Do you really want to be a "FAN"?

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Title: Do you really want to be a "FAN"?
Creator: Liza S. Knopp
Date(s): June 1988
Medium: print
Fandom: a focus of Beauty and the Beast (TV), but mentions Star Trek: TOS, and is applicable to other fandoms
Topic:
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Do you really want to be a "FAN"? is a 1988 essay by Lisa S. Knopp.

The topic was how to be a well-behaved fan.

It was printed in the second issue of Beauty and the Beast (Beauty and the Beast fanclub newsletter), which was issued by Beauty and the Beast Fan Club (US). The editor of that newsletter's issue referred to this essay:
Please read the article "Do you really want to be a 'FAN'?" It says what I feel admirably. If I am ever at a convention and I observe a club member exhibiting "FAN"anatic behavior toward a B&TB guest or treating the other attendees badly, I will revoke your membership on the spot and you will not receive your money back. The same revocation applies, if a member of the B&TB cast or crew complains about a pushy or obnoxious club member-you will lose your membership in the club.

The Essay

"Would you mind sending me a dozen autographed pictures for me and my friends?"

"I've got this great idea for a script for the show. I know if you'd just take a minute to look at it."

"So, what are you doing Saturday?" (directed to an actor/actress.)

I've heard these comments, and more in a similar vein, about many shows. These comments, sometimes followed by aggressive and even rude behavior, are made by "FANS". "FANS" are not people who enjoy a show; they are people who force the show into every aspect of their lives until it borders and often crosses the point of obsession.

I first realized the difference between "FANS" and fans, during the years I shared a friend's interest in Star Trek. She was the one who informed me, in no uncertain terms, that I was NOT a "Trekkie". I was a "Trekker". Okay, fine. Whatever. I discovered that "Trekkie" was a term conferred (with some distain [sic]) on to "FANS". They did everything to get to cons, to see their idol, to say that their hand brushed the hand of the security guard of the body guard of Leonard Nimoy.

Can you imagine being on the receiving end of this kind of relentless attention multiplied by thousands?

So, before we start running amok and earning ourselves the perhaps not-so-well intentioned nickname of "Beasties" (or worse, "Beebees"), I'd like to make a few suggestions.

First, enjoy yourself. You don't have to push, shove or get into a knock-down drag-out brawl to get what you want. Say George R.R. Martin is at a convention. You've spent your babysitting money (Ed note: or entire life savings) for this one shot at getting his autograph. Unfortunately, the autograph line cuts of right in front of you. So? It's not going to ruin your life. Trust me. Sure, maybe you really wanted his autograph and you're disappointed. Instead of demanding service for your dollar, and letting the incident ruin the rest of the con — take action. Try writing Mr. Martin a polite letter. Explain about the situation and request an autograph in the enclosed SASE (self-addressed, stamped, envelope). And remember, he may receive many letters such as yours. Would you prefer he sign autographs or write new episodes?

Second, don't expect the improbable. Someone knocks on the door. You open it only to find — much to your surprise (ed note. HA!), Ron Perlman, Linda Hamilton or Roy Doltrice [sic]! You discover that they were so impressed with your 15 page, handwritten letter that they had to come and thank you in person. Don't hold your breath. Believe me, I've had that thought too. I would love to open the door and find. (it varies, could be Mr. Bill, could be Frank Langella) there in person. Go ahead! Indulge a little. But keep in mind that it is a daydream. The minute you start counting how many days ago you sent your letter and when you will receive a reply, you're asking for frustration. Besides, how much nicer to receive a reply when you don't expect one!

For the record, this has happened to me twice. The second time, I wrote a letter to B&tB complaining about an episode titled. The Alchemist". I didn't enclose a SASE because, in all honesty, I did not expect a response. I received a generous reply from Howard Gordon, one of the writers for that episode, which covered points I had raised and provided his views on my comments overall.

Third, when you have something to say, say it politely and to the point. As I said above, I wrote to criticize an episode. I did not write a "hate" letter saying that the episode "stinks", or threaten never to watch the show again. (Ed note: at this point whoever is reading the letter will think it was written by a crackpot and ignore it). I did point out specific instances of what I felt were inconsistencies and offer suggestions on improvements. All in under two typewritten pages. If you like something, or don't like something, try to pin down exactly what was good/bad. This lets the producers, writers, actors and tech crew know where their strengths and weaknesses are.

References