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It’s OK to Hate Your Hero

Conan O’Brien is a jerk (in my dreams).

Why so cruel, Coco?

Conan O’Brien snubbed me in an airport restroom once, in a dream. Of course, it was me but it wasn’t me, and it was him but it wasn’t him, and since when did airports start having coed bathrooms, because that’s an idea I really can’t get behind. Because if men find out we poop they take away our power.

I awoke the next morning confused and sad, but mostly just sort of angry. How dare he just walk away without saying hello! Especially after I handed him a paper towel—when TWO Dyson hand dryers were free. An ass and environmentally unconscious!

Granted, this was all just a dream. And I’d like to think if I did meet Conan O’Brien in an airport bathroom, he’d say hello. Or at least “What are you doing in the men’s room? I’m calling security.” But the intense reaction I had to this imagined negative encounter forced me to realize I could be a hero-hater.

A hero-hater, of course, as defined by Doctor Professor Beautiful Shelby Fero, is “someone who turns against a hero—as defined by Stupid Ugly Merriam-Webster—due to a poor meeting or encounter.”

I was really uncomfortable with this realization. Who wants to be a hater of anything, after all, except of Nazis and puppy-haters? But then I thought about it, and I finally came to the conclusion: it’s OK to hate your hero.

As I’ve recently undergone a procedure to replace the fibers in my brain with Sour Punch Straws, I’m working at about 0% capacity. That means lists!

The three main types of hero encounters:

1. Great!
So you finally meet your hero. Maybe it’s after a show, or at a signing, or even a chance encounter at your favorite diner. You’ve just taken a bite of your bagel and lox when you look up and see HOLY SHIT it’s your favorite actor/comedian/musician.

“OHMMMGORHD,” you gasp, mouth full of delicious, delicious bagel and lox. Swallowing quickly, you’d plan your next move. After settling on a nonchalant but still a little chalant approach, you say hello. And they say hello back. And you chat. And they’re just as nice or funny or charming as you’d hoped. Maybe more so, even! Great!

2. OK!
So you finally meet your hero. Maybe it’s after a show, or at a signing, or even a chance encounter at your favorite diner. Suddenly you see your favorite actor/comedian/musician. You plan out your strategy. After settling on a cool but not too cool approach, you say hello. And they brush you off. Or turn out not to be as nice, funny, or charming as you’d hoped. But oh well, it went OK.

3. Bad!
So you finally meet your hero. Maybe it’s after a show, or at a signing, or even a chance encounter at your favorite diner. Suddenly you see your favorite actor/comedian/musician. You decide you’re gonna play hard to get but not too hard to get. You say hello. And they ignore you. Or insult you. Or throw things at you. And this is bad!

Today I’ll be focusing on dealing with BAD encounters. If you’ve had an OK one that you’re angry about, I’m sorry. And will be handling it in my next article. “It’s OK to Be Indifferent About Your Hero.”

If you’ve been a victim of a bad hero encounter, it’s fine to be angry. But before you get angry, read this next part. So I take it back. It’s not OK to be angry until you read the next part. Unless you’re not reading this at all. Then be angry!

Contextualize where you met them. Was it in a professional setting, where the person in question was well aware they’d be subject to people? Was it in an airport, where they may be rushing to catch their flight for a book tour they might not even want to do but their agent promises will be great for sales? Where someone chooses to be rude says a lot about their character. If Chase Wrangler—MY fictional hero (he bakes AND hikes!)—is rude at a press conference, maybe it means he’s anxious or sullen. If he’s rude at an airport, maybe it means he cracks under stress. Maybe it all means he’s just an asshole. The coolest thing about being let down is that you learn something new. If I’m going to give my time and money and emotions to someone, I want to make sure I’m getting the full 360-degree picture.

My older sister shocked and confused me the first time I invited her to hang out with some comedians I knew she liked and admired.

“No, thanks,” she said, before returning to her quesadilla.

”No, thanks?” NO, THANKS? I wanted to slap that delicious cheesy snack out of her hands.

“But why?!” I asked.

“I don’t want to know who they are,” she said. “I like their work. That’s all that matters. Pass the salsa.” I sat there stunned. It’s so unimportant to her who the people “really are.” If she happens to meet someone she admires, and it goes great, then great! If it goes badly, well then, who cares? It won’t make their routine about butts any less funny. (As if butts COULD be unfunny.)

