First of all, let me apologize about the title. I HATE that expression. It doesn’t make sense at all and is grammatically incorrect. But it seemed appropriate for this post. See, I had decided to write a short, snarky blog post about the engagement of Benedict Cumberbatch and my reaction not to that event, but to the fangirl implosion. And then yesterday, something happened that made me think that it would be stupid and insensitive to write about such a trivial thing. Then I realized that my feelings about both issues were pretty similar and rooted in the same underlying ugliness.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock all week, you’ve probably heard that sapiosexual heartthrob and favorite Lexxx muse Benedict Cumberbatch, announced his upcoming nuptials to his girlfriend Sophie Hunter. There was speculation that the internet might actually shut down, but it didn’t. In fact, most fangirls have expressed nothing but happy thoughts and congratulations. As for myself, I couldn’t be happier. I’m extremely happy in my marriage and believe that I’ve found my soulmate. It’s the most wonderful thing in the world and I’m so overjoyed that a person I respect and admire so much has found that for himself. But I did see one comment that really took me aback. Someone expressed that while they were happy for Ben and his future bride that they were really upset by how he announced this to his fans. The implication being that the news should have been broken to them gently. It was too sudden and he didn’t give them time to get used to the idea. WTF?! I wanted to scream at this person, “THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU! THIS HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU!” An engagement announcement in the newspaper isn’t for strangers (and yes, I hate to break it to you, ladies– we’re strangers). It’s for family and friends to be notified that their loved one has an important life event coming up. That comment summed up my whole problem with “fandom culture.” Often times we tend to see celebrities as objects or products to be sold rather than people. But they ARE people. People with problems just like you. People with moms and dads and siblings just like you. People with mortgages and spoiled milk in their refrigerator and bad hair days and laundry piled up to their eyeballs and dirty socks in the bathroom just like you. With people they don’t like and people they do. And people they love. The fact that fans saw that engagement announcement was just a side effect. It wasn’t intended for you. It was intended for one person to declare his love for another and to announce his intentions to his friends and family. Just like people have been doing in their local newspapers since newspapers were invented. Mr. Cumberbatch shouldn’t be under any obligation to announce anything to you about his personal life. If he chooses to, then good on him. But the fact that someone should be offended or upset that they weren’t told “properly” about a stranger’s engagement is ridiculous. And SELFISH. Get over yourself!
The other thing that happened this week is another, more extreme example of one person being selfish and seeing another person as an object to be possessed. I got a call yesterday at work from a co-worker asking if I knew what was going on at an office building down the street. There were all sorts of emergency vehicles and people milling around. Knowing that my best friend works in said office building, I immediately panicked, worried that something terrible had happened to her. Naturally I called her cell phone and to my great relief she picked up. She informed me that a co-worker and mutual friend had been shot by her husband in the parking lot of their office. He came to her work and asked if he could talk to her outside. They argued and he shot her four times before turning the gun on himself. The two of them had been separated for a few weeks. It’s my understanding that the reason for the estrangement was that he was very abusive and she’d finally had enough. Because he saw her as an object to be controlled and possessed, he couldn’t live with the fact that she was leaving him. In an ultimate show of selfishness, he took her life and his own, leaving behind two children. Two. Whose lives will be ruined because of this extreme selfishness and objectification.
You might be thinking, “Okay Lexxx… please tell us what one thing has to do with another.” But I’m getting there, just bear with me. I’m very concerned about our culture. I’m disturbed that we live in a world where people are so self-absorbed that they only worry about themselves and what they want. My mother always told me that the definition of love was desiring to put someone else’s needs above your own. In this world where everything is “all about me,” how can there be any love? We’re so selfishly “looking out for number one” that its becoming this virus that creates evil and hatred.
Now, please do not think that I’m equating fangirl wailing with murder. The common thread that I’m getting at here is: it is not all about you. If you love someone (in whatever sense), be happy for their successes. Put others’ needs ahead of your own when it’s healthy to do so. Remember that people, whether they’re behind a computer screen, the silver screen or the screen door on your mama’s porch– are people. Love them accordingly. Have the grace and wisdom to know when it’s time to step back and when it’s time to hold on. I promise– promise promise promise– that it will come back to you.