Thursday, November 13, 2008

Have the fans gotten out of control?

Last night I got a phone call from a friend of mine who hadn't seen the new show and hadn't been to see Mr. Manilow since April of last year. She was sitting next to a nice British lady who hadn't been since 2005 and shared her absolute shock. What was she shocked about? Big surprise here...the behavior of the crazy fans. She proceeded to tell me how out of control the women were and how one woman in particular was making a huge scene about sitting on the front row and not being dressed appropriately. She was loud and brash and stirring all the other fans into a frenzy. This phone call was prior to the start of the show.

In about two hours I received another phone call from her swearing that all sense of decorum and reason had left the theater last night. It's her theory that it's a "gang mentality". I rather agree with her. There is strength in numbers. And the more of them there are the more out of control they become. Apparently last night one of them charged the stage, only to be intercepted by security as Barry gave one of his "I'm not pleased with this" looks. You can tell when he's not happy with the fan behavior. We've all seen it too many times recently. And true to form, there was no fan interaction again last night on either side of the stage.

So here's my question: have the fans gotten out of control? I think they most definitely have. I think the easy access and the frequent shows have created a rare form of fan. I don't think these existed in the days prior to his Vegas run. Why? Most of the fans were confined to local fan clubs. They received their news via these clubs and the fans were a close knit group that lived within driving distance of each other and saw one another often and the "frenzy" was contained in living rooms and fan club get-togethers in basements.

Since the widespread use of the internet, the fan base has changed. While it's brought people together that might not have met otherwise, it's also created a much larger "club" that only sees each other in Vegas. The hype and excitement over the shows, the friends and the Tempo visits has created a different type of fan. One that obsesses over much more than the music. One that lives and breathes bamms, ass shakes, hip lunges and the like. One that wants to sit on the front row every show just on the off chance that they will get a handshake. One that can't wait to get a glimpse of him as he enters Tempo and leaves, and one that follows him into the theater area as he exits. This type of fan keeps score and considers it a competition of sorts with notches in her belt as to the number of hugs, handshakes, dances, smiles, looks, and photo ops, meet and greets, and Platinums they have either received or experienced.

All this hype has almost obliterated the shear pleasure of enjoying the music at the shows. When you can't hear the music over the talking that goes on or the yelling that comes at the most inappropriate times by overzealous fans, it's out of control. When there is always someone behind you singing so loud you can't even hear Barry, it's out of control. When you have a woman literally knock you over on the stage trying to get a handshake, it's out of control. When he can't have any interaction with the fans on the stage (mind you--those seats were created for that specific purpose), it's out of control. When security has to sit in the corners of the theater and run across the front at the end of the show to protect him, it's out of control. When fans are at the Hilton so much they might as well take up residence there, it's out of control.

One has to wonder how much is too much? Because right now, I've reached my limit. And honestly, I can't help but wonder if Barry has too. No wonder he stays in the shadows.

Wishing for the "good ole days",
Texas Fan

12 comments:

you begin again.... said...

I think you hit on something about how the changes in the fan base began with the Internet. This has happened in many other fan groups as well. IMHO, because of the speed of information distribution, you don't have as much time to think about what you're doing and you can take your activities anywhere. Plus, there are fewer barriers between TPTB and the fans - they can peek in and see what the fans are thinking and doing. Since their perspective on the whole "show" is different than the fans, it changes their approach to this group. And then it cycles. TPTB at Stiletto (and Barry himself as well) manage this phenomenon much better than many other artists have, IMHO.
I had a great time at my trip. And I saw first-hand that a little respect goes a long way and is returned.
Great article.

Stephanie said...

Well, it has gone from FANS to FANATICS. What asses these people make of themselves. This seems to be happening at every show anymore and I can attest that Manilow Fans did NOT used to act like this. So, if I see it, I KNOW Barry see's it. I can just imagine what Barry must think when he has that crazed fan rushing the stage, touching him inappropriately, or sitting in the frontrow every night gawking at him like prey. These people are really a joke, but I must say that Barry and Co. aren't laughing anymore. It has reached a point total assinine behavior and I think Barry has been trying to get his point across.

Anonymous said...

