Saturday, January 12, 2013

Is Fan still short for Fanatic?

What does it mean to be a "fan"? I'm not certain but I'm certain that is has changed. I see and hear people saying things like they're a "fan" of sunlight or peanut butter, and at the same time, I would have said that you're a fan of a band if they owned everything that they put out, but with Amazon, and Ebay and Itunes, that's hardly the commitment it once was. So, is being a fan simply a matter of a passing fancy, or having surplus cash? Is it more involved than that, or should it be? Have you seen the episode of Portlandia where Carrie and Fred hire Aimee Mann as their maid? Some interesting questions there about what it means to be a fan- is it a demand made upon the artist? Is it some kind of obsessional fantasy projection? What does a Fan owe the subject of their Fandom? What do those subjects owe their fans?
I  believe the answers to those questions have changed, and I don't think that's either bad or good. It's just different. I might be stuck in an outmoded viewpoint, but I think that while no one owes anyone in a "fan" type of relationship, there is a certain amount of devotion necessary to call someone a "Fan"- the only real question is in which way it is appropriate to express that devotion.

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