It’s all Patrick Monahan’s fault.
I’m not saying that music failed to make people crazy before Train came along; Beatlemania was a bit more intense than anyone’s response to a guy in sparkly pants. However, Monahan has something that The Beatles didn’t (besides sparkly pants): a story that inspires non-fans. According to frantically reblogged posts on Tumblr, Monahan was performing onstage when he spotted a beautiful woman in the audience. He knew that he had to meet her after the show. She became his wife.
The barrier was breached. The Force was disturbed. Rockstars became attainable, fans became attractive, and it didn’t matter if you were married and a grandmother, you still had a shot to get with your favorite performer, not just for sex but for keeps.
I’m a big music fan. I participate in a forum or two online, go to a lot of shows, write reviews, and so on. Because I have eyes and a functioning brain, I see a lot of disturbing behavior. Stuff that goes beyond the fun and fluffy. Stuff that makes you wonder if someone’s really annoying or really unbalanced. So, before the next gig where you’re boosting your cleavage because dreams do come true!11111, think back to this fandom manifesto (fanifesto, because I love me a good portmanteau). Remember, I only tell you this because I love you and don’t want you to be hurt when that asshole steps out with some actress slut who has stolen your man.
Musicians owe you nothing beyond music, so act accordingly. By definition, a musician makes music. You can check a dictionary if you don’t believe me. Nowhere in the dictionary will you see that the musician signs autographs, takes photos, spells your name properly, responds to every tweet you and you alone send his/her way, stares deeply into your soul, or proposes marriage. Many performers are generous enough to give their fans the time of day and form a connection, but it’s not an obligation. Your life will not be shattered if s/he doesn’t answer you on Twitter or Facebook. Also, keep it fun. If they’ve sold millions of records or live in another country and would never tour near you, offering to house them, feed them, clothe them and stroke their hair is not generous, it’s just fucking creepy.
There are not better or worse fans, just different fans. Look, my favorite band has held that position for eight years. I’m tempted to throw out a Z snap and a neck swivel when someone who only got into them a couple of years ago thinks they’re a bigger fan because they’ve bought more concert tickets and merch without having read that obscure 2005 interview I’ve committed to memory. But it’s childish! Be happy that your favorites have enough money to still make music without becoming jaded over the music industry (I’ll save my rant on that for a different time).
There is one exception here: the condescending fan. They are worse fans because they alienate and put others down. It’s not about the music anymore, it’s about them and their own egos. Just because you turn up at every date of a tour doesn’t mean you get the bonus of becoming a friend of the band. If you’re cool and it happens that way, that’s nice, but recognize that not everyone has that much free time/money/childcare/ability to endure repetition. Be humble and polite. I’ve met so many friends at gigs, and we introduce each other to new music all the time without having to brag about how long we’ve listened to so-and-so. If your only goal is to be a lifelong fixture in the band’s life beyond the music, check yourself. If you have to say, “Please don’t think I’m creepy,” then surprise, you’re probably being creepy. Turn that Z snap and neck swivel on yourself.
Know and embrace barriers. Ah, we’ve all heard the tales of rockstars signing tits and loving every second of it, but unless you’re on ecstasy, that’s probably not appropriate at a Coldplay concert. If there’s any doubt, just ask. Good approach: “Can I please get a hug? I’m just so excited to meet you!” Bad approach: “Nice shoes, wanna fuck?” If you see the musician in the wild, be polite when approaching. Remember the first rule, they owe you nothing. If a musician comes up to the barrier or crowdsurfs at a gig, you’ll be crushed forward enough that you will inevitably touch that sweaty demigod. That does not give you permission to grope. It’s inevitable that some people will do it, but when was the last time a stranger squeezed your ass in public that you really loved? Bosoms are not squeeze toys, and guess what, neither are crotches. Congratulations, you’ve cupped his balls. So has his doctor, and he paid for that. Who gets the better deal?
Live a life outside. On the internet, everything is more dramatic. You are literally dying if you don’t get tickets to a show. You are suicidally depressed because nobody’s on Twitter at the same time you are. Don’t anchor all your hopes and dreams to one band or musician. Your Tumblr handle isn’t printed on your forehead (if you have that tattoo, I don’t want to know you), and nobody can figure out your all important post count by looking at you. To be all pop psychologist, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment because what you need isn’t something that can be provided by someone else. Personal acceptance comes first, and you’re not doing anyone any good if you’re living a minimal life because Fernando from The Greatest Band ever is going to be playing in town in 93 days and you’re convinced that it will be the last time you see home before you step onto that gleaming steel chariot, never to return again. There’s loving a band, there’s obsessing, and then there is flat out stalking. If you’re not sure if you’re stalking, ask someone. You probably are stalking, let’s make that clear, but at least the stranger will be more inclined to alert the authorities.
There’s so much more to say, but I’ve rambled enough already. If you find yourself offended, pause a moment: are you pissed off because I’m an inferior fan of music who is jealous of your wealth/beauty/close personal friendship with “the lads,” or are you defensive because you see yourself in this? Real talk.