Two Kinds of Fandom, Another Not Conclusive Thinky Post

Again, I don’t necessarily have a conclusion for this, it is just the beginning of thoughts and I’m not sure where they should be going. But there is such a nice interesting discussion going on the last thinky post on stardom, that I want to keep the thinking going.

What I am trying to sort out is if there are two kinds of fandom, that maybe sometimes overlap but not always. When I think about my fandom for Shahrukh Khan, or the fandom I have sometimes felt for Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Mohanlal, The Beatles, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, it’s different from what I feel for Taylor Swift, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Aamir Khan. Like, so different that it shouldn’t even have the same name.

When I saw Shahrukh live in concert, there were 11,000 people in the auditorium and not all of them would have identified as Shahrukh “fans”. I know this because I talked to some of them before the show started (or rather, they talked to me since I was part of the group of weird white people). And yet when Shahrukh entered, every single person was on their feet screaming. There was something about that moment that was beyond conscious thought or logic.

Image result for shahrukh slam tour

And it was the same when I visited Graceland, except that time I got to be on the other side. I’m not an Elvis fan, I wouldn’t identify myself that way. And yet when I was in Graceland, in this place dedicated to Elvis, surrounded by people who had traveled cross country to be there, I felt something that was beyond any thought.

Shahrukh is “mine”, when I see him onscreen or see his face or hear his voice, something happens that is beyond thought for me. Because of that feeling, and because of who I am, I have chosen to seek out more information on him, write about him, and so on. But a different person might feel that intense something and react by seeing all his movies and not caring to learn anything about him as a person. Or making artwork, or putting up posters around their house. Or choosing to join in a larger community to talk about him and share stories. The response is different because the people are different, but there is that deep deep emotion at the heart of it that is shared.

When I saw Kabali in theaters, I had already seen a couple Rajinikanth movies, I vaguely knew who he was, but I had no particular strong emotion related to him. And then I happened to see the movie on a good day with a good crowd, and when his name came onscreen there were whistles and shouts and mothers telling their children “look look! That’s Rajini!”. And I felt something. There was something in the room, a connection from the star to the audience, that was so big it swept me up in it, a “non-believer”.

Image result for rajinikanth fan

I know most of you here have had this same experience at some point, not watching a movie and thinking “I enjoy this film” but watching a star onscreen and finding yourself crying uncontrollably for no reason. Oh right, and this was also my Masters Thesis work, I alwasy forget that. In the pre-blog days, I interviewed a dozen random fans, and got written responses from over 100 more, and most of them had similar stories of deep emotional catharsis. I know what I have talked about many times before is the way the Indian film structure is designed to build that feeling to the peak, by giving you that one to one feeling of connection with a star. But what I’m trying to think about now is how that feeling might change the way I talk about a star.

I’m talking strictly about myself now, and a difference I am trying to articulate in how I behave. Not something I necessarily see in others, or want to encourage, but just something I am beginning to consider how I do myself. If I am writing about Parveen Babi, for instance, I will try to be respectful because she is a human person and everyone deserves respect. I will be cautious and repeat the truth as close as I can find it and strive for fairness in everything I say. But if I am writing about Sridevi, I will weigh the scale a little more because I am not just trying to be respectful to the star herself, but also to the people who have that special connection to her. So yes, maybe, I am unfair. I am overly kind, overly forgiving, towards the bigger stars, in an attempt to protect their fans.

I suppose you could say that the bigger the star, the bigger the scandal, and the more important to wake people up to the truth. But for me, personally, I believe that kind of unthinking devoted fandom is worth of being respected. If I walk into someone’s house and they have a framed photo of Elvis on the wall, and tell me how they were close to suicide years earlier when they heard one of his songs come on the radio and it filled them with light and they changed their mind, I am not going to say “you know he was a pedophile and fell in love with a 14 year old girl, right?” I mean, why would I do that? The bad things are true about the person, but the faith and strength their fans get from their art is also true. And they may already know those bad things and have separated their feelings for the artist from the person. For me at least, I want to let that precious faith stay in place, and respect their choices.

Image result for elvis doonesbury
Back in the 70s, Doonesbury made fun of pretty much everyone, but they were surprisingly respectful of Elvis fans. Because, why not?

