Back in the late 1980s, pop singers/teen sensations Tiffany and Debbie Gibson battled it out on the pop charts. (Younger readers can consider them the 80s version of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.) Just as grunge rock killed hair metal, an onslaught of rap and hip-hop drove Tiffany and Debbie off the charts. That’s not to say either of them quit performing: both have launched comeback attempts, performed on reality television programs (Gibson on Skating with Celebrities, Tiffany on Celebrity Fit Club), and both singers have appeared in Playboy. See you in ten years, Spears and Aguilera!
Most of us quit following celebrities once they leave the spotlight, but others have a harder time doing so. The documentary I Think We’re Alone Now follows two of these individuals, both of which are obsessed with the singer Tiffany. (Sorry Debbie, maybe next time.)
First up is Jeff Turner, a 50-year-old man who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and claims to be a close personal friend of Tiffany’s — a fact he shares with anyone within earshot who is too polite to walk away. Although he initially appears somewhat normal, the more we see of Turner the more we sense something is not quite right. Eventually we learn that Tiffany once filed a restraining order against Turner for trying to give her a Samurai sword in an airport (“It’s considered an honor in Japan,” he notes), and that he has spent more than $20,000 on “radionics equipment.” The radionics equipment, which consists of a bicycle helmet with crystals duct taped to it that is connected to a pyramid made out of wood, allows Turner to tune in to Tiffany’s brain waves and connect with her telepathically — because she is a “inter-dimensional time traveler.”
Next up is Kelly McCormick, a 31-year-old transgendered hermaphrodite who is neither 31-years-old (s/he lied) nor a hermaphrodite (although she lives life as a female, McCormick admits in the commentary track that the pluming’s apparently male). The first thing McCormick heard when coming out of a coma in 1980s was a Tiffany song, and ever since then she’s known in her heart that the two of them were destined to have a relationship together.
Most of the documentary consists of footage of these two bumbling souls meandering through life. Turner, dissuaded by the restraining order, shows up at Tiffany beach concern apparently a day early and stands around talking to security guards until they finally walk away. McCormick almost gets to see Tiffany live in a club, but is turned away when the folded up photocopy over her driver’s license isn’t considered to be a legal photo ID. In probably the least surprising revelation of the film, both McCormick and Turner are unemployed and receive disability pay from the government for their mental disabilities.
Eventually, these two super fans are apparently connected by the director (it’s a little muddy) and they each hit the road to convene at a Tiffany show at the Krave Gay Night Club in Las Vegas. As muscular men in their tighty-whities dance around behind her, Tiffany sings as the two fans clap and dance the night away. Later that night, both of them stand in line to meet Tiffany and steal cheek kisses from her. She looks thrilled. Later that evening, the two of them compare Tiffany notes and stories until Turner’s one-upmanship gets the better of McCormick. So lonely are these two that they are content to sit in a hotel room and talk about how which one of them will end up with Tiffany first. (I had the same conversation with friends about Debby Harry back in the day; then again, I was 8-years-old.)
I Think We’re Alone Now is uncomfortable at times to watch and somewhat difficult to enjoy, especially when you realize that essentially what you are watching are two obsessed and mentally ill stalkers. It’s hard not to feel sad for these two delusional fans; likewise, it’s tough not to feel a little concerned for Tiffany’s well-being.
Shot on a hand-held camcorder, video quality isn’t great and the audio is just passable (save for a 5-10 second clip in which the audio was simply missing). You won’t have to worry about how those classic Tiffany hits sound in 5.1 surround sound because none of her music appears in the film. Tiffany also refused to be interviewed for the film. Talk about a no-win situation. Once you’ve alienated the mentally ill, what fan base does she have left? (I kid, I kid …)
if you’re a fan of documentaries, by all means check out I Think We’re Alone Now. I suspect “a rental will do ya,” as I can’t see myself watching this strange but curious look into the world of stalking more than once. I left this movie feeling sad, and in hopes that both Turner and McCormick are ultimately able to find peace and happiness without Tiffany in their lives.