Frankly, anyone who has ever been devoted to anything – be it Firefly, hockey, or U2 – will shift a little uncomfortably in their seats. I know I did. I found myself glancing at my desk and wanting to rip down every bit of fandom that has gathered there over the years – and realizing I should never, ever, joke about marrying various actors in public again. I began to believe the only thing separating me from Tiffany's stalker, Jeffery Deane Turner, is the fact that I lack a mind-control helmet. (This is why I never took more than one psychology class in college – I started fearing that I was schizophrenic or washing my hands more than Howard Hughes.)
But more disturbing than my own susceptibility is how often I have seen this kind of dark and obsessive fandom take root. Of course it plagues the geek world. It always has from the first time someone donned a pair of Spock ears, I suppose. Most fans are good and sane people. We have jobs (how else do you pay for your graphic novels?), we have significant others, we don't live in squalor amidst magazine clippings and unfolded laundry. (Well, actually I do. I hate folding laundry.) But I've known people who emptied their bank accounts following an actor to all of their appearances and filming locations. I know an Agent Mulder lookalike who is drinking himself to death because The X-Files is done -- and his self-identity done with it. I have met Johnny Depp cos-players – no, not Jack Sparrow. They dress as Depp.
And the obsessive, well, they kind of ruin it for the rest of us. Not just reputation by association – but because like the individuals in Alone Now, they scare the hell out of people so much that they're generally given a free pass. You actually see this with Turner – not once is he denied a chance to meet Tiffany. Bless her heart, she's even distant-yet-sweet to him, but I suspect it's largely out of fear that he might show up at her house again. I've seen this happen with A-list individuals like Hugh Jackman to up-and-comers like Ray Stevenson.
For example, at ComicCon this year, we happened to walk by a signing by the demi-god of geekdom, Nathan Fillion. Blocking our path was a woman in a floor length, crushed velvet cape covered in large Buffy: The Vampire Slayer buttons. She saw Fillion and steadfastly refused to budge, despite the requests of security. She was causing a traffic jam of nearly panic-inducing proportions. I even got in her face and said "You are going to have to move!" The look she shot me was one of death – and then security gave in and let her take a photo with Fillion. A normal person, like you or I, would get a shove and maybe a friendly expulsion from the premises. The obsessive fan is catered to because they might flip out and mutilate Mr. Fillion and this tiny Lara Croft, not to mention all the Klingons, Stormtropers, and Death Dealers who were just trying to get a bottle of four-dollar water. But the sane among us, who would just dig a photo for MySpace profile purposes, can't get one because we lack the killing spark in our eyes. (Editor's note: And then there's the celebrity, who's probably already done 15,000 autographs and photos that morning.)
Now, lest anyone think I am being cruel and judgmental – I'm a big believer in live and let live. And there is, of course, me firm belief that both "fans" from the Tiffany film suffer from psychological and emotional issues that definitely deserve sympathy and ... medication. But overall I think fandom is, quite often, a very positive thing. How can I say otherwise? I parlayed my own into a gig here at Cinematical. Even the end of Alone Now suggests the same, when subject Kelly McCormick finds the strength to go on after meeting Tiffany, and Deane ... well, he finds a new love that inspires him to clean his house. Perhaps even in fandom, it's darkest just before the dawn -- but oh, how destructive it can be before love fades.
Now, you'll have to excuse me -- I just have some magazines I have to dump in the recycle bin. And maybe some posters too ... an action figure or three...