I listed off Shahrukh, Amitabh, Rajinikanth, Mohanlal, Elvis, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, up at the start. I am sure there are other people I could include, I’m just not thinking of them. Those are the artists where I’ve had that moment of more than logical fandom. But then there are the others, Taylor Swift, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Aamir Khan. I really like them as people, I like what they say and do in regular life. I respect their work and I enjoy consuming it. If I heard something surprising and terrible about one of them, I would balance that against what I like and make a reasoned decision as to whether or not I can continue to enjoy them as an artist. And because it is a reasoned decision, I might get into a discussion explaining my point of view and why I feel that way and trying to persuade someone to agree with me. Not online (because I hate online conversations), but in real life, perhaps.

On the other hand, if someone doesn’t like Shahrukh, I don’t really care. I mean, I joke here, someone says something negative about him or one of his movies and I will make a comment saying “you are a MONSTER!”, but I joke because it is so unlike my actual reaction. What I feel for him, or (in spurts and on occasion) for the other people on my list just can’t be affected by what other people think or feel about him.

No, that’s not quite true. It goes back to the division again. If you say Shahrukh is a bad actor, I may engage and have a discussion with you because, in a logical intellectual way, I believe he is a good actor. If you say he is unattractive, I don’t care. Because yeah, my logical brain also finds him unattractive. Bad dancer, same thing. Bad singer, for sure! And yet, in a totally illogical way, I find him attractive, graceful, and I love his voice. But that is me, that is mine. Nothing you say can change that because it is within me.

Image result for shahrukh
This terrible hair means nothing to me

When I see these social media fan wars start, what I have to believe is that this is only a small subset of fans. Not fans of those particular stars, but a subset of what I would call “fans” in general. There is this vast group that consumes the art and feels a deep personal connection. There is a separate group that has a logical intellectual relationship which they are constantly negotiating and defending and fighting over. Those two groups might overlap, there might be someone who feels that deep personal connection and also enjoys arguing online, but I suspect that there is a much larger group who doesn’t actually feel the kind of spiritual bond and only feels the logical intellectual bond, and they are the ones who are active in the arguments.

Partly because, to drag this back to an earlier point, I can’t imagine someone feeling that deep personal bond and NOT respecting that same kind of bond in others. I have never felt that sort of connection to Salman Khan, for instance, but I want to be cautious and respectful in how I treat him, and his fans, because I know others do feel that. I’m not going to make fun of them for their fandom. And, on the other hand, I would never seriously try to “convert” a Salman fan to Shahrukh, because I know how impossible it would be to convert me from Shahrukh.

Does that make sense? At least the starting point of drawing a line between the fandoms that are logical and reasoned and fun, versus the ones that are overwhelming and powerful and beyond conscious thought? And maybe the continuation of that thought into considering how the stars who inspire the second kind of fandom, and the fans who are a part of the second kind, are different from the first?

41 thoughts on “Two Kinds of Fandom, Another Not Conclusive Thinky Post

  1. I’m probably in the same place you are re: Shah Rukh though I care as much about his interviews as I do about his movies. I know he is a real person who I do not know, but that doesn’t stop me (most with Carol) from speculating about his life, his motives etc. My screen saver’s are his pictures and I have every book about him I could get ahold of plus Karan’s book because he devotes a chapter to him. I do not, however, tweet telling him good morning or good night or to stop smoking. I like other stars and watch other movies but his is the only full body of work that I have seen. I’m interested in the Hindi film industry in general hence my love of your 101’s and your analysis of the economics. I have been feeling increasingly sad that I arrived at the tail end of the heyday and now Hindi film is losing its happy ending, love your parents culture and becoming darker and darker which is of no interest to me. I can watch American, British, French, Israeli, Spanish etc films for that.
    I guess the most telling thing about my fandom is that standing in front of Mannat, just being makes sense to me. I would not go to the home of any other star, author etc.

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    • Let me throw a thought experiment at you as someone who I know participates mildly in the greater internet fan community. If for some reason you lost access to any internet Shahrukh community, let’s just say you ended up being thrown back in time to 1995 America (for example) where you could consume his films but have no other connection, no other fans to talk to, no fan magazines available, would that have a major effect on what he can mean for your life?

      For me, I don’t think it would. I would be sad to lose out on talking to other people, and on having millions of photos at my fingertips, and things like that. But that is just 10% of my fan experience, the greater deeper 90% is unrelated to external sources, it’s just me and Shahrukh onscreen. Like you say, it’s just about being at Mannat. I wouldn’t need a big crowd there with me to make the experience special, just being there is special.

