Fan mail

Group therapy

Time was when the aspiring global celebrity aimed to make the cover of a magazine such as Time. Now the ultimate test of celebrity status is whether you have an "alt.fan" newsgroup in your name. If you ain't got one, you ain't no one.

There are several hundred of these odd little fan forums, discussing everything from celebrities to cooked lemurs. I'm not making it up. Hollywood movie stars take up a lot of space, including most of the big names - Brad Pitt, Michelle Pfeiffer, etc. Other celebs represented include Jesus Christ, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Cantona and ... Chris Tarrant.

Much of the Hollywood fan talk is fawning gush along the lines of "Why is Brad so sexy?" and endless favourite film lists. But having an alt.fan newsgroup devoted to you can be a bit like being placed in the stocks - there to be pilloried as much as praised - and some celebs get rotten tomatoes in bucketloads. Madonna more than most, judging from the postings in alt.fan.madonna. Some of the insults are so vitriolic, you wonder whether they are from disaffected former employees. "Madonna still has fans?" begins one, before suggesting the exotic idea that she dreamt up the singer Alanis Morissette to undermine Courtney Love. "Madonna got jealous of Courtney's talent, so she created a little fake alternative diva to counteract Courtney's popularity. ... Anybody who finds meaning in these two's 'lyrics' must be officially brain-dead. Most of them are written by men and make me wanna hurl."

But that is nothing. If the newsgroup community really hates you, it will make sure you know it before you even read the postings. alt.fan.oj- simpson. die.die.die and alt.fan.oj-simpson.gas.chamber leave little to the imagination. The popular American footballer has the dubious honour of having six alt.fan groups in his name, more than any other personality.

But the alt.fan series is not just about personalities. Any cult, craze or obsession is eligible. Even if you have nothing to say about it: alt.fan.nicole- papa seems to have been empty for months, but I guess there is some kind of subtextual significance in its very existence. Subtext is meat and drink to the denizens of alt.fan.tarantino, where the argument over the contents of the briefcase in PF never stops. Contributions to the long- running debate on "How did Mr Brown die in RD?" are also invited. It is obviously taken for granted that if you enter this newsgroup you know what those initials stand for.

Things are taken even more for granted in the stiff-upper-lip world of alt.fan.british-accent. Unless you were actually present at the beginning, most of the discussions are impenetrable. In alt.fan.monty-python the postings were as daft as you would expect. Although some American had rather spoilt the fun with a posting entitled "The Stupidest F****** Show Ever". Python-fans were not amused

Andrew North

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

    £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

    Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

    £23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...