“With You, I’m Not Shy”

Jeff Turner with good friend, Tiffany.

He owns you. He watches you out of the corner of his eye. He loves you, worships you, adores you. He finds you in the dark. He wants to protect you from the dark. Comfort incarnate and safe arms to hold you when you are frightened. He just knows all he has to do is sit down and talk to you for you to know what he is. He is your father, and he is your lover. He is your best friend. He is your worst enemy. He is your stalker. Get to know him.

He will destroy you. Big fan or friend; calls himself a friend, doesn’t want to be considered a fan. Fans are fanatics. They buy your records. They go to your movies. They go back to work on Monday, forget about you until your next record, movie, or product surfaces. They repeat the process. They go to your movie. They buy your record. Fans are pathetic. They think they have a relationship. They think they understand. They don’t, and never will.

The friend does not move on with his or her life. The friend continues, watches you in your off time, remembers every little gesture, every cough of your life. The friend remembers things you don’t remember. The friend recalls exchanges with you that never happened. Even if you don’t think you’ve ever truly known this friend, he will remember everything for you, because he owns you.

The celebrity is the creature that doesn’t exist. Falsity, a fabrication, an invention of publicity designed, proactively, for the consumer. This is a strange face that smiles back at you at airport signings, conventions, and nightclubs. It feeds on your love and adoration and buys into you wholeheartedly, until you leave. The celebrity stands in front of a row of photographers at a movie premiere or charity event, telegraphing the height of fashion and the vacant smile of a psych ward reject on meds. The image of the celebrity loves you unconditionally. The reality is much more devastating.

Jeff gets a mention in a news article about his good friend.

The celebrity does not love you. Hell, the celebrity does not know you. They forget you the moment you leave their field of vision. The celebrity meets thousands of people every year. Do you really think they’re going to remember your face? By contrast, you probably meet maybe hundreds of people during the course of a lifetime, and you may remember all of those faces. You may remember what kinds of food they enjoy, what kinds of music they listen to, or what types of books and movies they prefer. You look at a person’s face, and that person is real to you, with a set of feelings, fears, and fetishes. You look at a celebrity’s face and all you get back is that vacant smile.

If there is one item celebrities and their admirers and stalkers share, it is the surge of unrepentant narcissism; the feeling that either all of those people waiting just to shake your hand love and/or worship you for what you produce, or the feeling that out of all of these people, this celebrity came up to me, hugged me and shook my hand and let me take a picture with her. I am special. I am unique. I am loved.

Sometimes the person you own (your Celebrity) will do things of which you do not approve. Then you must confront that person, explain your feelings and your intent, and when they refuse to listen, you must find a gun and confront them in their apartment building and then kill them, because death is the final message one must convey to those oblivious to your logic. At least, this is how fanatics and admirers process information. It does not matter that she may lie in a pool of blood begging for her life, you have become (and always were) her God, and she must die for disappointing you.

Sean Donnelly’s 2008 no-budget documentary, I Think We’re Alone Now skates a fine line between harboring sympathy for the obviously distressed, gullible, and borderline personalities of “career” Tiffany stalkers, Jeff Turner and Kelly McCormick, and crossing that line completely by indulging in their bizarre fantasies and whims. After watching the movie, I read some reviews, and it seems that writers aren’t comfortable calling these people stalkers. They use phrases like “accused” and “identified as stalkers” rather than calling them what they are. I suppose Donnelly’s point is that these people are just like us, just kooky and eccentric, which is admirable if completely untrue. Perhaps Tiffany, while terrified at the age of 16 by Turner’s antics, is coming to peace with the sad reality that Turner was just, in the end, a devoted fan. Who knows?

Some reviewers point to the perceived element of exploitation – that of displaying Jeff and Kelly’s apparent psychosis and escalating fantasy. They believe Donnelly is using the two stars of the documentary for their entertainment value instead of exploring the subject of this most unusual affection, but that is the nature of film (and documentary, really). All film is exploitative. It is designed to induce reaction. Since the film rests on the actions of Jeff and Kelly, they are, by far, the most interesting people in the piece.

Let’s forget all of the unpleasantness for just a fleeting moment and remember, just try to remember that celebrities (like most people) are not worth your time. They tend to be puppets on strings (with brains to match). Is it worth it for you to wrap your life around a puppet? If there is one piece of advice I can offer – this goes for celebrities as well as their stalkers and admirers – it is this: You’re not as important as you think you are. You will eventually be forgotten, marginalized, brushed aside, and then ridiculed, and possibly shot in your apartment building.

You’re not as important as you think you are, and you never will be.

It’s not as if I don’t feel sympathy for those who cannot grasp this very simple process. I understand that the world has become a very small place; a very small place replete with celebrity – that everyone will eventually have a reality television show for fifteen minutes and get to bathe in self-love and adoration until they are taken down, torn apart, and humiliated (that’s the price you pay for fame). I do feel sorry for these people, because they don’t understand. They are born into a world of ignorance that very few can understand. They are born to follow and then, ultimately, devour you. They own you, and they will always own you.


David Lawler has written for Film Threat, VHS Rewind, Second Union, and his own blog, Misadventures in BlissVille. Lawler has produced several podcasts including That Twilighty Show About That Zone, Two Davids Walk Into A Bar (with co-host David Anderson), EQ Lawler/Saltz (with Alex Saltz), and Upstairs at Froelich's (with co-host John Froelich).

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