Time Heals All Wounds.. And Then Kills the Patient
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Fri May 6 13:54:03 2005
Potential for Fandom

In a recent Ghastly comic, highlit is Neil Gaiman's fame, and his large numbers of fans. I've never liked fandom of any kind, and I've always watched the lingual and societal pressures towards it with some distaste. I've seen people drive or fly a ways to some event where they might spend 40 seconds with the object of their fandom, people pay large sums of money for their personal effects, and otherwise obsess over someone who's good at something. I remember being angry at an ex-gf who said, while we were dating, that if she ever by some means got the chance, she would sleep with a particular 'star' she was a fan of. It's anyone's guess as to if she was serious, but it's not unknown for people to actually do that. I don't partake of fandom -- I may like someone's music or books, but that doesn't mean that I think they're anything more than a good musician or author. They can, perhaps, command my respect in their field, but that doesn't mean I'll respect them in other fields. I'm not sure if I've always been this way or not, but I don't think I'm capable of obsession on a person (outside of when I'm romantically involved with someone). I further think that kind of obsession is dangerous in many ways. It can act as a vehicle for sneaky changes in value systems, whereby people alter their value systems to keep their current idol near their ideal. In this way, some religions (including some sects of Islam) have suggested that popular music is dangerous to faith because it can seduce people to idols and away from their deities. Conversely, in despotic regimes, cults of personality (Idi Amin, Pol Pot, etc) protect popular leaders from the consequences of their actions. The flavours of liberalism that are overly optimistic condemn personality cults as being manufactured with no real substance or approval by the masses -- I'm more cynical, and suggest that these feelings become real. 'Stars' can easily (and accidentally) abuse their popularity to extend their percieved authority into other realms. Many martial arts practitioners, for example, take the respect their adeptness at fighting gives them as an opportunity to provide some bullshit advice on how to live life, at the same time they intellectually masturbate to people bowing and calling them "sir". Part of this comes from people having a tendency to be too simpleminded to understand people in a multifaceted way. How many fans do you know that could say of their idol, "She's a great singer, but the politics in her songs is naive"? Finally, fandom causes people to waste money, time, and their attentions on the person rather than the content, and further, distracts them from their own creativity.

It looks like Lynn England isn't right off to jail right now, yet. The military judge that was presiding over her involvement at the atrocities in Abu Gharib tossed out her guilty plea, suggesting that he didn't think she "knew her actions were wrong at the time". While she apparently was involved in some plea bargaining that would've gotten her largely off the hook, it's a pity to see her possibly going free.