I Think We're Alone Now

Dir: Sean Donnelly, 2008. Documentary.
I Think We're Alone Now

You've always heard stories of stalkers and people who honestly believe that they are seriously destined to be with certain celebrities. In a sense, our culture has encouraged such activities. Since the beginning of the film industry and, in the last century with musicians, celebrities in the performing arts have been followed by paparazzi and fans with little escape from the public eye. In almost every grocer there are magazines filled with false or accurate news of some star. The biggest market seems to be teen magazines and their readers who can become more involved by sending in fan mail, etc. This kind of activity eventually fades and these young people stop being fixated. I Think We're Alone Now follows two individuals who became obsessed with a singer way past their youths, and despite their oddness, quite organically.

Tiffany Darwish, referred to as simply Tiffany, had a singing career in the '80s and was a pop icon, though her popularity fizzled out within a few years. Some of her songs still receive radio play and are known by just about everybody. The title of this documentary shares the name of perhaps her most popular song, a cover of Tommy James & The Shondells, and one that is of great importance to one of the subjects in the film.

Jeff Turner is a 50-year old man with Asperger's syndrome who began stalking Tiffany when he was 35 and she was 16. For almost 20 years he has diligently collected hundreds of photos and articles about her, many of them with headlines of his own activities and mentions of his past restraining orders. He is convinced that the two, besides being madly in love, are best friends. He has several photos with her and her English husband Benn George from over the years and, at this point, is no longer seen as a danger. Kelly McCormick is a born hermaphrodite who is also obsessed with the singer, though she doesn't see herself as a stalker, rather someone who is literally destined to be with her and has been “blocked” by other people in terms of having her in her life.

Jeff is a man of great complexity. He lost his father in the Vietnam war when he was 13 and has a fairly stable relationship with his stepfather. His apartment is mostly paid for by the government and looks, in all honesty, like a hoarder's slum. Aside from mountains of clothing and Tiffany memorabilia, he claims to have spent over $20,000 in Radionics equipment. Due to his professed knowledge of secret societies and cults, he has used his “contacts” to purchase their devices for time travel and the monitoring of brain waves. He uses one of these tools to talk to Tiffany through the mind, and has come to the conclusion that it merely heightens their already inseparable bond. He claims that the hostility toward him as an avid fan/stalker came with the controversy over Robert Bardo. Bardo was a Tiffany fan who attempted to approach the star at a concert with a gun, but was apprehended by security there. He later went on to stalk and murder actress Rebecca Schaeffer, which sparked several anti-stalking laws in California. However, Jeff doesn't seem to factor in any of his own outrageous activities, including waiting for Tiffany outside her home. Perhaps the most amusing was his attempt to give her a bouquet of white flowers with a Japanese katana sword, a Japanese custom of great honor apparently, though security didn't find it honorable at all.

Kelly became obsessed with Tiffany after getting in a bicycle accident which led to weeks in a coma. When she awoke, her sister brought her a Walkman and played Tiffany's version of the song, “I Think We're Alone Now,” after which Kelly asked to see a photo of the star. Seeing it, she claims that while in a coma she saw that same person and thus became convinced that she was destined to be with her. Her interviews are perhaps more heartbreaking because she struggles with alcohol and drug abuse, and because, as a virgin with no romantic attachments in the past, you get a feel for how lonely and frustrated she must be.

Jeff comes to hear about Kelly, as he keeps track of all of Tiffany's fans who are as obsessed as he is, and starts to have conversations with her over the phone. The two both intend to go to a concert of hers in Vegas and, to save money, decide to get a hotel together. There Jeff gives Kelly encouragement before attending her first live Tiffany concert, and Kelly sort of bickers with Jeff in a competitive sense. This is due, in part, to Jeff's incessant babbling about past experiences meeting her, including going to Glamorcon (an erotic modeling convention) just to have her autograph her nude photo in Playboy.

I wouldn't want to make it seem like this documentary is something to laugh at, or that these two people should be made examples of in a negative way. As long as they are not harming themselves for the sake of something unattainable, there is really nothing bad to say against them. But there is something cathartic and funny about their openness. Both Jeff and Kelly are people who laugh at themselves, tell jokes and try to keep things jovial, so the experience you have seeing them dive deeper into their naivety isn’t really to make fun of them, but rather to laugh alongside them. If you were ever crazy about a star or peer, it helps you remember such a phase and relate to them on that level, at least. The documentary was very well-made and enjoyable, and helps you understand what goes on in a so-called stalker's mind. Highly Recommended.

Posted by:
Edythe Smith
Feb 25, 2011 12:36pm
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