      On Wed, Feb 19, 2020 at 4:06 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Interesting post. In the Tamil film industry fan wars between fans of Ajith and Vijay are a spectacle. I always think what makes these fans protect their “hero”? This extends to stuff like whose name in trending in twitter, whose trailer is the fastest to 10 million views etc.
    In Telugu film industry where fandom is linked to caste to an extent, I feel the caste angle is the driver rather than anything else..

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    • If we call my two kinds of fandom “external” and “internal”, do you think there are any “internal” fans in Tamil and Telugu? that is, fans who don’t engage in fan wars or bother with other outside signs, but feel this personal connection?

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      • Yes there are “internal” fans. These fans mostly engage in writing tributes to their favorites and their works on blogs, social media; Try to meet them their favorites in person and share those experiences; Try to analyze and bring out the ideas; Share trivia; Maintain fan sites that are intellectual.

        Example of fan sites of “internal” fans –
        http://www.sjanaki.net/about-us for S.Janaki, the legendary singer, who in my opinion more talented (and exhibited that) than Lata Mangeshkar, but not well known outside South India.

        Then you have fan sites of “external” fans often publicly or privately endorsed by the celebrity like http://www.nandamurifans.com/main/. This is an extension of their “fan clubs”.

        I am more like an “internal” fan. I try to share my favorite works and introduce the actors/directors/movies on blogs and social media. That’s how, I stumbled upon your site, and the likes of CinemaChaat. How I differentiate myself is – I am never a fan of a person, but only a fan of his/her creations/art. Because, I would never know the person in full and people would change over times. However, if I don’t like somebody due to their philosophy/actions/words, I would try to avoid their works. Like Kangana, Salman, etc.

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        • I like this thought of being “a fan of his/her creations/art”. That seems very focussed to me on what gave you the positive feeling in the first place.
          Equally, I absolutely can relate to the influence of “their philosophy/actions/words” that would, me too, make me “avoid their works “.

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      • Definitely, as yjbasu said people do engage in internal fandom. But for me the question remains how to find these people/where are these people. Taking a non-social media world wherein a movie club is probably the easiest way that some expresses their internal fandom by showing movies to others, discussing a movie with others etc. But external fandom is more obvious through fan clubs who do ‘abhishekams’ etc. of the actors. In a social media world I suppose it is easier to find and engage in conversations like through your website if I wanted to discuss an actor without feeling threatened by fans. All this has led me to think if any of the south Indian female actors have a fan association? Nayanthara is called Lady Superstar, so may be she does. Not sure.

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        • I like your movie club answer. That feels similar to when I have friends over to watch movies with me, we are all just sitting in the same room being happy with what we are watching, no need to fight or prove anything.

          Interesting question about the female actors. It seems like the “internal” fandom I talk about would extend to female actors, there’s people who love Sridevi like that, right? But not external maybe? Or at least not fan associations?

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          • Of course. Like my parents can be called “internal” fans of Sridevi. Sridevi was probably the last female actor who elicited this internal fandom across genders. Now to an extent Sai Pallavi elicits a similar expression??

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          • I didn’t know people felt like that about Sai Pallavi! That’s nice. I hope it continues, she is so delightful onscreen.

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  3. I discovered Hindi films first (Hum Tum) then Shah Rukh (Chalte Chalte because I was following Rani and got to Shah Rukh) and then I was hooked. I watched every talk show, interview, award show he was on. I found Fauji, and Circus (sadly no subs still to this day). I would have been a fan without fandom to chat with. BUT when I found dontcallitbollywood and other blogs, that made it all even better.

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    • Oh yes, I love DCIB! But I’m a fan for Shahrukh, not the community. The community is a bonus.

      On Wed, Feb 19, 2020 at 8:04 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  4. I am going to mention something that may or may not fit into your two types of fan classification — it might be yet a third category. OK, actually I want to mention two things. First, this is from the Telugu industry from, say, the 1960’s and 1970’s. NTR and ANR were the two dominant stars, and were pretty much of equal stature, though they starred in different kinds of movies. That is, while ANR starred primarily in “social”/family films set in contemporary times and places, NTR acted in those, as well as lots of puranic and folkloric films. This is quite ironical, because ANR at the start of his career had lots of hits in the folkloric genre, and acted in several puranic films as well (usually with NTR, though), but as time went on, he pretty much gave these up, or rather conceded those areas to NTR, and just focused on the contemporary films. They also had a kind of “feud” going for several years, which was to the dismay of most of the film going audience, who generally liked both of them.

