Lying to Yourself: Condition of Fandom??

Richard Armitage in the studio working on Hamlet

I heard an interesting program on WNYC radio yesterday. On a program called “Radio Lab”. Radio Lab investigates different things in a humorous way. The show gives you the opportunity to  challenge your assumptions.

The program I listened to yesterday is titled “Deception”. You can find it HERE. It explores the various ways that people lie, and examines why some people are better than others at it. The part that interested me was the experiments testing people who are good at lying TO THEMSELVES! Self-deception. They interviewed psychologists who tested whether people who were better at lying to themselves were more successful than those who thought of themselves more truthfully. A lot depended on the ability to hold two opposing beliefs in your mind at the same time. They found that athletes who believed they were GOING TO win because they were THE BEST did better than athletes who more realistically assessed their chance at winning. So lying to yourself, i.e., believing that you ARE THE BEST, actually helped athletes to win. Hilarious!


This made me think about Fandom. I have often thought about why I am a “Fan”, while others of my friends never are. Why is that? I have seen that my friends who are not fans are much too realistic. They see the human flaws in the object of my adoration. They cannot let go of the fact that we will probably never have a true personal interaction with the person of interest, so what’s the point in adoring someone who you will never really know?  This Radio Lab program about Deception explains this to me – that I am HAPPIER than my friends who are not fans because I believe something without needing to know if it’s true in “reality”. I choose to believe that Richard Armitage is charming, handsome, talented, funny, intelligent, geeky, dorky, sexy, polite, a family man, athletic, graceful, generous, and just plain attractive, without any real personal knowledge of the man. All of these qualities I ascertain from his pictures, performances, interviews, very limited real life viewing, reports from others. The sum of all is that he makes me happy. I am happy to see pictures of him, to watch his performances, to hear his voice. Even though I don’t know whether any of it is “true” about him. Even though I “know” I will never, in reality, have the opportunity to find out if any of it is true.

RA smiling at wondercon

Guess what? I am HAPPY in my possibly self-deception about Richard Armitage! I would never want to be like my friends who are more “realistic”! Life is tough. Happiness is worth finding wherever you can find it. <steps off soap-box>




From New York City. Anglophile, theater-goer, love books, music and LIFE.
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22 Responses to Lying to Yourself: Condition of Fandom??

  1. *skips through the halls of Erebor on the way to mine and Thorin’s bedchamber* I lie to myself on a daily basis and I would say I’m pretty happy tra la la la la

  2. guylty says:

    That’s a really interesting argument/theory, Marie. And it sounds pretty convincing to me. Hell, yeah, I *choose* to be happy – so I’ll happily make up (this part of reality) myself :-D. After all we all have a dream factory in our head.

  3. I think you’ve made a good point. I think for most of my life I was a realist. It is only lately that I have been able to just believe and have fun. I’m loving it 😀

  4. kelbel75 says:

    I’ve always enjoyed watching people and learning from my observations. I know more about the celebrities I admire because the info about them is more readily available. if I could find things out about the waitress at my favorite place to eat or the guy who volunteers at the library or the college kid who bags my groceries, in a removed way, I probably would (I know I would b/c I’m just plain curious 😀 ) so I really don’t see the celebrity worship as anything vastly different from that. I personally chose actors that I have just enough in common with to draw me in, but have enough differences that keep me intrigued. I learn from their approach to their job, their approach to stardom, their approach to the everyday mundane things of life. I am better off for “knowing” them, so I will never see my fangirling as a negative thing or something to be ashamed of 😎
    btw, the self depreciation thing: it is also a way some people chose to help others feel at ease. so it’s not *always* a reflection of the negative things they see in themselves 🙂

    • Marie Astra says:

      Not everyone is interested in all the people they meet in RL. Some people, most maybe, don’t really care. I can speculate, with no evidence, that those of us who are interested in actors are also interested in the people we meet in RL. I also am interested in the people I meet. I know lots about the guys who serve me coffee from their carts or who clean my waste baskets at work, as well as RA etc.

      • kelbel75 says:

        right, and that was my point: if it wasn’t celebrities it would be someone/something else for us; it’s just in our make-up. the difference is that some scoff at our interest in celebrities, thinking it is infantile or superficial but if we were focused on someone in a different field then it would be more acceptable. so I think it’s less about us and more about the perceptions of acting itself :/

      • Servetus says:

        yes, *and* poor experiment by psychologists. They’re always trying to isolate one or two variables — when the range of experiences is usually a great deal wider than that.

      • Marie Astra says:

        I think it’s the ability to see things with “rose colored glasses”, so to speak that is the difference. This is my experience with my friends who cannot do fandom. They have to verify reality. They aren’t interested in imagining.

      • kelbel75 says:

        although I do have a vivid imagination and prefer to see the good in things/people, I think I’m pretty grounded in reality at the same time. what kinds of things are you suspending belief for in order to be happy in fandom/fangirling that your friends wouldn’t? I don’t mean to put you on the spot, I’m just confused as to your friends perceptions of what it is that we’re doing :/

      • Marie Astra says:

        They think that because it isn’t a “real” relationship it’s silly to care so much about someone.

      • kelbel75 says:

        so it’s the personalization we give to it; okay, I understand that 🙂 for me, it’s the personal way I can relate to Richard that makes the biggest positive impact on me. I’m not an actor and I don’t live in the public eye, but I am a human being. while I do enjoy the acting profession I don’t automatically admire all actors; it’s who *he* is that I find admirable.

      • Marie Astra says:

        Agreed. It’s a combination of things. Not simply admiring his talent as an actor, or his personal physical beauty. It’s a combination of things that I find attractive, and worth following and caring about.

  5. Servetus says:

    I think it’s different to believe something about the self vs believing it of another person, however. A lot of us don’t need to believe Richard Armitage is perfect or even anywhere near close to perfect to admire him or be a fan. I assume that he is a human being who has a tremendous gift which he uses in ways that intrigue me. That in turn makes me curious about him and what I can learn from him, both in terms of his gift and his person. It doesn’t have to be anything more than that.

    • Marie Astra says:

      I don’t think it has to do with anyone being “perfect”. I don’t need RA to be “perfect”. I don’t need anyone to be perfect. I admire him because I like what I see. Whether what I see is “reality” is the question. I’m willing to accept that what I see may not be “real”.

      • Marie, I couldn’t respond above. I have had the same reaction from friends and family – it’s silly because it isn’t a “real” relationship. I think I’ve even gotten the reaction that it is ridiculous. I’ve pretty much stopped talking about it for that reason.

        I’m enjoying myself and not hurting anyone so it’s all good, right?

      • Marie Astra says:

        That’s what I believe! If it’s not hurting anyone, and it makes me happy. What’s wrong with it?

  6. linnetmoss says:

    I love your positive approach to fandom, and that it makes you so happy!

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