In the end, it hurts no one but yourself to get angry. The actor won’t notice if you stop watching his movies. The comedian won’t care if you don’t come to her show. And the musician won’t care if you don’t buy its CD (robo-musician). But you’ll regret discoloring all of your fond memories.

And that’s just it: the only person who gets hurt is you. Masochistic tendencies aside, the bottom line is: if you’re not willing to risk hating your heroes, don’t meet them. Because what if they don’t accept your beautiful gift of airport-bathroom paper towels and thusly reveal themselves to be a big jerk? If you do run into them, and they snub you, though, remember that time you were a big jerk to your aunt at that wedding just because you were mad at your mom because she wouldn’t let you wear your WTFWJD T-shirt (IT’S IRONIC) to the event. And maybe cut them some slack?

IMPORTANT NOTE: disregard if your hero turns out to be a Nazi and/or hates puppies. Only the devil “doesn’t get the appeal” of a puppy. ♦


  • queserasera February 20th, 2012 11:07 PM

    I’ve never met any of my heroes before, but I’ll be sure to keep this in mind. Thanks!


  • neelybat February 20th, 2012 11:27 PM

    courtney love telling me i was pretty at a book signing was the most wonderful hero meeting time in my whole life.

    • DANNI February 21st, 2012 11:48 AM

      YOU ARE SO LUCKY!!! I’ve been having this dream about going to her book signing for when her memior comes out and like, i’ll give her a 10 page essay about how she’s the most awesomeamazinginspiring woman forceofnaturebaby in the entire world and blah blah blah. and then she’ll ask me for my email and blah blah blah. but if she told me i was pretty, i’d be set for life.

  • Jessica Vixenelle February 20th, 2012 11:46 PM

    I hope you Rookie editors that Laura Palmer’s face has been staring at me all day and it’s CREEPING ME OUT

    • giveemhellkid February 21st, 2012 2:22 AM

      AMEN. And I keep hearing the Twin Peaks theme in my head…

      • Narnie February 21st, 2012 3:23 AM

        So do I!!! It’s so creepy haha

  • cherrycola27 February 21st, 2012 12:11 AM

    This is so relevant to me right now!
    I just recently met John and Hank Green, (of the Vlogbrothers, also John is a writer) and Hank totally snubbed me! He was always my least favorite brother, but at the signing he didn’t say hi to me or ask me if I wanted my stuff signed or anything. He was high fiving everyone else but didn’t even look at me so I was like “Hey, Hank!” and he ignored me! I felt so stupid and the girl working there just gave me the most pitiful look.
    I didn’t really tell anyone else because their encounters were so awesome and mine sucked. I think of Hank so differently now, I know it’s dumb! But I do.

    • Lurkingshadows February 21st, 2012 7:45 PM

      Omg! I went to the same thing! Tour de Nerdfighting? And Hank did the same. Ya he signed my stuff, but without anything else said. I was just standing there thinking “well that was definatly not what i had expected” John however was probably the coolest guy ever. :) Nerdfighters For The Win!

  • SweetThangVintage February 21st, 2012 12:20 AM

    How about in the park at an event and one of your teams hockey players is there and he’s handing out signed photos and your freaking out like
    “OMG I LOVE HOCKEY! I’m wearing my hockey shirt! Ooh can I have one?” and he’s like
    “Yeah the sooner I get rid of these the sooner I can leave,”
    Oh. Oh I see how it is. THANKS FOR SMASHING MY DREAMS BRO!

    (I’m going to their game on Wednesday.:)

  • Chloe Elizabeth February 21st, 2012 1:29 AM

    This story made me laugh. Lucky for me, almost ALL my heros are fictional (Alaska Young, Chuck Bartowski, the Gorillaz, etc.) So I’ll never endure the heartbreak! …Although at times I do wish I could will them into existence as my best friends.


  • Ashleigh February 21st, 2012 2:01 AM

    In July last year I saw Morrissey in the street whilst in a taxi, jumped out and missed my train back to London. It was worth it. He is perfect <3

    • Anaheed February 21st, 2012 2:38 AM

      waaaaaah can’t breathe

  • Susann February 21st, 2012 2:05 AM

    I haven’t met any of my heroes yet but this article makes me think differently about future encounters…


  • thirsty-pretzels February 21st, 2012 3:45 AM

    I once met my hero before a show and I just stood there with my mouth opened, in awe, and he smiled awkwardly? he said hi too, which was pretty nice I guess, so I invited my best friend to another one of his shows a few months later, hoping we’d ask to take a picture this time but she just did the exact same thing I did…


    and that’s him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-6c7wgU-LqA&feature=related

    and a lovely one to listen to:

  • Enid February 21st, 2012 5:36 AM

    I was feeling kinda miserable after I’d met Patti Smith. She was so great.