    Anyway, the point being, NTR acted in lots of films with religious themes, playing both Rama and Krishna (the gods) in several films. It came to the point that many people’s idea of these gods was NTR (while they fully realized he was a human actor playing these roles, they also felt that he perfectly embodied their conception of the gods). I have read many, many fan accounts over the years of how they had NTR’s photo (in costume as one of these gods) in their puja rooms, and they actually performed pujas to them. There is a major pilgrimage center not too far from Madras/Chennai, where many people from all over India come. In particular, many people from all over Andhra Pradesh used to come in chartered buses to the pilgrimage center, and the usual routing would go through Madras. It was very common, in fact an every day occurrence, for these chartered buses to go to NTR’s house, so the fans could get out and get a glimpse of their star/god. You talk about Amitabh’s darshans now, they are nothing to what used to happen with NTR.

    Anyway, the point I wanted to make was that, here you had two stars of equal magnitude, stature within the industry, and popularity with the audience, but only one of them was adored as a living god, due to the roles he played. What would you call that kind of fandom? Or is it even “fandom” any more? BTW, there were no fan wars at that time between fans of these stars. As I said, most people liked both of them.

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    • I would not completely agree that there were no fan wars at that time. There was not much in 50s and early 60s, but started in late 60s and grew bigger in 70s. It was well acknowledged there were fandoms – could be felt even now on SM like FB where those in 60s and 70s talk about that. Mostly women were with ANR and young men with NTR though. The two groups of NTR-ANR later moved to Krishna-Sobhan respectively and later unified with Chiranjeevi.

      However, you’re right about the third group – the fans who deified their matinee idols – shown to some extent in NTR Kathanayakudu movie, the recent biography of NTR. That magnitude was not matched even by the fans of MGR and Rajinikanth.

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      • Wow! What an interesting read! I don’t think that any of the stars I know through Hindi Cinema in worshipped the way you describe for NTR, They may call Salman or ShahRukh ‘god’ but I don’t think that there is a religious kind of worshipping.

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    • Huh. Keeping it limited to my existing two fandoms ideas, I guess I would just expand them to inward/outward in religion as well. I mean really, a lot of my thoughts were similar to what people talk about with religion anyway. You can go through the motions because of the external validation you get for following religious practices, or you can feel something and deeply believe it which is beyond simple external practices.

      If NTR was widely accepted as a sort of visual representation of godhood, so that this behavior was not controversial but rather admirable, than I would guess there would be a mixture of folks who really felt something when they saw him versus folks who just thought it was the thing to do to go by his house. But if there was social approbation for it, so that you had to be willing to be laughed at a bit for your beliefs, then I guess they would all fall into the internal category of fans.

      On Wed, Feb 19, 2020 at 10:01 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  5. The second point I wanted to make is about Salman Khan and his fans. While generally people acknowledge that both Salman and SRK have the largest fan bases (much larger than Aamir), people also say that Salman’s fans are more of the “die hard” variety. During the release of MPKK, the fake tapes controversy erupted, with many screenings cancelled, people tearing up Salman’s posters of the film, etc. During all that upheaval, I read about several theaters where Salman’s fans had established themselves, to protect the posters from being torn, and to make sure the screenings would go on. I saw a video where one young guy was shouting something along the lines of, “blood will run if anyone tries to tear these posters!” which I thought was quite extreme. I said so to another Salman fan I knew online, but she just shrugged it off, saying, “naturally they want to show their love for Salman.” Over the years, as I got to “know” more and more of his fans online, I found their ways of showing their “love” for him often amusing, and sometimes bizarre. The main component of their love was that they wanted to run his personal life for him! During this “low period” of his (approximately 2005 – 2009) they offered him advice not only about what kind of films he should act in and which directors he should work with, but which girlfriend he should have! And marry. Then, post 2020 when his career went into overdrive, they would tell him to ignore his family and their stupid film offers for him, and take the better offers he was getting from outside producers. Then it turned into absolute hatred of his brothers, especially Sohail. People would post on blogs and Twitter constantly, telling him not to take Sohail in his films, but of course he always did. When people asked for my opinion, I always said that he would never give up on his family to please his fans, and it was presumptuous of fans to think they could intrude between him and his family. Now with a string of under-performing films under his belt, most of which, btw, the fans told him not to make (Race 3 and Tubelight, as well as Dabangg 3, had Twitter campaigns going before they were made, saying he should not make them), these former “die hard” fans are finally turning on him. I have seen tweets where people are literally cursing him out for taking his fans for granted, and foisting all his “loser” friends on them. Many of these abusive tweets are being made by people I have “known” online for years, so I know how passionately they used to defend him in the past. So here is a phenomenon of fans first getting into his personal life where they had no business to be, and now turning against him almost as passionately as they used to be for him. It’s not simply that they have stopped watching his films because he no longer appeals to them, but that they are extremely angry with him for betraying their trust.

