I attended my first big ‘con this year, DragonCon inAtlanta, Ga.  One of the things I wasmost looking forward to was seeing a few celebrities and maybe (with a littleluck) get an autograph or two.  Imaginemy shock when I found out that all the celebrities in attendance charge fortheir autographs.  I found this ratherdisconcerting and a little appalling.  Ifumed about it openly as I wandered through the crowds of people in line seeingjust how many people were shelling out upwards of seventy dollars for somecelebrity signatures.
Over the next couple of days I spoke with other attendeesand I got mixed opinions on the subject. Some were very understanding with my frustration over the matter, whileothers got downright hostile with me for even questioning why.  How dare I challenge any celebrities for thepractice?  I found that this was a prettyheated subject with very outwardly opinionated people on both sides.  Those that were willing to discuss the mattercalmly with me offered up some very good reasons both pro and con.
I know I am going to catch a lot of flak over this articleand I have stressed all week about even writing it.  But it seems like a very valid subject tobring up and I have tried my best to present both sides as equally and fairlyas I can.  If you have an opinion on thisand want to share it then I welcome you to do so, but let’s keep this friendly.
Pro Reason #1 – Safety. That’s a pretty broad subject so let me explain.  It comes down to simple crowd control.  The lines at these events can get pretty longand as time wears on, people get short tempered and nerves get frayed.  Charging for autographs tend to keep thelines manageable.  Only people willing topay are going to stand in line, and let’s face it, not everyone is willing orable to pay for a celebrity autograph. If they were signing for free, the lines would grow too long to dealwith.  Not to mention that the celebrity’stime is limited.  They usually schedule multipletimes to be in the signing gallery, but the hard truth is that they will notget to everyone who wants an autograph.
Pro Reason #2 – Resellers. If the autographs were given for free, that could and quite possiblywould encourage resellers to get as many signatures as they could and thenresell them for large amounts of money.  Thispractice was quite common before it was curtailed by most celebrities.   Theysee it as other people making money from their name and when you get right downto it, it really isn’t fair for the celebrity. It’s bad enough that people try to pass off fake celebrity autographs tounsuspecting fans.
Pro Reason #3 – Celebrity time.  Most celebrities are not paid to attend theseevents.  They come on their own and oftenat their own expense.  They do it for thefans and not to make money from it.  Atthe same time, some celebrities aren’t paid the substantial salaries mostpeople think they do.  Sometimes themoney they make at these events is simply to cover their travel costs.  Would it make you feel better if you learnedthey were giving the money they made from autographs to charity?
Con Reason #1 – Only true fans are willing to pay.  This is a pretty insulting statement to hearsomeone make.  What makes you a biggerfan than me?  Your willingness or abilityto pay for an autograph?  That is pretty presumptuousof anyone who might think this.  Yousimply can’t judge someone’s fan devotion based on their willingness to pay acelebrity for their autograph.  This isthe number one reason that gets me upset the most.  To hear someone explain it with this shouldbe insulting to anyone.  The size of yourwallet doesn’t determine how big a fan of someone you are.
Con Reason #2 – Celebrities make enough money as it is.  This is just the opposite of Pro Reason#3.  Some celebrities make a boatload ofcash, probably more than most of us will see in our lifetime.  Is it really fair for them to charge theirfans for an autograph?  Will taking mythirty or forty dollars push them over the edge in the “I Make More Money thanTom Hanks Contest”?  Some fans see thatas arrogance or greed on the part of the celebrity and I can certain see how itcan look that way.
Con Reason #3 – They wouldn’t be famous if it weren’t fortheir fans.  That’s a pretty powerfulstatement and true for the most part.  Does it diminish a celebrity in a fan’s eye toknow that they charge for autographs?  Itprobably does in some cases.  “I don’thave the seventy dollars to pay for David Copperfield’s signature, so I amgoing to boycott everything he does from now on.”  I’m sure that has happened more than once.  I am sure it would touch any celebrity onsome level to know that they alienated a fan for any reason.  Simply put, if you lose your fans, you loseyour livelihood.
Suffice to say that I don’t agree with all of these reasonspro or con and I have tried to be fair to both sides of the argument.  I’m not trying to change the world by writingthis and I will probably draw some pretty nasty comments, I’m okay withthat.  It’s nice to spark a littlehealthy debate now and then.  Whether youfall on one side or another it is something that angers a lot of fans.  I have to admit that I was appalled when Ifound this out and I was a little angry. Is that going to stop me from being a fan of these celebrities?  No way! I will however be a little more selective of just who I want to solicitautographs from; I’m not a millionaire you know. 
Maybe one day, I will be a famous celebrity and I will haveto make a choice whether I charge a fan for an autograph.  You never know until you walk a mile in a man’sshoes do you?  Like I said, I am nottrying to change the world with this.  Itis just a subject that has been weighing heavily on me for the past fewdays.  Like an itch you can’t scratch,you just have to do something with it before it drives you nuts.  I’m probably not going to change anyone’s mindeither, and that’s fine too.  I wanted toput aside my own opinions and represent both sides fairly.  Hate me if you must.
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