    • suburban grrrl February 21st, 2012 11:36 AM

      I’ve met her too! It’s like you WANT to say something poetic and profound to her and it comes out “yeahthatwasagreatshowi’mabigfanyeah”

  • Marguerite February 21st, 2012 5:58 AM

    hehe i love dyson hand driers!

  • Tourdivoire February 21st, 2012 6:10 AM

    So funny!
    I did meet several of my heroes:

    - Karl Lagerfeld. Ran into him in a shop. Wanted to hug him and thank him for helping me get a good grade at my masters’ thesis that I wrote about Chanel. Instead, I just stood there looking stupid. He smiled and left with his bodyguards.

    - Garance Doré and Scott Schuman. Went to their book signing. A little bit disappointing, since I wanted to have a real conversation with Garance, whose blog I’ve been following for the past six years, and ended up spelling my name to the Sartorialist about five times and being interrupted by the arrival of one of their relatives.

    - Lionel Jospin (former French Prime Minister, my role model). I know he’s old and looks like an owl, but I still think he’s pretty damn great, and meeting him didn’t make me change my mind.

  • Amalie02 February 21st, 2012 7:29 AM

    I once got the chance to talk to my favourite celebrity of all time, Britney Spears, at a meet & greet once, and it was seriously one of the best moments of my life. But before it took place I was actually quite nervous because I’d heard stories from other fans saying how uncomfortable she had acted around them and how non-caring she seemed to me, and therefore I was terrified the the M&G would shatter my impression of her. Luckily I went fine, or better than fine actually.

    Sure, I didn’t manage to say everything I had planned to say (in fact I completely lost my ability to speak once I saw her – the only thing I managed to stutter to her was a quiet “thank you”), but she was so sweet and caring; when tears were streaming down my face she comforted me with the most beautifull smile ever while she said ”awww, don’t cry” and complemented me on my dress.

    Even though I wished I would’ve been able to tell her how much she meant to me, the fact that she put her arm around my waist (not once, but twice) made it the greatest moment of my life, despite it not going exactly the way I had envisioned it would.

  • Pemmsan February 21st, 2012 7:45 AM

    The only really famous person I’ve ever met is my former movie-crush Rupert Grint (which was super exciting). He was staying in a hotel in our town, and me and my friends stopped by the hotel and he came out. I was so nervous that I forgot to say thank you after taking a photo with him, but he was really sweet and shy and I got a hug!

  • MissKnowItAll February 21st, 2012 8:16 AM

    Joseph Gordon Levitt once told me he wanted to get married and have beautiful actor children (in a dream). On a more realistic note, I met Jim Carrey at Comic Con and nearly DIED.

  • MissKnowItAll February 21st, 2012 8:17 AM

    When How to Succeed in Business without Really trying was playing, I saw it and got a picture with Daniel Radcliffe.

  • Offred February 21st, 2012 8:47 AM

    I once tried to talk to Patrick Wolf after a gig, but I ended up just squealing and probably forgetting every english word I ever learned..he was really nice though, he even asked my name and signed an EP I had just bought! I was too starstruck to even remember that I had actually bought it for my friend! I still cringe every time I think about it, haha..

  • SadCupcakes February 21st, 2012 10:33 AM

    What about option 4. Well…
    So you finally meet your hero. Maybe it’s after a show, or at a signing, or even a chance encounter at your favorite diner. Suddenly you see your favorite actor/comedian/musician. You plan out your strategy. After settling on a cool but not too cool approach, you say hello. And they say hello back. And then you try to say something witty, but you can’t form a coherent thought and you settle for something along the lines of “great show!” It’s still wonderful.
    Basically what happend to me with Kim Gordon.

  • suburban grrrl February 21st, 2012 11:40 AM

    -I met Stephen Colbert at an Elvis Costello concert (where I shook Elvis’s hand) and I told him some really random memory I had from one of the early Colbert Report episodes, but he was incredibly nice and I got a profile picture out of it.

    -I met Jason Schwartzmann by (accidentally) shouting at him and then apologizing, and he was also super nice and super short.

