Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fans

A friend of mine made the observation the other night that there's a fine line between optimism and delusion. She illustrated that with the idea that meeting Gerard Butler was optimistic but expecting him to instantly fall in love with her was delusional. He'd have to go out with her a few times. Which made me laugh.

It also dovetailed nicely with my recent thoughts about fans. Not the ones that blow around air and make you feel cooler, although that description could apply. I'm talking about the people who make it possible for artists, authors, musicians, sports figures and film people to make a living from something they love.

There's a strange love/hate relationship between those two groups. They each satisfy a need in each other, and seem to carry a great deal of resentment for it. I don't quite understand it. Admittedly the Keziah Fenton fan club is small at the moment and I'm not getting hate mail deriding my penchant for the colour purple(the actual colour not the movie or book of that name). There aren't a lot of expectations built up around my behaviour, personal life or productivity.

People sometimes mistake celebrities for the roles they play(even musicians and authors play at a public persona). It's easy enough to do I suppose. I certainly joke enough about the aforementioned gorgeous Scottish actor. I do realize the man has a private life that should be all his own and not fodder for speculation from a bunch of people who don't know anything about him other than his job.

My major concern about fans is the way they've been handled in all the NASCAR books I've been reading. Yes sports fans love to embrace the fanaticism aspect of their moniker. They decorate their homes, cars, clothes, kids and pets in their team colours. Some of them tattoo their bodies or shave logos into their hair. But I watched the cash flow at the track a couple of weeks ago and the disdain TV announcers, authors and sometimes crews had for the fans irritated me.

I wasn't feeling well that day and inhaling exhaust behind the pits didn't help so I spent a lot of time wandering the park observing people. Pit crews ogled the sweet young things in their tight tank tops and skin tight jeans then punched each other in the arm whenever one of them got a phone number. Vendors rolled their eyes at the guy with Die Cast cars glued all over his ball cap. The TV hosts re-read the same page thirty times rather than interact with the crowd in the audience. There was a definite us versus them mentality.

People lined the gate back to the driver's RVs hoping to catch a glimpse, maybe even obtain an autograph, of their hero. Some drivers obliged, some ducked. A couple even sent out decoys and slid out the side. It must be difficult to be in such demand.

I'm not being facetious. When I get home from a long day at work, I can go upstairs, pet the dog and relax. I don't have to run the gauntlet of people congratulating/commiserating/clamoring/waiting/expecting. I can wear sloppy clothes, no make-up and a messy ponytail. I don't have to fulfill anyone's expectations.

As someone who admires another's work, I try to remember the fine line between fan and fanatic. I can appreciate one driver's skill over another. One actor's style, look, persona. I can even share that admiration with other people. I'm not sure at what point that makes me an object of ridicule.

Actors need an audience. Drivers need to fill the stands. Authors need readers. They are symbiotic relationships and as such shouldn't be taken for granted nor mocked. They deserve each other's respect and until we've been on the other side of that relationship we would do well to remember that.

I know I'll do my best. I trust you to remind me if I slip up.

5 comments:

  1. Purple? I'm so disillusioned. Clearly this will "color" my perception of your books. But wait! Maybe we can save this doomed relationship. Is that a blue-ish purple, or a reddish-purple?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Depends on my mood. It can be either or both. As long as it's not purple prose. Would it help if I said I also adore red? That deep rich red that screams decadence?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I will always be your number one fan. Even if (or maybe because) you love NASCAAR when it doesn't make sense to do so.

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Actors need an audience. Drivers need to fill the stands. Authors need readers. They are symbiotic relationships and as such shouldn't be taken for granted nor mocked. They deserve each other's respect and until we've been on the other side of that relationship we would do well to remember that."

    Symbiotic relationship. I like that. And mutual respect. If we had that, we wouldn't have to be worried about the fanatic in fan. I do believe that respect is owed to the fan as well; without him where would the artist, author, actor, race car driver...be? It's a fine balance, which you so aptly stated.

    Interesting post. And purple is one of fave colors. Purple rocks. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. p.s. Love the header image.

    ReplyDelete