Craven idols: thou shalt worship no god
but me. That is all good and well, but the in terms of today’s modern world where celebrity and mobile phone ring tones
are the new religion, unless God looks like Sean Connery, he hasn’t got a hope.
Everyone has his or her celebrity heroes.
Movies you watch again and again because your favourite Hollywood star is in them, sport stars you admire or people you simply
find phwoarr making.
Sometimes fans send letters to their
favourite stars. When I was five I sent a fan letter to the satirical Canadian comedians Wayne and Shuster. Six weeks later
I received a signed photograph from the bemused pair – probably wondering how they had achieved a toddler fan base in
It seems the culture of celebrity, fans,
as in fanatic, and fandom has hit new heights. Things have come a long way since teenagers would put pin ups of their favourite
pop stars up on the walls and pine longingly in an innocent Sandra Dee sort of way over pictures of Sir Cliff Richard. Who
from all accounts wouldn’t know what to do with a woman if one bit him. Nowadays you can find out what your favourite
celebrity lust object is doing and with whom he is doing it with - generally with pictures if you use the google image function.
Or if that isn’t enough you can buy yourself a life size cardboard cut out of your favourite star. For $29.99 plus postage
you can own your very own Paris Hilton.
Since the first Startrek convention in
the seventies science fiction fans have been donning their Starfleet uniforms, unsheathing their Xena Warrior Princess swords
and gathering together to meet the stars of their favourite shows. Although sometimes shocked at the dedication of fans, the
actors, who can be paid a hefty fee to appear, maintain that generally the fans are respectful, the whole thing is a hoot
and everyone ends up getting stonkered in the bar.
While conventions have now become a much
needed source of income for ‘past it’ actors, a recent website made me wonder if things hadn’t gone a little
astray. For a price ‘Supper With the Stars’ will provide D list British celebrities like the one hit wonder band
Go West and has been footballer Ian St John to come round to dinner and liven up your drab dinner party by telling boring
stories about their claims to fame. The thing that made this website even more disturbing was the ‘do not feed nuts
to the celebrities’ sign on the front page. There was a very good reason for this sign. Apparently if you feed the band
ABC nuts they will all die horribly, but it did tend to remind me of the monkey house at the zoo. Just imagine if a company
like that existed in Australia? You would have a choice between dinner with Bert Newton and Tony Barber.
However sometimes the cult of celebrity
gets out of control when fans become too obsessed. Abba singer Agnetha was recently terrorised by an obsessed fan. He moved
to be near her and plastered the walls and roof of his house with pictures of the singer. Even the band Destiny’s child
were stunned when an avid teenage girl showed them she had tattooed her back with the faces of the band.
‘I wanted to be famous, but fame
is such a burden,’ is the traditional cry from Hollywood stars, yet actors know fans are essential. After all it is
hard to be a star if no one will give you the time of day. Kevin Costner is used to being treated as god (heck – judging
by Waterworld he probably thinks he is god). However many working actors find it disconcerting when, through pure luck or
a cameo in a Harry Potter movie, they are elevated to star status.
Paul McGann of Doctor Who and Withnail
and I fame, was a little known and intensely private British actor. He was rather shocked when he came to worldwide prominence
as the eighth Doctor Who. Women everywhere went ‘phwoarr!’.
The Paul McGann Estrogen Brigade was
started in 1996. It still continues nearly ten years later, as does the dedication shown by its members. American PMEB members
will regularly travel to Britain to see a play being performed in an obscure 100 seat theatre if McGann is in it. However
McGann has no problems with his fan base. “Yes, they come from all over the world and try to attend every event or watch
every play I'm involved in. But they're not weird, they're discerning, sensible women with their own lives and families, who
happen to like and respect me a great deal!" Bollocks. You keep telling yourself that Paul. I think they just fancy you rotten.