    -I met Edgar Wright and all I could say was “I’m 14!” and he replied “I’m 36, nice to meet you!” Cool.

    I always know the right words to say. . .

    • Maddy February 21st, 2012 3:13 PM

      ahh funny. especially about the “I’m 14!” thing. these are great comments

  • DANNI February 21st, 2012 11:44 AM

    this will be useful for when courtney love’s “And She’s Not Even Pretty” comes out. (THANKS GUYZZZZ!!!)

  • missmadness February 21st, 2012 1:31 PM

    I met brian viglione (dresden dolls/world inferno friendship soceity, also played drums for NIN for a bit) randomly at a hotel in south carolina. I vaguely recognized him, and decided not to say anything, so he ended up talking to me instead. Truly one of the nicest, kindest, most interesting people I have ever met. Didn’t mention his musical career at all (we later discussed it, of course), and wanted to take me out for vegan food. He even let my friend and I stow our bags in his room because we wanted to go the beach after hotel checkout, and didn’t have anywhere to put our stuff. Darling man.

    • MarieJo February 21st, 2012 2:39 PM

      I also did met Brian, and Amanda when they came to play in Mexico on december. I gave Brian a cupcake and he devour it. Meeting the Dresden Dolls was so amazing cause it was a little dream of mine since I was about 13 (I’m 20 now), and they are AMAZING, both of them, they took time after the concert to sign EVERYONE, and then they played a ninja gig on a park the next day. The day of the concert I couldn’t stop crying and when they saw me and I told them that they had changed my life, they gave me a hug and Brian said “You changed ours”.
      They both kissed me, hugged me, Brian even gave me the sharpie he was signing with and he said “go ahead, make some beautiful art”. And the next day on the park, Amanda told my friend I was beautiful. They are deffinately the best people ever.

      Here’s my photo with Brian and the cupcake:

      • Maddy February 21st, 2012 3:12 PM

        Aw cool! I guess my only brush with “celebrity” was when I was younger and Amanda (from the dresden dolls) called my house. My mom was working with them on some art thing and I picked up the phone. I was probably pretty stoic, cuz i do that on the phone sometimes…

      • giov February 21st, 2012 4:58 PM

        see, I hated meeting Amanda Palmer: it felt forced and pretty unspecial because she was meeting EVERYONE. Also, I forgot english and acted rude out pure shyness. No more meet and greets for me.

      • missmadness February 22nd, 2012 10:49 AM

        aww, this makes me so happy!

  • puffytoad February 21st, 2012 2:30 PM

    I was in line for a JIMMY EAT WORLD show with my mom (’cause I’m so cool) when Tom and Rick from the band walked right through the line of waiting people so they could get into Chipotle. We smiled at them awkwardly, along with a few other people in line. When they came back out with their food, people did an oddly short cheer and Rick lifted his bag of food in the air triumphantly. Then my mom yelled, “ENJOY YOUR BURRITO!” Why, I ask you?

  • reb1234 February 21st, 2012 2:35 PM

    I actually totally met Conan O Brien on the streets of Georgetown and he was super cool. He shook my hand and asked me my name and told my friend that he liked her freckles.
    NOT A DREAM. it was amazing.

  • hollz February 21st, 2012 4:04 PM

    This makes me glad that most of my heroes are dead..

  • Ayla February 21st, 2012 4:31 PM

    I met my all time favorite musician (Matt Good) at a M&G after a show he played with his new band. I got stuff signed and he was in awe at how old the former band shirt that I was wearing was and complimented me on it.
    I complimented him on his new microdermal and got a picture with him afterwards outside even though he seemed to be on a smoking break of sorts and a little reluctant.
    I waited ’till turned the corner with my friend, she started screaming and I cried.

    I have the shirt hanging over my bed now..a mini memory shrine!

  • Moonshoes February 21st, 2012 4:40 PM

    I actually got to meet my hero Darren Criss at a signing. This was right after he had started on Glee and only the hardcore Gleeks and Starkids (Me!) knew about him. I met him twice in the same week. Once I just ran into him at the beach while he was playing with his guitar and his amp. The second time was two days later at a signing. He told me he remembered me and that I looked cute in my hat :)
    My experience was so great that I love him even more after meeting him.

  • giov February 21st, 2012 5:00 PM

    This one time I was in the same room as Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon and I wanted to be friends but obviously had no idea how to approach them and ended up making a fool out myself. I seriously suck at meeting heroes.

