Generational Universality of Fandom

Last weekend, I went to a friend’s birthday party.  This friend is someone I used to work with, which means that there were a lot of colleagues there.  I enjoyed talking to them outside of the school/work setting.  More than that, it was nice to speak to people whom I have very few conversations with at work, simply because our roles don’t interact much.  One of those people is in charge of our tutoring program.  She is many years younger than me and when we started chatting, I doubted that we had anything in common except where we work.  Then, I learned that wasn’t true.  We do have something in common.  No, she isn’t a Duranie, but she is a fan.

I don’t remember exactly how the conversation moved towards the area of fandom, but when it did, my interest level increased dramatically.  I think someone mentioned the Spice Girls and that’s all it took.  This colleague of mine mentioned that she was a huge Spice Girls fans when she was a kid.  I nodded and said that a lot of us  found our favorites as kids.  She went on to say that she was such a big fan that she led a little local fan club.  The group, made up of her friendship group, met weekly.  They wrote agendas that usually focused on discussing any news on the group.  Of course, I felt like I could relate to this.  I explained how I became a huge Duran Duran fan as a kid.  While we didn’t have a fan club of sorts, my best friend and I frequently shared whatever news we had about what the band was up to.  In our case, the news either came on radio or MTV or through magazines.  Then, of course, we dissected each little detail of the news.  (Somehow, as I am typing this, I realize that life isn’t that different now since Rhonda and I do the same thing!)  Anyway, I told her that I’m jealous that they had a whole fan club and that I would have loved something like that.

I went on to ask her a few questions that directly relate to the theory of female fandom that Rhonda and I have been focusing on for awhile.  Was there competition between the members of the fan club?  What did it look like, if so?  Obviously, I haven’t studied the Spice Girls fandom, specifically, so I had no idea what she might say.  Likewise, the fandoms that we have focused on tend to female dominated ones with males being the subjects of their fandoms.  So, will things be very different for a fandom with women as the subjects of the fandom?

I started my investigation by asking, “Did you have a favorite?  How did you pick your favorite?”  Clearly, many/most Duranies developed a favorite quickly and it was often the band member the fan thought was the most attractive.  Indeed, this colleague of mine did have a favorite!  In her case, it was mostly about which band member she hoped she would grow up to be like.  It was about a role model, of sorts, as opposed to attraction.  Interesting.  Then, I followed that up with, “Could the members of the fan club have the same favorite?”  As we know, many Duranies had an unwritten policy that friends couldn’t share favorites.  (Heck, even Rhonda and I don’t share a favorite.  Could we have become best friends if we did?!)  Surprisingly, my colleague said that they did not share favorites.  If one’s choice about a favorite had to do with identity, it makes sense that they couldn’t share.  Who wants to be exactly like one’s best friends?  This allowed them to be similar in terms of interests but gives enough freedom to be unique.  Fascinating.

Before I had a chance to follow up with more questions, we got interrupted, unfortunately.  I still appreciated the conversation and what I learned.  Clearly, there are some universal truths with fandom, no matter the subject or the generation that fans are a part of.  The Spice Girls fandom, at least to my colleague, presented itself in a similar way to the Duran fandom.  A group of friends loved the same band.  They wanted to talk about their fandom.  Besides that, they also chose favorites and couldn’t share them.  Yes, indeed, fandom is universal, at least between my generation and the generation below me.

-A

Does Fandom Need Feeding?

The other day I received a text message from someone whom I once considered a very close friend.  In recent years, we contact each other only a few times a year despite living in the same city.  This got me thinking about friendship.

This local friend was someone I used to be in daily or almost daily contact with.  When talked frequently, we got along well.  We got together a lot for either something major like traveling to a show or simply running errands together.  Now, though, I have a hard time imagining all of that.  When we talk now, we struggle to converse.  It feels like it is hard to understand where the other is coming from while we force ourselves to communicate.  It makes me miss the old times when we talked all the time.  Likewise, I miss the friendship.  I wish that I didn’t feel so distant from her now.  At some point, we stopped speaking so often and now we suffer for it.  Our friendship needed to be fed in order to be maintained.  I think we needed it to understand each other.

