I Can’t Escape the Ghost of…Fandom

I can’t escape fandom.  I don’t really know that anyone can in modern American culture as fans are everywhere, but I really feel like I cannot escape it if I tried.  Just this week, I had a number of times that fandom rears its head (good, bad and ugly) that showed me that my study of fandom and my reaction to it will never really be done, even if the book on it has been written.  Each time that it popped up, I paused, took in the situation, thought about it and silently filed my reaction to it.

Just yesterday, for example, fandom entered my classroom in the form of a super excited high school student.  A couple of the University of Wisconsin-Madison basketball players were in the school to be guest speakers for a class.  One of my students (a female student, I might add) found this out and had been talking about her desire to meet one of them ALL week.  Clearly, she came to me to discuss her interest because she knows that I know what it is like to be a fan of something.  The first time she mentioned it was on Monday and the excitement and conversation about it increased as the event got closer until, finally, this basketball star came to visit.  My student arrived to class shouting with excitement.  She was all flushed and couldn’t sit still!  Instead, she wanted to tell everyone and anyone about her interaction with this player and to show the picture she got.  I smiled a lot at hearing her story and seeing her enthusiasm.  I understood exactly how she was feeling!  When other students began commenting on how this basketball player isn’t that good, I stopped them and explained that fandom is just about feelings and passions, which is hard to understand if you don’t have it.  The class got quiet after that.  Fandom really is about passion for something or someone and this student of mine had it in abundance!

The passion of fandom doesn’t always translate to excitement.  Sometimes, it translate to frustration or anger or some other less than positive response.  Interestingly enough, I found myself having that reaction on Monday night with the last of the new X-Files episodes airing!  The show ended with a cliffhanger, which feels like torture when the fans, like me, don’t really know if or when the show will be back.  I immediately expressed my feelings online and chatted briefly with some other X-Files fans.  This is very different from how I am with my Duran fandom.  Typically, when something is announced in Duranland, I might have a gut response, a fly off the handle response BUT…like I am at work, I have learned that it is better to think, to let the information sit there for a second or two or 200 before I really react.  In doing this blog, I have developed this pattern as I know that if put some emotion out there without really thinking it through that I’m usually inarticulate and unclear, which can result in really negative reactions back from our readers.  That said, I have to admit that I enjoyed just reacting to the X-Files episode.  I like that I don’t really have any connection to the X-Files fan community other than being an observer from a far and even that might be taking it too far as I don’t really even watch their fan community much.  This, of course, is also very different than how I am with Duran.

My Duran Duran fandom is really just pretty unique.  Sometimes, I long for those days when I was totally anonymous and no one in the community knew me and when I didn’t know anyone back.  Yet, I know that I couldn’t go back to that, no matter if I tried.  I am someone who blogs on a daily basis.  I’m someone who organizes fan events and plans full-blown Duranie conventions.  I am not the same kind of fan that I am with X-Files, which reminds me of a conversation I had with a colleague at work.  He asked me how long I have been a Duran Duran fan.  I explained to him that I became a fan at 8, over 30 years ago.  After he got over that shock, he asked me if my fandom is the same as it was.  I immediately laughed.  A LOT.  Ah…no.  My fandom is now VERY different than it was when I was a kid.  When I was a kid, I was pretty happy listening to the music on the local Top 40 channel or on my record player.  Their music videos and documentaries like Sing Blue Silver were watched over and over and over again.  I looked forward to buying the latest issue of Bop or Tiger Beat and placing those little posters on my wall.  I dreamed of seeing the band in concert.  Now, I don’t spend a lot of time listening to the radio or even watching those videos.  On top of being too busy, my fandom is now focused on things like touring.  If someone told my 8 year old self that I would travel to see the band play concerts, I wouldn’t have believed them.  Once I experienced touring, I couldn’t go back to being content with what my fandom was.  I think the same would be true, really, when it comes to writing or doing fan events.  It would feel weird not to.  Those activities, related to my fandom, have become truly part of my day-to-day existence in a way that X-Files is not.

