Why RA?: Part 4 – Fandom Go BOOM

I’ve gone over my old posts and had several weeks to think how to best articulate what happened next with Mr. Crush.  The last post described how the fan club enjoyed a boom and a sort of creative nirvana.  Things moved along swimmingly (always wanted to say that). Mr. Crush (and his wife) took a sporadic interest in the club.  We seemed to go from strength to strength as we traveled to London several more times to see him two more plays and lunch with him.  However, underneath it all, things were unraveling.

The reason why brings me to my first axiom of fandom: do not learn too much about your crush.

Crushing intrinsically carries a certain idealization of subject.  You know the person is human with foilbles just like yourself, there is still a sense that this person may be more special than the next.  When the veil between subject and fan is pierced,  the allure, the specialness dissipates in the face of the person’s frailities.

In our case, we got to know Mr. Crush all too well. He was not nasty or sarcastic or caustic like my previous crush.  Mr. Crush was an affable, likeable man but  two aspects of his personality wore down the inner circle of which I was a part.  First, he was a flake extraordinaire.  He wasn’t deliberately rude; he simply marched to the beat of different drummer.  When we flew to London for an arranged meeting with him, he stood us up, seemingly having forgotten about us. A few days later, he called  the organizer wondering where we were.  He arranged a Q &A on his own initiative and then failed to follow through.  He was so unreliable, he became a joke and an annoyance in the inner circle.  We didn’t tell the rest of the fans although they were aware that events seemed to evaporate. Personally, I was anNOYed.  I abhor a flake and would never have one for a friend.  But I enjoyed the cameraderie of the group.  The club continued, almost inspite of him and then two big things happened.

This brings me to the second axiom of fandom: know what qualities you can and cannot respect in a crush.  If certain qualities would leave you appalled,  it’s time to walk away.

Here is where the telling gets tricky.  Let’s just say that Mr. Crush, who touted himself a family man, made an unwise choice at a convention which led a few of us to surmise that he was being indiscrete.  A short time later, his wife venting her spleen on Facebook indirectly confirmed our suspicions.  Our club blew  up.  Those who had not twigged were either deeply shocked and left, or sad but resigned.  Personally, I had lost interest over the flakiness but the cheating was beyond the pale for me.  Ordinarily I consider a person’s private life private.  But once I learn things, I cannot un-know them.  I cannot condone partner beaters, serial cheaters, bigots, and child molesters to name a few, and cannot admire a person I cannot respect.  I could no longer respect Mr. Crush although what he did privately was his own business.

The inner circle was done too.  The club limped along for a long time before the listmom jokingly changed its name.  The list still exists today but only as token to the past I suspect.  Somebody might post once in a blue moon. Upon reflection, it is likely things might not have disintegrated had we kept ourselves blissfully ignorant, more detached and not known Mr. Crush as well as we did.  But then again, who knows.  Today, I dig just enough to discover whether a person is worthy of admiration (i.e. not a creep as listed above) and stop.  As for the rest, I don’t need to know or want to know.  I prefer the fan innocence.  After all, my purpose in fandom is to have fun.


19 thoughts on “Why RA?: Part 4 – Fandom Go BOOM

  1. Fandom is a thornbush, isn’t it? It really seems best to know as little as possible about the subject’s private life. (a certain mystery is appealing, after all.) Although it is easy and tempting to perceive that we “read” an actor’s personality from interviews, etc., perhaps the perceptions are aspects of the personality, not necessarily the whole person. After all, an actor is just that, skilled at projecting what he/she wishes to project.

    • Hi Judiang,
      What Fitzg said.
      And so far, I haven’t been disappointed as you were.  I hope I never am.  Of course, I am not perfect either.  Most of us just strive to be the best we can be–for ourselves and in our dealings with others.  Sometimes we succeed–sometimes we don’t.  Let’s hope the former wins out over the latter.
      Cheers!  Grati  ;->

      • Yes, I understand nobody’s perfect.  However, some things cross a line with me.  That’s not to say that makes a person bad; it simply causes my respect  and hence my admiration to leech away.  I think Mr. Crush is deep down a good man who made bad choices.  Ideally, none of them should have played out in public but unfortunately, that’s not what happened.

        • Hi Judiang,
          I have to say that I agree with you.  I’m sorry that I wasn’t more clear earlier–I was speaking generally in my earlier comment.
          There are indeed some things that cross a line or are “beyond the pale”, and you gave several good examples–basically, when someone else is hurt (legally or otherwise).
          Cheers!   Grati  ;->

    • Not getting close was an interesting lesson to learn.  Is certainly was the source of my previous disillusionment. But it’s hard discerning how close is close enough.  Right now, I’m happy if the crush seems to be a decent human being and leave it at that.

  2. I think “don’t look too close” is sound advice.  My normal fandoms — rockers — are all subject to those stereotypes of groupie-loving hard-partying dope heads so it’s always a thrill to find out they’re not that way for whatever reason (Pearl Jam, for example, felt that groupies set a bad example for young girls and in their early years wouldn’t tolerate their presence — not sure how they are now).  Great, thought-provoking post, judiang!

    • When I think of rockers, that’s exactly the stereotype that leaps to mind.  It’s good to be close enough to know that isn’t true, but any closer is dangerous territory.  Glad you enjoyed the post.  🙂

  3. I think perhaps why I’ve never before had a crush like the one I have now is because I was never really interested in anyone’s personal life before.  I have admired the talent of a lot of performers, actors, singer, etc. but never needed to know much more about them than the barest details.  I did buy a biography of Elton John way back when.  I didn’t care about his love life!

