Let’s start with locations. Are there places that are off limits? Is it okay to go to the band member’s or celebrity’s house? Do you have to be invited to make it okay? Is it fine to go past the house? Is it a problem if you go everyday? Once a week? Once a month? What if you go there and never go up to the door? Where exactly is the line regarding one’s idol’s home? Likewise, what about the family?
Next location. What about where they are working? Is it okay to go to the studio? Is it okay to go if you are invited? Is it okay to drive past it? Is it normal fan behavior to go once or twice? Is it fine if you go once a year? Once a month? Everyday? Is it okay depending on where you are? You can be on the sidewalk but you can’t go up to the studio door? Is it okay with friends but not on your own? What about other job locations? What if they are appearing at a radio station or a TV station? What if your favorite celebrity is an actor or actress? Is it okay to go to that studio or filming location? Are public filming locations okay but ones on studio lots not? What about concert venues? Is it okay to wait during sound check or after a show? What about other public locations like hotels and restaurants?
Are there other behaviors that are extreme? John Taylor talked in his autobiography about how a fan went through his trash and read his journal in the 1980s. Is that going too far? What about getting or taking items at a concert? Is it okay to want to get guitar picks or drumsticks? Is it possible that getting 3 or 5 or 10 of them is okay but 20 might be too much? What about sweaty towels or water bottles? Is it an extreme behavior to take those? Is it okay to take them but not okay to drink from the water bottles or put the towels under your pillow? Where is the line there? What about non-concert items? Is it okay to get any many autographs as possible? Is it okay to get as many pictures with the band or celebrity of choice? Or is it that 10 are cool but 50 isn’t? Is it or that 10 are okay during any given year but 50 in a year is too much? Does extreme behavior depend on how much? Does it depend on a time frame? Some behaviors are okay if spread out?
What about social networking? Is it okay to tweet the celebrity of choice? Is it okay to tweet everyday? Is it okay to tweet 5 times a day? Is it okay to tweet the same thing twice or more? What about facebook? Is it extreme to post on celebrity’s wall? Is it okay to post 5 things a day? 5 things in a month?
What about touching? If you are lucky enough to be in the same room with your idol, it is okay to touch him/her? Hug him/her? Give him/her a kiss? Is it okay if the idol indicates the contact first? Is it not extreme if the celebrity is familiar with you? Then, if so, what equals familiarity? Similarly, is it normal fan behavior to give gifts? Are some gifts acceptable but others are not? If some aren’t, what isn’t “normal”? Does it depend on where and how the gifts are given? Does it matter how many gifts are given? A few gifts are normal? Ten isn’t? What about cost? Does that matter? Does the type of gift matter?
Then, of course, I wonder about those fantasies that fans can have. You know them. If only so and so would meet me or have a conversation with me, then so and so would fall in love with me or would hire me or would whatever the fantasy entails. Are those okay? Is there a line there, too? What about fan fiction? Is it okay to write fan fiction? Is it okay to write fan fiction in which the main character is yourself in the midst of one of those types of fantasies mentioned? Obviously, I could go on and on.
I already know the response that I will get. A lot of people won’t say anything. Some others will say: I know extreme behavior when I see it. Okay, then, I ask you to describe the extreme behavior. Maybe, a better way to ask you to think about this is: What are you personally comfortable with or what would make you uncomfortable? What makes you uncomfortable to witness? What would you do or not do? In saying this, I also understand that everyone has different comfort levels but it might be a start. Now, obviously, I don’t think the majority of fans go to extremes. I believe that the majority generally stay in the normal fan realm. Yet, maybe, we have all gone extreme once or twice and, yes, maybe there are fans who live in the extreme. I don’t have the answers. I just can pose the questions and ask myself to answer them just like the rest of you. Having this tough conversation, though, will help us all to think about our behavior, what we would like our behavior to be, as individuals and an as fan community.