I witnessed something rather alarming this week, the ‘super fan’. The super fan isn’t like Superman or even Superted, it’s a type of person rather than an individual, although there is a particular fan I’ll focus on here who encapsulates the key ingredients of the super fan. I was at the Asian Awards, where the notable attendees were (among others) Sir Ben Kingsley, Sway and one Peter Andre. I’d seen the provisional list, as press do before, and knew Peter was in attendance but it wouldn’t have taken me long to work it out as one young lady soon approached my colleague and I at the barrier next to the red carpet and unleashed a potted history of her adoration for and ‘relationship’ with Peter Andre. We were told numerous times how she’d been pictured with him in Heat and Star magazines, how he’d asked her if she wanted to date his manager, which this unusual individual interpreted as Peter’s playing hard to get, and finally how ‘You watch, when he comes he’ll recognise me.’ And recognise her he did, in much the same way that I’m sure that girl who’s rescued from the pit at the end of Silence of the Lambs would surely recognise her erstwhile captor, the serial killer Buffalo Bill. She asked to borrow both of mine and my colleague’s phones (a request we declined) and when she finally got her mits on the mobile of another unsuspecting journalist, she showed us the pictures of her and Pete in question, which were essentially her molesting the startled Aussie hunk. Also, rather concerningly, she had a rolled up newspaper that she assured us she would strike Pete’s girlfriend over the bounce with were he to show up accompanied by her.
During this wait for the guests to arrive a fight broke out between two fans, actual fisticuffs, something I’ve never seen before and when they did start to arrive one diminutive gentleman in a wooly hat and thick glasses, he looked rather like Urkel from much-loved US comedy series Family Matters (just check out the pic, he’s a legend… this lookalike wasn’t), threatened to attack the camera crew next to us for blocking his view. Anyway, then Pete arrives and our heroine, who I’d also like to point out had no shoes on (not sure why but it was the least of her worries) goes ape shit. She charged at Pete as he got out of his car, breaching security and Pete’s entourage and leaping on him like a sexually-charged limpet. She was eventually prized off but proceeded to break through yet more security (these guys really didn’t have a clue) and spent my entire interview with Pete, including an extensive section where he spoke touchingly about his brother (who recently lost a lengthy battle to cancer) and the work that experience has inspired him to do to make sure other men and other families don’t suffer the same fate, holding the by now rather fragile-looking man’s hand, with Andre even having to stop at one point where he looked at me rather bewildered and simply uttered: ‘Someone’s holding my hand.’… He looked like a frightened man.
When we finished our chat the celeb-loving dervish begged him for a kiss, ‘On the cheek?’ He suggested hopefully.
‘On the mouth.’ She stubbornly demanded. Pete went for a peck on the cheek but as she was so incredibly heavy-handed with him as she tried to force him towards her lips he wriggled free and made his escape pursued by her lament of ‘Ok on the mooouuuuttthh, on the mooouuutttthhh.’
I see fans, often people genuinely obsessed with their idols, every day in my job and most of them are benevolent devotees. They’re the hardcore that are responsible for propping up the careers of those in every aspect of entertainment while comparatively the rest of us are really just ‘enthusiasts’. These are decent, normal people who just really like someone or something. I really like Tottenham Hotspur, I was speechless when I met former club captain Ledley King so believe me, I get it. It’s the people who are utterly detached from reality who concern me. The lady mentioned above genuinely believed that she and Peter Andre had a close relationship, fraught with sexual frisson and he was giving her covert signals that he wanted to run away with her. To the rest of us she looked like a loon pursuing a rather uncomfortable but always gracious celebrity in an incredibly forceful way but to her it was part of their courting ritual. These people always seem slightly manic and unhinged in conversation as well and I am concerned about the mental state of these individuals whose interpretation of events is so detached from reality and wonder what deeper malaise lies beneath. In the case of those who become violent, I simply cannot understand how they are so able to lose perspective and that they put enough significance on situations that, let’s face it, ain’t that important. I can’t help but ponder what they’re lives are like away from the red carpet. I’ve questioned the slavish devotion elicited by franchises such as Twilight before but when fandom makes me concerned for the safety of myself and those around me, not to mention poor, scared Peter Andre then suddenly it’s a whole different problem. That being said, if I saw Michael Dawson walking down the street and some prick tried to stop me rubbing my urgent flesh on his, I’d nut ‘em.
First published on IAmMusic.TV, 18th April 2013