Lately I’ve been more active on Reddit. It’s overwhelming how much stuff is on there, and it makes me feel a little like I’ve been on a coke binge or something if I see too many things going on there at once (was this site built by programmers who all have ADHD?), but I really like the IAMA section (Ask Me Anything), and have started calendering some of the AMAs that more famous people do, partly because I find them really interesting (even the questions that don’t get answered), but also because every once and a while, a question I post will be answered (Michael Pollan!). This is sort of like having someone famous respond to one of your tweets, which can be pretty cool when it happens. I like that forums like Twitter and Reddit can allow someone famous to safely communicate with their fans in a targeted and specific way that they feel comfortable with. For the uninitiated, an AMA is sort of like a famous person letting 2000 people into a one-hour Q&A session. They answer as many questions as they can, picking the ones they most want to answer, and it’s pretty entertaining.
It also must be pretty hard to sift through the barrage of worthless garbage comments, in particular the “I don’t have a question, I just wanted to tell you I’m a huge fan!” type. There are, literally, hundreds of these, put different ways. “No question, just wanted to say you’re awesome!” I feel like if I was a celebrity, this is about as useful and pleasant as 35 paparazzi trying to take a picture of you and shouting at you to smile as you walk 10 feet from a limo door to a restaurant. It’s really stupid and annoying and really doesn’t accomplish anything. And what kind of conversation is that to have with someone who ASKS for a conversation with you:
Famous person: I’ve done 75 movies and have a new project coming out. Ask me anything!
800 STUPID FANS: I love you! I don’t have any questions! You’re awesome! You’re the best!
Let me tell you something. I worked security at an outdoor concert facility for five years. Famous people KNOW that you love them. They KNOW you are a big fan. Really, they appreciate you. They appreciate you a lot when you buy their music or go to their movies or pay to see them on speaking tours or whatever you’re doing that actually supports them. But they do not need to hear “HUGE FAN HERE, YOU ARE THE BEST, JUST WANTED TO SAY THAT.”
Once, a long, long time before I worked at the concert venue, I had the opportunity to go backstage after an INXS concert. I was IN LOVE with Michael Hutchence, like every other woman on the planet, and was DYING to meet him. I STOOD IN LINE to greet him, like I was waiting for an audience with the Pope. And then when it was my turn, I introduced myself. I have no idea what I said but I gushed something stupid about being a huge fan. He shook my hand and gave me a tired smile. I could tell I was boring and the whole thing was an annoyance to him. Still, I floated out of the room on cloud nine, leaned up against the wall in the hallway and slid down it dramatically, my astounded knees buckling under me, staring at my hand and thinking how I would never wash it again. It’s completely embarrassing when I think about it now, and what a worthless exercise.
Another time, at the aforementioned concert facility, I was sent down to the dressing rooms to guard Henry Rollins’ dressing room and make sure nobody bothered him. Ok, I have MAD respect and love for Henry Rollins since way back in the Black Flag days, and being able to be that close to his person, even behind a closed door, was pretty exciting. Much to my surprise, after I’d been down there about 15 minutes, he actually opened the door and came out. His laptop was plugged into a table in the wall in the hallway (no clue why there and not inside the dressing room), and he came out, sat down, and started typing away. I was dying. DYING. Seriously, he was RIGHT THERE. Maybe 10 feet away from me.
Ok first off, as you might imagine, it was the policy of the venue that you are NOT to bother the artists. If you bug people or act like a dork, they’ll send you out to work the parking lots or maybe station you way out on Wheatley Road to direct traffic if you’re being really awful. Do it again and you’re fired. It’s just not kosher. So I’m standing there like, well, I know I can’t say anything to him, but this is HENRY FREAKING ROLLINS, how do I NOT say just ONE LITTLE THING TO HIM. So I started thinking. What would I say, to interrupt the great Mr. Rollins as he clickety-clacked away on his keyboard. What could be so important as to bother him when he is otherwise busy, when you’re not supposed to be doing anything like that.
“Pardon me, Mr. Rollins, I just wanted to say I’m a really big fan of yours.” No. That’s really fucking lame. What do you think he’s going to do, jump up and be like, “WOW! *YOU’RE* my FAN? That’s AMAZING! Let’s go get a drink!” I mulled it over some more. “Excuse me, I don’t want to bother you, but I just wanted to say I think you’re really awesome.” A-FUCKING-PLUS, BABY, THAT’S SURE TO MOTIVATE HIM TO TAKE YOU ON TOUR WITH HIM, WHICH YOU MAY AS WELL DO BECAUSE YOU’RE GOING TO BE OUT OF A JOB IF YOU SAY THAT. I stood there for a long time thinking about what I could say, and everything I came up with was, upon examination, really fucking lame. I mean, it’s nothing new for them. They hear it every day, everywhere they go. And you are not special. You are a tool.
Eventually, he closed the lid on the laptop and went back inside without a word. And I was glad later I hadn’t made an ass of myself.
More people should learn this lesson.
“Is it any wonder I reject you first
Fame, fame, fame, fame
Is it any wonder you are too cool to fool
– David Bowie