My notes on I Think We’re Alone Now (2008)
‘Theoretically, I love her right down to her bone marrow.’
An affecting, oddball documentary about two obsessive fans – verging on stalkers – who fixate on ‘80s pop star Tiffany. Jeff Turner is a Christian with asperger’s, who spins the singer’s few polite responses into a whole imagined relationship – he thinks the many security guards sicced on him at concerts are there because she wants to protect him. And he chuckles over stacks of psychology books on stalking, is blithely able to forgive restraining orders and once tried to accord Tiffany the high honour of a gift of a sword and chrysanthemums – which was misinterpreted as threatening until (he says) Emperor Hirohito phoned LAPD to explain. Looking over Tiffany’s nudie photoshoot for Playboy, he concludes ‘she did it to demonstrate and declare her and I being in love …’ Kelly McCormick is a hermaphrodite who came out of a coma after a bike accident convinced that Tiffany was his saviour and he was destined to be with her.
Documentarian Sean Donnelly follows each of the characters, interviewing them and their associates, and – in a master-stroke which ditches any notion of documentary non-intervention – brings them together at a concert, whereupon they engage in a strange one-upmanship banter as each is jealous of the other’s fantasy. At first, the affable, chatty, seemingly well-balanced Turner comes across as someone who might have mental problems but at least functions while McCormick, who has a much harder and more complex life, is jittery to the point of breakdown, angrily denouncing circumstances that keep them apart from their idol. But in the end, a few kind words from the singer – who must have the forbearance of a saint, if not fitting Turner’s description of ‘the most Christ-like person I know’ – genuinely helps McCormick become more centered, and eases them towards what might be a happier outcome. Turner is cured of his Tiffany obsession, but at the end has transferred his fixation to Alyssa Milano, whom he claims time-travelled to thwart his romantic chances in previous decades to pave the way for their eventual union. Of course, there’s no music from the star, who is seen on public occasions being genuinely pleasant to these people.
Adrian Gent This sounds so wonderfully bizarre and slightly tragic that I have to see it!
Pat Cadigan This sounds fascinating!
Ian Graham I’ve just watched the trailer on youtube. It looks very strange and very sad . . . and compelling.
Steve Duffy Fred & Judy Vermorel edited a book called STARLUST back in the 80s, which is a fascinating glimpse into the nature of fandom. It’s basically a collection of fans’ fantasies (both sexual and “domestic”) about their favourite pop stars. Incredibly detailed, down to the type of carpet (Flotex) they might have – you honestly don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
Adrian Gent Great book, I remember finding it quite saucy as a teenager!!!
Steve Duffy Saucy until the name of Bruce Foxton was introduced into the proceedings, perhaps… There’s a quite touching bit about some obsessive Bolan fans who have a “special room” (shrine) for Marc. They get a T. Rex roadie to come to a seance, and the roadie, bless him, tells them he thought Marc was saying they shouldn’t worry about him, he’s fine, they should get on with their own lives a bit. That was nice of him, I thought.
Adrian Gent OH MY GOD! it’s suddenly come back to me! The Bruce Foxton sexual fantasy! Shudder…
Steve Duffy You have a nice day now, Adrian!
Adrian Gent Wish I’d kept it, just had a look and it’s over £50 on Amazon now
Adrian Gent I will, if I can get the image of Bruce Foxton out of my head… Bye now!
Adrian J. Smith yeah, the Bruce Foxton fantasy was pretty intense as I recall. Like that shears bit in James Herbert’s The Fog (not to be confused with…), much talked about lurid bit of a book that few had bothered to read.