It's not hard to imagine what Kathy Bates' character in Misery would be like today. Annie would have a Misery blog at the very least; probably a full website as well. I could see her debating minutiae about the Misery books with other fans on message boards and holding court in chatrooms. It goes without saying that her Twitter avatar would be taken from the cover of a Misery book. Her handle would be something like @Misery4Eva or maybe even @Higher_Justice. Do romance book fans cosplay?
Was fandom always obsessive? Did Shakespeare's fans pester him in the streets, demanding to know when the next play was coming out? Did Beethoven fans bag and board his sheet music? Did Dickens fans run around quoting Great Expectations at each other? We like to think the stereotypical obsessive fan is a modern invention, but surely there were precedents? I feel like it must be something within human nature that drives us this way. Not being a psychologist, I couldn't say for sure, but it does make you wonder.
I read comic books as a kid, but only Marvel comics. Through in-house advertising, letters pages and promotional editorials, I was subtly conditioned to believe Marvel was the best and everything else was inferior. As a result, I bought almost everything with the Marvel name on the cover, regardless of quality. Looking back now, I can see this as the compulsive behavior it was, but I can also write it off as youthful enthusiasm coupled with ignorance.
Sometimes I think blogging about film is an obsession. I know much more about movies, past and present, than the average person, though not nearly as much as others. Some might call that unusual. Again, though, I feel like I can justify it: I've always said the blog keeps me writing, and movies are the means to that end. Rationalization or convenient excuse?
I mean, it does seem like there's no such thing as a casual fan anymore, at least if you go by the Internet (which is no substitute for reality, I know, but bear with me). My Twitter feed is full of (as far as I know) ordinary, non-psychopathic killers who are not shy about sharing their enthusiasms with each other. If the Internet didn't exist, would we all sit at home with our Buster Keaton DVDs and X-Men comics and Nick Hornby novels, like Annie in Misery, waiting for someone to talk to about all this cock-a-doodie stuff?
I think that's why I can't help feeling for Annie, despite her homicidal tendencies. (Well, that and the fact that Bates is outstanding in the role.) Maybe if she had other Misery fans to hang out with, her life would be different. Maybe she wouldn't have to sit up in that small, isolated house all alone with her pig, listening to Liberace records, re-reading her Misery books over and over and wishing she had a child. Maybe she could put a one-in-a-million encounter with Paul Sheldon in the proper perspective, instead of demanding more Misery novels from him.
Then again, maybe not. One major drawback of Online Fandom Assembled that has reared its ugly head in recent years is the groupthink mentality, particularly when it's directed towards anyone with an opinion opposite that of the herd. This fustercluck over Suicide Squad is but the latest in a long, long line of recent examples. Strange how this sort of thing never happens with, say, Woody Allen movies...
Perhaps we should just accept that to be a fan of anything is to be a little crazy. Maybe not hobbling-people's-feet crazy, but crazy nonetheless. Because like my father used to say, "fan" is only a short way of saying "fanatic"... Mister Man!