Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Conscientious Fan

I got the notion to write this after seeing this article the other day. In summary, a guy saw John Cena on a shuttle and John Cena refused his request for a picture. The man took incredible offense to Cena's denial, though to his credit seemed understanding when he learned Cena had just filed for divorce.

But I was more intrigued by the first aspect of the story. I've heard a lot of stories of fans interacting with wrestlers. Some good, some... not so much. I find it so interesting to see how "normal" people interact with "famous" people... especially when that behavior shades to the poorer sides of it.

So I thought I could say a few things.

For the record, I don't by any means claim to be a "good" fan, though I like to believe I have common sense when it comes to interacting with "famous people."

Also, this is geared towards the fans of wrestlers, because that's just how I do. And I think you're more likely to run into, you know, CM Punk at the grocery store than Angelina Jolie. However it's probably a good basis for running into any kind of Famous Person.

It happens...

You're out minding your own business and by strange fate or providence, you come to discover you are sharing space with a bona fide Famous Person. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. What do you do? HOW DO YOU APPROACH? WHERE'S SOME PAPER? DO I HAVE A PEN??

Before you run up to John Cena and start waving a paper in front of his face, I want you all to run through a few things in your head. Put the cap back on your Sharpie and take a second to use your noggin before John Cena shorts it out.

1. Wrestlers are people too.

When you see a wrestler outside of the ring, he's just a normal dude. Be it John Cena or Josh Prohibition, all he wants to do is his normal dude stuff. Buying his groceries, eating dinner with his family, taking a leak, working out, calling his wife or his children on the phone. He just wants to do his thing with the minimum amount of hassle possible. I think that's something we can all relate to, right? You just want to get to work; you don't want to deal with asshole drivers cutting in front of you, or rush hour traffic, or rubberneckers rubbernecking at an accident on the opposite side of the highway. Wrestlers just want to do their own thing too.

Maybe he's in a good mood. Maybe he's not. Maybe he's dealing with a divorce, or his kid is sick, or his parents are sick, or his parents are getting a divorce, or he's hungover, or he's sleep-deprived, or his stomach is upset from all that shitty on the road food he's been eating. You don't know. Just as your tolerance for bullshit goes down when you're in a bad mood, so too does theirs. Before you go up to a wrestler just trying to be a normal dude, remember that he just might not want to deal with some stranger getting all up in his face. It has nothing to do with you personally; nor is it a credit to his character. Sometimes people just have bad days.

2. Timing Is Everything

If you absolutely must approach a wrestler on his normal-dude time, try to do it at an appropriate moment.

Appropriate moments do NOT include:

*When he's in the bathroom. CM Punk complains about this on Twitter all the time. I would assume it is common sense, but apparently it's not. Don't follow a dude into the bathroom. It's fucking creepy and weird. If there is absolutely no other moment you can catch him and you absolutely NEED to catch him, at least wait outside.

*When he's with his family. Leave the man alone, okay? Like I mentioned previously, he's just trying to be a normal dude and spend time with his family. Bear in mind, he's probably on the road a lot so he doesn't get to see them very often, let alone spend quality time with them.

If you're not sure, just think about it. Think about how you would feel in that situation. Getting off a plane after a twelve-hour flight. Out of a car after an eight-hour drive. In the middle of dinner. At the gym. I see that gripe a lot from wrestlers on Twitter. I don't go to the gym, I do not purport to understand gym etiquette, but it still goes back to normal dude on normal dude time just trying to do what normal dudes do.

3. Wrestlers do not owe you anything, nor do you have a "right" to receive anything from them

This is a little touchy. You could argue "He wouldn't be famous without his fans! The least he could do is spare me a shitty autograph!" or "He knew what he was getting into before he got famous!"

I agree with the former statement. If not for fans, no one would be famous. Fans make the famous dude famous. And it's nice to receive a little recognition.

But just because you stumble across a wrestler on his normal dude time, it doesn't mean you are automatically entitled to go up to him and get a picture and/or an autograph. If you're at a show or a meet-n-greet or some type of fan-oriented deal, that's one thing. He's still in wrestler-mode. He's well prepared for fans.

But when you run into him at the grocery store, or the gym, or the restaurant, or whatever, you're cutting into his normal dude time. He's not in the ring, he's not in his gear, he's just buying food for dinner. He's running his errands. It's his personal time. He's not getting paid. He's not on the clock.

Have you ever been at your job, running some errands after your shift is over, and someone asks you to help with something? Or at a store you don't even work at and someone walks up to you? I mean, at your own work you probably try to help them, right? At least point them in the right direction. At the very least, you're polite about it. But you don't OWE them any help because you're not on the clock. You're just trying to run your errands after a long fucking day so you can go home and get off your feet.