Then, of course, there are other friendships like one I have with a friend from high school.  We don’t see each other often and don’t talk much, especially since she lives in Sweden now.  That said, whenever we get together, it takes no time at all before we are right back to where we always were.  If I had to guess, I think part of the deal is that we never really communicated.  We hung out more.  Basically, we got together to have fun, not to share deep thoughts.  Does not mean that there isn’t an emotional connection there, but it is different when that relationship matters a lot to you, which is more of the situation for the first friend.

In thinking about all of this, I began to wonder if the same thing is true for fandom.  Is Duran like the first friend in that the band means a ton to me and needs to be fed frequently?  Or is it more like the second when I don’t have to speak to that often but when I seek it out, I have a ton of fun?

In many ways, I feel like I have assumed that fandom is like the first friend.  After all, this is part of the reason I do this blog and the question of the day.  I want my fandom to be part of my day-to-day existence.  Am I worried that if I don’t spend time on it every day that my affection will decrease?  Looking back to the last time the band was in between albums, I wrote a lot of blogs about how I worried that if the band didn’t speed up the process, they would lose fans because I worried that the fandom did need to be fed frequently in order to be maintained.

Yet, could it really be more like the second friend in which it doesn’t need constant attention, but when I can get to it, it is a ton of fun?  This could very well be the case.  After all, all it takes is for me to think about a show to get all excited and to put fandom first.  That said, even if it is more like the second type of friend, I really would like both.  I need the fun and excitement from the second friend but the companionship from the first.  I like having the constant presence of those who matter in my daily lives even if the affection could remain without it.

What about the rest of you?  How do you view fandom?  Is it something that you need to feed to keep it alive or does it just take a little fun to restore the love?

-A

Atlantis Resort, Bahamas 2008

I’ve got one question for all of you Duranies out there today. Who was lucky enough to go hang out with the band in the Bahamas back in 2008??? Huh? Show yourselves!!  On this date in 2008, Duran Duran played the Atlantis Resort. Were you there?

Right now, a Caribbean vacation is sounding pretty nice, I must admit. I’ve never been to Atlantis, and I don’t even really have a good memory of this show happening! I couldn’t figure out why I don’t remember it until I thought more about the date, and the year.

My youngest was not even a month old, and unfortunately – I was about to host the memorial for my dad. That’s why I don’t remember anything about it.  There was so much going on at the time, and I was in a fog for sure.

So much of my life memories are tied up with this band. Sometimes I think it’s the only way I remember anything at all – I think about what album was out at the time, or what tour was taking place.  Do we all do that or is it just me?

No matter, I’m looking forward to reading tales of sand, sun and Duran Duran from those of you who were lucky enough to be there! Enlighten me!

-R

Got any plans for Summer of 2020?

I woke up worrying about the blog today. I don’t even know why. I think this might be a sign or symptom of the amount of stress I’m carrying around these days. Moving is hard. I keep telling my husband that it would be far more motivating if I knew where we were going, like maybe if we’d already bought a house or actually knew what city we were going to end up in. Right now, all I’ve got is a short list of houses I really like in a very wide area going from Camarillo to the south (of Santa Barbara) alllllll the way up to Atascadero and South Paso Robles to the north. (yes, those places are far from Santa Barbara. It’s a long story. Just go with it for now.) Meanwhile, there’s still this  “Boston” possibility hanging in the air. Walt is going out there in a couple of weeks, and at the moment it’s possible that I’ll go along with him. That could change though because the timing is, of course, really bad with family graduations, birthdays, and moves home from college. I find myself asking (very loudly) when am I ever going to find the time to go house hunting anywhere. Thank goodness for Zillow.

No one really answers back. That’s probably best given that most of the time I’m alone while asking.

My last day at work is next Thursday. It’s the little one’s last week at school for summer. I still don’t know where she’ll go to school after what I think might be the shortest summer of my life…and then this morning I woke up worrying about the blog.

