Whoosh! Issue 34 - July 1999

FANS, SYCOPHANTS, SUPERFANS, AND PSYCHOFANS
WHAT KIND OF A FAN ARE YOU?

IAXS project #700
By Ren Robinson
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
Edition copyright © 1999 held by Whoosh!
1302 words



Author's Note: This article is based on experience with a wide range of fans, and it attempts to get people to think a little bit about fan behavior, about how this behavior affects fans personally, and about the celebrities who draw fans together.




What Kind of Fan Are You? (01)
The Average Fan (02-03)
Sycophants (04-06)
Superfans (07-08)
Psychofans (09-12)
Fan Support (13-14)
Biography



Fans, Sycophants, Superfans, and Psychofans
What Kind Of a Fan Are You?




What Kind of Fan Are You?

A Gabrielle look-alike defends her Xena standee from a band of
marauders at a XENA convention


Gabrielle has been a fan of Xena for some time.


[1] Sometimes fan-watching is just as interesting as star-watching. People do the oddest things when they get around celebrities or even when they just get in an environment with other fans. Some people get silly and goofy, and they are really quite enjoyable to be around. Others try to mess with your mind, hoping to use the star's popularity to further their own agendas. A very few can be rather unpleasant and difficult. Have you ever stopped to wonder what is going through their heads, or what the stars must think of all this?


The Average Fan

[2] The average fan is a curious, fun-loving individual who has been impressed by a particular character/performer in a film or television show and then took an interest in the actor's other work. These fans want to know a bit about the celebrity as a person, and they want to see what else that actor will do. These are the people who keep an eye out for the actor's next project and go out of their way to watch it because they expect that this actor will strike a chord in them again and again. They demonstrate their appreciation for the actor by watching the shows, and the only thing they really want from that celebrity is to see them act more.

[3] This is the quiet majority of fans, the wonderful group of people we rarely see or hear because they do not make a fuss or bother. Altogether, though, they do the most to ensure an actor's success over the years.


Sycophants

Joxer's new mouthwash reveals its opiatic nature


Joxer has been a fan of Gabrielle for some time now.


[4] Sycophants, on the other hand, tend to drive other fans and the celebrities themselves up the wall. These are the people who seem to believe they will be rewarded with special status, a job, or even a marriage license for "glomming" onto the star of their choice. They go out of their way to flatter a celebrity personally, send gifts, etc., hoping this will ensure them a special place in their favorite star's life. They portray themselves as "experts" about a star's career and personal life, seeking the attention and support of the star's other fans. They create websites, forums, and mailing lists that gush too much, and they promote themselves as much or more than the supposed focus of their affections.

[5] They tend to annoy and discourage other fans because they assume they are "special", and they expect to be the center of attention because of all they are doing "for the star". Sycophants cross the line of good fan behavior because their real motivation is not what they can do to support the celebrity but what they expect the celebrity and the other fans to do for them.

[6] What is the best way to deal with a sycophant? Ignore them. If they do not get the attention they crave, they will go play their games somewhere else.


Superfans

[7] Superfans are the rare breed of diehards who put in untold hours working to promote their favorite star to other fans. They are the ones writing to the networks to keep their favorite shows on the air. They are the ones who are out there searching every month and creating the schedules that tell us what shows our beloved stars will be in, and when these shows will air. They are the ones who create websites based on good, solid, interesting information, put together the filmographies, write the reviews, run the fan clubs, and do whatever else they can think of to help more fans enjoy and support the stars.

[8] Superfans rarely get the recognition their "behind the scenes" work deserves, nor do they expect it. They are happy knowing they have done something good for someone they respect and admire, and they enjoy sharing their appreciation of their favorite star with others. What should you do when you encounter a superfan? Thank your lucky stars! A thank you note or an offer to help might be appreciated, too.


Psychofans

I may not be a natural blonde, darling, but at least it's all my hair!


Callisto has been a fan of Xena for some time now.


[9] Psychofans are often sycophants who have completely lost it. Fortunately they are pretty rare, but they cause a disproportionate amount of trouble when they appear. They frequently claim to have a relationship with the star, a relationship which only exists in their heads. They may be very convincing and excel at drawing others in to support their delusions. They feed on the attention and envy they create with their expertly crafted lies, and they can become extremely hostile if challenged or confronted.

[10] Psychofans tend to obsess on the idea of becoming personally involved with the star. In fact, their entire sense of self-worth depends on the belief that this relationship either does or will soon exist. They go beyond annoying, into the realm of being frightening and dangerous.

[11] A particularly dangerous type of psychofan is the stalker. A stalker is one who goes to great lengths to find a celebrity's address or phone number and make a nuisance of him or herself with unwanted calls or visits.

[12] How do you deal with this? You can try to ignore them, but that rarely works because they actively recruit followers to bolster themselves, then spread lies and destruction at will. Perhaps the most effective approach is to establish a network of good, solid fans you can trust who will work together to inform and protect the other fans, as well as the star, from this type of problem person.


Fan Support

[13] Often the best way we can support an actor, as fans, is merely to watch their shows and spread the word to others about the actor and his/her work. If you really want to do something extra to show your appreciation, write letters to the networks or carriers of the shows your star is in, and let them know how much you like to see that star in the show. Fan response really can have an impact on what shows stay on the air and which fall victim to that disappearing act we so dread.

[14] Another thing we can do to help both our fellow fans and the stars who have drawn us together is to use peer pressure to encourage good behavior. When someone begins to demand a lot of attention for themselves, take a good hard look at their motivations, and do not be fooled by claims they are doing it all for the star. Be very careful about who and what you believe when someone makes it appear that they are friends with a celebrity. Chances are there is a fan club president or someone else in the group who knows what is really going on, so talk to people and compare notes. Distinguish between the silly, nutty person who is just having fun being a fan and those who cross the line to become problems for fans and stars alike. With a little bit of caution and common sense you can have more fun in the world of fandom and make life a lot pleasant for the stars you love as well.



Biography

Ren Robinson Ren Robinson
Mystery woman.

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