Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A House United

This past week Manilow fans found out that Barry’s Malibu beach house is for sale. (Sounds kind of like Barbie’s Malibu beach house, doesn’t it?) According to some online real estate sources the house has been on the market for four months. To peak interest, the selling price was dropped and the sale was made public. Pictures of the house, inside and out appeared several places online, all originating from the firm selling the house. Fans got a glimpse into Barry’s life that is not often available. Some enjoyed seeing the house while others thought the photos an invasion of Barry’s privacy. Then there was that celebrity real estate blog that brought the simmering battle among fans over Barry’s sexuality back up to a boil. That’s when I saw the common thread that joins the two warring groups. Both share a common belief – the belief that Barry Manilow is an unhappy, lonely, unfilled man. Let me explain.

Officially, fans are lead to believe that Barry Manilow’s private life is off limits to fans and the press. All anyone needs to know is that Barry’s life is music. The group who buys into this version of Barry’s life views him as a lonely man who never found his one true soul mate to complete his life. A small group of women fans think they are, in fact, that soul mate but that’s a whole different blog. The need to reach out and support this lonely man is an added draw to Barry.

Then there is the other group of fans who that believe for his entire career Barry has been forced to keep his true lifestyle a secret. Barry is seen as an unfilled man who has lived a lie for too many years. Claiming to love the music, these fans also stay around to support Barry if he ever comes out of the closet they believe he is hiding in.

Is the common thread evident to you? Both groups feel that Barry has a need for them, which he does, just not in the way they would like to think he does. An unhappy man, Barry will one day need the support both offer him. Is this not pure PR genius? Keeping Barry’s off stage life off limits to the public leads both groups of fans to believe they know the “truth” about Barry. Each group stays around so they won’t miss being proven right at some point in time. Whoever came up with this strategy is brilliant. It is working. This adds a mystique to Barry that will keep interest high for a long time to come. Great job in this day and age of celebrity media counting everything as fair game in the life of a public figure. May we fans never find out anything about Barry’s private life, because we seem to be the only ones who care.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Cult of Barry Manilow

I cruised by My Manilow Network last weekend. Why I do that is beyond me but I do. The news had broken about Barry’s June shows being canceled. What I read in the posts about the shows reminded me of a remark my husband made a few nights earlier at dinner. I had been telling him about the banning of people off of MMN because they dared to express what is considered a “negative” opinion, or some other reason known to only to the great and powerful administrator. My husband made a very insightful observation. He remarked that MMN sounded like a cult – the cult of Barry Manilow.

That is scary. Even scarier was the fact that what I read on MMN supported the cult observation. Someone posted that they had called the Hilton box office and received confirmation that the June Manilow shows were canceled. Posters immediately admonish people not to jump to conclusions until “official word” was received from the fan club. As if that wasn’t enough to support the cult theory, it was added that if the “official” word did come, no conversations should take place that theorized why the shows were canceled. Is it just me, or does anyone else hear the Twilight Zone theme music? Why would the venue, in this case the Hilton, give out false information for a show in their theater? Why is it a crime to speculate why the shows were canceled, especially in light of the “official” word when it came later that day, did not jive with the story the Hilton had given out.

I haven’t been back to read what is being posted said now. I can just stand so much. Why shouldn’t people discuss, (i.e. theorized) these cancellations? Fans that had tickets for the June shows are directly impacted and have been treated very poorly. They aren’t the only people who have been affected. Other fans who planned on going to Vegas in the future may consider it too much of a risk to base a trip on only seeing Manilow shows. This is a topic that is very important among Manilow fans. It should be discussed.

To be clear, I am not saying that everyone on MMN is part of this group that makes up the Barry Manilow cult. In face, I’m sure in the next few days we’ll be hearing about some very nice people who are now banned from the My Manilow Network because they expressed an intelligent opinion. Most will not even be aware that their opinion didn’t follow party lines as dictated by TPTB and patrolled by cult members.

Cults work in much the same manner as MMN. Members don’t think for themselves but are told what to think. They have a fear of alienating their leaders and being separated from the group. Not only do they turn on people viewed as “outsiders” but on each other as well. This comes from the need to retain their standing in the cult and scoring points with the leadership is an ongoing concern. Here is the biggie – cult members have an unrealistic view of the figurehead of the cult. Sound familiar? Read the My Manilow Network.

TPTB are missing the use of a great tool on My Manilow Network. Open, honest, respectful discussion would allow people to ask questions, express feelings, and work through the issue. Then Barry’s management could put out a statement on the MMN saying, we hear you, thanks for your concerns, we’ll do what we can. Acknowledging feelings goes a long way with people. Fans are people too.

Personally, I have never seen anything posted on MMN that has been bad enough to kick someone off. I might have not agreed, or liked what has been posted and people felt the same about me, but nothing was as bad as to remove anyone. I blogged over there for a bit. Right off the bat someone threatened to turn me in to the BMIFC. I told them to go right ahead. Be sure to spell my name right so you give them the right person. Contrary to what a small group of people believe, (cult members?) there is life outside of My Manilow Network. A pretty good one.

Self-control is the key to MMN. Cults know how to find people’s vulnerable spots. When I read over there my fingers itch to reply. I have to step back and breathe. My time can be used in much better ways. I am trying to wean myself off MMN but it is like reality shows. Even though you know the shows aren’t real something compels you to keep watching. You have to see what happens next. Wish me luck as I try to cut out My Manilow Network. It can be a hard habit to break. People’s behavior fascinates me and that is a place to see many different types of behavior. I’ll stick with the reality shows. They don’t ban people.