The first question that can pop up is whether or not this is fair. Is it fair that the fans with more money get more things? More experiences connected to their fandom? This, of course, is a dicey topic. I think it is safe to say that many of us, most of us have to choose what we can and cannot do, what we can and cannot buy. For some fans, buying things connected to one’s fandom is of a higher priority than others. I admit that is a true statement for myself. I have chosen to put my fandom as a higher priority in my own personal budget. I would love a new dining room table, which is really my family’s old kitchen table from when I was a kid. Yet, I would rather spend the money on a VIP concert ticket than buy the table. It is a choice I make. Therefore, the argument could be made that it is fair in this way. Everyone can choose where they put their fandom in terms of financial priority. Yet, we all know that for many fans, they can only put fandom so high due to other more significant costs like paying for shelter or food on the table or items that are needed by their family. This means that for those fans, they simply miss out on the opportunities or products, which isn’t really fair. What I do think is important for all of us to recognize and be clear, ourselves, that, for some, it is about making a choice between fandom and other things and, for others, it isn’t a choice at all. So, if it isn’t fair to those fans who really can’t choose to put fandom higher, what should be done about it, if anything? I already see the sides lining up. Those who have the money to choose fandom might argue, “It’s my money. If I have the money, I should be able to buy what I want. While I’m sorry not everyone does have that choice, those options shouldn’t be taken away from me. I like that I am able to buy more stuff and more experiences.” Those who don’t have the choices might say, “I wish that I had the money to afford the items and experiences but I don’t. I am just as good of a fan as the next person. Fandom means just as much to me as those who have more money. I should be able to experience and get some of it.” One solution, of course, could be more contests but then again…fans who have more money could and should be allowed to participate, right? Truly, I have no solution.
The second set of questions that come up with this issue is what the celebrity(s) should or should not do regarding money. While I think we all recognize that there is a financial transaction that takes place with fandom, it isn’t all there is to it. Fandom is also emotional. The celebrity(s) should know that and understand, right? Perhaps, then, there is the question of whether or not the idol(s) should then, in understanding, make sure that their products and experiences are fairly priced so that a large number of fans could possibly afford it. Should, for example, Duran Duran lower the prices to VIP seats so that more people could afford them? Of course, from a business standpoint, if people buy them at the prices they are on, there is no reason for them to lower them. After all, they want to make the most profit they can and we can’t blame them for that. Recently, someone pointed out to me, during the big Comic Con convention, that the stars of the X-Files charged $200 to have fans get their pictures taken with them. Is this price outrageous? Is it a matter of taken advantage of their fans? Obviously, we could all decide this ourselves and their fans could decide whether or not that price was reasonable. If they thought it wasn’t, they could choose not to buy, right?
Like I said, I don’t have good answers for this issue. I do think it is important to acknowledge that it is an issue within fandom. I don’t know what the celebrity(s) should do or not do. I know this. I feel lucky that I can make some choices with my fandom and I recognize that others can’t as much or at all. I definitely don’t think that makes me a bigger or better fan than them. It just makes me fortunate. Some could argue that if I felt strongly about the costs and how it might exclude some people, then I could choose not to pay myself and that if everyone stopped paying, the costs would lower. That is very true. Yet, I hesitate to do that because I do see the idol(s) purpose of making money. I also recognize that I really don’t know what, in turn, they have to buy themselves in order to do their jobs. For example, a lot of people work in the Duran machine. They all need to be paid. Studio time needs to be paid. Producers need to be paid. I don’t know how much money they really take in. Yes, I’m sure they take in WAY more money than I do. The other reason I hesitate to stop buying is because I should have that choice to do things that I enjoy. I like going to concerts. I like buying music. I like going on tour. Clearly, this is one of those issues in fandom that don’t have any good answers, but one that I suspect everyone has an opinion about.