What Makes A True Fan?

❉ What is the definition of a true fan? It’s not an easy thing to measure…

Hello boys! (Photo: Jasmine Storm/flickr)

I am a geek. I have always been a geek and knew it when, as a child, I asked my gran to take me to the first Star Wars movie. I grew up on a stable diet of Doctor Who, Space 1999 and Logan’s Run.

I liked both Star Wars and Star Trek – is that allowed?!  I didn’t mind being different and have celebrated this as an adult.

I recognised this when I was excited to meet all four hobbits from The Lord Of The Rings trilogy but also how it upset me that although I had a chance to meet Carrie Fisher I chose the final hobbit to complete my collection only to find Carrie had left before I had a chance to meet with her (I can hear some of you groaning at this decision from here!).

So does that mean I prefer LOTR to Star Wars? What is the definition of a true fan?  Why are some fans seen as more dedicated than others?  There are clearly different levels of fandom but how do you measure this?  Does the size of your collection equate to the size of the fan?  Does the amount of times you have seen those you love in person mean you are a bigger fan than those who haven’t?  How do you know when you are a die-hard?  It’s not an easy thing to measure.

My friend the Dalek! (Photo: Jasmine Storm/flickr)

I have been called a Bowie die-hard.  This title was bestowed on me by others but why do they think this about me?  Well let’s explore some possible reasons and see if I am a true fan.

So, let’s start with the size of your collection.  For many years my Bowie collection wasn’t much of a collection at all.  This wasn’t because I didn’t want to collect all things Bowie, but simply due to a lack of funds.  I would say I am still as much a fan as I ever was.  Yes, I have a nicely sized collection now but looking at other people’s collections has shown just how lacking my own collection is.  I don’t own 30+ covers of the same album. I may have 4 or 5 of the same album but I have not collected them for each different country that it was released in and each re-release.  Also, I do not spend money on items that have gone for silly money.  So, if the size of a collection is a measurement of a true fan then I fail.  And I do not believe that a lack of funds should equate to a measurement of a true fan.  That can be dictated by life and your personal circumstances.

Perhaps you a true fan for the amount of times you have met them or seen them live?  I have only seen Bowie live four times.  I feel blessed that I saw him those times and of course wish I had seen him more.  I didn’t like the Tin Machine years as I felt he was having a mid-life crisis.  This is David Bowie; he can’t just become a band member!  So, I never went. Of course, now this is one of the biggest regrets of my life, but again funds do come into it.  Raising a family meant funds were limited and I put my children first. I am so pleased that I went to the Reality tour as this turned out to be the last time I would see him.  However, I know people who have seen him more than 100 times.  I know people who have met him personally. I know people who have a personal anecdote to tell about him. It breaks my heart to say I have none of this.  Does this mean I am not a true fan?

I rarely wear T-shirts.  So how do people know if you are a true fan if you do not wear a t-shirt?  You may not be able to wear a t-shirt to work either so how can you spot a true fan?  Of course, you could suggest that a more permanent solution to the t-shirt is the tattoo.  It is certainly true that since David’s passing, many hundreds of Bowie fans have had a tattoo to mark their dedication permanently.  This does include me as, three months after his death, I got my first ever tattoo.

I have seen documentaries where Star Trek fans have had ‘Spock Ears’ done by plastic surgery. I’ve even met people who have had ‘Dracula teeth’ implanted. These are far more extreme than my tattoo.  Whatever you are a fan of, there are extremes that I personally would not go to.  But I do not think it is fair to say that only fans with tattoos love him and those who don’t have a tattoo are less of a fan.  A tattoo is a very permanent personal decision and it could be classed as one measure but certainly not the only thing that would define a die-hard fan.

However, I do find myself talking Bowie to random shop owners, I find myself mentioning a line from a song if it fits a situation.  I cried and mourned for him as if he was a member of my own family when he passed away.  It is for these reasons that I believe my friends call me a die-hard.

So, it’s not about money and it’s not about the size of your collection.  Neither is it about how many times you have seen them live or if you have met them personally. There are different levels of fandom.  That is certain.  But the real measurement of that is none of the above.  It is about your dedication to them.  It’s about what is in your heart.  How much you love them.

So if someone calls you a die-hard – wear it as a badge of honour. After all, you have earned it. Say it loud and say it proud. I’m a geek!

What are your thoughts on what makes a fan? Tweet us at We Are Cult, or start the conversation on our Facebook page, or email We Are Cult if you’d like to respond with a follow-up article!

Jasmine Storm is a blogger and reviewer. She has contributed an essay to the forthcoming anthology ‘Me And The Starman’ (Watching Books, 2017) and collaborated on the play ‘Can You Hear Me, Major Tom?’. She was a finalist in the Milton Keynes Digital Awards in 2015 and 2016.

Follow Jasmine Storm on Twitter and visit her blog, covering a range of theatre and gigs as well as offering her reflections on subjects close to her heart, including David Bowie of course.

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