In a meet-and-greet in Brazil this week, ensuing photos of Avril Lavigne and her fans shows exactly why charging admirers to meet their heroes is often a horrible exercise in outright exploitation. After facing widespread criticism over the offensive nature of her 'Hello Kitty' video, the singer is once again under the media spotlight for all the wrong reasons. For celebrities such as Lavigne, the meet-and-greet manifests as a practice which often takes advantage of their follower’s unwavering loyalty.

Avril LavigneAvril Lavigne Charged Fans $360 For A Brief Meeting 

Fans were asked to part with a reported $360 for the honour of a brief exchange with Lavigne. They left with a single memento in the form of an excruciatingly awkward photo where the Canadian pop-star did her very best to maintain the faintest semblance of a pained smile on-top of an otherwise empty expression. Of particular note is the cavernous expanse between Lavigne and each of her fans, it was as if they had been told in no uncertain terms that physical contact with the singer would result in their imminent demise.

The photos were undeniably hilarious and it is no surprise that they have now gone viral to such an extent that Lavigne’s PR people have been trying their best to counter the negative press. But surely, the crux of this story raises questions about the ethics of such a common industry practice. Charging people hundreds, even thousands of pounds for the privilege of very briefly basking in the company of a person subsumed by the public gaze is an age-old industry practice for reaping a quick and easy buck.

For many bands and musicians, at least, faced with declining record sales amidst a turbulent industry recalibration of digital mediums, the meet-and-greet is a timeless means of recouping lost income whilst affording fans the unique opportunity to talk to and even touch their idols. Shameless monetizing rockers Kiss are amongst though who offer exclusive VIP packages to fans.

Avril LavigneAvril Lavigne Charged Fans $360 For A Meet-and-Greet

On their latest US tour, fans could pay a meagre $1170 for a package that included meeting the band, exclusive merchandise, front-row seats and a chance to witness the band soundcheck. In comparison to the $360 reportedly charged by Lavigne for a single photo, the Kiss VIP package seems positively cheap. It’s a hugely widespread practice but it’s also one that is fraught with an inherent cynicism; they may not reward the most loyal fans, but those with the most disposable incomes. Jared Leto and his 30 Seconds To Mars cohorts recently revealed the fallacy in such a practice by not only charging fans $1000 for a signing session, but actually wearing rubber gloves during it. Such an example shows how fans are expected to part with huge sums of money, only to be potentially treated with contempt by the celebrities they are so enraptured by and dedicated toward.

Fans should be rewarded for investing their time, not for parting with huge sums of money for the most fleeting of experiences, where security inform fans to refrain from touching their idols and the exchange of a few words. Unfortunately, the current nature of the market means that artists and celebrities will always be utilising such quick and easy methods to shore up their income. What’s more, such experiences remain genuinely edifying for many fans, which is perfectly understandable. Yet, despite its exploitative nature, this is a practice that shows no signs of abating.

Watch The 'Hello Kitty' Video Below