Monday, September 08, 2014

FanGirl/FanBoy Crushes

Patty here

Is there anyone out there who has never had a FanGirl or FanBoy crush? It’s okay to admit it; you’re among friends. The Urban Dictionary defines FanGirl as:

A rabid breed of human female who is obesessed with either a fictional character or an actor. Similar to the breed of fanboy. Fangirls congregate at anime conventions and livejournal. Have been known to glomp, grope, and tackle when encountering said obesessions.

Hugh Jackman: 'ello.
Fangirl: SQUEEEEEE! *immediately attaches to Jackman's leg*
Jackman: Security! 

I can’t imagine attaching myself to Hugh Jackman’s leg. My FanGirl crushes have been limited to flipping through tabloids at the grocery store checkout counter whenever I see the object of my affection on the cover. But I'll admit that back in his Legends of the Fall days, I thought Brad Pitt was hot.



Then the impossibly adorable Ryan Gosling came along in Lars and the Real Girl. My admiration skyrocketed after I saw him with Michelle Williams at a Q&A following a screening of Blue Valentine. He arrived at the theatre late, wearing blue jeans, a red lumberjack flannel shirt and tousled hair, looking as if he’d just rolled out of bed. He apologized to the audience for inconveniencing us. Very respectful. A hot guy who’s not full of himself? The vibe in the room shifted. FanGirl crushes blossomed everywhere.



Then I saw Thor and had to admit Chris Hemsworth fell into the serious eye candy category. He earned extra points because he had a twinkle in his eye and seemed like a stand-up guy.



But I kept thinking about Hugh Jackman's leg and suspected that my FanGirl cred needed some polish. I searched the source of all inspiration—the Internet—and found a blog post by Beth Thorne, describing her FanGirl crush on Sam Heughan [pronounced HEW-an], one of the actors in the STARZ Outlander series. As suspected, I wasn't putting nearly enough effort into this FanGirl thing.

"There’s a moment in fandom when you realize you’ve effectively lost your mind. For some people, it’s when your Google search bar truncates “Hen…” to “Henry Cavill’s girlfriend” “Henry Cavill’s ugly girlfriend” “Henry Cavill is dating a troll” when you were just searching for cornish hen Thanksgiving recipes. For others, it’s when you wake up drooling on your cell phone because you feel asleep reading fanfic. For some, it’s breaking down a Vanity Fair behind the scenes video for evidence of unrequited cast affection. For me, I’ve known for years that I loved Outlander, and specifically Jamie Fraser. And I’ve known for a few months that I wanted to know more about Sam Heughan. But Sam’s first official public appearance just sealed the fangirl deal."

Okay, so Sam Heughan is adorable, but what makes so many people lust after him? Granted, he's playing a role that has a built-in audience of millions of fans of the Outlander novels written by Diana Gabaldon. But that can't account for all the admiration being heaped on Heughan. What is it that attracts people to movie stars, sports figures and fictional characters? It’s not just physical beauty. There are many good-looking people in the world. In interviews, Heughan comes across as sweet and just a bit proper, maybe even shy. That persona might be an act cultivated by his publicist, but I don't think so. I think he has that certain something that sets him apart from the crowd.


Defining "that certain something" is an important exercise for writers. We all love our characters—even the bad ones—and translating FanGirl/FanBoy feelings onto the page adds complexity and authenticity to our writing. The why of our attraction to certain personality types—bad boys/girls (dangerous), adventurers (fun loving) or artists (emotionally complex and sensitive)—elevates our characters from caricatures to flesh and blood people. In the end, it isn't how they look that makes us love them; it's what they say and do, on the page or in the flesh, that provides a window to the soul and our enduring admiration.

Here's an informal survey: Sophia Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Connery, Tom Brady or Mr. Darcy. Who do you think has "that certain something," that je ne sais quoi? I'm making a list because Hugh Jackman's leg has already been taken. And all you authors out there—did you pattern your characters after people you know and love?

Note to our email subscribers, just email back with your FanCrush and I'll include it in the comments section.

HAPPY MONDAY!

20 comments:

  1. James O. Born9/08/2014 7:52 AM

    I am greatly influenced by off screen decisions. The less I hear about a celebrity the mre of a crush I can develop. For instance, Natalie Portman or Uma Thurman.

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  2. Me, too, James O. I love it when, by word or deed, a public figure presents as a decent human being and then doesn't seek the spotlight for good deeds. Just makes them more attractive and mysterious--something we all love.

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  3. Oh, definitely Sean Connery in your list. But for me personally ... Kris Kristofferson. My sister actually had to ungrip me from him one time after he agreed to take a photo with us after a concert. His songwriting is incredible, but it's his compassion for the underdog that drew me in. Plus he's just darn sexy - even in his 70s!!!

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    1. And he's a cowboy! Gee-haw!

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  4. Gosh, Patty, I know you're talking about me. I created a fictional teen idol and built a mystery series around him based on my crush with The Monkees. I love the guys for the characters they played on the TV show. A couple of them aren't "handsome" in a convention way but their personalities are so cute and the shows always leave me with a smile.

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    1. Yes, Sally, I WAS talking about you. Must have been fun writing in the wee hours of the night. :)

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    2. The research was delightful. I also read up on Bobby Sherman, Donny Osmond and David Cassidy. Swoon!

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    3. Somebody once told me I looked like David Cassidy. Not sure that was a good thing.

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  5. from Jacqueline: When I had my really bad riding accident, about 13 years ago now, I was pretty much confined to quarters for some months (so as not to completely waste my time, I wrote a book called Maisie Dobbs - with one hand on the keyboard while the other was doing nothing attached to the arm that was bound up in a sort of scaffolding affair), however, I watched a lot of movies too - then one day my husband said, "Do you think we could watch something that doesn't have John Cusack in it?" That when I realized I had a bit of a crush - and I still have that bit of a crush. I think it's that John Cusack seems like a really funny, intelligent guy to hang out with, and - let's be honest here - fairly easy on the eyes.

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    1. Ah, yes, a sense of humor is an essential Crush-worthy quality.

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    1. Forgive me. I belong to the Screen Actors Guild Film Society and had nothing else to do on that Saturday night. The film was actually quite funny and charming.

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  7. Well, yes. Nicole Kidman and the late Lee Remick.

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  8. Lee Remick of No Way to Treat a Lady with Rod Stiger? Paul, you are a complex and surprising man.

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  9. I have a crush on Sam Heughan since I saw him in the outlanders tv show. ~ Diana

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    1. Yes, Diana, join the club :)

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  10. The only actor I truly admired was Patrick McGoohan. He did Secret Agent, The Prisoner, and Ice Station Zebra. I gave my Johnny Casino character his birthday and he was half the reason I became a private detective.

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    1. Very cool, Gayle. I'd forgotten about McGoohan. Thanks for the reminder.

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  11. Patty, I think we are Fan Girl Twins separated at birth. Or would be if you included Colin Firth. And I went to Thor by myself (because I am a fan of Norse myths -- not to see that hottie) and really liked the scene where he took his shirt off. Fun stuff.

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    1. Well, Mr. Darcy/Colin Firth--one in the same. Right? Yes, the shirt-off scene was a highlight. Har. Plus, we'll always have s'mores!

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