Saturday, March 21, 2009

what the fan likes is not who they think it is

Backstage passes? Working as a roadie? Meeting your favorite celebrity rock icon?

Worship from afar can turn into disgust when the devotee actually meets the idol "up close and personal".

Worshiping a rock star, at its worst, can be seen when people say Michael Jackson, for example, can't be a child molesting pervert. Why? Because they like his music.

Stupid fans equate "liking his music" with "thus, he's a good person" or "thus, he's a genius musician".

Disillusionment is good, though. Illusions are detrimental to mental health and social functioning.

The fan has a misconception that guides their emotional orientation toward the mistaken identity of the source of their pleasure.

Entertainment exists to provide the good feelings the fans are unable to generate within themselves. Some say the fan projects his or her fantasies on the star, and in turn, introjects the star into their own psyche, in an act of psychic cannibalism.

Average people call this "identifying with" the star. The fan tries to look, act, and drink/drug like the star, hoping these acts of assimilation will impart some vague values to the pathetic, untalented fan.

The fan "consumes" the star along with the musical products of the star, and some mysterious power and glory of the star resides inside the fan. Or so they think. Sometimes the star is not fully digested by the fan, and the star is vomited out. Those fans are the lucky ones.

What the fan thinks they like is this: the artist.


The artist is separate, distinct, and alien to the art they make. Often they have no explanation of how a song happened. It just "came to them" in the middle of the night, etc.

Not that the artist is a necessarily a mediumistic conduit, as Marcel Duchamp says they appear to be, but more like a flower garden planted by a gardener is not the gardener themself.

You may see aspects of the artist in what they produce, but the art exists as a separate unique entity containing its own character traits and agendas.

You are not what you make, you are merely the maker of it. It has its own properties, laws, and future, which may have nothing to do with you, and will probably outlast you in time.

Thus, to like the art does not mean the artist is also liked.

This distortion would serve only to completely negate the artistic scope and dream, it would make art a facade, an enticement, a trapdoor.

We must learn to like the technique, without unduly fawning all over the technician.

You do not like the artist when you respond to art. You think you like both artist and what the artist made, but it's child's play to prove that this assumption is wrong, dangerous, and delusional.

#1 -- If you met the artist, prior to any knowledge or experience with his art, you would probably not like the artist. It would only be upon learning who he is, and seeing some of his art, and learning of his prestige and originality, that you would then start to like him.

#2 -- If you leap beyond the art, the music, the poetry, the paintings, that you like, and attempt to contact the artist, the prognosis is dismal, with very few exceptions.

Most artists appreciate cheering, but not too close up.

Most artists love the money and praise of the fans as a collective group, but have little concern for individuals.

They prefer distant praise, published reviews, critical accolades, and fans purchasing product. But to actually meet, and get to know, a customer? That's called "getting dirty" in the Wall Street investment business. The reasons for failure or disaster are obvious and manifold.

the artist tends to be both wary and weary of having to be "on" for an individual spectator.

It taxes their strength of professionalism to have to "be that artist", i.e. not the one he is now, or is trying to become, but the one who did that old crap the fan is all excited about.

It may some work that the artist did before they acquired new skills or equipment, or when they actually had a talent "back up" band, and the artist is now deeply ashamed of it. Each compliment pierces and impales his self-esteem like a poison dart of bitter remorse.

Even if the fan loves the new material, the star is not capable of being that thing the fan idolizes. Much of the mystique and charisma is based on theatricality, acting, faking it.

A rock star can seem really brave, powerful, and exciting up on stage. Get them alone, one to one, and watch your admiration wilt as fast as Bill Clinton chasing a fat intern.

The fan makes the artist sick.

The artist feels irritable, retro-relevant, paranoid. because enthusiastic fans swiftly switch into wounded haters when the artist says or does something that hurts the fan's bizarre and incomprehensible feelings.

The artist realizes that an individual fan is a danger. Deeply devoted fans can be thinly disguised stalkers.

A single devoted fan, face to face with the adored artist, is a ghastly and gloomy sight, indeed.

It's easy to love them en masse, these fans. But to have to deal with a solitary specimen, that's a bit much for even the most sophisticated and kindly of artists.

The only solution is for the artist to deliberately ruin the fan's illusions.

Make the fan angry, embarrassed, or feeling imposed upon. Demand things from the fan. It's up to the artist to destroy the fascination of the fan, for the fan cannot dismantle his own delusions, that's why they're his delusions. They've overpowered, and deluded, him.

Once the artist is liberated from the fanhood of this specific fan, what becomes of the fan?

The formerly loyal fan must now despise the artist, regret ever being so ignorant as to like his art, and to think the artist was worthy of being liked, right along with his art.

Now the art, the artist, and the fan are in shambles. All because the fan wasn't content with being pleased by the art, he had to attempt to drag the artist into the messy mush of his likings.


Even his enjoyment of the art is thoroughly wrecked, dashed into a million pieces, never again to provide a single second of pleasure to the fan. that art is now dead, worthless, soon to be forgotten, like it never happened.

The fan finds redemption either in creating his own art, going far beyond the artist that made art he once was stupid enough to like, or in returning to another artist's art, and enjoying that, but firmly resolving to never again presume to equate liking the art with liking the artist.

And they all lived happily ever after.


1 comment:

Matt Searles said...

I love this post!

Of course on the other hand.. artists love there groupies..

The thing I'm thinking is.. an artist.. well there persona is a part of there art, is a part of the story.. and has importance from an epistemological aspect of the art appreciation.

What I think the issue is is that the artist, or celebrity, or content maker, can be a projection of the fans inward potential, unrealized.. loving the artist is loving the artists persona, as a pose the "I" behind the persona... and the inward potential projected.

The psychology of the projection.. the projection does have value.. in the hero worship.. one assimilates the patterns by which said potential is actualized.

It also strikes me that artists are fighting the monsters of our collective common humanity.. which seems to fit in there somewhere..