I’m Asking You the Question

Lately, Rhonda and I have been talking and blogging about fan stereotypes like stalking.  On Monday, July 1st, Rhonda wrote a really good blog about stalking.  As usual when it comes to this topic, there weren’t many comments on the blog.  There wasn’t much discussion on twitter either.  Facebook had a bit more of a discussion.  Yet, I was left unsatisfied.  Why?  Simple.  In the comments, in the responses, in the reactions no one was really able to say what the line is between normal fan behavior and behavior that crosses the line.  We might all have a definition of extreme fan behavior in our heads but no one is willing to discuss that definition openly.  This could be because we are afraid of accusing others of outrageous behavior like stalking.  We all get how serious those names are.  No one wants the wrath of other fans, if it perceived that you are accused of labeling someone something like that.  It doesn’t feel good and can affect how others perceive you.  I doubt that many people want that drama.  Plus, the wrath usually comes back in such a way that your behavior is scrutinized.  Insults begin flying your way or behind your back.  I get why no one wants to really define stalking or any other behavior that might be deemed inappropriate, extreme, scary or dangerous on this personal, individual level.  Yet, does it help anyone to have this element of fandom hidden in a dark corner somewhere, lurking over all of us?  One of my missions is to prove that, generally, fans are normal and understand the line between normal fan behavior and abnormal or extreme fan behavior.  How can I or anyone prove that if the line isn’t defined?  How can you show that you are normal if no one really knows what normal is?  Let’s start the conversation now, then.  I don’t have the answers but I’m hoping that, collectively, we might be start coming up with some answers.

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.

-A

13 thoughts on “I’m Asking You the Question”

  1. If you run into a band member during a day while they are working (like run into them on the street….say after they finished an interview), I don't think it is a bad thing to say hello. If you can determine what kind of mood they are in, maybe you can ask for a photo or an autograph. I think it is in poor taste to stalk (or even approach them) when they are off the clock. They need downtime like the rest of us. If my boss showed up at my house on my day off, I would be annoyed. I can imagine a band member feeling the same way.

    I can't get my head wrapped around why a fan would sift through the garbage of their idol. Ewww. Ditto for saving a tissue that JT sneezed in? W. T. H? Too far!

    I don't have a problem with fan fiction. I feel it is a creative way to express their dreams. It doesn't harm the band members directly.

    I own one pair of drumsticks from Jon Farriss of INXS. I hold on them because they are a momento of one of the best shows I have ever attended. My friend won a contest where we met INXS and were able to watch the show from the side of the stage. I don't have any drumsticks from Roger Taylor – or anything else from any of the other band members – but that's OK.

    Lisa

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! So, for you, if it is work time, then it is okay to approach since fans are part of their job, but if they aren't at work, they should be ignored. That makes sense to me. I'm sure that there are some fans who might point out that they might only get one chance at that autograph or picture, which might be during non-work time. Of course, this is part of problem, right? It isn't like most of us have access, which affects our behavior.

    I agree with you about the garbage and about the JT cold.

    Very cool about the drumsticks!

    -A

  3. Good point. I guess it is up to the fan to use their best judgment as to whether it is a good time to approach. If the band is with their families – absolutely NOT!

    It all boils down to respect for the band members. I personally have no desire to seek out the band members of this band or any other band. In the past I have…but I guess with time & age, that ship has sailed. The only thing I expect from DD or any other band I like is to hear good music via an album & a live show. In the big picture, that's really all they need to give their fans. I am sure many other fans will disagree – like they did in early July via that FB post on Daily Duranie. (rule #1, do not speak of RCM) But if they can put aside their fandom and view the big picture, they might see the same thing I do.

    Lisa

  4. I wonder if everyone would agree that the family is off limits.

    As for RCM, it is totally fine to speak of it and in a less than flattering way on here. We always welcome the discussion. 🙂

    -A

  5. we all know our fandom is one of the hottest in the world and much worse we all were in the 80s.
    I don't like the fans who continually tweet to them and to their chidren.
    I can't figure out why some peeps go to their hotels and manage to get into their rooms.
    To end, it's funny some of my old Fb contacts and DDMers deleted me from their links, 'coz they told me I'm “too quiet, for boring”: can I actually love my heroes quietly? Ha!