    Whew! Sorry, both of these posts went on much longer than I expected. But anyway, what do you call this aspect of fandom? This sense of betrayal? I have seen many other people, former fans of SRK, who also gave up on him now after a string of flop films, but they mostly express themselves with sadness and regret that he is not choosing his films wisely, but there just isn’t as much passion in their disappointment with him as there is with the Salman fans.

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    • Isn’t there the phenomenon of fans feeling the star they love is a part of their family and that they have all the right to treat them like that (with advices, admonishing, being overjoyed or angry etc.)…they all have a kind of expectation how the beloved star should be…and if he doesn’t fulfil these expactations that givs frustrations/disappointment/anger/the feeling of betrayed love…

      That’s what I observe with the Salman and ShahRukh fandom, at least.

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      • I can see that, but I wonder how much the external fandom and mob rule of social media changes that. I have certainly sat around my living room and talked with my friends about who I think celebrities should marry and whatever, but it doesn’t snowball beyond that the way I see it happen when suddenly a story goes viral and everyone wants something to happen, and you get this external validation that you have a right to your opinion.

        On Thu, Feb 20, 2020 at 7:09 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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    • Thank you for bringing up Salman! I am so ignorant about his fandom and I want to learn more.

      I guess two things occur to me. First would be, his fans tend to be very loud and public out in the world. While Shahrukh fans, for instance, tend to be more active online. But in either case I know there is this enormous pool of people who aren’t publicly active anywhere but are still fans. Like, I have a friend who went to see Shahrukh when he came live, wears the Shahrukh necklace I gave her almost every day, and goes to see all his movies in theaters (except Zero). But she has never been on a fansite or joined a discussion group or anything, her fandom is simply looking at his photo and watching his movies. With Salman fans, there are the young men you describe, but there’s also you who (I assume) is not out there in the theaters or the streets, but is still his fan. You can be a fan just because of what you feel inside, not what you do to prove your feelings.

      For what you describe, maybe that is the downside of external fandom? Being part of a larger community lets you be swept up in the feelings of others, instead of holding fast to what you feel inside?

      On Wed, Feb 19, 2020 at 10:21 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  6. Yep, when I read you former post about this subject I felt that there was missing something…I’m grateful for this post.
    Although I’m very much emotionally involved in everything that concerns ShahRukh, I’m also a kind of observer – as much as for ShahRukh as for his fans. I think, I’ve a rather vaste understanding for human behaviour although I might object (even actively) to a certain kind of abusing expressions.
    I think that being a fan or an admirer or a lover or a worshipper or a hater is not restricted to the term ‘fandom’ but to the limits in oneself. ‘fandom’, imo, is just a label for a social connection, for a common ground, common passion, common understanding.
    You mentioned Mannat and I was there several times…my different feelings (feeling ‘at home’ or ‘a bit uncomfortable/lost’) depended on the fact if ShahRukh was in Mumbai or not…the place got his warmth through his going to work/coming home…and lacked it because of his being far away (even when Gauri and his kids where there).

    I’m aware about other fandoms but they don’t touch me emotionally, only intelectually. ShahRuh is – in my life – the only actor/creative personality – that gave me a vivid interest in those who are emtionally connected to him. No idea why it is like that, I just enjoy/live) it.

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    • I like your idea of dividing “fandom” into the social connection, and leaving the personal connection nameless. I was thinking the other way, giving a new name to the purely external fans, the ones who enjoy the social media wars and public life but don’t feel that personal connection. But it makes more sense to name them as “fans”, and leave the personal connection as something more nameless. Or simply call it “love”? I am a fan of Shahrukh’s acting, but I also love Shahrukh.

