Big star or obscure up-and-comer? There's a fan page out there celebrating, and salivating over, every body of work.

By Kipp Cheng
Updated July 24, 1998 at 04:00 AM EDT

A fine point, maybe, but there is a difference between star infatuation and star obsession. The former is when you send your favorite celebrity a nice letter spelling out your fondness for his or her work. The latter is when you send a severed ear in a floral-scented box with a note written in your blood on Hello Kitty stationery. Likewise, on the Web, fan sites devoted to stars can range from the pleasantly banal to the rabidly fanatical. It’s an egalitarian world out there in cyberspace: Where else can the multitude of sites devoted to Leonardo DiCaprio (96, according to Yahoo!) and fading It Girl Alicia Silverstone (103) happily coexist with the sometimes lavish, usually moony Web tributes created for such lesser-known actors as Saving Private Ryan‘s Tom Sizemore (The Unofficial Tom Sizemore Page at http://www.dhc.net/~ike/tsframe. html) or The Wedding Singer‘s Christine Taylor (A Vision of Christine Taylor at http://www.geo cities.com/Paris/Rue/4229/christinetaylor.html; this site, by the way, plays an unnerving computer-synthesized version of Garbage’s “#1 Crush”)?

Perhaps it’s due to the ever-increasing ease of spinning out a website these days. After all, any stalker—forgive me, fan—with a PC and some degree of HTML skill can put up a site in honor of his or her current pop obsession. Or maybe it’s the fan’s innate desire to be seen and heard—hopefully by the celebrity in question—that fuels his or her need to pay virtual homage.

Whatever the urge, no film actor is too big, small, undiscovered, or over-the-hill for a Web shrine. It’s not surprising, for instance, that Armageddon‘s Ben Affleck is the object of slavish affection for 10 fan sites (the best is probably Chasing Ben Affleck at http://www.katieweb. com/ben/index.html), but who’d have thought his little brother, Casey, had enough of a following for even one site of his own (The Unofficial Casey Affleck Website at http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/ Studio/9229)? Sure, Robert Redford still has enough superstar oomph to warrant virtual love letters like the Robert Redford Homepage (members.aol.com/JSweit8573/ redford.html), but to visit the elegantly designed Steve Buscemi Worship Page (dancy. franz.com/~virago/buscemi) you’d think that Buscemi was the Cary Grant of our generation instead of an engaging indie-film hero and event-movie novelty.

At their best, celeb shrines can elevate stars above their day-to-day controversy and call attention to talent and allure: The Anne Heche Fan Page (http://www.wiltschko.org/ heche/heche.htm) honors the Six Days, Seven Nights star’s acting chops, showcases va-va-voom photos, and tracks Heche’s pre- and post-Ellen career with levelheaded analysis. At their worst, though, these sites dive into creepazoid territory with no idea they’re doing so: Sterman’s Celebfeet (http://www.geocities.com/Hollywood/Set/3359), with its barefoot photos of Sandra Bullock and Uma Thurman, is no less icky for being up front about its fetishism. Fan sites may or may not be inherently obsessional, but few are so deluded as to think they can capture their beloveds’ souls by ogling their soles.

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