  6. I pretty much agree with everything the first poster said. I think they are approachable when they are in a situation where they would halfway at least… expect fans to approach. They should be left alone at home, while shopping, dining, or even hurrying through the airport. (Now if they were sitting in an airport, not rushed, not reading or listening to headphones, not mid-meal, not with their family… approach with caution?!)

    — Amanda H.

  7. I think that this is a subject where it is nearly impossible to come to a complete consensus…but I have to admit I'm a little surprised at the fear in talking about it. I suspect that might be due to the fact that it's rather uncomfortable to hold up a mirror to ourselves sometimes.

    Look, I've stayed where the band has stayed before. I've tried to find what bar they've gone to after a show (if in fact they've gone to one). I've waited outside a stage door. I've waited outside a studio. I'll go so far as to say that I've even seen where some of them live. Is that behavior odd? Maybe so. Hell, being a FAN is weird to some people. (I might mention that I think it's weird NOT to be a fan of something…) In typing this, I'm resisting the urge to somehow justify what I've done…but I've done those things, and to be really blunt: I've gotten VERY little reward for my antics. Most of it has been a wild goose chase, and I suppose as far as “the chase” goes, at this moment in time – I'm a little tired. 😀

    Where is the line? Have I crossed it? I hope not. I haven't MEANT to encroach on their personal space, but then again – I suppose going to a place where I know the band goes after a show might very well be encroaching. And here comes the justification.. I didn't go there intending to mob them. (But I still went, didn't I?) I went knowing that a good many of my fellow fans would in fact be there as well, so there would definitely be a party. And there was. We certainly don't disappoint that way. And I still didn't get anywhere near the band. Surprise, surprise. 😀

    Let's stop pretending we're not all fans. We are. I'm not ashamed of that, and no one else should be either. Most of us, if given the opportunity to interact with them – would certainly try. I don't know many fans who absolutely refuse ever having a picture with any one of them (unless of course they already have one and are “over” the idea now). The question here though is how much is really too much? When do you stop being a fan and start being a stalker…and within that same question, are stalkers REALLY fans? (I would argue no. No they are not, and maybe that's a subject for another blog!) When does fandom really become slightly more sinister and more about compensating for some issues and problems in your own life?

    I don't know if we'll ever reach a consensus here, but one thing is certain: the discussion exists, and occurs nearly EVERY SINGLE DAY in the fan community. Just because we're afraid of “outing” ourselves and our tactics here (clearly I'm not) doesn't mean we don't see things and make judgments between our friends and even ourselves each day. I just think it's time to shake out the rugs and curtains and talk about it openly.

