Member No.: 1
Joined: 23-August 01
| Dear connick.com members,
As the holiday tour draws to a close, I feel that I need to address a few very disturbing trends that have arisen over the past few tours. More specifically, many of the regulars from this forum have been casting an increasingly bad light on this community, and I can no longer ignore the fact that the connick.com discussion forum is currently doing more harm than good. Before anyone asks, this communication was NOT prompted by any single event; rather, it is my response to a significant number of things I have observed or heard about over the past year or so.
The three major trends are as follows: inappropriate behavior, unrealistic expectations, and competitiveness.
After reading many of the tour threads and talking to individuals who have attended shows with connick.com contingents, I am appalled at some of the grossly inappropriate behavior that has been going on during concerts. People from connick.com have been described to me by more than one person as "out of control" and "people in their 20s and 30s with a teenage mentality". Here is a sampling of what I am talking about:
- People are talking amongst themselves. A lot. In the front row, in plain view of Harry. This is not only disruptive to other concertgoers but also discourteous to Harry.
- People in the front row are not only eating, but passing food around. Again, this is all occurring in plain view of the stage. That is just downright disrespectful to Harry, not to mention it violates the rules of just about all of the upscale concert venues Harry has played in. This is not a movie theatre, it is a live musical performance in a serious venue. Have some common decency.
- People are making calls on their cell phones. While the "Harry calls" are a nice gesture to those who can't attend, the bottom line is that it is extremely disrespectful to Harry, in addition to violating venue rules in most cases. Compounding the problem is the fact that the offenders are almost always in the front row, in plain view of Harry.
- People are walking up to the stage uninvited and handing Harry various items. This is not your show, it is Harry's. Disrupting the show in this fashion detracts from Harry's ability to run his show the way HE wants to, because he is forced to respond in some way to whatever he is handed.
- People are throwing things on stage. This is pretty much the same as handing him things, but showing even greater disrespect.
- People are taking photos, in direct violation of Harry's requests and the rules of the venue. If Harry doesn't want photos taken, everyone needs to respect that and stop sneaking photos against his wishes. Thankfully, there are not a lot of people doing this but there are at least a handful, mostly newer members. You know who you are -- stop being selfish, and obey the rules.
- People are yelling things out. Again, if Harry has posed a question to the audience then he is inviting people to respond. If he hasn't, yelling something to grab his attention is just sophomoric and once again, disruptive to the show.
- People are holding up signs. This is not a Britney Spears or American Idol concert. Despite the fact that Harry is a consummate entertainer, people need to remember that these are serious musicians up on stage, and the show should only be as interactive as Harry wants to make it. When people hold up signs until they get a response, it is disruptive to Harry, the band, and the people sitting behind. What's even worse is people holding up signs asking for favors.
As you can see, the overarching concern here is that people are behaving in a way that is disruptive to the show. Think of it this way: Even though Harry is adept at playing off these unwanted distractions and exploiting the humor value, it doesn't necessarily mean that he welcomes the distractions. Sure, sometimes he does choose to interact with the audience when he wants to give the band a short break. But any interactive portions of the show should be 100% up to him, not something that he is forced into by the behavior of unruly fans. Harry has always had an uncanny ability to entertain, and in years past he has never had to rely on audience stimuli to do that.
I realize that some of you have been to a considerable number of shows and have met Harry on many occasions. However, this familiarity does not mean that normal theater-going etiquette should be ignored. Everyone in the audience paid good money to attend, and they deserve to be able to enjoy the show as Harry would want to deliver it. In short, they have just as much right to a good show as connick.com members do. And there is no reason to think that acting appropriately will make concerts any less enjoyable than they are now.
When the connick.com discussion forum first started, a lot of people didn't know about fan club seating or the existence of meet and greets. People were genuinely thrilled and thankful to have the opportunity to experience a concert from the front row and get an autograph from Harry after the show. Many people now take these privileges for granted, even though there are very few performers who provides such great perks and access to their fans.
Building on the Inappropriate Behavior discussion, I strongly believe that the behavior of some of the "freaks" may end up jeopardizing these privileges for present and future connick.com members, perhaps even those who were not contributors to the problem. This does not necessarily mean to imply that privileges will be taken away entirely, but suffice it to say that tour security as well as management know a LOT of the multiple concert-goers by name.
