i stole this off sickamongthepure.net. even if you dont like nine inch nails, just replace NIN with any band you like, and you’ll find this absolutely hysterical. it explains the psychosis that mega fans suffer from. there is an email link to the guy who wrote it at the end, dunno if it’s a permanent email or what, but whatever. read it, it’s rad.
Consider this, if you will: the average fan of Nine Inch Nails owns approximately 29 pieces of paraphernalia. 29 pieces. The average. My personal collection contains somewhere in the realm of 50 pieces, but I won’t bore you by bragging about it, something far too many fan sites do these days. Instead, I’ll focus on the phenomena of collecting itself, and why we as fans feel it necessary to spend the equivalent of a third-world nation’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product, for those of you who read nothing but NIN-related news) on well, just stuff.
Initially, your typical fan has no clue who Nine Inch Nails is. Instead, he (I’m not going to bother with the whole ‘s/he’ thing for all of you liberalists…it’s too much of a pain in the fucking arse) happens to have his ass parked on the couch, most likely quaffing a frothy brew, when a friend insists that the next CD in the stereo be Nine Inch Nails. This yet-to-be-enlightened individual typically argues with his friend, not because he dislikes NIN, but because he assumes he will dislike NIN. As so many of us can attest to, this individual may eventually be turned (see ‘Conversion’ in the March issue of SATP), and soon becomes a fan. Several months later, he typically enters the rabid stage of collection.
The initial stage of Nine Inch Nails “fan-dom” we will simply label the ‘rookie’ stage. The rookie NIN fan starts out by purchasing the basic CDs: Pretty Hate Machine, The Downward Spiral, and The Fragile. The rookie becomes more and more involved in NIN, learning the lyrics, discovering the nuances of Trent Reznor’s art, which appeals to so many. He becomes more entranced in Reznor’s world, submerging himself in impossible melodies and textures that are churned so deftly from Reznor’s fingertips. Like a crack addict, the Rookie is hooked.
The rookie then undergoes a fundamental change in his very chemical make-up, and his newfound self is more commonly labeled as a ‘fan.’ The fan has become more deeply entrenched in the music of Nine Inch Nails. He learns Trent Reznor’s unique cataloging system, and sets out to find each and every Halo. The truly adept fan even discovers the different versions of Halos, such as Head Like A Hole (Opal). At this point, the fan is spending far more time than usual in record shops, seeking out new Halos to further add to his collection. And although his pay-cheques have not yet begun to feel any major aftershocks, he is certainly spending more of his funds than usual on music. Again, like a crack addict, he sees a good portion of his income going towards his addiction.
Once the Halo collection has been completed, the fan typically becomes frustrated. He comes to the stark realization that there are no more Halos to collect, and like many of us, must eagerly await Reznor’s next commercial release. He may even become surly, disgruntled, and downright angry that there are no more Nine Inch Nails albums to collect. If you ever happen upon a NIN fan in this stage, I beseech you to approach them with extreme caution. Undue care and consideration cannot be considered over-the-top when dealing with a fan at this critical turning point. However, with the right mentor to guide him through this difficult time, and if the fan is intelligent enough (ahhh, there’s so few of us these days), he will discover a whole new collectible world.
True catharsis for the fan comes at this point: when the rookie emerges from the chrysalis of change, he becomes the Obsessive-Compulsive. The Obsessive-Compulsive, or OC, no longer differentiates between worthwhile and worthless objects. He purchases anything and everything NIN-related that he possibly could get his grubby little mitts on. Bootlegs, magazines, videos, LPs, old equipment, autographed memorabilia, T-shirts…the list is virtually endless. At this point in the game, funds are rapidly depleted. Food and clothing become optional, whereas an original, sealed vinyl edition of Broken becomes a necessity. An autographed keyboard personally smashed up by Trent Reznor becomes the Holy Grail.
I am sure we can all relate to this stage (you don’t have a NIN T-shirt? Yeah, right!). However, there comes a certain point when a person really has to step back and declare, in an authoritative voice, “Whoa.” Think about it. How much money annually gets spent to NIN-related products? I shudder to think about it. Third-world debts could probably be eradicated through these expenditures alone. And the terrible thing is, the shit we buy is absolutely inane. Been on eBay( lately and executed a search on Nine Inch Nails? There’s usually in the realm of 500 items up for auction, ranging from rare bootlegs and autographed posters, to commonplace crap that simply isn’t worth paying even the shipping and handling! For instance, you can pick up nothing Studio’s old equipment for some serious coin, or you can actually waste your time placing bids on a fucking sticker!
And what happens to all this great stuff? We buy it! Why? Don’t know, must have. This is the simplified thought process of the OC: buy now, think later. We spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on NIN-related junk to prove to ourselves that we’re true fans, through and through. Many of us are true collectors, relishing acquiring a new piece of memorabilia, but at the end of the day, we’re still wasting our money, just like the OC. That money could be put to far better use, such as finding a cure for cancer or AIDS. But still, like zombies, we plod on, purchasing like fiends, leaving a smoking trail of credit card fumes and empty wallets behind us.
Why, dear reader, do we feel compelled to spend so bloody much money on collecting NIN-related crap? I can’t count the number of times friends of mine have looked at me and ruefully shook their heads, after I’ve announced my most recent purchase. And still we buy more. A rational person really has to look at himself with a certain amount of mirth when you consider how fanatical our buying patterns can be. Perhaps we are trying to fill a hole that was left inside us when Daddy declined our request for that new Barbie or G.I. Joe when we were a kid. Perhaps, by amassing a huge collection, we are subconsciously returning to that time in our childhood when Mommy broke our huge cookie into two pieces, thereby ruining the whole experience of having a huge cookie. Or, perhaps we’re just a few fries short of a Happy Meal. Anyway you look at it, we’re certainly feeding the fire of those who look at us and comment on our unbalanced behaviour. I would certainly criticize someone for purchasing a gross amount of ‘N Sync paraphernalia, wouldn’t you? I just thank the powers that be that I have taste.
Virtually everyone has a hobby of some type. For some, it may be shooting a round of golf in a far-off, distant land. For some, it may be collecting vintage comic books and preserving them in pristine, mint condition. And still for others, it may be shoveling excess quantities of fine, white powder up their noses in a vain attempt to find Nirvana. Regardless of the hobby, we as humans feel compelled to occupy our spare time with private passions. Your typical NIN fan is no exception. We too, feel compelled to collect, pursue, and study our passion. Ours just happens to be slightly more difficult and slightly more specific than your average hobby. But does this mean that NIN fans are essentially the same as your average human being? Are NIN fans reduced to the same basic level as every other idiot in the world? Certainly not! We have the taste and class to pursue a hobby worth pursuing, unlike your average schmuck who contents himself with your more basic hobbies (philatelics everywhere, eat your heart out!). But, I must give credit where credit is due: for those who pursue the hobby of heroin, Kudos! Yours is truly a noble hobby that you pursue with a morbid, “‘Till Death Do You Part” vehemence. You’re definitely one step up from us regular NIN fans, and although I have as yet to be recognized as the voice of the NIN-generation (now that is a cool demographic label), I think I can safely speak for everyone, dear reader, when I say I’m happy to be runner-up in this category.
Note: The figure listed as an average at the onset of this article was pulled directly from the author’s ass. It has absolutely no realistic value or meaning, and in no way does the author assume responsibility for it. But it sure made for a good opener, eh?