I've been a fan of Alton Brown for several years. His Web site bills him as "Just a Lowly Cook" -- but in reality, he's one of the top stars on the Food Network, having started by providing the English-overdubbed color commentary as Fuku-san on the original Japanese version of Iron Chef. Now, his Good Eats show is one of the freshest, most entertaining foodie shows ever made; truly disruptive and cool.
He posted this "Fanifesto" that outlines what he wants and expects regarding fan/celebrity interaction. It's so interesting I'm reposting it in its entirety below, but the original is on his site at http://altonbrown.com/2011/09/my-fanifesto/
Why is this noteworthy? Because, as he points out, there's become such a blurring of the lines between Fan and Celebrity in recent years, that it makes it challenging to be the guy at the center of attention. Social media and cable TV have made a profound impact on the PERCEPTION of closeness some people think exists between them and a star.
For example, nowadays you can pretty easily "find" just about anyone with a public profile -- either following them on Twitter or Facebook, their blog, fan sites, Wikipedia, etc Didn't used to be that way.
Here's his post:My Fanifesto
, by Alton Brown
Once upon a time fans knew what to expect from the fan/celebrity relationship. You could join a fan club, occasionally wait behind a barricade outside some theater or arena and hope for a live glimpse alongside a few thousand like-minded friends, buy periodicals featuring said celebrity, or actively stalk thus risking the wrath of security personnel, both public and private.
Today there are still megastars who fit the old model…George Clooney comes to mind, but the rest of us fit into an ever widening, Warholian spiral of quasi-celebrity. We are the cable-ebrities and the web-ebrities, and unlike the Liz and Dicks of the world, we live, work, eat, shop, worship, and recreate right alongside the rest of you. We don’t have gated mansions, entourages, or bodyguards. We wait in lines, drop off the dry cleaning, and interact regularly with the “citizens” around us (that’s celebrity-speak for non-famous folk). This situation often stretches the very fabric of our society because we just don’t have rules for this sort of thing.
Since I’m about to go out on book tour and meet several thousand of you for the first or second or third time I thought I’d give you my rules for this sort of thing…just so we’re all on the same page.
First, please know that I sincerely appreciate you. If you are a fan, I am beyond thrilled that you like my work. Rest assured, should the opportune arise, I will go out of my way to enhance your fan experience. I will autograph just about anything (read on), I will pose for pictures (as long as they’re respectfully tasteful), and will honestly talk with you without looking over your shoulder at the next person coming down the line, no matter how limited the time. And, I will bust my butt to make sure the television program you’re watching or book you’re reading is the best I can do and fairly priced. Now…
• If you encounter me out in the world and want an autograph or to take a picture with me I will say “yes” if I can possibly manage the time. If I am with my family I will probably still say “yes”, but I will want to move away from my family to do so. If you purposely take a picture a picture of my family I will go freakin’ ballistic. I’m quasi-famous, they’re not. They enjoy certain rights I have sacrificed by choosing to be a cable-ebrity and as a husband and father I will protect their rights to the fullest.
• Please don’t ask me to talk to someone on the phone. This is crossing the line. I’ll sign an autograph for your mom but I’m not going to get on the phone to sing her “Happy Birthday”. Same for video. Please don’t ask me to star in a shout-out to that friend who couldn’t be there. It makes both of us look creepy.
• Please understand that social media is very difficult to manage. Cable-ebrities can choose to interact with no one at all or a random few, but we can’t interact with everyone or we wouldn’t get any work done. If you are the kind of person who takes offense at being “snubbed” on social media, please don’t follow or friend me as disappointment is all but guaranteed.
• When I’m on book tour, I try to keep physical contact to a minimum. This is for your protection as well as my own. I usually tour during the start of cold/flu season and I don’t want to be responsible for accelerating the spread of what could be a potentially deadly illness. Please respect this effort by not asking me for a hug.
• Yes I’ll sign things besides books. Spoons, cutting boards, mixers, you name it I’ll sign it. But I won’t sign living things. Not you, not your hamster, not your ferret. I’ll sign your cast but not your arm. This is because hamsters often bite and most permanent markers are somewhat toxic.
• Please don’t block my exit. One time on a commercial flight a guy blocked the aisle and didn’t want to let anyone deplane until I signed something for him. My lizard-like brain interpreted this behavior as a threat. Luckily an air marshal was on the flight and stepped in just as I was considering a range of actions, any of which would probably have resulted in my being barred from future commercial flights.
• Please don’t talk to me in a public restroom. Odds are good I’m there for a specific reason and I need to concentrate on what I’m doing. Wait for me outside and I’ll be ever so grateful.
• 99% of fans are completely cool. They understand how to act in public and they respect my space and time as I do theirs. This is a testament to good old fashion manners and a societal code based on common rights. However, fans ocassionaly mutate into Fanatics who develop a sense of entitlement, a sense that their heightened level of fandom puts me in debt to them. I don’t see it that way. If you bake me a pie, draw me a picture or design a website about me, that’s great. I appreciate it very much. But I don’t owe you a darned thing unless you want $12 for the pie, which is probably fair. Be forewarned though: I usually don’t have any money on me.
• When tackling large signings I try to move fast to get you home. I will often ask that families with small children be allowed to come to the front of the line so that they can get out and to bed at a decent hour. This means some of you will have to wait a little longer. Thank you in advance for your patience. What I promise in return for this consideration is to never sit at a signing (so my feet will hurt just as bad as yours) and to never leave until the last fan has been greeted and their goods duly signed. I never have and never will (unless I have a stroke or something) left fans in the lurch.
• Concerning photos: I love making memories as much as the next guy but we’re having to put the kibosh on phone pictures because they’re slow, ponderous and most people (not you of course) don’t know how to use them. As a result we end up standing there long enough for an etching, which can get a little awkward. If you want a picture, bring a camera and have it ready. I will have someone with me who is well versed in its use and we’ll look great when he’s done. Again: camera=good, phone=bad.
• When it’s over, it’s over. I’ll stay to the last but then we simply must be going. In most cases we’re flying to the next city right away rather than retiring to the comfort of a local pub or a fancy hotel. We’ve got hours to go before heads hit beds and appreciate your understanding.
Well, that about wraps it up. We’re looking forward to a great tour and great crowds. I’m proud as heck of this new book and hope you’ll find it a useful addition to your library, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, garage. If any of the above seems vague or confusing, print it out and we’ll review when we meet.