I posted this on my LJ already, but it belongs here too, I reckon. How I'm feeling about fandom right now. Short version: I'm feeling well.
I was randomly James Callis-browsing as usual, and finding nothing new. (I have this theory that a fan can exhaust all the good hits on Google in two years. It's based on my own bitter experience.) There was a mention about him being smaller than on the show, though, and it made me think.
Maybe they meant shorter and not thinner (isn't he plenty thin in most people's eyes already?), but it made me think. When I met the fat guy in Ace of Base, he didn't seem all that fat. What's more, the fatness kind of didn't matter, because he was THERE and human. He seemed... flat in some way, stripped of his idol-greatness. Granted, this happened after my fandom sort of withered to death, so I might still see James as idol-great.
I always thought it might be super disappointing to meet him, because I had built up this image. Like I'd realize that image is totally bogus, and it'd be shattered, and I would be left with an admiration for some vague guy I don't even know.
But in one way, I'm already meeting him on Facebook and Twitter. (By which I mean, mostly, seeing him.) I saw him flattening when I first read his posts. It was weird. It was like, "he's really there, tweeting, right now". And it meant - he's human in a way I hadn't considered. He's got a computer or phone or whatever, he's typing - and not always correctly - and that sort of puts him on even keel with me. I'm not sure why, but it does. He has more followers than me, but it's not like a JamesCallis template, it's just him posting on a regular site.
But it wasn't a disappointing sort of flattening. For a while, I felt sad that we're really not friends and probably never going to be; it was like that was suddenly clear to me in a new way. But I realize that I might not be able to handle constant close contact anyway. There's no rejection in not being friends, nothing personal. There's also no pressure; I can talk to him when I feel like it, he won't block me or be rude about my feelings. He might not always respond, but I know he can see it, and sometimes I just want to be seen by him. (I'm not sure why, and I worry that's a kind of neediness, but I can't help this.)
I haven't been disappointed in James. It's like the good things I admire are still there, more so than I had expected. He may not be larger than life, but he's a good guy, and funny, and kind. He's interesting to follow. The surprise is that imaginary James - is still there. I can still coo over his belly, feel like I know him and we share a special bond, and I can blog from this angle, but I can't talk at him like that. It's just a different mindspace.
There are two Jameses: the real him, who's a little more distant, someone I don't quite know; and the imaginary guy, who I can mold to whatever needs I have at the moment. He held my hand when I was severely depressed; he laughs at my jokes and eats with me and all that. If I don't need him, he's not there.
I can't ask anything of the real James, and I need to remember the constraints of the fan-idol thing, the constraints of his limited time. I have a certain respect for him that I don't have for the guy in my head. The real James doesn't share a telepathic connection with me, but it's somehow better, because it's always surprising what he ends up saying and when. I also enjoy the spectator role, the friendly distance between him and fans.
What disappeared is the Evil Idol. I don't remember if I wrote about this before, but when you see your idol as ideal, you know it's gotta be false, so your mind creates an alternative image, the Evil James who hates fat girls in general and me in particular; someone who really thinks my blog sucks and wants nothing to do with me and blocked me on Facebook blah blah. The flattening seemed to happen on THAT end.
Why did the evil image disappear? Probably because I see on Twitter how many people are talking to him, how many people want a piece of his time. He only has 24 hours a day like other people, and he has a super busy job, travels a lot, and has three kids. Is he going to have time to dissect every word people say about him and look for possible insults? Would he want to use his precious time on reading a blog he hates? Would he really choose to hate on a fan or fat girls in general or anything like that? The answer is obviously no.
Also, he has never once stepped in it and said something rude that upset people. By which I mean, he's never been openly sexist/racist/ableist/whatever else. He's not spewing bigoted jokes or uneducated opinions about things he knows nothing about. He really sounds friendly in his tweets; and deep-thinking; and like someone who just wants to live and let live. I'll admit I'm very easily offended, so this is an achievement. It must mean he's either unusually kind and non-judgemental, or unusually good at judging what to say and when. Either way, epic win.
For better or worse, I'm not a huge part of his life. James might or might not have an idea of me, as separate from the other fans, simply because I talked to/about him so much. That idea might be negative, but really, it's more likely to be positive or neutral. Hate takes a lot of mental energy, and his attitude on people is generally benevolent. He doesn't have unlimited time to ponder on me and my feelings for him. If he ever chooses to talk to me, or read my blog, I can take that as a huge compliment. Because he considers me worth his time.