      On Thu, Feb 20, 2020 at 7:32 AM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  7. I’ve found the online fandom to be a negative thing and am slowly trying to wean myself off it. I’m a SRK fan but there was a time I used to watch his film and interviews if I came across one but that’s as far as it would go. My family and friends hardly discuss movies but on a rare occasion if it happened, I would say positive things about SRK but shrug my shoulders if someone didn’t like him or his movies. It really didn’t matter. I was vaguely aware that he was on twitter but I did not even follow him. I really did love him but my life didn’t revolve around that.

    Then for whatever reason I found the online fandom and it was tons of fun at first. But then what happens is that it really hardens your beliefs – you become diehard. Every small thing takes on massive proportion. Every line uttered by him has another 100 people discussing it. He should do this, he should say that, why this, what that. It makes you start disliking other actors. Salman’s movie made more money? He sucks! The audience is garbage. Aamir didn’t like Devdas? How dare he?! What does this egotistical brat think of himself. And again there are a 100 people to validate those feelings. It gets to the point that you can’t even enjoy the rest of the movies being made in the industry because you’ve started disliking half the actors. Supporting others means you’re failing SRK.

    Before my online fandom days, I would not have even noticed that SRK was on a sabbatical. I might have wondered why no film of his has released in a while but apart from that, it really wouldn’t have mattered. Instead now it’s daily frustration that he hasn’t announced anything, watching hundreds of people being angry at him for sitting at home and not doing anything, getting irritated that Akshay makes 10 films at a time while SRK does nothing, and even personally feeling some annoyance when he shows up at parties and weddings instead of going to work.

    When SRK isn’t providing content, then of course those same people will talk about other BW things. Chants of nepotism and feeling self-righteous about rejecting Alia or Ananya or whoever. Prior to the fandom life, I would have known Alia is Pooja Bhatt’s sister and it would have been like a piece of trivia to know and that’s it. She’s a pretty decent actress and only appears once or twice a year at most. There would have been nothing to hate. But now she is a nepotism product, a brainless girl with no sense, someone in a bad relationship, and so on. KJo is such an evil person who is even bringing Alia’s BFF to screen in Guilty. To be honest, I would not have even known about this tiny Netflix movie and 100% would have never watched it nor known about one of the stars being Alia’s friend.

    The online fandom means too much information comes flying at you, too many details, too much gossip, and too much of an angry echo chamber of people who hate everything except their own star. You see fans of other stars talking trash about your favorite so you trash talk about theirs. Celebs you never cared about suddenly end up your hate list. Then the same people eventually turn against their own star too when he’s not giving them what they want. I see SRK being bashed all the time nowadays – he’s not giving the type of box office numbers they can brag about to other fandoms, he’s “betrayed” them by kissing on screen, he’s wasting his time on playing house with his kids instead of working, he has no script sense, his production company sucks, he’s distracted by his cricket team, he’s foolish and has bad fake friends like Karan Johar and a million other complaints.

    Being part of the fandom eventually just sucks the fun out of everything. I enjoyed movies a lot more before getting an information overload.

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    • Thank you! Such an interesting comment.

      It reminds me of back when JHMS was being promoted and I happened to be at work at the time when the new song (I think “Beech Beech Main”) was going to drop. As part of the promotions, they had a big party with free food and drink for the media, and some lucky fans who were invited. Shahrukh was flying in, his flight was delayed, he came straight from the airport and once he arrived, they launched the video.

      What was crazy was that people online were going insane since it was like an hour and a half late, it snowballed into discussion of how Red Chillies marketing is incompetent, or Shahrukh was rude and selfish to be late, or this is why his fans are turned off and everyone hates him, and on and on. But the people there, at the real event in the real world, were perfectly happy. They had entertainment and free food and drink and didn’t care that it was starting late. The only people angry were the ones online, and why should they care? I mean, they were probably like me, sitting in their offices refreshing the internet every once in a while. What affect does it have on our life if a song trailer drops on time or an hour later? But it’s this internet effect of everything suddenly meaning EVERYTHING, all this information spun into a narrative that doesn’t exist.

      I do wonder sometimes if the internet kind of fandom is killing the other kind. Like you say, it just sucks the fun out of things. The online discussion of everyone has exploded in the past couple years, and box office figures are dying. The more people talk about movies, the less people want to see movies.

