Today I saw some tweets from Alfie Deyes apologizing to a Girl Gaggle who wanted to snap a selfie with the YouTube star.
Earlier this week, One Direction (yes, those guys again, leave me alone) hosted a Google hangout where they answered questions posed by Ben Winston about their fans.
“I think it’s utterly bizarre. Some are a nice little story, but some go very deep and are very weird.”
—Louis on fanfic
“We’ve got a structure and a way we think it’s going to be received best for a fan, and when that’s taken away from us, it’s annoying.”
— Louis on album leaks
“It’s two ways because obviously it’s something we’ve worked very hard on. When it leaks, its a bit anti-climatic for us. When you’ve worked so hard on something, you want to enjoy it at the same time – look for comments.”
— Liam on album leaks
“You forget that it’s a person on the other side of the computer.”
— Liam Payne, who takes shit from no one on Twitter
Events of late, like fans literally selling Harry Style’s vomit on eBay, have made fangirls and boys look a bit like lunatics. The unfortunate nature of being a crazed fan is that you are, by definition, crazed.
During the hangout, I was struck by the horrible irony that One Direction, and everyone who obtains any level of fame in our fame-hungry, Internet-obsessed culture (hi), has to develop a sense of Stockholm Syndrome. While this Walking-Dead-like hoard of girls is pounding the glass outside the store you’ve hidden in, you have to turn around the very same moment and thank them for buying your album. They write dirty, creepy fanfic about you, but you can’t express that you find that completely horrifying because … they’re your meal ticket. Or your … jet around the world on sold-out stadium tours ticket.
When they steal and share your music before you intended them to hear it, you can’t even be annoyed because your fans will take to the Internet to disparage your good name. They want what they want when they want it!
The endless debate of “what do artists owe their fans” takes almost a scary turn when it is a real-life interaction with stalkers (yes, girls outside waiting for Alfie, you are stalkers) and the artists they love. In a way, we have all become paparazzi, dying to get a snap to share on our own social channels, and stopping at nothing to get it. Harassment, behavior you would never consider all right if the person weren’t famous, becomes the key. It’s the goal.
This kind of behavior is dangerous, frightening and should probably be illegal. Sometime soon, I hope, our culture can catch up with itself by being content with the near-constant nature of the internet connecting us to our favorites. That is on their terms, and lets them live their lives.