I so agree with you. Until I went to Vegas this year, I had no idea how bad some fans can be, totally obsessive and totally sick behaviour from so called adults.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Barry is trying to send a message to these nut cases, but it is falling of deaf ears. After the butt grab incident, he has taken out of the show the one thing that some fans dream of, the dance segment. Before long, there will be no handshakes or other interaction with the audience. As much as it pains the fans, I'm also sure that Barry feels bad about it as well. He always used to love to interact with us, and now because of the VERY FEW who overstep the boundaries of decency, all of us suffer.

It's really funny, but recently on the old BNet, a discussion was started by a member of the group in question, saying it's not that terrible for some fans to sit in the front row night after night, week after week if they can afford it. No it's not, if you act like a normal person and not a stalker, which Barry and TPTB know they are. Just another ploy on their part to defend their insane actions.

Some people will just never get it.

Survivor said...

You have hit the nail right on the head with your comments. Anyone who thinks that the loss of the dance segment has nothing to do with the ass grabbing incident is living in fairy land.
A recent thread of comments on a particular picture on the MMN site went way beyond the boundaries of decency and I am no prude! This was a very good example of treating Barry as a 'thing' a 'piece of meat' rather than a human being with feelings. People believed that Barry would find it funny, I am not convinced that he would! I think he might think it just another example of crazy fan behaviour.
There are very definitely some fans who have and are continuing to spoil it for others. I was amazed just how much security he has round him just to walk down the road or the corridor in the Hilton but once I had seen fan behaviour and read what is put on the internet sites I believe he needs it!
I think your connection with internet access is interesting and I hadn't quite thought about the impact of that on fan behaviour.
I just hope that it doesn't happen in the UK when he comes over, but I'm not holding my breath! Seeing middle aged women rushing the stage is embarrassing not funny!
I agree with anonymous that Barry is trying to send a message loud and clear from what I have read but it is definitely falling on deaf ears if last night is anything to go by!
Sorry I have ranted on, but as you see I feel very strongly about it since I had my first experience in Vegas earlier this year! I'm glad to say that not all fans are like that but there are more and more emerging and I also think Barry has had enough!!

Survivor said...

Forgot to say one more thing. Thank you for having the courage to put this blog out. I have sat on my hands for so long about this very issue! Someone has flagged it up on the barrynet message board. Watch This Space!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Survivor,

You are so right in everything you said as is everyone else here. I find it amazing how these same people always make excuses for their actions even before others speak up. I'm sorry to say to those it bothers out there, but you are fanatics and the TPTB have your number. They are also aware of your upcoming trips to the UK. Let's face it, Barry needs the security more today than ever before and let's hope someone does not ruin the fan interaction for the UK fans. Thanks TexasFan for bringing this to light for all of us and I want to assure that Barry knows most of us are just fans and not fanatics. I think his actions as of late have spoken loud and clear.

Anonymous said...

Add me to those who applaud you . I have been a fan for quite a while and understand how in the beginning it becomes all emcompassing. But at some point, you have to say ENOUGH..and give yourself a reality check.These people behave in such an excessive manor...going to Vegas month after month-staying for TWO WEEKS at a time..and having to be in the front row all the time. It is excessive and obsessive. I agree that TPTB are well aware of their antics.

Life is about balance and these people need to realize that. All the concerts, money spent, etc ,etc is not going to bring them happines. There is something lacking in their 'real'lives to make them act this way.

Peachy said...

You know I am with you on this. When I hear different things, I just say poor Barry. Some only see him from the waist down, and it is so sad because there is so much more to him than that. The worst part is he cannot move without being surrounded by Security around his fans ... what's wrong with that picture? He probably could walk down the strip easier than he could walk in the Hilton. I might be grasping there but I don't think I am too far off. I would not want to be a blip on TPTB's radar screen - sometimes popularity does not have its benefits. I surely would not want to be known THAT way.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I wonder what Barry thinks about all of this. Does he look out over the audience and say to himself "G-d not her again", or does he put blinders on and just does the job?

When some fresh young faces were in the front row a while back, he seemed to be genuinely pleased and showed it. It must have been refreshing for him.

Perhaps the thinking of the obsessed ones is that they think they will wear him down somehow and get what they want. Like he will finally submit to their crazy fantasies given enough time and torture.

All I know is, I never want him to look at me and say "What you again?", I would die of embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

I agree that some of the fans have gotten out of control. We were in Vegas in Oct. and I thought there was going to be a cat fight in the middle of the second row. These two fans were wack-o, however, the two women expressing their displeasure about their behavior weren't any better. Security was too slow to intervene. It was lucky it didn't escalate out of hand, which it almost did after the show.