      Gonna toot my own horn for a second, what I hear all the time from people who read this blog is that it is returning their love for the films, or making them want to watch movies again. And I feel like at one time that’s what all online discussion was? It wasn’t obsessing over details and rumors, but more fun stuff like “what are your favorite movies?” or “let’s talk about our favorite stars hairstyle!” That’s the fun kind of discussion, and I think it is still going on, it’s just harder and harder to find under all the “information overload” part of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Almost nobody talks about movies now apart from the quick 2 line twitter declarations either calling it a disaster, time-pass, or blockbuster. That’s it.
        Speaking of JHMS promos, nobody even talks about the promos anymore. The discussion is always about external things like how many screens this film will get, who is playing games and sabotaging a particular star or production company, what is clashing, and whether the promo will give a few extra crores during the opening weekend. It’s maddening. Nobody talks about the story, speculates about what’s happening in it, or relates it a larger narrative. The art of it is completely lost. Instead, everyone is an armchair MBA student.
        Now granted there are films like Dabangg 3 where there is nothing to talk about other than the externals but that’s not the case with every film.
        Love aaj Kal may be a bad film but nobody is even engaging with it. I haven’t seen it anywhere except this blog. Just the wild proclamations about how terrible is. I haven’t seen it myself but being an Imtiaz film, I would expect it would have at least a little something to say.

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        • And again, that kind of conversation just isn’t FUN. It gets your adrenaline going, which is addictive, but it it leaves you feeling exhausted and depressed, not alert and soothed and happy. Right? Not just me, that’s how it is for everyone?

          I love having long discussions about film stuff, or even reading long discussions, it makes me think in new ways and appreciate the films more and just makes everything happier. But the box office discussion is just boring.

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          • What you write, Anonymous, is also what pushes me away from twitter. I, too, follow no one but I have put some accounts to my favourites because I know that those people don’t fall into the trap of this adverse kind of fandom and I read them whenever I’ve the time.
            Yeah, I think that social media basically destroys a lot of what I felt like fun-fandom because it supports the negative traits of fandom or the pleasure to be mean.

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  8. I don’t have anything constructive to add here but just wanted to say how much I enjoyed this post and the comments. I enjoy your writing so much.

    Like @yjbasu mentioned, I too am an internal fan. Not that there has ever been an actor for whom I feel the way you feel about SRK. Interest in actors passes quickly in my case. I rarely seek out a movie solely because of an actor. The closest would be my current obsession with Shashi Kapoor and my longtime admiration for Christian Bale(since I saw him in Empire of the Sun years ago). But I’m mostly interested in the characters they’ve played. I picture them in my head as the characters and never in their real life personas.

    In Bale’s case,I don’t feel the need to know about his personal life at all. I know more about Shashi’s life but that’s probably because he no longer alive. That probably doesn’t make sense, as to why I feel ok about insta-following Shashi’s kids but don’t feel the need to seek out more info about Bale?

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    • Besides Shahrukh, I feel about actors similar to you. Kind of. Since I started looking at films more from a professional side of things, I feel the need to seek out information in order to have different layers to casting, performances, and so on. Especially with Indian film, where knowing who is dating who is directly relevant to what film roles they will take next and why. But with, for instance, TV shows that I watch for fun, I have no idea what is happening in the performers personal lives. If anything I avoid that information, so it stays a total fantasy escape.

      You know what it is with Shashi for me? We know the end already. There’s no possible surprise twist I will want to avoid, or something new and alarming that could come out. That’s unique to Shashi, because he is The Best. Other actors I already know there is something icky there and I don’t want to risk going any further, but Shashi you can go as deep as you like and there will be no yucky surprises. Oh, also Yash Chopra! He’s another one that straight through to his death, no one ever had a bad word to say about him, nothing he did was ever unkind or unjust. I could read about him and Shashi for eternity without fear of an ugly new truth coming to light.

      On Thu, Feb 20, 2020 at 12:57 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

      >

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re so right about knowing about the end. That’s probably it. I already knew what a gem of a guy he was – from my mom and aunts. Even if he wasn’t their absolute favorite, they’ve all mentioned his stellar reputation. So no surprises to be had with him. Coupled with the fact that he’s gone, it’s kind of safe to fangirl over him. Does that make sense?

