A friend of mine was feeling frustrated about the behaviour of some modern fans towards the popular objects of their adulation. Whilst most fans are appreciative of all they do receive from public figures, some people take it a little too far in their assumptions of ownership over these high-profile performers and expect more than is necessary in return for their allegiance.
Here’s what she wrote –
CELEBRITY LAP DANCING
While it may sound like a new reality TV show, Carrie Fisher used the term “Celebrity Lap Dancing” to describe sci-fi conventions. Those places where actors – often even good ones – parade themselves in front of adoring fans and basically perform like trained monkeys for said fans enjoyment. For me this stretches not just to Comic-cons, but as a theatre fan, to stage-dooring, and I recently thought to include social media.
I have always felt that all an actor owed me was printed on the face of the ticket. I still believe that. It is a negotiated contract between the performer and the audience that the party of the first part (the performer) will act in accordance with the information provided by the promoter, and the party of the second part (the audience) will sit there and enjoy it. That’s pretty much it. And to a greater or lesser extent, that is what happens. After that, the terms of the contract cease to be binding, and we all go home.
This applies to everyone. Even, or especially, fan club people – the members and the organizers – seem to feel an obligation is owed to them by the focus of their admiration. They do what they do or join what they join without the target of their collective affections asking them to, or in some cases even knowing the group exists. They are acting voluntarily with no mention of reimbursement of any kind (literal or figurative) even being discussed. Why would they expect anything more?
Why do people assume that simply because they have made an emotional connection with someone on stage, somehow that emotion is reciprocated? These people are actors – making emotional connections is what they do for a living. The same way we do the filing.
Don’t get me wrong. I am well aware of the slight flutter experienced when a person you have admired replies to a tweet or likes a post. However, I don’t see that somehow talking to an actor on a social media site like Twitter or Facebook – no matter how regular it is – somehow constitutes a real relationship. Performers have friends – even best friends. They don’t need us for that. We are simply fans. If you want to spend more time with them buy the official cast recording.
So many times I have read comments from fans talking about how this actor or that one doesn’t appreciate their fans because they didn’t stay to chat after the show. And I have wondered at the level of presumption some people have. How do we know that the actor isn’t sick, or tired, or late for something else? Maybe they appear grumpy because they are injured and just want to go home. Maybe they don’t want to give you the cold that they can’t shake (because they have to spend an hour each night outside the stage door talking to fans). What right do we, as audience members, especially those claiming to be devotees, have to expect or insist people we don’t know stay behind and talk to us?
Now, the term “Celebrity Lap Dance” has a ring to it. An implication perhaps, of something a little cheap and seedy, something that to some extent debases both parties. It is not how I want to view someone whose work I admire. It is certainly not the way I want someone I admire to view me.
And that is why I probably won’t be waiting in breathless anticipation for anyone to exit the theatre.
Please let us know what you think of the pressure put upon modern performers and the narrowing margin between their public and private lives.