    But when I delved into the back story of Richard Armitage, everything I learned about him made me like, respect and admire him more than even his performances ever could!  That is why I am an RA fan. 🙂

    • That’s what I mean – find out enough about a person to know you can admire and respect him.  After that, I suggest not delving a scintilla more or else you risk popping the bubble of mystique and learning something you’d rather not.   That’s where I’m trying to keep a happy balance.

  4. Personally, I was anNOYed.

    Heh heh – I picture Xander saying that. 🙂

    Nice post – always fascinating to see your take on things.

  5. I like this series. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. That’s always been my thought, the less I know about how people really are the more I like them.


  6. For several years,I express myself in superlatives about this men.I know for sure that he is wise,talened and handsome workaholik,the rest might  just  be  my pious thinking;) I prefer to remain in blissful ignorance:D

  7. [rewriting deleted comment]: I wonder, in this particular case, if the fact that the actor is willing to be so “friendly” with his fans, going to the point of having lunches with them after they travel a long distance, doesn’t already provide prima faciae evidence of some kind of impending problem. Presumably, a self-aware actor will realize that fans’ notions of him will rest on expectations, some of which will be unrealistic, and that it would be to his benefit not to burst their bubbles any more than he has to. Spending time with fans in this way makes it almost inevitable that disappointment of some kind would result as the perfect image of the crush gets dinged, at least in small ways, maybe in big ones. That he made such choices makes me wonder about the emotional needs of the actor. Presumably, the “healthy” actor would appreciate fans, but not “need” to interact with them.

    • [Sorry, comment was accidentally deleted when I fiddled around with WP on my iPhone.]

      Keep in mind that fans pay to have lunch and dinner with celebs at conventions (defrays the cost of the con and celebs).  So Mr. Crush deciding to have separate occasions at the cons with his fans is not unusual.  I think the problem came when he tried arranging personal meet ups to apologize for other failed meet-ups that slipped his mind.   Perhaps if he had kept contact official, like at cons or through the list moms, we wouldn’t have twigged onto other aspects of his personality.  There would have been more of a distance and less expectations from us.  And if he hadn’t brought his lady friend to the con and kept her private, we wouldn’t have twigged onto her either.  But it was his first time dealing directly with fans.  Remember we had made it quite pleasant for him.  He had not been burned like RA had, so he had not yet learned where to draw the line.  That RA saw the unpleasant side of fandom early on probably was a good thing in the long run.  It’s sad he had to change from ultra friendly to wary.  That was quite sweet.

      • Interesting — I’ve attended one con in my life and it didn’t involve a lunch meetup with anyone, and was kind of an abortive experience altogether for other reasons, so I didn’t know it was standard fare for people to pay to have a meal with a celeb. I’ll have to chew over what I think of that both as a standard practice and as a potential behavior. But still it seems to me that Mr. Crush didn’t understand where his boundaries were or should have been. (I mean, I’m not a celeb, and yet I know that certain kinds of contact or information exchange with students are inappropriate. There are things about me that my students should never learn because they would damage our relationship. I know not to make myself an occasion for gossip — though I suppose arguably the professional consequences of doing that might be more severe for a professor than for an actor.) But it seems to me that anyone who lives on Planet Earth realizes that many people all over the globe find adultery unattractive or objectionable, for instance, and thus would avoid the appearance of adulterous behavior even if not the act. I guess you can call this guy’s behavior naive, but I also think you can call it needy. Miss a con mtg? Refund the money, apologize publicly, and either refrain from scheduling further such meetings or resolve to better in future. Allow fans to be fb friends with his wife? — seems foolhardy, both of him and the wife. Secondly, if his fans did develop a relationship with his wife, did he really think his fans wouldn’t care when he cheated on her and it became known to them? Presumably, not thinking about this involves a failure to understand human behavior in the first place (let alone thinking about how fans might react). Admittedly, I wasn’t there and don’t know who you’re talking about so there are probably plenty of things I am missing here.

        I guess I am basically agreeing with you that one doesn’t want to know too much about an actor, or that having TMI about an actor has the potential to kill a crush and thus destroy something enjoyable — but you seem to be saying it is the responsibility of the fan to stop looking for info after a certain point. I don’t disagree, but I would also say that it is also the responsibility of the actor not to let certain kinds of information about him appear where the wrong people can find them. Admittedly, it is hard to know exactly which information is going to be problematic, though one could make some general rules. (I always think of the RA smoking discussions in this category — it amazes me how people react to that.) And also, admittedly, it’s unfortunate that there are some things about their lives that actors might have to lie about for professional reasons (gender orientation comes to mind). And finally, admittedly, this is getting harder and harder given the progress of the information age. Still, I don’t think you can inherently expect that fans will deal responsibly with things they know. Your privacy is never as important to anyone else as it will be to you.

  8. I think given the amount of information we have (and have not!) about RA it is easy to idealize him. In fact he is so good at keeping things private that we know very little apart from what he himself told. We know a lot less about him than about this guy who appeared to be a decent husband and family man and wasn’t. We have confirmation about him on a professional level by people that worked with him and we have a charming public persona but as no-one has ever bothered to find out more we have no confirmation about the private person at all. I’m not suggesting that the picture he has drawn of himself is wrong, it can very well be true (apart from a few flaws everyone has and prefers not to share with the public) but I keep in mind that there is the possibility that he is not what he appears to be. Frankly, with all due respect to his privacy, I’m not really in the camp that doesn’t want to know, if there is something unpleasant to know I want to know and reassess my opinion of him.

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