You know me. You know I’m a big fangirl, I can squee with the best of them. I’ve been to fan conventions, I have photos of myself with the cast of Supernatural and Dule Hill among others. I dream of someday attending Comic Con and interacting with my own kind (2015? Maybe?), but even I have my fangirl limits. Believe it or not, there are just some times when it’s not appropriate to act like the super-obsessed fangirl you are. And if you do, then all you accomplish is giving the rest of us a bad name.
In this week’s ‘Fanning Out’ column for Curiata.com I wrote about several of my favorite fandom actors and some of their more “high culture” performances such as Broadway and Shakespeare. A lot of my favorite actors have recently been involved in some really good live productions. For example, Tom Hiddleston recently starred in National Theatre Live’s production of Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse in London. While few Americans had the opportunity to see it live, National Theatre Live broadcast the production in theaters across the US. I was able to see one of these broadcasts last Sunday, and it was fantastic.
One thing to keep in mind as you’re watching any of these performances – especially if you happen to be fortunate enough to see one in person – there is a line between being a fangirl and just being obnoxious. Please don’t cross that line.
The Hollow Crown aired in the United Kingdom shortly before the Summer Olympics in 2012, and in the United States back in September. It’s a four-film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard II, Henry IV Pt. 1, Henry IV Pt. 2 and Henry V. Each play is a fairly faithful adaptation of Shakespeare’s work. They are beautifully filmed and the cast includes Tom Hiddleston, Patrick Stewart, Jeremy Irons, Ben Whishaw, Michelle Dockery, Joe Armstrong, Simon Russell Beale, and many others, all of whom are amazing.
I adore Tom Hiddleston just as much as the next fangirl, but if you searched The Hollow Crown on the internet while the series of films was originally airing in the UK, one would think he was the only person involved in this series, and that’s a little frustrating. I even posted a blog at the time about my irritation with Hiddleston fans. I love that the presence of actors like Hiddleston in these adaptations encourages people who may never watch Shakespeare to see them, but believe it or not there is an entire cast of brilliant actors aside from him who also made The Hollow Crown incredible; they deserve just as much credit and respect as Hiddleston.
Another thing that annoyed me about Hiddleston fans and The Hollow Crown, were all those who complained about how he wasn’t even in the first film, Richard II. Considering Richard II was wonderfully done and Ben Whishaw was absolutely brilliant as Richard II, it was a little offensive that these girls would complain because the play wasn’t rewritten to include Hiddleston’s character in all four films.
But I think what really irritated me the most was the fact that there were a large number of fans complaining about the fact that the dialogue was too old-fashioned and nobody could understand it. I had almost forgotten about this irritation until I saw Coriolanus on Sunday and there was a group of teenage girls in the audience obviously there just to see Hiddleston and they too complained about how they couldn’t understand anything that was being said.
If you’re going to see a Shakespeare performance because you love one of the actors, but know very little about Shakespeare, try to take this opportunity to learn more about the literature behind the play. Pick up a copy of the play and try to read it – No Fear makes wonderful editions with the full English version side-by-side with the original text and many of these are available to read online. Don’t just go, sit in the theater clueless and then afterward complain about how you couldn’t understand a word they were saying, and why do they have to talk that way?
One of the things that makes Shakespeare great is his use of language. If you want to see Shakespeare with modern language then watch 10 Things I Hate About You. But if you want to see real Shakespeare, starring actors like Tom Hiddleston, David Tennant, Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellan, then you’re going to have to actively listen to the dialogue on stage.
Moving away from my ranting about Shakespeare, if you happen to be one of the lucky people who gets to see your favorite celebrity in a live production, please for the love of God don’t act like an obsessed fangirl in the audience. I saw How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying on Broadway starring Darren Criss and the most annoying thing in the world is having a bunch of teenaged girls behind you screaming and squealing as if this were a concert, not a Broadway production. Then, they didn’t even stay until the end of the musical, because they had to get outside and around to back of the building in case Criss came out after to greet his fans. Not only is this disrespectful to the other actors on the stage, but it’s distracting to the performers and the audience alike (as is all the screaming and trying to sneak photos during the performance).
Please be aware of your surroundings and recognize that there are some venues where it’s just not appropriate to cheer and scream “Marry Me” at the top of your lungs. Broadway and other theatrical productions being one.
There’s no reason why we can’t be ourselves and fan out all we want, but we should also be respectful of the people we’re fanning out over and their other fans. No one likes being stereotyped, and that obsessive fangirl stereotype comes from somewhere – let’s try not to perpetuate it.