As I reflect back on my 6th year of graphing, one predominant thought comes to mind: mutual respect.
A scenario that echoes this thought made headlines this past November when Finn Wolfhard, of the hit Netflix Stranger Things series, dodged fans waiting outside his New York City hotel; ignoring their presence. Those “fans” took to social media criticizing the actor for not stopping, tweeting, “Imagine being 14 and heartless that you can’t even stop for your fans who made you famous in the first place! WOW.”
His co stars immediately came to his defense. Shannon Purser, aka Barb, tweeted, “Okay, no. No actor is under any obligation to stop for anyone. Finn is an incredibly kind human. But he’s human and he needs breaks too.”
Being a part of many graphing social media groups, my timeline was flooded with different perspectives on who was in the wrong; Wolfhard or his fans. After viewing the video of the interaction multiple times and scanning through many opinions, I came to the conclusion that the reason both sides were so heated about the matter was due to the fact that both parties felt that they had been disrespected.
I do believe that it is important for celebrities to be respected, however mutual respect of fans is also warranted. If you watch the video of the incident, the waiting few merely asked Finn for an autograph. Even though they waited patiently for his appearance and called out to him respectfully, he never once acknowledged that they were even there. He never said hi. He did not even wave. It was as if they did not even exist. Such disregard on a human level, is disrespectful.
On the flip side, I do understand Wolfhard and Purser’s perspective. No celebrity is “obligated” to stop. Privacy should be valued, but at the expense of devaluing another is wrong.
If the event had ended there one could site Wolfhard somewhat at fault. However, the fan’s anger led to a shaming Tweet post about Wolfhard that I believe crossed the line.
Unfortunately, one grapher’s negative actions make the press, and overshadow a celebrity’s disregard of his fans. It is important to note, that this is not the norm for grapher’s or for celebrities.
For example, around the same time the Finn incident happened, I experienced a wonderful example of mutual respect.
I am a huge fan of the show FRIENDS and when I got a tip that Matt Leblanc would be coming to Boston, it was hard to contain my excitement over the possibility of meeting the guy who got us all asking, ‘How You Doing?’
The day came and I was poised in the airport terminal with my full size Friends poster in hand. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of Matt with his blue baseball cap. As he approached, disappointment began to set in. I noticed that his daughter was by his side. Out of respect for the celebrity, it’s generally my rule not to ask them to sign when they are with their families; so I began to return the poster back in its tube. I looked up briefly and made eye contact with Matt. He had seen the poster and I think sensed my disappointment. He explained that he would love to stop, but he couldn’t with his daughter. I told him that I understood and wished him a safe trip.
He smiled and continued on his way. When he got half way down the terminal, he looked back to see if I had followed. However, I was still in the same place he had left me. He nodded as if to say thank you.
Although I left without the picture or autograph that I had hoped to get, I was left with the memory of the pleasant interaction. Matt was respectful and recognized that I had put the time in to wait for him and I was respectful of Matt’s wishes. I know I’ll meet him one day, but I want it to be on both of our terms.
As I raise my glass to 2018, I hope for a year filled with many more respectful interactions and perhaps even a picture with Matt.