    -R

  8. Locations: Yes there should be locations that are off limits, especially their homes, it is okay if you are an invited guest, but there is no reason to be driving, or walking past there home ever it's where they live, think how would you like it if people were constantly passing by your house trying to get a glimpse of you, plus what about their neighbors they are not going to like having people going up, and down their street at all hours. This is not just stalking, it's rude.
    Next Locations: If you, and or friends wish to hang out, outside the studio on the sidewalk that's okay, but entering the studio uninvited is most definitely not, and hanging out there on a daily, or weekly basis in a bit extreme if you live in the area, if you are from out of town, and are only there for a limited time then once a day for a few hours up to till you get a chance see, or say Hi is not extreme, fans showing up at a radio station is kind of expected, but going in without invitation is not good, again hanging out during sound check, or after a show is kind of expected, and so long as you stay outside and do not try to go in uninvited this is not extreme, but when they are at their hotel they are trying to relax, and should be left alone, same for when they are out to eat they should not be harassed.
    Other Extremes: Going through their trash is too far, getting items from a concert once is okay, but if you already have a pair of drumsticks then don't get greedy let someone else have a pair, same goes for water bottles, and towels, though I do not see why anyone would want a water bottle, but a towel that I can understand though what an individual does with such items in privacy is up to them, pictures, and autographs again there is no need to be greedy especially if you have one, or more, and the band's time is limited let someone else have a chance to get a photo, or autograph, if you want more pictures then spread it out, don't try to photo-document their life single-handedly.
    Social Networking: Tweeting once a day if it is something relevant, and not you saying that you love them for the umpteenth time is okay, posting to their Fb wall again is okay if it is once maybe twice a day, but only if it is something relevant.
    Touching: It is only okay to touch them if they initiate the contact, the same goes for hugging, and kissing as well, I have lost count of how many celebrities I have heard of being hurt by fans who were trying to touch, hug, or kiss them, if the celebrity knows you, and they have touched, hugged, or kissed you before then you still might want to ask first before assuming that it's okay to do so again, giving gifts is okay if it is done in an appropriate place like a concert, radio station, or sent to them via mail to their fan club, record label, or music studio, some types of gifts should not be sent like blood, hair, nude or sexually explicit photos, sex toys, your clothing such as panties, but if you find something you think they would like, and you can afford it then yes by all means send it they might appreciate the thought, though sending a gift every month is a bit too much, where as Birthdays, and other gift giving Holidays is acceptable.
    Fantasies: A healthy fantasy life is okay, but not if it takes over your life, and that is all you think about, and strive for, keep fantasies where they belong in your head, or in writing such as fan fiction, writing your fantasies down, and sharing them is entirely up to the individual, but don't expect them to come true.
    The best thing to remember when approaching a celebrity is how would you want to be treated if you were in their shoes, how would you feel if someone you've never met said, or did (what ever you are thinking of) to you, and act accordingly, show respect, that will get their respect, and maybe their attention. This is simply my OPINION of proper fan behavior that does not cross over into stalking.

  9. I cant understand why these questions are even being questioned. The answer to all this is obvious, the Idols in question are people with views and we all know that certain members of DD are not backward in coming forwards and they tell people who they think have crossed the line or overstepped the mark.

    As for dumb questions like why do people go to their hotels and manage to get into their rooms, hotels are public places anyone can go there, the band have their security and they keep fans at a distance they feel overstep the mark. If fans make it to their rooms, that's none of anyone's business as they are there because they are invited there, and that's not up to anyone here to judge. I know people who as you put it “stalk” the band, many have followed the band for 30 years since the beginning and some are highly regarded by the band. Bottom line is for anyone to be questioning any of this I would suggest they are jealous as they have no right to be judgemental of what anyone does or the ability to define what is normal and what is not. Oh and for the Twitter comments, is it ok to tweet a celebrity? DOH! they put themselves out there for people to follow so people can tweet them thats the nature of twitter, if the celebrity wants to answer they will if they dont they will and if they want to block they will and do. End of, really do people not have something better to do with their time than to scrutinise others? This really is little more than an excuse for a b1tchfest! Can I ask are either the Daily Duranie ladies qualified therapists? As I do wonder with what experience it is that you make these judgements about others and what they do?

  10. When you've posted about this subject before, I've let my opinion be known, so I won't rehash everything I've said in the past.

    I will just sum it up very simply – we are all old enough to know what proper behavior and improper behavior is, and where the line between the two lies. There are times when that line does move – ie., you would probably get more leeway in what is considered “acceptable” behavior during a concert, signing, promotional gig, or something related to the band in their professional capacity. i.e., asking for a photo and an autograph during something that is work related for them is okay. Asking for a photo and an autograph while they are out at dinner with their family or friends – never okay!

    But generally, a person should instinctively know what is and is not the right thing to do in any given situation. A good rule of thumb is that any time you cross the boundaries of good behavior in a given situation -and you know where they are – and make yourself look look like an idiot in the process, you've crossed the line.

    -Susan-

  11. Can I ask why you even bother to read our blog if you find our questions and topics so dumb??

    You asked the question, so now you get to read the answer.

    Amanda and I are writing a book. We've done years of research on fan behavior, which is what our book is about. Neither of us think we're therapists – which by the way is NOTHING like what we're doing here. Don't like the blog? Don't freaking read it. Keep in mind, we've written this blog when not a soul has read it, and we'll keep writing whether or not you or your friends read. The funny thing is, there are a LOT of people out there who actually love what we do, so…we're probably going to keep on doing just what we're doing. Thanks ever so much for your opinions, Anonymous.

    -R

Leave a Reply to Daily Duranie Cancel reply