Fans. Not appliances to keep ourselves cool. I mean admirers, fanatics, devotees, enthusiasts, groupies. For many of us our fanbase (if you can call it that) consists of family members, friends and loved ones. People we know. Celebrities on the other hand have fans they have never met or even know exist. Some of these fans can become obsessive…
Let’s define obsessive. In this context I don’t mean fans who attend film premieres, watch TV shows starting their favourite actors, go to book launches, attend Comicon or anything along these lines as many people attend these events without being considered obsessive. I’m referring to actions like stalking their idols, sending death threats, or even having plastic surgery to look like their heroes. Those suffering with celebrity worship syndrome. Please note that the celebrity in question can be a fictional character like James Potter (Father of Harry) or Sherlock Holmes.
Here’s an examples of a “crazy fan”. A man called Renato Garcia found a Green Lantern outfit in the rubbish and wore it until his death. I mean, he didn’t change out of it once. Yuck. His family then thought it best to bury him in the outfit. Be warned, the link you’re about to see does contain pictures of a dead body so if you’re squeamish, don’t click. The article focuses on the fact that Renato was buried in the suit but in South America culture this is a social norm.
Back to the question. Why? Why do people do crazy things like this? Well a lot of it is to do with mental illness. I am not an expert on mental health and if you have any questions or conditions please seek a trained doctor. Some fans follow their heroes or attempt to form a relationship with them to give their life meaning, to feel a sense of purpose. The problem arises when someone deems themselves a “true fan” or the “biggest fan” and attempt to harm or bully others who threaten their self-imposed title. If their obsession continues into adulthood it could easily cause problems. If people spot a middle aged woman amid a crowd of squealing girls or a man walking among girls at Comicon could make It makes other people feel uncomfortable.
But good things can come from fan obsessions. Obsession can help people get through troubled times. For example, Tina the woman who featured in Tom Felton’s documentary Tom Felton Meets the Superfans, used the characters of the Harry Potter franchise to help her overcome her depression. The man who wore the Green Lantern outfit channelled the power of confidence and willpower from the character Green Lantern at every hospital appointment he attended. Many characters (especially comic book characters) can be used as Avatars of a certain emotions. As stated above Green Lantern is said to be an avatar of willpower and confidence. Spiderman is seen to be a symbol of hope, strength, resilience and positivity. We can use these characters and what they represent to better ourselves. For example here is a quick explanation of the character Raven and how she acts as a Avatar of Depression. (I don’t own the video below and I don’t intend to make any profit from it. All credit goes to its creator).
If you haven’t seen Tom Felton meets the Superfans you can find more information about it here and you can find it to watch online. It’s about an hour long. http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/proginfo/2015/12/tom-felton-meets-the-superfans
Next time you see someone who is obsessed with a series, character or celebrity don’t judge them. You don’t know what they’re going through.