Now that you're not so busy, maybe you can read my letter...
June 10, 2008 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Have you ever written to a celebrity who has fallen from grace? Especially one who landed really, really hard?

For the record, the person I'm thinking of writing to is Chris Langham. I've enjoyed a ton of his work but Help and The Thick of It are masterpieces. On one hand if I were in his shoes, I'd like to hear from people who like my work. On the other hand I don't buy his Townshendian explanation about why he did what he did and don't want to present myself as an unquestioning admirer. On yet another hand it seems the odds of getting a response is higher in these circumstances than it would be in other, better times.

Have you ever contacted a similarly situated celeb? How did/would you weigh these issues?
posted by the christopher hundreds to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I've never contacted a celeb in writing, since I usually interact with them in person. But, the worst that could happen in any case is that you won't get a response... what would you lose - a few minutes writing a letter? Just do it!
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:06 PM on June 10, 2008


as someone who used to work with celebrities, my advice (in general) is to write as if you don't know the person at all. because you don't.

you may know their characters, or their public persona, or what's been in the papers, but you don't know them.

if you address his troubles, that's rude i think. so i'm a little confused, you're either a fan or you're not a fan. you can't write and say "great job! sucks you're a crim." that's the sort of thing he has friends tell him, not random strangers.

if you want an autograph, write and ask for it and leave it at that.

if you're using his current misfortune to gain an advantage, you might want to think about the ethics of that behavior. it sounds a bit unbecoming, sorry.
posted by xz at 8:15 PM on June 10, 2008


if you're using his current misfortune to gain an advantage, you might want to think about the ethics of that behavior. it sounds a bit unbecoming, sorry.

No need to apologize, I thought that, too. It's part of the reason I asked...
posted by the christopher hundreds at 8:35 PM on June 10, 2008


I think not addressing the criminal allegations, trial or sentence is the way to go. You enjoyed his work, so just say so.

If you don't want to appear to be a fan of someone whose character you don't admire, then don't write. If you are addressing him, as an author whose work you enjoyed, in the hopes of getting a reply, "Hi, I loved this book and that book, especially blah blah blah..." is perfectly fine.

What you don't want to do is come off sounding like, "Hey, that book was far more brilliantly imagined than that fake defense you made up for your own trial. Could you sign this picture and pre-date it so everyone will think I got it before we all found out you were a pervert who downloaded kiddie porn? KTHXBYE."
posted by misha at 8:38 PM on June 10, 2008


On the other hand I don't buy his Townshendian explanation about why he did what he did and don't want to present myself as an unquestioning admirer. On yet another hand it seems the odds of getting a response is higher in these circumstances than it would be in other, better times.

You are not going into this with the best of intentions. As reflected in the bolded passage above, you are contemplating capitalizing on his misfortune in the hope that, because he is now scorned, he will be more likely to respond to you. Your plan really doesn't seem ... cool.
posted by jayder at 8:43 PM on June 10, 2008


What's your goal in writing to this person?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:48 PM on June 10, 2008


I did contact a sort-of celeb with a sort-of similar situation. I ignored the situation entirely, focused on this person's creative output which I so admired, and abandoned any intention of gaming the situation to get a response. Got a nice response.
posted by TheManChild2000 at 9:08 PM on June 10, 2008


What's your goal in writing to this person?

I'm just interested in learning a little more about what makes him tick. I imagine that's not something anyone gushes about to a fan as it's none of our business, curious though we may be. I suppose that I should have thought about my question a little more. I guess I'm interested in whether anyone has gotten to the point where a celebrity has opened up a little in a pen pal sort of way. I'm not interested in publicity stills or autographs.

To clarify on the not-seeming-cool part of the question: I've never written a celebrity before because I never imagined they would respond. I've come close but always imagined it to be a waste of time. After rewatching some of his programs, I was struck again with the urge to attempt to contact someone whose work I admired. This time the celeb may (or may not) be more willing to spend time corresponding with fans than others due to negative circumstances. It crossed my mind. Perhaps it's skeevy, but there it is.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 9:26 PM on June 10, 2008


I can't imagine how I could have fit "imagine" into that comment three frigging times
posted by the christopher hundreds at 9:30 PM on June 10, 2008


Of course, in the age of automated Google searches for one's own name, I suppose it's possible that he could pop into this thread at any moment now.

Although I said your plan doesn't seem "cool," I also don't think it's terrible. Shit, who knows what will happen. While I am counseling you that the plan doesn't seem cool, maybe he loves getting mail from fans, regardless of their motivations. If I were famous, I can imagine I would relish getting fan mail.
posted by jayder at 10:01 PM on June 10, 2008


fair enough.

i think if you want to start a dialog with him, write an intelligent letter. fan mail gets fan mail response.

you aren't interested in his misfortune so leave it out. if you wouldn't write him if he wasn't in a spot, don't write him. if you'd write him anyway, then it's irrelevant.

i think regardless of his situation, you'd be lucky to get a real response. what may help is offering something of yourself. celebrities (generalizing now, obviously) are constantly being asked for things; pictures, autographs, attention. that's sort of dehumanizing. NOT asking for something is refreshing.
posted by xz at 10:05 PM on June 10, 2008



I've only written to a celebrity of sorts once. Back in high school I wrote a letter to famous author whom I'd just discovered and loved. Bless her, she wrote me back a 9 page hand written letter answering all my questions and posing more of me. That's class.
posted by trixare4kids at 10:57 PM on June 10, 2008


I'm just interested in learning a little more about what makes him tick. I imagine that's not something anyone gushes about to a fan as it's none of our business, curious though we may be. I suppose that I should have thought about my question a little more. I guess I'm interested in whether anyone has gotten to the point where a celebrity has opened up a little in a pen pal sort of way. I'm not interested in publicity stills or autographs.

I imagine that someone in Langham's position would be very, very suspicious about unsolicited contact, and that he would assume all such contact came from tabloid journalists or plain nutcases. I imagine that he would be sensible to assume this. More than most celebrities, he would be highly unlikely to "open up"or to give you some clue about "what makes him tick".
posted by cincinnatus c at 1:48 AM on June 11, 2008


I don't know about actors, but I've written a few "fan emails" to writers after I've just finished their books and feel wildly enthusiastic about them. In each case I've gotten a nice email back. I think that writers (especially mid-listers, maybe not so much the big famous ones) do honestly appreciate hearing from readers. But probably not really the kind of personal exchange you seem to be looking for.
posted by footnote at 4:24 AM on June 11, 2008


Back in the early days of the Internet, one famous UK celebrity fell on some sympathetically self-inflicted hard times, and decided to drop out of the public spotlight for a while.

Then he created a web page, which I stumbled across. There was some cool animation stuff on it (animated GIFs! Hawt!) on it - so I emailed him and asked him how he did that. He graciously replied, and asked me how I'd done something on mine. Totally avoided the whole celeb angle.

It got to the point when he graciously contributed twice to a couple of my university projects, and basically saved my degree. Although he doesn't return my phone calls now, damnit ;-)

Moral of the story: If you're going to write to a person of creative repute:
- Have something to say
- Be nice in how you say it
- Don't come over all "OMG! You're THAT guy, dudes!"

and in this case, I wouldn't refer to his current problems at all. And if you're a young woman, he would soooo smell a rat, it'd be unreal.
posted by electriccynic at 5:39 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


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