Nah, you're not too into it. It's something that's really bugged me about bands for a long time.
Are you saying a new AFI fan? I think if they're just as devoted and taken in, then they're a DF member. If they're listening to the music and enjoying it and loving the band, then yeah. Everything else- the concerts, lining up early (because, yes, that's a privilege; not everyone can get off work or can afford to take off work or school or even get a ride), the merchandise, the physical albums- is all extra.
I'll never forget reading back in '03 an interview with Benji Madden of Good Charlotte. He talked about the only way he got to "own" any music from bands he liked was if a. he worked longer hours or b. a friend burned a copy for him. His family was so economically depressed that the teens had to work to help pay bills. They couldn't afford to spend money on themselves, which means he didn't have the time or the money to join fan clubs or buy fan club only shirts.
I think that every AFI fan should be treated the same. The human psyche reads any distinction as something that separates a person from another. It's like when you can achieve gold member status or platinum member status at a club. Immediately that person feels a bit more elite than someone else. The same thing with fan clubs. If someone is a part of it, some think they're that much more of a fan than others.
I think from a collector's stand point the DF only merch is cool, and God knows I had it (again, allowance money can go a long way if you're frugal) but at the same time, I am incredibly privileged. Some people may not be so lucky, and that's where my issues with fan clubs come from. I don't think it was initially intended to become a status symbol, but thanks to corporate, that's what it's become, and I'm not sure if I'm down for that.
I guess the DF deserves its shirts, but, at the same time, there are people out there who for a myriad of reasons can't be part of the DF, and I don't think that makes them any less of a fan than an actual DF member.
So my issue isn't with DF only merch (though I never really viewed it as necessary; the prints were just cooler than other merch; like the Blood Tour DF shirt was SO much cooler than the other shirts). It's more with the concept of fan clubs, especially fan clubs- like Green Day's and how misleading the new AFI DF sign ups were at first (I know a lot of people who thought they had to buy the bundle to become a DF before HQ cleared that up)- that require a fee.
And I hate distinction amongst fans; all fans love the band. Leave it at that.
This is so not an attack on you, though, or anyone's love of collecting or really anyone in the DF. It's more of my problem with something like a fan club when we're talking about something that's supposed to unite disparate people.