Arts & Entertainment

What is fan loyalty?

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A gaggle of loyal fans
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Fan loyalty is what keeps sports teams, performers and entertainers in business

Most of us common folk do not have to worry, one way or another, about fan loyalty but there are those whose livelihood lives or dies based on fan loyalty. What is fan loyalty exactly? It is the loyalty shown by a person toward the object of his fanaticism. These are the devoted, dyed in the wool, until-death-do-us-part sports fans, and rock and roll fans and devotees of actors and actresses.

They create fan clubs to pay homage to their idol. They wear team jerseys, sport fan gear, decorate their homes with Elvis snowglobes and copy the latest hairstyle of their favorite actress.

Fan loyalty and adulation are essential because it means that the object of this loyalty can count on ticket sales, which keeps her coffers filled and her feet in Louboutins. Loyal fans will keep on coming to her movies and buying his CDs.

Fan loyalty is often extended to an extraordinary athlete or popular actress or songstress. If the celebrity does something so egregious that it is hard to get past, his fan base can crumble. Take Tiger Woods, for instance. His popularity plummeted like a rock when the public became aware of his shenanigans. Then again, Charlie Sheen seems to be weathering the storm rather well, despite his antics. Even OJ Simpson managed to maintain loyal fans after being charged with the murder of his wife and her friend.

However, fan loyalty can turn into something deadly. A horrendous example of fan loyalty gone wrong is the murder of Mexican American singer-songwriter Selena by Yolanda Saldivar, the president of her fan club.

Television, in particular, has brought the faces and voices of the famous into our homes on a daily basis. A disturbed and lonely fan may delude himself into thinking that he and the celebrity have a relationship.

Admit it: A lot of us are fascinated by the lives of the rich and famous. The kookier they are and the more successful they are, the more intrigued we get. We read tabloids and watch entertainment shows and throw in our two cents on online blogs or call into radio shows and speak our piece. Being a loyal fan is nothing to be embarrassed about. However, there are those individuals that take it too far and believe that they actually have a connection with the star they are obsessed with and that is how a stalker is born.

Fanatical fans want more from the object of their affection. When the object does not return the affection, the fans reverence can turn into anger, possibly because they perceive that they have been rejected by their idol. A delusional, fixated fan can be a dangerous fan.

When the target of the obsessive fan shows some kindness to the fan, such as signing an autograph, this can inadvertently buttress the fantasies that the delusional fan has.

A disturbed fan can resort to stalking. This can occur when there is a mistaken belief that the object of his affections loves him, when, in fact, most of the time the object does not know that he exists. When a person has this kind of delusion it is called erotomania and often happens in conjunction with psychosis. So not only do you have an obsessed fan but a psychotic one, which is a recipe for disaster. When erotomanic psychosis takes place the fan thinks that the secret admirer, which can be the celebrity, is declaring her love for him via telepathy or messages sent through the TV or through the media in general.  The obsessed fan may start sending letters to the object of his desire or stalking her.

When the star does not respond, the fan interprets this as an attempt by the star to keep their love affair secret from the rest of the world. The disturbed fan may persist until he is arrested and a restraining order is put in place, or he is jailed. Unfortunately, some of these obsessive fans manage to terrify their targets and sometimes kill the object of their bizarre desire, which is tragic.

In a nutshell, fan loyalty is necessary for those depending on their fans to buy their wares and to stick with them through the ragged times when they have hit rock bottom, which seems to occur with regularity in the world of celebs. With fan support and encouragement, the star will rise again. However, the bad part about being a person who requires fan loyalty is the scary element of obsessed, disturbed fans who have been known to go to extraordinarily awful lengths to get the attention of their loved one.

BBC News

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