The blog is fine. It really is. I’ve felt as though I’ve neglected it a bit lately, right along with my writing. I don’t know when I’m going to find time to actually write this summer. It’s a small price to pay, I suppose, but writing keeps me sane. Blogging will at least continue, book writing may not for a bit. I am worrying for no reason about things I can’t even deal with right now.

I had big Daily Duranie plans for the summer, including a convention that I’m going to have to push out until I’m moved (I can’t plan a convention when I don’t even know where I’m going to be traveling from to get there. Bad timing – so once I know when and where I’m going, I can figure out the rest. I’m disappointed, but I just can’t do it all), and a visit with Amanda. I need to hang out with my best friend. I miss her. One way or another that has to happen. Then there’s a girls trip with Amanda and our other two friends. We need a getaway. I’m still trying to figure out how I can squeeze that in, because we are way overdue for a catch-up. I’m hoping the answers will reveal themselves soon. I don’t do very well without some basic plan, and I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants now since December. I hate it.

Amanda and I did chat on the phone last week. That might not seem like a big deal to you, but I think I can count on one hand the amount of times we’ve done so since January. Times have indeed been tough. I welcomed her phone call though, and it was good to hear her voice. She gave me a little shred of hope that life WILL return to some sort of normalcy, because she asked me one question that snapped me back into my typical, Duranie-self.

“Got any plans for summer of 2020?”

Wow. I can’t even plan for next month, right now.  It is a very strange feeling, after living in the same place for twenty years, to know that in 2020, I have no idea where I’ll be living. Where will I be when Amanda and I are planning and plotting? Forget all of that, where is my family going to spend Christmas this year? It is SO weird to know it’s probably not going to be in this house. (For that matter, we just got rid of our 9-ft tall artificial Christmas tree, so….) So no, Amanda, I don’t have plans for 2020. I’m sure I’m about to make some, though!

She went on to tell me about the Katy Kafe with John Taylor and how he gave a full laundry list of ideas they had for celebrating their 40th and so on. I hadn’t even had time to listen to the Kafe at that point last week, so I welcomed her explanation of how it all went down. John talked about having some sort of show in Birmingham, and that was as far as she got before I stopped her. “We are going!”

Sure, John might have lofty ideas. Chances are, nothing he wants to do will actually come to full fruition. That isn’t really the point though, at least not for me. I need something. I need something to give me some motivation to get through what I think has to be one of the most stressful life events: moving.

The weekend before last, Walt and I took every single box down out of our attic. Turns out that he wasn’t lying when he said I was a packrat. Somehow, I’d saved nearly every single thing my kids touched as babies (and what’s weird is that I know I’ve given away a ton of stuff to charity over the years!). I went through box after box, blinking back tears on occasion. It was awful. I’m beginning to come to the realization that not only are we moving, but we’re closing a chapter on the childhoods of my two oldest kids. I am not a fan.  I’m overly emotional at times, downright sentimental at others, and suffering from hot flashes at the same time. God, I love middle age.

So for me, even the possibility of going to London, Birmingham or pretty much anywhere during the summer of 2020 is incentive for me to get my act together, get this house moved and my family settled. I have two years to make it all happen. I want to see friends, I want to go back to places I enjoy. I want to actually live. Right now, I feel like I’m just closing up shop to move on. I’m looking forward to getting past it.

Yes, I know how quickly other fans want to pee in my bowl of cornflakes (I hate cold cereal anyway), but you know – it’s OK to let fans just have some hope. Why not? Is it really hurting anyone?  The same goes with the band recording a new album – does it really hurt anyone to have hope that they’ll record again? I mean, as a fan, why wouldn’t you want to believe that they’re not completely finished?  It’s the one thing I’ve never really understood about people. Hope is a powerful motivator, and you know – I need it. So I’m tucking it into my pocket, and grabbing another box to fill.

-R

Rolling Stones Continuous History of Rock & Roll

On this date in 1983, Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” was featured on a radio album called “Rolling Stones Continuous History of Rock & Roll”. It was show #85, and it was released by ABC Rock Radio Network on this date.  It was meant to be aired on the various stations within the ABC network, and if you look hard enough for it online – you’ll find copies floating around.

