Fandom and insanity by Kathy Brown

A natural pair, right? The good kind of insanity, though, because, obviously, that’s where the term ‘fangirl’ comes from. But there’s a point at which you cross a line. Where a ‘fanwarrior’ goes to a certain extreme and lets down the entire fandom.

For some, it’s not that big of a deal but for others it’s disappointing to know that you’re part of that fandom and are placed on the same level as the ones that let your side down. You’re associated with them and there’s nothing you can do to change other people’s opinions about your fanbase because one person does something stupid and the rest of the group are labelled exactly the same from that point onwards.

I’m talking, fairly recently, about the incident with Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse in London. About members of the Hiddlestoner and Cumberbatch Collectives that saw the Sherlock star in the audience and decided to treat both Ben and Tom differently to what they are: human beings.

Chasing them down the street, yelling at them, forcing pictures from them and urging for an autograph.

As of its last performance (13th February 2014) Tom Hiddleston had done well over eighty performances. Every time he’s mentally and physically exhausted – literally strung up by his feet for the last two minutes of the play, covered in blood and left to swing in front of the audience before the lights go up and everyone goes home. It’s only normal that he just wants to go home and rest because he’s got to go back the following day and do it all again.

Admittedly, by now, the show has packed up and finished its run at the Donmar, but taking 30th January as an example, when it went through National Theatre Live and was in practically every cinema across the globe, was a prime example of when Tom might’ve wanted to just go home rather than being bugged by fans. He’s a good guy and will stop more often than not to smile for a picture or two but there comes a time when it’s just too much and he’s had enough.

But anyway, back to the point.

Granted that Andrew Scott (Moriarty), Laura Pulver (Irene Adler), Martin Freeman (John Watson) and Amanda Abbington (Mary Watson) all went to see the Shakespearean classic to support their Sherlock co-star (Mark Gatiss, who portrayed the “humorous patrician”[1], Menenius) and they all stopped for a few photos with fans but that’s because they were happy to do so. They willingly took time out of their evening to talk with others on a night out.

Just like them, Benedict was out, having an evening away from all the hustle and bustle, most importantly the stress, of celebrity life. Just like Andrew, Laura, Martin and Amanda, Benedict wanted to support his co-star and Tom himself.

But there had to be one person who spotted him in the audience and got it into their head that they just had to have Ben’s photo and autograph once the show was over to prove they’d seen him and he had acknowledged their existence. Then, like sheep, others noticed and followed that one person’s example.

It’s disgusting. We treat them like they aren’t human. Like they don’t have feelings or priorities… Like they don’t just want a night off now and again.

We don’t watch and enjoy Tom and Ben’s work for their looks or sex appeal, though it is an added bonus. We watch and enjoy their work because we want to watch them grow as actors. We want to watch their acting capabilities flourish film by film, episode by episode. They are continually doing what they love on a daily basis (which some of us only hope of doing but know we never will) and creating, forming and remaking characters as their own. Fame and public recognition are only part and parcel of doing so.

They get out of bed every morning, knowing that people appreciate the effort they put in to their work. What’s that old phrase; they put their trousers on one leg at a time just like everybody else? They push the boundaries of their proficiency and all they ask for, in return, is to be treated the same as you would a friend. But no. There are always those who take it that one step too far and are a complete let down for everyone else.

The annoying and impractical ones are the individuals who stop the ‘normal people’, the rest of the fanbase, from being able to meet them in person. Tom and Ben will eventually realise half of us are insane, stop being nice to us and cause so much hassle that there will be an uprising between ourselves, tearing the fanbase apart.

We need to wake up, realise that what we’re doing is wrong and treat Tom and Ben as the people they deserve to be treated as. They are sublime actors with the ability to take on any role and make it their own; loving, caring people that will do anything for others and generous hearts that only take photos and sign autographs for us because “the price is to ask it kindly”[2].

One fire drives out one fire; one nail, one nail;
Rights by rights falter, strengths by strengths do fail.
Tullus Aufidius, Coriolanus, Act IV, Scene VII

[1] Menenius, Coriolanus, Act II, Scene I
[2] First Citizen, Coriolanus, Act II, Scene III