Sunday, May 6, 2012
Hot Docs: Affair of the Heart
Affair of the Heart is a documentary about 80’s pop star and General Hospital alum Rick Springfield. Many people wrote him off as a one-hit-wonder, but he has maintained a devoted fan base for over 30 years, touring constantly and releasing tons of new material.
I didn’t know a thing about Rick Springfield going into this film. My only exposure to him was his 2009 stint on Californication. He played a version of himself as a randy sex-aholic (everybody is a sex addict on Californication, but that’s another blog for another time). When I told my boyfriend I was going to watch a documentary about Rick Springfield, he started to laughing. He was probably picturing the poor man stumbling out of David Duchovney’s bedroom in his underwear.
But this isn’t really a film about Rick Springfield – it’s about the people who worship at his altar; who show up every year for his cruise, travel across the country for concerts and have built a strong community around their love for their idol. You don’t have to get Rick Springfield to understand what it means to be a fan. There are the two friends who pack up and leave their husbands and kids once a month for a ‘Rick Fix’. There’s the woman with a congenital heart defect, who drew strength from her connection to Rick’s music. There’s the couple who got engaged on Rick’s cruise and honeymooned there a year later. There’s even a 14-year-old boy who was pulled up on stage with Rick at age 3 and has become a musician himself.
These are not your ordinary fans. These people’s lives have in a large part been defined by their devotion and their love of Rick Springfield. He’s noticed them at concerts for years; he’s posed for countless photos. He knows them by NAME! I’m a little jealous actually. Not because I’m dying to meet Rick Springfield but because I love fandom and I know what it’s like to feel an all-consuming passion for pop stars, movies and TV shows. But I’ve never been able to take it to this level. I think practicality bites me in the ass before then. While I was watching, I kept thinking ‘my god how much does this COST these people?!’ In conclusion: I want to be a superfan, but I’m too much of a tightwad. But I digress…
What I love is that this is a film about fans made BY fans! It was co-directed by a 30-year fan who came up with the idea after experiencing her first Rick Springfield cruise. She joked during the Q&A that she used to think she was a top tier fan until she was exposed to others who put her to shame.
This is a fun, feel-good film, which was a nice change from all the dark conflict and deep issues I’ve been digesting during the festival. It was funny and engaging and impossible not to enjoy. And DAMN – Rick Springfield has some catchy tunes! I caught myself tapping my feet repeatedly and not just for the ubiquitous “Jesse’s Girl”. If I had grown up in the 80’s, I’d probably worship this dude.