People are crazy

When Fangirls Go Too Far

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Coriolanus1You 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 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.

(Not) The Right Stuff

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I’m struggling with writer’s block on my thesis today, so I decided to try writing a blog post instead and see if I could shake something loose.

As I stated in my previous post, my best friend and I went to a New Kids on the Block concert last weekend. Opening for the New Kids were 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men, so the entire concert was one big throwback to our teen years (and childhood, I’m too young to have been a teenager when NKOTB started out). My friend Sarah is still a huge boy band fanatic, and while I don’t listen to modern boy bands at all, I still have a soft spot for the boy bands I loved when I was younger. Neither of us could resist this show, just like we couldn’t resist seeing NKOTBSB (twice) two years ago. (I mean, New Kids and Backstreet Boys? That’s just a given!)

When we went to the concert two years ago we were amazed by the age range of fans. We expected the majority of the crowd to be around our age or older, since we were certain Beiber fans had no idea who the New Kids on the Block were (or that they should thank them for making it possible for bands like One Direction to exist). We knew some younger fans had probably heard of the Backstreet Boys, but we weren’t prepared for just how many younger fans were there. All were clearly there just for BSB, as they just sat and stared whenever NKOTB were on stage. Clearly they had no appreciation for the guys who started the boy band craze.

This year however, the crowd was exactly what we had expected the first time around. Most likely because 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men haven’t done a lot of touring (or recording) in years, so most of the younger generation is even less familiar with them than NKOTB. Unfortunately, being surrounded by mostly adult women led to one side effect we hadn’t (but probably should have) foreseen: drunk fangirls. I’m sure some of these women were tipsy before the show even started, as there were a number of tailgating parties in the parking lot (I didn’t even know tailgating for a New Kids concert – or any concert for that matter – was a thing; I thought it was reserved for sporting events). The woman sitting in front of Sarah was completely wasted before Boyz II Men (the opening act) was even halfway through their set (and I’m pretty sure she smuggled some of her booze in with her, as she was drinking from a liquor bottle not normally sold in stadiums and still possessing it’s lid).

In light of this experience, I came up with a couple tips I just thought I’d share before you get drunk at a concert and make a complete idiot out of yourself (I mean, I don’t know about you, but my idea of a good time doesn’t involve becoming that girl everyone laughed at for being falling-down-drunk at a New Kids on the Block concert).

  1. Dress Appropriately (and with proper support): This is a big one, especially if you’re a big girl. When you’re sitting all the way up in the nosebleed section (so far you can’t even make out anyone’s faces without the big screen) then I guarantee Donnie Wahlberg cannot see your chest and no one around you really wants to either. Maybe the person you keep texting selfies to does (or at least doesn’t care), but that person ain’t here. It’s one thing if Jordan and Donnie want to shed their shirts on stage, but you are another story entirely and the last thing anyone wants is a full-frontal while you’re jumping up and down and waving your arms. Though it will give those around you a chance to place bets on whether or not your girls will actually pop out at some point during the show.
  2. Don’t Violate Someone Else’s Personal Space: If you’re going to insist on using the back of your seat as a chair itself, please refrain from sitting on, or even just rubbing you behind on the legs of the person in front of you. And if you do, don’t get annoyed if said person then kicks you back. Your friends may not mind you invading their personal space, but the person behind you most likely has no idea who you are and would like to be able to sit comfortably in the seat they paid for without you trying to sit in their lap. Along the same lines, when you actually are sitting in your seat, don’t whip your head back really hard because you just might come into contact with someone else’s shin or knee and that hurts a lot (and it will probably hurt even more the next morning, when you have that head ache on top of the hangover).
  3. Don’t Trip and Fall Face First into the Row in Front of You: Okay, so this didn’t actually happen, but at one point I was pretty sure it was going to. She literally began falling forward and I didn’t think she was going to catch her balance, but somehow she did. I’m pretty sure the guy in front of her was ticked off though, he left shortly after and wasn’t seen again for the rest of the show (she of course took advantage of this by dangling her legs over his seat and nearly kicking the people on either side). We spent much of the rest of the concert wondering if she was going to fall every time she stood up, and then I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if she did. Those rows in the stadium are pretty steep. If someone had enough momentum, would they just keep tumbling down the seats until they fell out over the edge of the stadium seating? I pretty much came to the conclusion that if your drunk in the stadium and you fall you could die. And that would put a pretty big damper on everyone’s concert experience. However, if she just fell into the next row or two and didn’t die, Sarah and I may have died from laughter and this would be a much more interesting story to tell.
  4. Friends Don’t Let Friends Make Fools of Themselves: What I really didn’t understand is why this girl’s friends didn’t try to intervene a little bit, especially when it looked like she was about ready to topple into the row in front of her. It’s understandable that they wouldn’t want to have to leave the concert because their friend is a sloppy drunk, but at least try to get her slow down on the booze, and maybe stay in her seat where it’s a little safer. They could have also suggested that sitting on a stranger’s legs isn’t a great idea, instead of just ignoring everything their so-called friend is doing. If I had been the drunk girl, I probably would have been rather upset with my friends the next day (assuming I could actually remember anything that happened during the concert … which may be another reason to be angry; if I’m paying to see a concert like that I definitely want to be able to remember it the next day).

