Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Why I Think Celebrity Fandom, Even to Some Extremes, Can Be Healthy

This is a tricky topic for me to write about, because I think there's something about celebrity fandom that a lot of people just don't experience and don't understand, and it's hard to communicate what exactly the appeal is. Celebrities are just people. I believe that wholeheartedly. I believe in treating them with respect, just like everyone else. I don't believe that they're any more valuable than anyone else. So how does it make sense that I get so crazy-excited over one little interaction with my favorite band?

When I say I think fandom can be healthy to some extremes, I do mean some. There are definitely fine lines that lead from what I consider healthy fandom, to unheathy, even destructive obsession. When have you crossed those lines? Here are just a few characteristics that I would consider to be unhealthy:

  • If your obsession with celebrities interferes with or damages your relationships with friends, or if it interferes with your ability to do what you want to do in your life.
  • If you do things that you wouldn't otherwise do because it would go against your values, for the sake of your obsession with celebrities.
  • If you don't have the celebrities' best interests in mind, and start doing things to them in the direction of stalking them, stealing from them, or intruding in their lives in some unwanted way.
  • If you gossip about things that are very personal to them.
  • If you have an inaccurate perspective about your closeness with the celebrity. For instance, if you think you have a relationship with them that you don't actually have, or if you think you know more about them than you actually do.
  • If you are continuously frustrated that you can't be closer to them.

A lot of these things have to do with the idea that celebrities are just people, so I like to treat them with the same kind of respect that I treat my friends with, and not treat them like objects.

Now I want to get into why I think celebrity fandom can be a good thing. And part of it just has to do with my observations about my mentality about life when I am in awe of a celebrity or group of them. For one thing, it sparks my creativity more intensely than anything else, to the point where I can barely keep from expressing it. The kind of creativity that it inspires is different from other kinds. It feels more driven, less aimless, and less self-centered.

The whole experience of fandom feels both humbling and awesome at the same time. It's like being in love sometimes, but it's different from being in love with someone in your own peer group, in that there is a different dynamic and set of expectations. If my friend from school found out that I had posters of him all over my wall, it would be a little weird, wouldn't it? But maybe it's just a cultural difference. With celebrities, it's more socially acceptable to be crazy about them.

I've expressed this to people before, but I think (especially since I'm single, probably) I have a lot of unfocused admiration, and there are a lot of situations where I don't feel like it's appropriate to express it to people. I actually sometimes think that I wish people were more openly affectionate and appreciative of one another without having as much stigma about jealousy and perceived romantic intentions. And I feel like the kinds of things that I want to express to people who I really appreciate are more accepted, and not taken too seriously, when the targets of admiration are celebrities.

So why do I think it's healthy? Because I think expressing appreciation in excessive volumes if we feel like it is good for us. I think it exercises our overall capacity for loving each other, especially if we don't want or expect anything in return. I like the idea that someone can allow themselves to get extremely excited over a simple interaction with someone.

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