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Devoted fan or crazy stalker?

written by susanmacnicol June 1, 2013

Devoted Fan or Crazy stalker- Where does ‘celebrity’ end and ‘privacy’ begin?
In my book, Cassandra by Starlight, the hero, Bennett Saville, finds himself eerily stalked by someone as he travels around the world in his profession as an actor. He encounters them at the theatre he owns, outside the film studios he works in, in the garage basement where he parks his car, in his hotel room in Paris when he’s there for an Awards ceremony, and when he’s with Cassie in Venice. The result of this is a very violent and intrusive sexual abuse event that leaves him vulnerable and traumatised. The man is forcibly restrained and raped by a woman.
(I’m not getting into this old chestnut here though, that’s not what this blog post is about. If you want to see my views on this, check out the Rape Posts on my other blog at www.susanmacnicol.com)
As a celebrity you are used to a certain amount of public adoration, curiosity and downright nosiness. It’s the price one pays for being in the public eye. But lately, things appear to have been spiralling out of control with people thinking they have a right to ‘own’ celebrities and broadcast anything they do to all and sundry.
Take this case below for example. Actor Benedict Cumberbatch was ‘cyber stalked’ a while ago with a close neighbour tweeting about everything he was doing in the comfort of his own home.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/9925578/Sherlock-star-Benedict-Cumberbatch-is-cyberstalked.html
Now as a Cumberbatch fan girl myself, I can understand the interest in the man; but this is just downright creepy and dangerous. The man is in his home, for God’s sake. He has every right to expect privacy. God forbid he was doing something he shouldn’t, like having a Roman orgy. While I’m sure there are plenty of fans who’d like to be a fly on the wall for that one, even participate in it, that’s not really how things work. What someone does in their own home is entirely their business and shouldn’t be subject to public consumption.
There are even apps you can get like Gawker Stalker that track celebrities movements on a map. I’m not promoting the use of these in any way, but they are out there and if you are a serious fan or stalker, you’d know more about them already than I do.
http://gawker.com/160338/introducing-gawker-stalker-maps
There’s one called Starspotter that ‘is perfectly designed to find your much loved celebrities, events and gossip in real-time, closer to your location or anywhere you travel in the world. StarSpotter captures your favorite celebrities, politicians, musicians, athletes and models on the go in your pocket
http://www.mediabistro.com/appnewser/starspotter-app-takes-celebrity-stalking-to-the-next-level_b33250
A property website in New York , Rentenna, has a new ‘feature’ for their site – “Find Your Celebrity Neighbor.” You register/login, type in your address, and a list of nearby celebs pops up, with links to their Wikipedia bios.
Here in the UK we even have our first-ever National Stalking Clinic, based at Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield, north London. It rehabilitates stalkers and tries to get them out of the mindset they find themselves in by fixating on another person and causing ruin not only to their own lives as a stalker, but to the ‘stalkee’ as well.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/feb/17/how-to-rehabilitate-a-stalker
And new legislation has even had to be passed to manage this ever growing threat. As of 25th November 2012 amendments to the Protection from Harassment Act have been made that makes stalking a specific offence in England and Wales for the first time.
http://www.stalkinghelpline.org/faq/about-the-law/
With all of this going on, how are celebrities supposed to protect themselves against the ever present threat of not only a physical stalker, but a cyber-stalker? I can assure you cyber-stalking is an easy pit to fall into. I see it every day when I’m online. I see tweets and information passing cyber hands and I sometimes wonder, “Has this one maybe crossed the line or am I just being too bloody hardnosed? Give the man/woman a break and leave them alone, just for a moment.”
Most fandoms and fan bases are very protective of their chosen celebrities. They would never step over the line and infringe on the person’s privacy. They tend to get extremely upset with people when they do, as is the case with the Cumberbatch fandom. They cut people off if they feel uncomfortable; send them to ‘virtual’ Coventry. But there are still unscrupulous people out there who don’t see what they do as an invasion of privacy but more of a right.
I suppose there are two schools of thought –
He/She is a celebrity. They chose to be famous so they should just shut up and live with it. If they don’t like it, they shouldn’t have got famous in the first place. They whinge when we don’t talk about them, they whinge when we do. What the hell do they want? They are a public figure – they have no rights to privacy and if it means I sit in a tree overlooking their front yard and snap pictures, or spy on them through the window, that’s fine. If I want to tell the world where they are, what they’re doing, who they’re with, how many times they picked their nose and where they’re going next – let me.
He/She is a celebrity. They worked hard to be famous (most anyway, some are just undeservedly catapulted into it by the advent of cheesy reality TV shows but that’s another blog post and I expect a lot of hate mail when I put that one up) and they expect a certain amount of public acknowledgement and recognition. But they are also private human beings and deserve their privacy when in a private environment, a place where they have a reasonable expectation of privacy like with a partner or family member in a quiet restaurant, or in the gym, or quietly watching a film in a cinema.
The question is – which one are you?

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