I respect everyone’s right to enjoy the concert the way they would like to enjoy it, but is it really necessary to become so intoxicated you’re ruining the experience for those around you? While the drunk women around us didn’t prevent us from enjoying the concert at all, I definitely preferred the clueless teeny-boppers from the previous tour. At least they were quiet (and not old enough to buy alcohol). And if you do decide to get wasted, don’t be surprised when the sober people around you are laughing at you (definitely not with you), and possibly taking photos and/or video (neither of which we did, but it was tempting).

When the First Ammendment and Sanity Conflict

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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The First Ammendment has been a hot topic lately, as the Supreme Court recently decided that the Freedom of Speech clause protects people like the Westboro Baptist “Church” in their decision to picket the funerals of children and soldiers killed in action.

As someone who has many family members in various branches of the armed forces and has buried a cousin killed in Iraq, I find it disgusting that our Bill of Rights could allow something so horrible. As a former jounalism student, I understand that no court in the country is going to rule in favor of violating anyone’s First Ammendment right. Unfortunately, as long as their protests remain “peaceful” there is nothing that can be done to stop them, any more than you could stop any other form of protest.

But what about the family’s right to privacy you ask? The First Ammendment is First for a reason. Our founding fathers felt this was one of the most important things to be included in the Bill of Rights. They wanted to make sure that at no time could anyone infringe on anyone else’s freedom of religion or speech. The result being that whenever the First Ammendment comes into conflict with another ammendment, the First will win out almost every time. While most of the time we are grateful that these freedoms are protected so diligently, at times like this it’s extremely frustrating trying to understand how our government could allow such a thing to happen.

Make no mistake, I despise this so-called church just as much as the rest of the country (at least, everyone who is not a member of the insanity), and I truly wish there were a way to stop them, but with the First Ammendment on their side, there’s not a lot we can do but sit back and pray they screw up so they can be prosecuted without its protection.

One thing we can actively do is support and protect that families who are targeted by these people. And maybe if the media would stop giving them so much attention, they would eventually fade away. They’re mostly doing this for the attention. If the entire world turned its back on them, ignored them and showed them that we’re not going to let them affect us anymore, eventually their fanaticism would fade.

Of course, I keep saying the same thing about Charlie Sheen but so far the media (and America as a whole) is too fascinated watching the train wreck he calls his life to understand that maybe if he wasn’t getting all this attention he would just retreat back into his crazy life. The media and attention just adds fuel to the fire.

What Americans can’t seem to understand is that these people, whether they are members of Westboro Baptist, Charlie Sheen or some other crazy person, only have the power that we give them. And since we gave it to them we can just as easily take it away.

And I’m begging, please America, take it away.