Sunday, June 5, 2022

What's up America? Fans are out.of.control!

Lindsay Crouse, Fandom Is Out of Control, NYTimes, 5 June 2022.

Whatever you think of this week’s verdict in Mr. Depp’s defamation case against Ms. Heard and her countersuit — the jury awarded him more than $10 million in damages and her $2 million — that moment last month leaves one of the big questions of this six-week public spectacle unanswered: What drives a grown person to travel to a courthouse in Virginia to hurl insults at someone she has never met, about behavior she didn’t witness and money she is not owed?

Besotted and enraged fans are not a new phenomenon, but in the past those who violated boundaries to accost celebrities were generally seen as unhinged stalkers. Now the phenomenon has gone mainstream. The impulse of that woman yelling “gold digger” outside the courthouse — and the many others similarly incensed on behalf of Mr. Depp, online and in person — is a result of what psychologists have called “celebrity worship syndrome,” in which preoccupation with a public figure veers into obsession.


Social media and the massive volume of celebrity coverage has a lot to do with this. Now that we have watched the rich and famous working out or baking in their kitchens, now that we know the most intimate details of their love lives, our expectations of them have shifted, becoming more personal. [...]

Another factor in this phenomenon is the increasingly transactional nature of our relationship with celebrities on social media: We invest our attention in them, and they cash in on the business of attracting it.


It’s also worth noting that we’re in an era in which fans exert unprecedented influence over our popular cultural narratives — bringing back canceled TV shows and even shifting plotlines based on fan theories.


Ms. Heard spoke on the stand in court about the trauma of the harsh public attention she has received: “I am harassed, humiliated, threatened every single day,” Ms. Heard told the court during the trial. “People want to kill me, and they tell me so every day. People want to put my baby in the microwave, and they tell me that.”

Boundaries are crumbling all over the damn place. We live in mythic times. See my analysis of Osamu Tezuka's so-called science fiction trilogy for some insight into what happens when the state crumbles: Dr. Tezuka’s Ontology Laboratory and the Discovery of Japan.


  1. Shame on the judge who allowed the live streaming. Depp's lawyers wanted it; Heard's did not. Depp's lawyers knew they would drum up obsessed fans. There is a fan petition for that Amber Heard not be in the next Aquaman movie; over 4,450,000 signatures. As somebody said, if only people would show up in these numbers for change in gun laws.

  2. I may be wrong.

    I experienced the obsessive part at 17. Its scary.

    Lower level more common experience. See a romantic heroic figure on screen and t.v. and then meet some pale imitation in real life.

    Its an intensely odd experience. Notable minority of people expect the dream, you want to purchase a pint of milk or a cup of coffee without feeling someone feels they know you and you have deceived them in some way.

    I was fortunately never famous, so its just occurring in work time which so far from permanent, I could not cope with that its utterly nuts.

    Bad days when every mundane interaction outside of the theatre transforms into utterly surreal moment then you step out on the street to met the stalker that appears as if by magic from nowhere.

    Fortunate part for me, as I was young, theatre was bombarded
    daily with obscene letters from my stalker and did not give me the mail. I was unaware of the content.

    Deeply creepy without the full details.