In addition to taking these privileges for granted, people are becoming more and more brazen in their willingness to outright ask for favors and/or special treatment! I have heard of some people begging the fan club for backstage passes or holding up signs requesting them (tacky). I have heard of people showing up at the meet and greets with a dozen CD inserts for Harry to sign when we all know people are supposed to limit themselves to a single item. In addition, a lot of people have begun to expect a photo with Harry (again, in direct violation of his rules). Many times, he will oblige these requests because he loves his fans, but he shouldn't be put in that position. We should be happy at the opportunity to meet Harry without feeling the need to constantly ask for additional things. For some reason, people seem to be feeling a sense of entitlement to perks by virtue of the fact that they have attended a lot of concerts or because Harry and/or the band members know them by name.
Every time any sort of public appearance is in the works, I hear of people flooding Wilkins Management with phone calls and e-mails begging for information. This is rude and only serves to delay things, since the fan club has to spend time answering all the calls and e-mails rather than focusing on more important things. When has the fan club EVER withheld information on how to get tickets for something? If they have information, they send it out as soon as it is ready. If they haven't released information, chances are they either don't know or certain details haven't been finalized yet. Let these people do their jobs and stop pestering them unless there is a really good reason. For the record, this is not something that Paul or anyone else asked me to say, it is just common courtesy.
I'm not the only one who has observed a growing trend of competitiveness among board members. It seems people are just interested in one-upping each other and will go to any length to do so. The latest rage seems to be finding a way to attract attention during the concert in the hopes of being personally acknowledged by Harry. The show is not about us, it is about Harry and the band.
As if that weren't bad enough, there have been instances of catty and outright malicious behavior by certain connick.com members to others. Nobody expects all of us to get along and I am not trying to force anybody to get along. Cliques are bound to form in a group of this size. But if you don't like someone, just don't interact with them. There is absolutely no need to go out of your way to embarrass or humiliate them. We are not in junior high, we are adults! Anyone who goes out of their way to personally hurt somebody else should be ashamed. I'm sure a lot more of this happens than I'm even aware of.
Finally, I don't want to speak for any of the band members, but there is a feeling that a lot of connick.com people are going overboard in accosting the guys in the band after the show. I have to imagine that they are being put in somewhat of an uncomfortable situation with people competing for their attention and soliciting information all the time. If I were trying to promote my own solo career, I wouldn't do anything to alienate potential fans. But even the band members have been instructed to keep quiet with certain people because information inevitably leaks out in the discussion forum and they end up getting in trouble.
Conclusion: Freaks, In a Bad Way
All of these things -- inappropriate behavior, unrealistic expectations, and competitiveness -- have tarnished the reputation of connick.com. The familiar tag line of "Freaks... but in a good way" is no longer accurate. When I first met Brendan, the tour manager, at the Boston concert a few days ago, I was genuinely embarrassed to be affiliated with connick.com. Not to mention, everyone in the room was staring at us. Then, I felt compelled to spend the limited time I had with Harry apologizing for the behavior of others (not the first time this has happened).
Here is some food for thought: There are a lot of people in the fan club that are not connick.com regulars. At the Boston show we attended, there were at least 90 fan club tickets sold to people who are not active members of the connick.com community. The majority of them acted appropriately during the concert. My point here is that connick.com is now the anomaly. As much as it saddens me to admit it, connick.com has become somewhat of a bad seed in an otherwise normal bunch. This is something I have seen happening over the past year but have been reluctant to act on, primarily to avoid the inevitable backlash. However, I have worked hard to maintain this website for a long time, and I do not want to continue seeing our once-proud name dragged through the mud by a few dozen people who don't know how to act in public.
I realize that some people are not going to respond well to this message, as they will feel that I am trying to make them act differently than is natural to them (the old "If I can't be myself..." argument). That is fine, I can't force anybody to change. However, I am asking people to step back, re-read this entire message, and think about the points I've raised from an objective point of view. If you still feel that it's unreasonable to expect you to tone down your behavior accordingly, I simply ask that you no longer identify yourself as being "from connick.com" when introducing yourself to others or interacting at concerts (this includes clothing, etc). And just in case this point wasn't already abundantly clear, please do not hold up a sign with the words "connick.com" anywhere on it.
I believe we as a community have the potential to be a tier above the rest of fans. We are more knowledgeable and well-informed than many fans, but unfortunately many of us also seem to be more obnoxious and childish. Instead, we should take pride in NOT being "that guy/girl" who is constantly disrupting Harry's shows. This message is the first step in putting a disturbing past behind us and returning to the day when connick.com was not a negative term. I sincerely hope that this will serve as a turning point for us. It is time to bring some class back to connick.com.
Thanks for your attention.
I hate signature blocks.