows? Can we preach with self-righteousness and criticize the people and circumstances that the artist have chosen to surround himself with? Who are we to say that so and so is causing damage to the artist’s career and therefore should be sent back to the farm so to speak? When were we the appointed managers and minders? So much so that we insist and persist in our unrealistic expectations of the artist’s decisions and choices of who, what, why, where and how?
Some public figures are notoriously reclusive. They guard their privacy with pit bull tenacity and threaten all manner of legal ramifications and in some cases even physical abuse towards all who trespass. I could never understand the mentality of such celebrities because I feel that the fact that they have chosen a profession that is so publicly visible they have to accept a certain amount of intrusion into their private lives. It goes with the territory. But at the other end of the spectrum there are those who are almost an open book. They allow fans such a high degree of access, especially in these times of the internet and social media where your every thought can be instantly communicated to the online community, that people begin to feel entitled. Rightly or wrongly fans develop an intimacy with their idol to an unhealthy level in my opinion.
In many cases they stalk their idol and poses a real danger. We have heard and read of so many cases of fans having to be legally restrained from any contact with the artist and in some situations their fixations manifests in tragic and violent forms. A famous example would be actress Jodie Foster where a fan became so obsessed with her that he attempted to assassinate President Ronald Reagen in order to “impress her”. Hopefully there are none of us like that at AAM!
I feel that our role as fans should never go beyond acceptable limits. We must be respectful of the unspoken boundaries and never think that we have the right to call the shots for there is a line that we must not and should not cross. Who or what the artist chooses to associate himself/herself with is strictly none of our concern and we must not think that it is acceptable to disparage and condemn simply because we are fans.