If you ask madman rocker Ted Nugent for an autograph, he won’t give you one even though he’s a celebrity and he wants to honor his fans. Why is Ted shunning signing his name? The answer is both human and economic.
Ted — avowed Vegan enemy and animal killer and eater — refuses to sign his name because he knows the autograph hounds who hound him are not fans, but rather merchants looking to get his signature on an item so they can resell it on eBay.
Ted rightly wonders, in the following video, why he should give away his valuable name and get nothing from the exchange when the autograph seeker is making money off his signature on the backend. The autograph hound’s response to Ted’s inquiry is to offer him money to sign their junk. Ted rightly refuses:
Do you think Ted Nugent should be required to sign autographs for his fans — any “fan” — or can he refuse in whole or by degree as he so wishes?
I think if Ted met someone who genuinely wanted his autograph, and who was a real fan, he wouldn’t think twice to sign. You easily know those who are earnest because they want the signature personalized to them.
The for-profit autograph seekers just want his signature because personalizing it to “Aunt Mary” drops the value of the signature to a narrow niche in the reseller market to those who happened to be called “Aunt Mary.”
Celebrities may not own their privacy in public — but they can, and should! — be free to protect their own good name in a signature by refusing to sign their John Hancock.
Autograph seeking began as a ploy to meet a celebrity and to later provide proof to your friends that you actually met someone famous. That connection, in an ever-tempering and compressive world, is not as dear as it once was.
I am reminded of comedian Steve Martin’s ploy 30 years ago to give autograph seekers a printed business card that said only — “I Met Steve Martin” — in a quaint, and condescending, attempt to assuage a fan’s desire to want a connective totem without signing away your identity.