‘May I have a selfie?’

‘May I have a selfie?’

While selfies also raise privacy cencerns, autograph collectors can get aggressive with celebs and fans

Earlier, one had to be armed with a pen and paper when meeting a celebrity to be able to have a small memorabilia of the meeting. Now all one needs is a phone. Selfies have replaced autographs as the preferred keepsake of ones celebrity encounter. 

Multiple celebrities have spoken about their preference of autographs over selfies. Emilia Clarke, the ‘Game of Thrones’ actor being one of them. She said that a fan recently came to her asking for a selfie while she was having a panic attack; the encounter led her to decide to only give out autographs. She added that they were more personal and allowed room for interaction. 

Indian actors such as Dulquer Salman have said that they miss the time when autographs were all the rage. 

City-based autograph enthusiast Vijay Felix has over 200 signed memorabilia. “I started collecting autographs of cricketers in 2013. At the time, I was 12 years old and didn’t have a mobile phone to take pictures,” he says. 

Therapist Itisha Peerbhoy says that a shift in the availability of devices from pen and paper to mobile phones has facilitated a shift to selfies. 

Another reason celebrities prefer autographs, is privacy. Emma Watson has said that when people take selfies they tend to share it instantly, which lets other people know where she is and what she’s wearing, taking away whatever little privacy she has. 

Vijay adds that celebrities are always more comfortable with obliging for autographs over pictures. “Most of the time when I meet them, they’ve just come out of training. They’re hesitant to take pictures because of how they look but are always happy to interact and give autographs,” he says. 

Itisha says that selfies act as photographic evidence that you have been with the celebrity and not just gotten the autograph from somewhere else. “This proof is important to people who are chasing a sense of validation, especially with the advent of social media. But at other times it can just be a keepsake of a memory.” she says. Striking a balance between using selfies as validation and a memory of an experience is important. 

While many, including celebrities, reminisce the bygone era of autographs; the shift to selfies may not be such a despicable move. 

The primary argument for autographs is that they are more personal; that it is a culture of memorabilia as opposed to the culture of narcissism that selfies promote. 

But with the commodification of signed memorabilia that seems to be untrue. In fact many celebrities, like Bryan Cranston, of ‘Breaking Bad’ fame, has refused to sign autographs because of this very reason — they invariably end up on eBay. 

On the other hand, your selfie with a fan has no real value to anyone but you. 

There have also been multiple instances when ‘autograph collectors’ have turned aggressive and violent. These people are not always fans of the celebrity but do this as a hobby.

Spiderman actor Tom Holland had an encounter with unruly collectors at a movie premier where they were pushing against barricades hurting a young fan. He threatened to drop the poster he was signing unless the men backed off. 

A lot of autograph collectors tend to get their signed goods through fan mail or through global exchanges with fellow collectors, this too reduces the activity to just a competition of sorts rather than a keepsake of a memory.