Alton Brown’s Fanifesto

Alton Brown’s rules for how commoners should act around him. I’m really not regretting my answer for yesterday’s Question of the Day:

Once upon a time fans knew what to expect from the fan/celebrity relationship. You could join a fan club, occasionally wait behind a barricade outside some theater or arena and hope for a live glimpse alongside a few thousand like-minded friends, buy periodicals featuring said celebrity, or actively stalk thus risking the wrath of security personnel, both public and private.

Today there are still megastars who fit the old model…George Clooney comes to mind, but the rest of us fit into an ever widening, Warholian spiral of quasi-celebrity. We are the cable-ebrities and the web-ebrities, and unlike the Liz and Dicks of the world, we live, work, eat, shop, worship, and recreate right alongside the rest of you. We don’t have gated mansions, entourages, or bodyguards. We wait in lines, drop off the dry cleaning, and interact regularly with the “citizens” around us (that’s celebrity-speak for non-famous folk). This situation often stretches the very fabric of our society because we just don’t have rules for this sort of thing.

Since I’m about to go out on book tour and meet several thousand of you for the first or second or third time I thought I’d give you my rules for this sort of thing…just so we’re all on the same page.


  1. “-You must never make direct eye contact with me under any circumstance. That crosses a line.

    -Conversely, you must never turn your back on me. If you must leave a room before I do so, please respect my rights as a cable-ebrity and back out of the room with your head respectfully bowed.

    -My name must never be spoken out loud. I suggest altering it to something like ‘Alvin Bruns’ or ‘Ellen Barkin’. If these feel too close to cable-asphemy for your comfort, you may alternatively refer to me as ‘The Chef’ (capitalization is important).

    -If you should witness my children’s faces, you must remove your eyes for sullying their purity with your common gaze.

    -If you request an autograph, I will gladly do so for the cost of a live animal sacrifice. Please slaughter and marinate the goat as described in my book ‘Recipes to Please The Chef’.”

  2. Alton Brown’s rules seem reasonable enough to me.

    Some people think it’s kind of presumptive to remind his fans to follow such obvious roles, but you must remember there are sometimes fans like this out there.

    1. I agree. I didn’t see anything obnoxious in his rules, other than his posting them at all. Reading the articles about him from yesterday I got the impression that he’s an ass.

    2. Agreed. There’s nothing in the manifesto that I find unreasonable and he’s fairly self deprecating about the whole affair.A lot of the rules seem to be as much for the benefit of other fans/bystanders as they are for him. It seems like he’s got his share of horror stories to back up the list too.

    3. Yes, there are unreasonable people, but if Alton Brown feels the need to lecture his fans at length and throw hissy fits on Twitter, he’s not cut out for the public eye.

    4. He’s come across as kind of reactionary and out-of-touch sometimes on Twitter, but I don’t see anything here that seems at all unreasonable or even dickishly lecturing. “Please don’t take photos of my family.” “Please let me go to the bathroom.” “Please don’t physically threaten me or others.” Yeah, what an ass.

      1. I would be seriously surprised if Alton Brown is getting more than his share of crazy fans. If he is, much of it at this point is probably just people trolling him for things like this. If he does, in fact, feel like his personal safety is threatened, he should involve the police. If not, and he’s just uncomfortable with getting attention in public, maybe he should retire from tv.

        He could also take some tips from celebrities like Jodie Foster or Gary Oldman who have managed to maintain both their privacy and their dignity.

  3. While I’m disturbed by some of the other Alton Brown talk (yesterday’s link about the event in Iowa in particular), this link doesn’t seem so bad. If you need to read these rules to know that these things are not ok, that’s concerning. If you he’s saying to not approach him in a bathroom, somebody has probably crossed that line, and that’s just plain unacceptable.

    A lot of these are very similar to a list that was mentioned in the prologue of a This American Life episode (Meet the Pros) and there they were held up as examples of people who can’t handle social norms.

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