Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Perils of Being A "Fanilow"

What is a "Fanilow"? It's a fan of Barry Manilow. I think most people know that, but there might be a few who don't.

This past week saw a shakeup of some sorts in Manilowland. First, though, a little backstory.

For years, fans of Barry Manilow have been the butt of jokes worldwide. A few months ago, Barry was in Britain performing for a concert there called the Proms In The Park. While there, he made the circuit of talk shows and radio shows to promote it. He went on a show called Jonathan Ross and got a little bit of a surprise:

What were they showing Barry?

And Barry's reaction?

You, know, it's really a shame Barry gets sea sick.

Why would fans go so gaga over Barry and do things like this? Well, this might give you an answer: it's the gift Barry gave Jonathan Ross to give to his wife.

Barry and his management team for years have been plugging the "sex god" image with his fans. The problem is that this can draw some very interesting people to his fan base. You've seen it before, the crazed fans who become the stalkers? Not everyone is like this in Manilowland, but sadly, there are enough of them and they seem to think they should determine what can be said on the My Manilow Network.

The sweet woman who made these pictures was in tears when she saw that Barry had seen her creations and now knew that she existed. I'm not kidding.

Then we have the fans who feel that neither Barry nor his management team can do no wrong, and if you voice an opinion on there that is not so flattering towards them you get blasted for it.

Some of these people clearly exhibit signs of codependency, but that's what Barry's management love: because no matter what garbage they dish out, these are the people who keep coming back for more.

There is also the group (and a sizable one at that) who feel it's okay to spread bootlegged videos of Barry around. I remember when this was done back in the 1980's and it was always advertised by word of mouth. Now, with the advent of the internet and email, keeping things from going viral that shouldn't can be a full time job.

A little while ago a fan was posting all over the place about how they were sent a letter from the legal team representing Barry because they found out she was making and selling bootlegged dvd's of old concerts that were not available for the public to purchase. They were doing this right around the time that ManilowTV was about to come out, so everyone could see the reasoning as to why the management waited until then to do this.

People were smelling blood wanting to know who it was that ratted this "innocent" person out, and reprimanding Barry's management for going after a fan. There was no communication then, and no hotline message with their point of view sent out to the fans, so what were they to think?

Then came the message this past week:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

URGENT ManilowTV Message

Several days ago we started to receive emails from friends who were concerned that a ManilowTV subscriber in Europe had started selling illegal bootleg DVD copies of the Manilow TV broadcasts. Like all of us, they were surprised that someone who pretended to be a fan was really out to rip off Barry and all the other musicians, artists, songwriters, casts, and crews who are involved in the production of these programs. Like all of us, they were offended that someone who had previously agreed not to be a bootlegger, would again try to rip off everyone while pretending to just be a good fan. Right.

This person has again been notified by the legal team and has again promised not to engage in illegal activities. This time, however, we have also notified the authorities in the host country and have blocked all ManilowTV access for subscribers in the host country and for those associated with the bootlegger. Hopefully this will stop the bootlegger and allow ManilowTV to continue.

It’s interesting to note that quite a few European countries have bootlegging laws much stronger than the US. Bootleggers routinely face fines, prison sentences and lifetime denial of internet access for infractions that many in the US would consider minor. Hopefully, our actions and the risk of further action by local governmental authorities will encourage this person to finally stop before we are forced to shut down ManilowTV.

To all of you who took the high road and shared both your concern and
your disgust….thank you.

As you can expect there were two very heated opinions coming out of this message: Who did this? and Who turned them in? I'm not kidding, I thought I saw a few pitchforks being raised on some of the messages on the message boards.

Do I support the managements actions with this? Yes and no. Yes, I agree that something needed to be done if a fan continues to make and sell bootlegged dvd's.

However these are fans who feel they are doing Barry a favor, because they are "sharing" the love that Barry brings to their lives to others. While this is clearly illegal, it wasn't really pursued until the advent of ManilowTV. At least not publicly pursued.

The management, as well as Barry himself, have been making money for years off of these fans, taking advantage of their codependent behaviors to squeeze yet another dime out of them. There are some fans who go to almost every concert, if not every concert, Barry appears in. They feel they need their "Barry fix".

I'm glad they are finally putting their foot down about the bootlegging, it is after all illegal, but it would be nice to see Barry and his management team actually do more to bring up the topic of unhealthy behaviors with some of these people. These are wonderful people, but what's going to happen with them if Barry decides to retire?

Just another note: not everyone is like this, but there are enough of them that it should be a concern.

Just my honest opinion.

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