We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting laundry ~E.B.White
When I think of what it is to be a fan of an actor, following their career and taking part in discussions about them and their work, words that come to my mind are things like admiration, gratification, fulfillment, passion, camaraderie, fun. that’s what I feel when I’m admiring on my own or with like minded people but when someone asks me about my hobbies, what I like to do for fun, do I say I like to admire actors and discuss their work online? (oh! that was good phrasing, I need to remember that…) the answer is: no. why? because the words that swirl around my head in those situations are more along the lines of childish, shameful, secretive, stalkerish, judgmental, misunderstood. when I do attempt to explain, people generally think I mean gossip magazines and entertainment news shows, neither of which are really my thing.
my family and close friends know about my “hobby”. I wouldn’t say they’re supportive so much as indifferent. they know I like actors and the movies they star in, I talk about them all the time, but I’m a storyteller so it’s just par for the course when I bring up a character from a movie to illustrate a point. if I went into detail about how I know or why I know, well, that’s when things get tricky. because unless you get paid to be a movie critic or gossip columnist, then you’re just wasting your time on frivolous pursuits. “wow, you really like this guy don’t you? isn’t that a little…obsessive?”
I’m drawn to actors. not musicians, or directors, or professional athletes, but actors. I like acting. the psychology of why I admire the male variety is irrelevant in the grand scheme of things; the lust factor is not as big as people automatically assume. if I were a man, these actors would be my sports heroes. I would rattle off their batting averages and recall specific games in detail, while pondering how their grip on the bat affects their swing. I would vocally admire their impressive knack for reading other players and speculate about their emotional state and how it may be throwing them off balance, or maybe that’s just the cut of the new uniforms. all of that would be considered normal. yet watching all of an actor’s work and recalling the nuances of body language they put into each character, while comparing their real life persona to their acting one, is obsessive. admiring an actor’s craft and the choices that they make, both professionally and personally, and weighing how the way they see the world around them plays into all of that; well, that’s stalking. “you know you can’t have a relationship with them, right? they’re not real”
I’ve been admiring actors pretty much all my life. the reasons change, how I go about “admiring” may differ, but it’s always something that I’ve enjoyed. and just as there is skill in sports, a rush of excitement and adrenaline, life lessons to be taken away from the game and applied to real life; I find all of that in acting as well. the drooling over the attractiveness of the players, is just human nature. and the lighthearted, sometimes silly, atmosphere that often infuses the crowd? silly is subjective. next time you go to a professional sporting event, look around you and you’ll see what I mean.
sports, cars, acting, singing, fashion, fishing; it’s all relative. recognize what brings you joy and embrace it. what we do, as fans, doesn’t have to be hidden in shame. it makes us happy, it connects us to others, it can be a healthy escape from the not-so-fun responsibilities of our every day realities. what’s so wrong with that?
as we so often say in this fandom, every one “fans” differently, there is no right or wrong way to do it. while many of us may follow a similar path in the way we go about things, our personalities and individual situations are reflected in our actions. we have different sensibilities, we get different things out of the experience but the great thing about being a fan online is that it’s all up to us, we can tailor it to fit our needs. my “normal” usually consists of the following: I become aware of an actor and am impressed by one of his performances. I look him up on IMDb to see what other movies/television shows he’s been in. I Google his name and click on a few fan-sites, along with browsing through Google images to get a better feel of him. this usually satisfies my initial curiosity but as the weeks and months go by, I’ll casually investigate more by turning to Youtube for interviews. if I’m lucky, someone will have uploaded some of his older, lesser known work. after watching some of that, I’ll turn back to the fan-sites and find print interviews and articles. I like both video and print interviews because they offer slightly different views on the actor’s personality and work ethic. all of this “research” may take place over several weeks and months, or it may be a crash course that happens over one weekend; I tend to alternate between the two.
it’s normal for me to not be able to get an actor off my mind. how he moves, how he talks, what I’ve learned about his background and what kind of actor he is. I become enamored with his characters, daydreaming about their stories and struggles, putting myself in their shoes and contemplating what I would have done differently in their situation. by this point I’ve formed some opinions on the actor and his work, and so I might venture out to see what other people think of him. this can be hard at the “puppy love” stage because the internet is a harsh place.
people may say he’s ugly, people may say he seems like a jerk, people may complain that his acting sucks and anyone who doesn’t see it must be blind. this is when I forcefully sit on my hands and resist the (very strong) urge to jump in and say that they’re the crazy ones if they can’t see how talented he is! that I happen to like how he looks and no one is forcing them to like him, so just be quiet!!
but here’s what I always have to remind myself: their words have nothing to do with me. their words don’t change how the actor affects me. their words are just words. in the end, all that really matters is me. I shouldn’t have to defend what makes me happy, I shouldn’t have to justify why it makes me happy or how. I can internally debate those things on my own, but looking to others for approval about what makes me happy is not something I want to spend my time on.
I want to fall in love with fictional characters. I want to revel in the way that certain actors bring them to life. I want to learn about the actors that portray those characters, see myself in them and watch them experience things that I never will. I want to see them grow as people and let them continually surprise me with their talent. I want to smile when I hear their voice in interviews, swoon when I see them in photoshoots, laugh and cry and rage and even shiver in fear, as they wreak havoc on my emotions during their performances. I want to celebrate all of the good things about them with fellow fans, and even admit the not-so-good things about them (and consequently, me) with people that I feel safe with. I learn from them, both the actors themselves and the people I discuss them with, in so many different ways.
“What’s your hobby?”
I like to crush on talented men.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
and just for the record, I have nothing against sports.
I like sports. a lot.