In a previous post, I shared that parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships between a media user toward a media persona.
In that post, I also shared some films that portray a funny, romantic way that the line between a fan and media becomes intersected. Of course, it isn’t perfect, but it still isn’t that scary.
But that isn’t always the case. Here are some films that show the more dangerous side of parasocial relationships:
In real life, we have seen this, such as a stalker targeting their favorite model or singer (think Kendall Jenner or Lily Allen’s cases). The most infamous form is when a man tried to assassinate Ronald Reagan because of his favorite film, Taxi Driver and wanted to “help” Jodie Foster. In the film, Foster plays a child prostitute. In real life, however, Foster was a Yale student who happened to play a child prostitute just a few years ago.
Here are some films that show worst-case scenarios
Ingrid Goes West (2017): A mentally unstable fan (played by Aubrey Plaza) of an influencer (Elizabeth Olsen) moves to the west coast, determined to become the influencer’s friend. She succeeds for a time, but things start to unravel quickly. Olsen’s seemingly perfect life isn’t perfect at all, and Plaza’s mental health deteriorates fast. This film shows a new form of media persona, not a musician or actor or athlete but of a real person, and how that works with followers turned fans.
Misery (1990): A famous writer gets into a car accident in the middle of nowhere. Luckily for him, his biggest fan lives nearby and offers to help him get better. Then things turn from bad to worse. This novel turned film portrays obsession in the worst possible way, and no one is left unscathed.
Nurse Betty (2000): Though a comedy, it shows how a woman (played by Renee Zellweger) becomes delusional after witnessing her husband’s murder. She copes by believing her favorite soap opera is real and goes to meet her crush, the handsome Dr. David Ravell (but really, it is just an actor playing a doctor, and here it is played by Greg Kinnear). This film is more than just about fans, it is a cat and mouse game, but it does show how people use media to cope with trauma and the consequences that might happen to do so.