  • isadora February 21st, 2012 5:50 PM

    Once I met Fab Moretti from The Strokes and he was nice, despite being super drunk, etc etc, but everything went “just ok”, because I acted so pathetically that it’s kind of embarassing to remember about that moment.

    It didn’t ruin him for me and he’s never been ~a hero~ of mine, but I still feel a bit regretful because of how I acted.

  • moonchild February 21st, 2012 10:16 PM

    Oh god. I wish I could meet harry potter and at least have the OPPORTUNITY for it to be awesome. Sadly not.


  • kitterfly February 21st, 2012 11:45 PM

    I recently met the vlogbrothers for the first time. It was during their tour, and while I was far from being the LAST person in line to shove a book at them, I was definitely the… 100-and-something-th.
    John sighed and explained he could only write one name (I went with my first) due to carpal tunnel syndrome (that’s what it is, right? xD) then kind of slurred a THANKSanddftb–
    Hank was better, and was chatty and still more human than zombie, but it was nowhere near how they are in the videos. Because on their end, the videos aren’t even to ONE PERSON.
    I had been trying to deny it, but I really was hoping that they would meet me and immediately recognize how special and great and DIFFERENT I am. Because that’s what we all secretly hope and dream and fear.
    But, as much as that encounter still probably falls into the “OK” category, it still left me with a bad feeling in my mouth. I refused to watch their videos for a week, then realized I was being stupid. I watched the latest video and KAPOW! Bad feelings all gone.
    We’re, like, totally bff again, me and the Green bros.

    Loved this article– and I’m so happy it was a recent experience for me! I adore Rookie, but have a hard time connecting to many of the experiences.

    I love you guys. Keep going FOREVER AND EVER (Or at least until I turn eighteen and don’t *sniff* need you anymore).

    • jessejames February 22nd, 2012 2:11 PM

      I just turned 18 and I still need Rookie!!!!!

  • frenchalot February 22nd, 2012 2:19 AM

    I met my dream hero twice: Donald effing Glover. And he was everything I expected him I be and more…

    GOD I want him so bad.

  • candyvictory February 22nd, 2012 9:27 AM

    Last June I met my heroes (…Jedward) for the first time and it was GREAT. They’re super nice and sweet and kind and amazing and wonderful and nice and sweet and funny. Since then I’ve met them another five times and each time they’ve been just as amazing and totally remembered me and meeting them has made my Jedward love grow if that was even possib- wait what am I saying does anyone classed as “cool” even know who Jedward are?!?

    PS if you don’t, YOU SHOULD.

  • FakeCynic February 23rd, 2012 4:30 PM

    I got to meet Regina Spektor twice. Both times were absolutely epic (the first thing I ever said to her was “I thought you were taller!” while hugging her, and she was like “I know!”)
    She is so down-to-earth, yet an absolute genius, seriously. And I’ve probably never met a nicer person than her in my life. Man, I don’t even know how to express all these feelings I have towards that woman. And the best thing was that we had these long in-depth conversations, I could be absolutely honest to me, she’d listen to me, and mfhdjgdfgjkhewfd it was absolutely amazing. Also, not to brag, but I got to sing “Poor little rich boy” with her.

    The other hero I met was Bono. He was really nice and short, almost like Regina, and when I told him I grew up listening to U2, he was like “awwww, you poor thing”, lol.

  • arepg February 23rd, 2012 7:15 PM

    Great post! Everyone always thinks it’s ridiculous when I say I wouldn’t want to meet people I really admire (hypothetically, that is—not like I get lots of chances). It just seems like it could go so horribly wrong! Or neutrally, which seems almost as bad. . . Sigh.

  • KayKay February 24th, 2012 1:03 PM

    Never met any of my heroes, but my friend and her dad were in the same mini-bus as Rowan Atkinson, which I think is kind of a funny coincidence, especially since her father didn’t even recognize him.

  • Bridget June 12th, 2013 11:09 AM

    I met my all time hero Joan Jett and it was just OK. She took a picture with me and was pleasant enough but she seemed kind of high maintenance and kind of ignored me. She signed my poster but when I talked to her she didn’t say anything back, which was sad because she was literally MY ALL TIME HERO FOR LIKE EVER. I thought right away about this rookie article. I did however meet Cheap Trick, one of my favorite bands, when I was 13. They were total creeps and the guitarist Rick Nielsen even sexually harassed me.