There are a number of roles to play in the realm of pop culture, but it's rare that we give much thought to what is, perhaps, the most important one. Entertainment media is nothing without the fan. The fan is the one who allows a work to succeed. If you have no fan base, your efforts will most certainly fail.
Yet even that idea isn't so simple: there are your standard fans — the people who make an effort to tune in to a TV show every week, or those who make sure they get every album by their favorite band — and then there are the super-fans. For super-fans, mere spectatorship isn't enough. They are driven by an unseen, unknown force to become involved with their popular culture poision of choice, and, frankly, there isn't anything wrong with this. It is these people who help get out the latest word to the rest of us with their fanzines and moderated message boards. There are even those who try to keep their characters alive through the widespread creation of fan-fiction, or its slutty half-cousin "slash."* In short, the super fan is important in helping to create and solidify otherwise distant fan-based-communities, be they digital or physical. Such social networks have become an important sphere in our modern, media-based world.
Take, for example, Kevin Buckstiegel: the creator of "Bea Arthur in The Limelight," a fan site devoted to that star of the stage and the small screen, Beatrice Arthur. While best known for her role of Dorothy on the hit 1980s sitcom The Golden Girls, as well as Maude Findley of All in the Family and the subsequent spinoff, Maude, Arthur has had a long and distinguised career, spanning both the early days of television and the New York theatre scene.
Buckstiegel's site offers a biography section that features not only a lengthy and informative piece on Arthur, re-printed from a 1973 magazine publication, but also mini-bios, pulled from other sources on the web, of many of her former co-stars and collaborators, including the rest of the Golden Girls cast. This is not, however, the limit to the site's information. It is a treasure trove of Bea Arthur data. There is a news section, which is fairly well updated and does a good job of publicizing her frequent live appearances, as well as an area that attempts to debunk Bea Arthur myths and rumors. For fans, as well as internet users with passing curiosities, this website is the only place to go for the hard details on the life and career of one of the entertainment industry's few remaining romantic figures.