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 Princess Stomper

The five stages of fandom

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the red carpet

By Princess Stomper

“Wait, that’s your penpal?” I asked, feeling my mouth dry up.
“Yeah, why, have you heard of him?”
I couldn’t believe she hadn’t. I told her he’d sold 65 million books, and linked her to a trailer of the latest adaptation. She seemed, at last, impressed.
The author had contacted her to say how much he’d enjoyed her work – fan mail, if you like. Here was this titled, lauded writer heaping praise on my unassuming friend. She, in turn, is renowned within her field.

I can think of many cases like that. My hero on the red carpet, his friend saying, “Oh, he’s just some guy”. Given time, I start to see him the same way, too. I’ve got friends who are celebrated, but either what they do doesn’t interest me much, or I’ve reached Stage Five of Fandom.

STAGE ONE: I LOVE WHAT YOU DO
This is a lot like falling in love. Someone has made something extraordinary – far beyond what you could ever even dream up – and you are fascinated by it. You can’t get enough of it, and even the thought of it fills you with joy. You feel the need to express it everywhere, to everyone. This is, like, the best thing ever. If you are in the position where you can contact the person who made it, you want to thank them just for making it because of the sheer amount of entertainment and happiness it has brought into your life.

STAGE TWO: I WANT TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU
You read an interview or two, or maybe you meet them or speak to them in person, and you find out that they’re sweet and charming. You’re bowled over by them – they’re not just brilliant, but lovely, too! You’re more enchanted than ever. You start to notice little references here and there that didn’t make sense before. You get the in-jokes, feeling part of some exclusive club as you chat together with other fans and happily dissect the work in question. You memorise every biographical detail to fill out the gaps in your knowledge. “Oh, of course he was writing about alcohol at that time, because that’s when he went to rehab.”

You learn what inspired your hero and load up on that stuff too, as though it’s some Rosetta Stone for decyphering the key workings of their mind. If it’s someone you’ve spoken to, you feel smug and glowing after every correspondence: “This wonderful person is talking to me! Imagine that!”

(continues overleaf)

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5 Responses to The five stages of fandom

  1. Erika June 20, 2012 at 1:48 am

    Princess Stomper, you come up with the most fascinating topics!

    It is true that your favorite artist is, and is not, the most fabulous person in the world – just like everyone else.

    Interest in and admiration for an artist’s work often transfers to interest in and admiration for the artist – it seems natural – and feeling a connection is part of that. But the very nature of fandom is unbalanced. Anyone with fame is automatically known to more people than they know – and couldn’t be close friends with all their fans even if they wanted. There are many ways that fans express their respect/admiration – some are helpful to the artist, some can be destructive. But that’s not really a reciprocal relationship either. Sometimes fandom can translate into a true reciprocal friendship, but good friends are rare no matter where you seek them.

  2. JohnQ June 27, 2012 at 9:13 am

    You can be a fan but, improving yourself to do greatest, is a better use of your time.

  3. Golightly July 1, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    It never works out with someone you put on a pedestal. They always fall off. They say you should never meet your idol and I can see why because it could destroy your illusions. That happened to me when I sort of met Vivianne Westwood… I say sort of met because she was rude to me and refused to say hello, and facially snubbed me and my friend who had waited for hours to meet her when she came to open a new shop. As a result of that, I could never feel good about her again. We were just fans, just wanted to tell her we liked what she does. Ok… so she wasn’t an idol, but I had admired her for years before that day. On the other hand I met Courtney Love who was certainly my idol as a teenager. I was obsessed with Hole and Nirvana back then and dreamed of meeting her. I guess I was lucky because the way in which we met made it impossible for her to disappoint me and only made me admire her more. She pulled me onto the main stage at Glastonbury and had me sit in front of the drumkit for the rest of the set. So no proper conversations could be had and all the mythology I’d built up around her remained intact and boosted to the next level if anything.

  4. Princess Stomper July 2, 2012 at 1:37 am

    They say you should never meet your idol and I can see why because it could destroy your illusions.

    It could … but then read Joseph Kyle’s post – it lead to some very wonderful moments. I count among my friends a number of people I idolised (and truthfully still do) including, of course, Everett True. In fact, I very much relate to Joseph’s post, having met a similar “pure soul”, but in our case we became friends and I actually like them more each time we speak, but in a more “human” sort of way.

    Your “meeting” with Courtney sounds awesome!

  5. Golightly July 3, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    Me and Everett True have a sort of long distance relationship, we don’t get to spend much time together… in fact I haven’t even met him yet!

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