No Autographs Please (or Sign on the Bottom Line)

Cropped from Image:Us_declaration_independence...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has long been a staple of fandom: that scrawl of ink across a piece of paper that announces to the world that you met, er… what’s his name. You know, he was in that thing with that girl you like.

I never ask for autographs. I would certainly never pay for one. There is no one on the planet who enthralls me so much that I would spend hours standing in line, only to shell out fifty dollars or more, just for the privilege of having them sign their name. And that may not even include the DVD or book or whatever.

Now don’t get me wrong. Many, if not most celebrities are willing to give you their time for free, assuming you are not a creepy stalker who is trying to get a blood sample so you can clone them. And if you can find a bunch of suckers who will hand over cash just to meet you – well, it’s nice work if you can get it. All I’m saying is I don’t want to have any part of it.

The last time I did ask for an autograph, it was from an indie band that I went to see play at a local club. I bought the CD from the merchant table (because the band gets the biggest cut that way) and, as they were right there and other people were asking, I got them to autograph it. Not long afterward, the band broke up and was never heard from again. So, although I know it’s silly and impossible, I always associate my asking for autographs with ending careers. It is my curse. (Maybe I should test this theory with Justin Beiber.) That album is still one of my favorites though. (Not the Beiber, the other one.)

Pooh Signs Autographs at the Hundred Acre Wood
Pooh Signs Autographs at the Hundred Acre Wood (Photo credit: Samantha Decker)

In truth, it is one of those silly traditions that I wish people would just stop. Like handshaking, Christmas trees, and blowing out candles on your birthday cake when you are more than ten years old. (Mmm…spit.) It was fine when it was limited to major sports stars signing the game-winning ball, or an author scribbling a personal note at a book signing, but this generation has turned autographs into an industry, with fraud that rivals the art world. The reason is simple – money. A famous person’s doodle can net you cold hard cash. The Internet has only accelerated the trend, connecting collectors and dealers all around the world.

Autograph of Charlemagne
Autograph of Charlemagne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People have collected signatures for centuries, but it was not until recently that it gained the kind of fervour usually reserved for saints and boy bands. Documents traded in the past were as much for their historical significance and the content of the correspondence as for the name that accompanied them. Now anything can have your John Hancock scrawled on it, from butts to…um, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you.

Isn’t it enough to meet someone you admire. I prefer the modern tradition of taking a picture with a celebrity. It shows you met them, it’s harder to fake than a signature, and it’s intimately personal. Now that almost everyone carries a camera around with them at all times, can we put the cap back on the Sharpie?

Also, if when I am rich and famous, I will sign your breasts, but only if you promise to get the tattoo.

Autograph session @ Windhoek, Namibia
Autograph session @ Windhoek, Namibia (Photo credit: kaysha)
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Crazed recluse and sociophobe who has taken up writing after failing at everything else. Send pizza.

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6 comments on “No Autographs Please (or Sign on the Bottom Line)
  1. vyvacious says:

    Careful what you ask for, this girl actually DOES tattoo artists’ autographs to her body.

    http://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/the-girl-with-13-celebrity-autographs-tattooed-379849

    Crazy, huh?

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    • I am of the opinion that the only names you should get tattooed on your body are your kids or parents. Even spouses are too often temporary.

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      • vyvacious says:

        That’s true about the whole spouse bit. I’m constantly changing in terms of my likes and dislikes that I can’t personally see myself with a tattoo because the next week I’ll want something else in the same place or maybe I’ll tattoo myself to the point where my true skin color is not visible anymore. Haha. I’ve learned to just get temporary tattoos at this point 😛

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  2. PLEEEEEEASE Get Justin Beiber’s autograph!!!!

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  3. autographen says:

    Basically you are right. In the last decade autograph or sales of memorabilia became an industry somehow. And worse all the topics around fraud. That is awful as behind this industry there might be some authentication companies which are sometimes accused to use their position for authenticating items what might be questionnable.
    But the same with love- isn’t that an industry as well? One might answer yes, one might answer no; it depends on your own ethics and standpoints. The same when you care about e.g. autograph letters and ” histories” of certein persons which lived in a certain period of time. You preserve part of history and you can dive into little tiny pieces if past – like in a time machine. Sometimes this helps people to forget their daily hectics. I do not want to deny that some people also think about the potential value they keep in their hands and the hope for more…

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