Dear America: Stop Paying To Shake Hands With Famous People : Monkey See Never pay hundreds of dollars to meet celebrities; you will undoubtedly be disappointed, just like thousands of people who turned out to meet the cast of Dallas.
NPR logo Dear America: Stop Paying To Shake Hands With Famous People

Dear America: Stop Paying To Shake Hands With Famous People

Avoiding fan disappointment: Don't assume you'll meet the famous people, and then you won't feel let down if they only talk to each other. Peter Larsen/Getty Images hide caption

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Peter Larsen/Getty Images

According to CNN, attendees of the Dallas reunion event at Southfork Ranch were bitterly disappointed when, because of gatecrashers and a lack of security, people who hadn't paid the entrance fee — which was hundreds of dollars — got to shake hands with Larry Hagman and other stars, while people who did pay were left standing in the back.

Now disappointed fans are crying foul because they were promised "access to the cast" and didn't get it. There is an easy solution to this problem: STOP PAYING TO SHAKE HANDS WITH FAMOUS PEOPLE.

Why fan gatherings are great, but a bounty on a picture of yourself and a star is not, after the jump...

Fan gatherings and conventions are lovely things, primarily because you get to meet other fans. Embracing your inner nerd — "You still care about this show? OH MY GOD ME TOO!" — is amusing and marvelous in a way that comes as close as you will ever come to pure whimsy.

And sometimes, famous people come to these events and mingle with fans and shake their hands, and that's wonderful, too: "Here's me with Howie Mandel!"

But when you're talking about a pure bounty, as in "I paid $400 for access to Larry Hagman," it gets...creepy. Larry Hagman up close, after all, will look a lot like Larry Hagman if you saw him on television.

These are the things that make me wonder about our relationship with fame. Being distraught because you didn't get your paid access to a person, while it's understandable from a consumer standpoint, gives the sense of blurring the line between personal relationships and fan relationships. They're very different.

If you pay $400 to see Larry Hagman and he shakes your hand, he's not shaking your hand the way your friend shakes your hand. And he's not shaking your hand because the two of you now know each other. He's shaking your hand in the same way your mail carrier delivers the mail: it's his job.

Now, if you meet Larry Hagman in the supermarket and strike up a conversation, that's a celebrity sighting in the wild, and that's always fun. You have encountered him as a person, and as long as you don't make a pest out of yourself, it makes an interesting story: "I ran into Larry Hagman at Whole Foods! He was buying edamame!"

Many celebs like meeting fans and shaking hands, especially if they've been out of the limelight for a while. If they're smart, they know they owe their careers to their fans, and they're not all secretly clock-watching, waiting for the torment to be over. (Though, not to break your heart: Some of them are.) Many of them thank you.

But ... it's better to simply know that they thank you, and to socialize with other fans who like the same thing you do, than it is to pay $400 so they can thank you personally. "I paid $400 for Larry Hagman to thank me personally AND HE DIDN'T THANK ME PERSONALLY!" Kind of takes some of the charm out of the interaction, no?

I'm not disagreeing that these people were promised something they didn't get, and as purchasers, they may deserve to be compensated. But in my ideal universe, this kind of event would be very different. Show up, meet other enthusiasts, maybe catch a handshake with someone you've watched on TV.

But it's not a zoo; it's not good to line up and pay specifically for the opportunity to walk by up close and have someone let you reach through the figurative glass that separates you from people who are or were on television, just to say you did it.