However, while McGann doesn’t mind
a whole bunch of women swooning around him, he knows the loonies are out there. ‘There are some people who can't differentiate
between an actor and the characters they play, and they're just plain bonkers,’ he says. And speaking of which…
I luv u orlando marry me please Bloomatic
I wouldn’t know Orlando Bloom if
I fell over him, but apparently the Lord of the Rings star is a hottie. The Internet is littered with sites devoted to Orlando
and contains every fantasy conceivable. Most of them are rather sweet prepubescent longings:
The average fan girl fantasy involving
‘Orli’ goes something like this: Katie is sitting in math class when suddenly she mysteriously ends up in Middle
Earth. It turns out that Katie is not just some stupid 13 year old bint from Michigan who can’t do long division to
save her life, but Gandalf’s long lost granddaughter. Her real name is not Katie, but Skylar Pethadine Romanadvoratrelundar
and that she is heir to something really special and mythical – probably involving a ring I assume. Then she will meet
Orlando’s character, who will immediately fall hopelessly in love with her and they will end up shagging each other
senseless in a number of badly written, highly inaccurate, yet disturbingly graphic sex scenes, settle down and having little
fairy children with equally hilarious and implausible names.
It is almost embarrassing to see these
teenage crushes exposed. In the olden days it used to be little love hearts scattered throughout the math book. Now it is
out there on the Internet for everyone to see. On one Orlando Bloom website Crazy4Orlando and IluvOrlando were having a fight
to the death about who was the most obsessive fan. ‘I am so obbsest that I made a thread that alowes people to wright
there own love storey of her and orly’ argues Crazy4Orlando. ‘I luv Orlando soooooooo much cos he is the HAWT!!!!!
and I have TTTOR on DVD,’ counters IluvOrlando. That was about the only part of the discussion I could follow before
the fight degenerated into a tirade of emoticons.
However a disturbing trend in fandom
is emerging. If writing stories where Legolas has it off with Frodo doesn’t tiddle your winks, how about a real person
story. One inventive person decided to write a story where Orlando Bloom and the rapper Eminem have it off: the details are
just not printable.
Internet gurus call this genre real person
fiction (RPF). Many sites refuse to allow RPF as they feel it impinges on the privacy of the performer. Last year Lord of
the Rings star Elijah Wood stated he was shocked at how fans thought about him after he was given an envelope from one of
his German fans containing digitally created pictures of him having sex with other male members of the cast – and no,
it was not Ian McKellan.
Sometimes devotion can run deep. Even
after his arrest on pedophilia charges Michael Jackson’s fans still rally around and fantasize about their hero. The
‘Michael Jackson Sex God’ forum abounds with discussions on the size, thickness and veracity of their pop idol’s
‘manhood’. Young girls still write stories where Michael invites them to spend the night at Neverland and, regardless
of his apparent tendencies, get to experience his ‘manhood’ first hand. Talk about denial!
More disturbing was a thread called ‘would
u let michael rape u?’ (25 perfectly serious replies so far) or the call for help from Mystery Girl:
I'm searching for stories where Michael
masturbates himself. I love the masturbation scenes and it's reaaaaallly excitttiiiiiing!!!! I want more!!!! Help me...
The words ‘help me’ do spring
to mind, but just not in that context.
The only time I have ever met one of
my personal heroes I turned into a gibbering wreck. Australian author Clive James walked into my store and began buying ballet
I have gotten pissed as a newt with Geoffrey
Rush, had tea with George Bush Snr, insulted Cate Blanchette and have sneered in the face of American rock stars, but as soon
as I realized he was Clive James (who looks remarkably like an mummified turtle – and this was only reinforced by the
fact that he was wearing a cod awful polo neck and an op shop leather jacket) I started turned to jelly.
It felt very uncomfortable when he was
standing before me. I knew too much about him. All I could think about when I looked at him was that his middle name was Vivien
and he had wanted to be a fighter pilot. It was actually sort of creepy to know so much about someone I had never met. His
autobiographies had been on my shelf since I was ten. Whenever I needed cheering up or something fun to read in the bathroom
I would turn to Clive’s self mocking recollections of his childhood from Unreliable Memoirs or learn how he completely
failed to shag uber feminist Germaine Greer in May Week Was in June.
I wanted to tell him how much he had
meant to me, how much I admired his writing and his work, but all I ended up doing was gibbering a bit and giving him a huge
discount. I suspect he thought I was a total moron and was very patient, considering I could barely stammer.
Afterwards, when I regained the ability to put
together a coherent sentence, I decided that I liked my heroes in the traditional way – idolized from afar, not as real
people. I did not want to remember Clive as some old dude in a bad leather jacket who quite obviously thought I was a total
moron, but as the kid from Kogarah, forever riding his go-cart down Sydney hills and into Mrs Murtle’s rose bushes.