The show itself was entitled “The British Rockers”, which seems appropriate, and was an hour-long program. It featured songs from the 1960’s up to 1982.  The album was used for license broadcast in the USA on this date, and was even issued with cue cards for presenters. So, if you listened to the broadcast in Los Angeles, for example, your local radio host would be presenting the broadcast in the same format with the same script as the host in New York.

“Girls on Film” was included on this album, and as fans will remember, it did not chart during its initial release. Rolling Stones Continuous History of Rock & Roll: 85, having been released in 1983, took place just as the song, and the band itself, became wildly popular here in the states.

Track Listing:

 

  • Girls on Film” – Duran Duran
  • “I Saw Her Standing There” – The Beatles
  • “Come Dancin” – The Kinks
  • “Get Off My Cloud” – The Rolling Stones
  • “The Shape You’re In” – Eric Clapton
  • “Eminence Front” – The Who
  • “All Right Now” – Free
  • “Spirits In The Material World” – The Police
  • “Red Skies At Night” – The Fixx

 

Its Time to Take the Pressure Off

This morning, Duran Duran asked what one song energizes and gets fans going.  I stopped and thought a bit. I think this question might have been far too difficult for a Monday morning, at least for me.

Possibilities abound. I think first to the live shows. Should I choose “[Reach up for the] Sunrise”, because at every show when it’s played I feel as though I’ve caught a second wind? What about “Careless Memories”? Although they’ve neglected it lately, when that song starts, it feels like a train – you either get on board with it or get run over. I love it! How about “All You Need is Now”? I adore that song, but does it really energize me or just send me back in time? “Pressure Off” is pretty darn good too – I mean, that tune just keeps me in the moment, and sometimes, that is exactly what I need. Then of course there’s “Rio”. How can I not dance to that?  It reminds me of sun, sand, and everything I love about the beach and summer. I can’t forget “Hungry Like the Wolf”. When I’m in that audience and I hear the first chords, I know what is going to happen next. John and Dom are going to come front and center, and I’m going to dance (and sing) whether I like it or not. Does it make me move? Um, yeah it does!

I also think about here at home. What do I put on when I’m cleaning, or more likely these days, packing? “Is there Something I Should Know” gets my happy feet moving. It is my favorite song for a reason. “Late Bar” is another, although I tend to sing that one at the top of my lungs, which is not necessarily quite as welcomed by my family as one might think!  I’ll even put on “Big Thing”, or “Red Carpet Massacre” from time to time, just to get myself up and going. I am not an energizer bunny – I need something!

Then there is the car. I leave for work just before 7 am, and I don’t know about the rest of you out there,  but I’d love my job a lot more if it started at like, 10 am! I’m up by no later than 5:30, and although I’m awake for my drive, sometimes I need more than just my trusty travel mug of coffee to get me in good spirits for the day. No, I’m not talking about adding vodka to it!! (although there are days…and then there are DAYS…) I’ll start to see my youngest nearly curling up in a fetal position for the drive, and I know I’d better get some tunes on the stereo.

When I think about it, there is at least one song on every single album that is my go-to shot for energizing. “Friends of Mine”, “Rio”,  “New Moon on Monday”, “Notorious”, “Big Thing”, “Violence of Summer”, “All Along the Water”, “Too Much Information”, “White Lines”, “Big Bang Generation”,  “Electric Barbarella”, “Last Day on Earth”, “Sunrise”,  “Red Carpet Massacre”, “All You Need is Now”, “Other Peoples Lives”, “Pressure Off”, “Last Night in the City” and yes, even “Danceophobia” (we all have our weak moments!!)—it is a playlist to wake me up, keep me going, and make me smile, even during the times when I’d rather just curl up somewhere and cry.

I guess the real question is what I listen to first, and given that the playlist I just compiled won’t quite fit into a tweet, I must choose one. So for today, I’ve got to go with “Pressure Off”. When I think back on the past few years – it is the song I listen to most often, and it  works exactly as I think Simon and the band intended. It reminds me to breathe. I’ve needed that a lot lately, along with something to energize me! I’m off to do more packing, and just GUESS what song I’m putting on first!?

-R