        I also watch tv shows the same way as you do. Recently, I was simply obsessed over The Swamp Thing that was cancelled after only a season. I was just devastated. Gothic horror with a side of an impossible love hit all the right notes for me. I took part in all the #savetheshow online campaigns but never really tried to know more about the actors involved. Didn’t care to.

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        • To expand this conversation a bit, I also find it really funny how some actors have perfectly fine reasonable careers and never make their personal life public, and others do and seem to have the same careers. It’s especially glaring with TV shows, because it’s the same show and yet some of the leads become famous-famous and some don’t. And they are all working the same amount, and often paid the same amount, and on our TV screens the same amount. And the audience is enjoying them the same amount! You really don’t need that level of fame in order to build a following and work regularly as an actor, it’s just something some celebrities seem to want and others don’t.

          So you have Meryl Streep and Irrfan Khan, say, who are very respected and popular and all that and their personal life is not public knowledge.

          On Thu, Feb 20, 2020 at 1:56 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

          >

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          • But being famous from a tv show can act as a spring board for a movie career. Like the actors of Gossip Girl. It wasn’t a particularly good show but at that time there was a lot of hype around it. Blake Lively got super famous but Leighton Meester didn’t, in spite of getting better feedback from the critics. Look at them now. Lively is a movie star and Meester isn’t.

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          • True. I wonder if part of what is happening in Hindi film in particular right now is that personal fame is seen as a requirement to act in even the smallest movies? Like, Kirti Sonam gets good critical feedback, and goes to award shows, but doesn’t have that high personal fame of Ananya Panday, and Ananya is getting more roles. Whereas in the past you could have Shashi casually living his life with his family and keeping it mostly private but still getting the same kind of roles as his nephew Rishi with his more famous wife and bigger fan magazine presence.

            On Thu, Feb 20, 2020 at 2:37 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

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          • Of course nowadays being famous for the sake of being famous matters more than sheer talent. Look at Kartik Aryan and then look at ARK. Aryan has more then 14 mil followers on insta whereas ARK only has about 1.5. We all know who has the better career right now. Of course that might change after Malang’s success. But still, ARK doesn’t seem to want to show off his personal life for profit and suffers for it professionally.

            Someone like Shashi probably would suffer too nowadays.

            In Pandey’s case though, I think her association with Karan Johar has helped her more. I just found out that she’s starring opposite the original Kabir Singh guy in a KJo production. I don’t wanna harp on that old tale of nepotism but she’s still a member of KJo group. Of course she’d have a better career than Sanon who’s a outsider. That bigger social media presence is also part of it. Nowadays all stars hire PR firms. The more powerful and connected firm, the more popular they can make a star. Pandey had millions of followers and a second film lined up before she even made her debut.

            But it’s not just nepotism. Nepotism has always been there. How can I be a fan of Shashi without acknowledging that? But now people like KJo have weaponized it and people like Sanon suffer because of it.

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          • And ARK has oodles of nepotism connections, while Kartik has none! But Kartik is better at being famous and attracting followers, while ARK only gets people to love him through his actual work.

            On Thu, Feb 20, 2020 at 3:03 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

            >

            Liked by 1 person

          • Don’t really blame Aryan for doing what he has to do to get ahead. One just has to hustle ALL THE TIME in the movie business. But this obsession with fame and not talent has lead to the current state of the movie industry, where Gully Boy gets the praise over other deserving movies and Pandey gets an award over Radhika Madan.

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        • This is the exact reason why I stopped watching shows in their 1st season. It feels terrible if you’ve invested your time and then it suddenly gets cancelled without a proper end to the story. I’ve decided now that I will only watch shows that are already completed. I know I can’t be disappointed then and I won’t have to wait for the next episode or next season. Next on my watch list are The Sopranos and Monk.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes! Although I think at least the market has started adjusting for that, more and more it seems like shows get at least a season’s notice before cancellation so you don’t have that cliffhanger ending irritation unless they know they are coming back. And then the reverse, shows that went on too long and the characters I used to love get irritating, and some actor leaves and doesn’t come back and suddenly my favorite storyline is gone and so on and so forth.

            Just safest sometimes to wait until they are complete and you know there is never a weak link.

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          • It’s terrible isn’t it? Investing emotionally in a show and it’s just taken away. The Swamp Thing even got good reviews and ratings. It was DC’s fault for not knowing how to handle stuff, as usual.

            Like

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