Just because John Cena happens to be out in public doesn't give you the automatic unassailable right to get in his face and demand a picture or an autograph or both. He's off the clock, so to speak. He'll do it, to be nice, to be polite, because I'm sure he generally enjoys his fans. But he doesn't OWE you. You're on HIS time.

4. Social Media

Stop asking for RTs and follows on Twitter. This is spam. What you are doing is spamming. Nobody likes spam. NOBODY. LIKES. SPAM. John Cena is not going to follow you. John Cena is definitely not going to follow you if you ask him to 9000 times a day. And this is just my personal opinion, but I'm less likely to follow someone if they ask me.

Asking for RTs is lame. If you really want to be retweeted, maybe say something worth a RT, other than "Hey plz RT me" because no. Unless you do that to CM Punk, and he probably would RT you just to call you an idiot. But hey, if that's what you're going for... knock yourself out.

So... let's all agree that that needs to stop. Besides, wouldn't you rather be RT'd for something cool you said, or something intelligent, or interesting, than just because you asked for it? Doesn't that have more meaning? I think it does.

I also want you to recognize the fact that you are not the only person who tweets John Cena. John Cena probably gets literally a bajillion tweets a day (half of which are probably asking for follows or RTs!) He doesn't have time to reply to every single one of them, or RT all the ones that ask for it. He probably doesn't even look at his @replies all the time.

So if you consistently tweet at John Cena and he never tweets back, he's not ignoring you. It's not personal. He's buried under 10,000 tweets of the same content and consistency. I just searched @JohnCena, a little scientific experiment here, and he's gotten 22 tweets in the last ten minutes. Average it out a little, that's two tweets a minute. That's two tweets a minute ALL THE TIME.

Also, if John Cena does, god forbid, have a few minutes to himself and go "Hey, I'm going to converse with my fans on Twitter for a bit." do you think he's going to be more likely to reply to a well-thought-out question or someone just saying "Hi" or "Sup John". Plus when all his followers (of which he has over two million of, by the way) see he's tweeting at fans, think of how many tweets/minute that would go up to. Ten? Fifteen? Thirty? I can't even imagine. The man simply cannot get to all of you. 

Also, you might be spamming him. See above.

5. Don't be creepy

Let me share with you this story I heard some years ago.

WWE was doing an Australia tour. This girl went to the airport and waited at the gate for the plane that Randy Orton and John Cena were getting off of. I don't know how she was able to GET to the gate, but she did.

When Cena and Orton got off the plane, she followed them from the gate to the baggage claim. Not just that. She had her camera on them, with some setting that allowed automatic pictures to be taken every three seconds or some nonsense. FROM THE GATE. TO THE BAGGAGE CLAIM.

One of the superstars (I seem to recall it was Orton) actually told her to knock it off, and she actually had the gall to take offense. Let me remind you these two men just spent upwards of twelve hours on a plane and this girl was following them around with a camera like the fucking paparazzi like this was a sane and okay thing to do.

Short answer; no, no it's not.

Long answer; oh my god, are you insane? If I have to break down for you all the ways that that is rude and inconsiderate and shady and batshit crazy, you need to go back to your home planet, sugarpie. I don't think there is any one part of that story that can be considered acceptable.

If you want to wait someplace where you know a wrestler may happen to be, fine. I know a lot of people have done that. I have done that. I am not entirely proud of it, but I have. Not in an airport though, for the love of Jesus. But there's a line. You get your autograph and your picture and you go on your merry way.

If you have to lurk around to meet or greet your favorite wrestler, you're doing something wrong. Please reconsider your tactics.

In closing...

I want you to meet your favorite wrestler. I really do. I want you to have pictures and autographs -- autographed pictures! -- and those memories. Those memories are the best. I'm there with you, I promise. I just want you to try and do it in a way that makes the experience as pleasant as possible for everyone involved.

It's easy to get starstruck, I know. Something in your brain short-circuits when you get near some of these guys. I completely lost my brain when I met Chris Sabin, for example. I can't even be entirely sure actual words came out of my mouth.

Just before you go up to anyone, before your brain gets too frazzled by realizing that oh my god I'm breathing the same air as John Cena right now and you fumble for your Sharpie, just think. Is this moment appropriate? Is John Cena about think you're a huge douchebag? Do you WANT John Cena to think you're a huge douchebag?

Do you, while your brain is busy going oh my god I'm talking to John Cena right now, want John Cena to be thinking "Oh my god, can't this asshole hurry it up, my ice cream is melting."

Or "Oh my god, what a creeper."

Just... think for a second. Is he busy? Is he with his family? Is he in the bathroom? Are you lurking right now?

Do you know where your Sharpie is?

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