I've never been part of a fandom before. Not because I've never been a fan of something. In truth, I've fallen in love with so many books and television series, movies and bands, that I totally know what it is like to be involved with something. To have a relationship with a show. A love affair with a band. A long-term friendship with a book character. But even though I've been obsessive about actors and musicians, harboured secret (and not-so-secret) crushes, I've never really shared those infatuations. For the most part, I've kept my fan girlish ways to myself.
Sure, there are people out there who know of my undying love for Bruce Springsteen, are privy to the greedy way I gobbled up the Harry Potter series, find it amusing I think I'd survive in A Game of Thrones, and understand I would live in Stars Hollow and be BFFs with the Gilmore Girls if at all possible. In truth, there are a fair share of celebrity dreamboats I adore, examples being Ryan Gosling (the man does no wrong), Tom Waits (what can I say, I've always had a thing for older men), Emma Stone (isn't she the cutest ever?) and my new found lust for Chris Hemsworth (the fallout of having one steamy dream of Thor and his mighty hammer). That being said, I totally toe the line of rationality and haven't ever allowed myself to become so preoccupied with these people that I base my entire existence around them. Like, I don't feel it my duty to pass judgement on the choices they make or how they live their lives. In fact, I don't even care what they are up to, who they are dating, and what they are wearing.
Seems weird mentioning that, right? I mean, shouldn't not being a stalker be a given? After all, who possibly has time to follow anyone around, whether it is on the internet or in real life? Why would anyone be so emotionally invested in a particular celebrity that they haven't even met or held a conversation with?
Well, you might not be privy to what fandom can degrade into. I use the word degrade because people can get down right scary and, to be honest, disgusting when they love something so hard. I like to call it having the fancrazies. A terrifying condition wherein people who shouldn't be allowed on the internet become so obsessed they jump off the cliff of insanity and free fall to the jagged rocks of irrational and drown in the waters of creepiness.
Don't get me wrong, there are amazing fans out there, but in the past couple months I've witnessed disturbing behaviour carried out in the name of fandom. If you are concerned you might be experiencing the fancrazies, I have outlined a few surefire signs that you may actually be Captain of the Crazies, and not just playing for the team.
Reality Vs. Fiction
It is one thing to think about the magical world of Harry Potter and silently wish it was real so you could attend Hogwarts, it's another thing to forget it is fiction and buy a ticket to London. It's one thing to crush on a sparkly fictional vampire, it's another to cry yourself to sleep at night because the new guy in school doesn't have amber coloured eyes. It is one thing to wonder what's going to happen in the next Game Of Thrones book, it's another to daydream about what Jon Snow is doing on the wall right this very minute.
If you are having trouble distinguishing reality from fiction, then you might be the Captain of the Crazies
Celebrities are celebrities, which mean they exist in the public eye. Having a fleeting opinion about an outfit being worn on the red carpet or a new hairstyle is perfectly normal - we all do it. You don't have to like every suit or piece of jewellery your celebrity favourites are wearing. But the truth is, your opinion doesn't matter. These famous people should be able to live their lives and make their own decisions, unswayed by what you think. While you might have a thought on their wardrobe or makeup, you really don't need to share it. In fact, if it isn't nice, how about you don't? You aren't a fan if you are bashing their clothing and hair - or even more horrifying, when you rip them apart physically - from their hairlines to their breast size, from their body types to their teeth. You are not their stylist. Even more, you are not Tyra and they are not here for you to judge them.
If you are overwhelmed with the desire to be catty and critique celebrities, then you could be the Captain of the Crazies.
What Personal Life?
There are fans who think it their business to know every personal detail of a celebrities life. Even worse is the blatant lack of respect for these actors, actresses and musicians lives, there are fans who take it upon themselves to name call and harass not only the people they supposedly love, but the ones they are friends with, or (God forbid) dating. It's one of the most confounding parts of fandom - how these crazy fans (who are so very infatuated with the series, book or actors) think it is their right to not only disapprove of the life decisions these actors and actresses make, but to stalk and bash anyone with any sort of relationship with them.
If for some strange and inexplicable reason you find yourself tweeting your crushes rumoured girlfriend, the person he or she was seen with at a gala or ball or party, and take it upon yourself to bash said person mercilessly, then you have contracted the fancrazies and need to have your intersnacks taken away until you can purge the lunacy from your being.
Let's say not being able to distinguish fiction from reality, invading someone's personal life, and criticizing someone's every move and decision isn't enough to convince someone that they are in fact treading in the dark waters of fandom, perpetrating the seedy underbelly of obsessive love, then here's one more.
Slut-shaming. Name calling. Body-shaming. Stalking. Bullying. None of these terms are very nice, are they? In fact, most people should get their back up if accused of these behaviours. There is no way any of these horrible things should be associated with being a fan, right? If you love something, then aren't you supposed to celebrate it? Let it blossom. Encourage it. And enjoy it. Yes, but people become obsessive. They stop thinking clearly. Eventually, they start doing things they might not normally do, or they allow the anonymity of the internet go to their head and think what they say means nothing, or they are allowed to be rude and mean because it's the first amendment, right? Freedom of speech and all that jazz.
You can't simply say whatever you damn well please. Or at least you shouldn't. It is unacceptable to spread such hatred, to be cruel and pass judgement. It's ignorance to think your words mean nothing when they are the sword that cuts the deepest. Maybe people feel they have a right to be horrible. That celebrities choose to be famous, put themselves in the limelight, and deserve to be judged and mistreated.
If you find yourself passing judgement, calling someone not classy for the company they keep or a skank because of a costume they wore, then you are being mean and slut shaming. If you are complaining about someone's body, too skinny or too fat, then you are body shaming. If you are tearing apart someone's features, from their crooked teeth to their big forehead, small hands to their large feet, even mocking their clothing, you are bullying. Next time you are going to pass judgement, to be mean or bully, slut shame or ridicule, do everyone a favour and look in the mirror before you send your tweet or post your comment and blog. Before you update your status, take a good long hard look at yourself and make sure you are perfect. And, if on the off chance, you find you are perfect, do me a personal favour and keep your negativity and hatred to yourself.
Just between us, I don't understand any of this. It's frustrating to think this is how people treat the things (and people) they supposedly love. If you want to obsess and be a fan, by all means - do it, but do it with love and a wee bit of respect.