In the past, I have taken my young daughter with me to Barry's concerts in Las Vegas, but not anymore. It is iffy taking a youngster to Vegas in the first place, however, we have never had a bad experience at Barry's shows or anywhere else when she has been with us. Because of something that happened to her at a show, I think the other anonymous poster was right about Barry being thrilled with fresh faces in the audience. Fortunately, she wasn't at the last concert we attended; she would have been mortified and frightened by the display that took place.

What has really gotten out of control is the competition. Many of the fans thrive on how many platinums they have done, how many times they have sat in the front row, how many concerts they have attended, etc. Personally, I have gotten tired of seeing and hearing the same group of women sitting in the front row the last three times I have been to Vegas (this is over a two year period). I'm tired of them; Barry has to be tired of seeing them there too. How embarrassing to think that possibly Barry could be looking down at you and thinking, "Geesh, not you again!" And believe me, this group of women are memorable; not people one could easily forget! I'm amazed by their complaining, cynical attitudes, and lack of respect for the people sitting behind them. It would be easy for one to say that jealousy is driving my feelings, but fortunately, I am blessed and could afford to do platinum, bid on front row seats, and attend every BMIFC function, but I choose to have a life other than being obsessed with Barry.

I know, Garry said at the 07 Convention that there was no law against standing at a concert, but fans sitting in the front row should be aware of the number of peoples' views they are blocking and show some consideration. Civilians sitting next to me even commented on the catty attitudes and inconsiderate behavior of the afore mentioned group of women and had some not very complimentary things to say about "Barry Manilow fans." This angers me because it gives us all a bad name and a bad reputation. It didn't used to be like this, Folks!

Friday nights at Tempo are another fan overboard situation. A couple of years ago, an acquaintance asked me to go to Tempo with her and another friend. I was unaware of what "Friday Night at Tempo" was all about until I noticed that the place was filled with women who had obviously attended the concert that night. I was shocked to realize that many of these women were jockying for prime real estate as to where they were most likely to be seen by Barry and would "pose" to reveal the best leg angle, most cleavage,etc. that would get Barry's attention in the space through which he would walk to his table. I was shocked!

I felt like a "voyeur or something" and couldn't wait to get out of there and I certainly haven't been back since. How uncomfortable must it be for Barry to go there Friday nights knowing that women have staked out their tables simply so they can gawk at him? There really does come a time where respect for other people takes precedence over curiosity. I have seen fans monopolize the band members' time or other considerate members of the groups' time after the show. They deserve to unwind and relax without feeling obligated to pose for pictures or listen to fan babble. I don't see anything wrong with a quick "Great show!" or a handshake or wave, but to keep them engaged in conversation for long periods of time doesn't seem considerate. Most of them are probably too nice to decline.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that the Internet and Vegas has created different fans. A lot of this bragging and competition seems to be fueled by the fact that there is now a larger audience for the bragging. Instead of bragging to one's local club or a small group of friends, the bragging is now broadcast worldwide for anyone with a computer and more than a passing interest in Barry to read. It is too easy now to get those front row seats - just fork over the largest amount of money and hey, they're yours and it is just too tempting to brag about them to anyone who will listen or read about it.

Personally,I wish the BMIFC would go back to the old ticketing system where fans put in a request for tickets for a certain night(s) and were surprised by their seats when they arrived in the mail. I always felt that the Stiletto staff tried to mix them up a bit so people didn't have the same seats night after night and it was fair to all the fans giving more of them the opportunity to be up close for at least one show.

Thank you for having the courage to open up this line of discussion. I usually don't comment and am content to lurk with amusement at the goings on in Barryland. This is one area where I felt I couldn't sit on my hands any longer.

Just my observations and opinions, for what they are worth. Thanks for letting me share them.

Anonymous said...

Interesting topic and posts ...Having never attended a Manilow concert before, I saw Ultimate Manilow in Vegas last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. I could also see from their behaviour that his die hard fans were like no other I had ever observed at any show or concert.
As a journalist, I looked into this phenomenon a little more.

A gentle word for the more ardent -Barry's 'people' are aware of the more fanatic element and say they make him very uncomfortable. At a tv recording last year a certain amount of scrutinising of names and addresses of ticket applications took place to make sure the more vociferous and disruptive didn't get too close. In fact some were deliberately vetoed in case of disruption during the show.

 
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