There was a bit of a discussion going on as to whether or not someone considered themselves a true fan of David Bowie. Since they only now discovered his work after hearing about his death, they listened to his music and found they enjoyed it, but confessed that they probably couldn’t qualify as a “real fan”.
I suppose there are going to be people who only now know of Alan Rickman because he too died, at 69, of cancer. Just like, and within days of, David Bowie no less. Does that mean they aren’t going to be “real fans” because they haven’t followed the actor’s body of work?
After reading this, I got to wondering about people who say they are fans of Shakespeare. Well, here’s a guy who has been dead for a half a millennium and none of the people who are just discovering his work could say they were around before he passed away. But if the words of Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, or the Sonnets, resonate with you, then certainly that makes you as much of a fan as the people who were able to see those plays on their opening night.
I discovered Doctor Who late in the game. Elizabeth Sladen passed away before I could fully appreciate why the world is a darker place without her. It makes me sad when I see her with John Pertwee, Tom Baker, and David Tennant and think, “Wow, I wish I knew about her sooner.” And I consider myself to be as much of a fan of these actors and the people who were responsible for this franchise.
So if you discovered David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Robbin Williams, or any of the people who passed away in your life time as a result of their deaths, then just remember: They belong to you as much as they belonged to the world in their time. Their music, their performances, their words were all gifts to be enjoyed by everyone and anyone for as long as it would be possible to have access to them.
That you only now became aware of them is a testament to how badly they will be missed, and how much better the world is for their having been here. You are as true a fan as I am.