Sunday, 8 January 2012

The perils and pitfalls of being a fangirl

I don't usually comment on such issues but my broken toe seems to have dulled my muse and I'm bored. You're probably not interested on my views of the fangirl phenomenon but here they are anyway.

Gerard Butler. Anyone else think he looks scared?
Following Gerard Butler's appearance on Graham Norton on Friday night (complete with crazy stalker fan who follows him everywhere and can remember things about his life that even he can't) there had been a lot of talk in the blog sphere, on twitter and message boards about how far is too far when it comes to being a fan. One fan has even stopped writing her blog because of that fangirl.

When I was a teenager I dreamed of certain actors, meeting them, marrying them, living happily ever after etc.

Then when I was in my 20's I started going to fan conventions. Usually the actors and actresses there were not my favourites but the events were for the show, which I was also obsessed with.

At those events a learned an important lesson. The people that I liked on the show I often didn't like as much in real life, and the people or characters I wasn't that interested in sometimes turned out to be a riot!

Some of the actors weren't nice people (they were arrogant, self-important or used the female fans for easy sex etc) and that's why I disliked them but mostly it was just that they were perfectly good people, they just weren't “my” kind of people; I could talk to them for a while but they would never become a friend, if you know what I mean.

And that's when I learned an important lesson, I didn't love these people, I loved their characters. That's a lesson I have never forgotten.

Richard Armitage as Mr Thornton, my current obsession
Obviously liking or loving a character gives me an interest in the actor who plays them and often a desire to see other works that they have been in and to talk about what I enjoyed. Usually I discover that they have other characters that I like and want to talk about too but I don't ever lose sight of the fact that if I were to meet them, there is a very good chance that we would not be a match, personality wise.

As a result of this awakening, I found that my interest in their interviews and personal life was very much less than it had been when I was a teenager. If their opinions differ from mine I don't change my mind or try to rationalise their words. If they are shown to be less than perfect I don't jump in to defend them, we're all human and flawed after all, although I might feel sympathy for them for having their flaws laid out for all to see.

I continued to go to fan conventions until I moved abroad and now that I am back, if I became obsessed enough, there was an event that covered my obsession and had the funds to do so, I would go again to such an event.

I have some very happy memories of those conventions, including making out with a guest (no he's not likely to be someone you know but you have probably seen some things he's been in). I could have slept with him, he wanted to, I thought he was a lovely man but I didn't do it because he lived in America and I don't. I wasn't silly enough to think that he would fall madly in love and I didn't want to feel used the next day. As it is, I have very fond memories of our meeting and would be happy if I saw him again one day. But pleasant as that interlude was, that is far from my fondest memory of those events.

The very best thing about those events was not rubbing shoulders with actors, it was being surrounded by people like me who understood my obsession and could talk for hours about that scene in episode three, series four when this and that happened! I didn't have to explain why I found a character appealing, they understood. 

I do try and keep a sense of humour about my obsessions
And so, while I will not impose my personal views on what is too much when it comes to being a fan, I will say that for me the line stops at the actor. What he or she puts into the public domain I might watch or read but when it comes to their lives, I don't really want to know. I don't want to see paparazzi shots of them looking out of shape while on holiday. I don't care who they had lunch at The Ivy with. I thank them for creating or bringing to life a character that I love but that's where my admiration ends because the actor behind the character is just another person and believe me, there aren't many people that I meet in real life who I like enough to turn into a friend!

Do I feel guilty for becoming obsessed with a character or show? Why should I? So what if some people look down on me or think we weird. I am weird! There are many harmful interests and pastimes that I could take up but as it is, my interest harms no one. It doesn't take my time from people who need it and my jobs get done.

In fact my obsessions often inspire me and that can never be a bad thing.


  1. Really really really well put. Really.

  2. Excellent piece, Cat.

    The impetus to my blog has not fully manifested, but it's certainly not limited to how hot Richard Armitage looks although he does look hot. It really is about his craft and how he goes about it, and what that has inspired in me and countless others. Along the way it's hard not to comment, sometimes a bit too sarcastically, about what I'm seeing.

  3. Hi! I would like you to know I'll be using your post as a reference for my essay on fangirling for class. Is it okay? :)