These events reminded me that fandom comes in so many forms from the squeeing teenage girl to the casual fan tweeting a reaction to the latest release to someone like me who dived so deep into her fandom that it can no longer be separated from the rest of life.  It seems to me that all types of fans, from the casual fan (like my X-Files example) to the more serious (like my student) to the most intense like me and Duran, are worthy.  I’m happy that I get to be or got to be a little like all those types of fans.  It brings an understanding of fandom that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

-A

4 thoughts on “I Can’t Escape the Ghost of…Fandom”

  1. I definitely get what you mean. There are things I like a lot, but I do not consider myself a “fan” in the same way. I love many other bands, for instance, but knowing how I am about DD, I know that to the hardcore fans of those other bands, I am just a casual fan for the most part. I would not generally call myself by whatever nickname their fandom goes by. Even with someone like Joan Jett or Cyndi Lauper, whom my hubby and I have each seen several times in concert and have copies of all of their albums, I would call myself a fan, but not a part of the fandom community. My hubby even has Joan’s autograph inked on his arm and he would have Cyndi’s on his other arm if she had not refused to sign “skin”. But we do not even really talk to any other fans. It is a vastly different experience from my being a Duranie. To me, that is not just something I enjoy, it is a part of my identity. A major part of my life. And no, I do NOT think that is an issue or a problem. And I DO have a life, thank you.

    …to be continued

    1. Now there are a few other things I really enjoy. I recently had to turn down going to a Rio Duran Duran tribute gig because it is on Sunday night. Now my hubby and I watch Walking Dead. As it airs. And we watch Talking Dead after that. I am choosing to forgo the gig to do that with him. Granted, if it were an actual Duran Duran concert, there would not even be a second thought to anything else that might be going on, with some rare exceptions. (I had to miss the Kimmell taping after spending the entire night in the ER due to an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. Also, back in 2000, I went to 2 of the 6 LA shows and specifically missed the 30 August show because that was my hubby’s birthday.) If it was between a DD show and Walking Dead, of course I would go. That is what TiVo is for. Rio, however, play local gigs fairly often and I will catch the next one.

  2. I think the main difference here is that on top of all the other fandom stuff that I do like every other fan, I also own and operate Daily Duranie with YOU. That’s a daily thing – every day – Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July – every single day. That’s very very different from any other fan I know, so I get what you mean here, Amanda. We can’t escape it, and we can’t put it aside even if we want to go on vacation. We plan in advance and try to make it all work. The website matters that much, and yeah, I do see you and I far differently as result regardless of what others fail to notice. Not better…just differently.

    I noticed you mentioned that you try not to react to things right away when it comes to Duran Duran. I hear you. But I’m not going to lie – I still write with the same type of in-the-moment emotion I always did. You and I are different in that aspect, and sometimes that’s to my detriment. However, it is who I am. At one point, not that long ago, I tried to change that – and in some ways I am still a little more careful about what I *say* on her, but I think I’ve also learned that I just don’t care. If people don’t like what I have to say, they can certainly find other places to get their DD info. And if they respond, they’re likely going to be met with empty air because I just don’t have to answer. As I’ve said before to you and a select few others, that alone has been INCREDIBLY freeing for me.

    I’ve been told many, many times by readers that they don’t have to agree with me, and that if I put myself out there that I should expect for people to rip me apart. Particularly when it comes to this band. True that. The hate mail used to bother me to no end. I would lose sleep and have massive anxiety about my writing because of the constant backlash we used to get. I am 100% certain our readers understand very precious little of what we used to go through here. And people who dismissively say this isn’t work can kiss my ass. Out of everything that has been said, it was that comment that finally put me over the edge. It was completely disrespectful, rude, and INCREDIBLY uneducated, I might add.

    What I don’t have to do is engage, or allow for someone to take my bliss away because they didn’t like what I wrote, or the joke I posted here or on Twitter. Lesson learned. I’m still going to post what I want, and if someone doesn’t like it, that’s THEIR problem, not mine. -R

    1. You understood my point, perfectly, Rhonda. While I know that there are many, many, many fans out there who are very dedicated to Duran Duran and have made their fandom part of their identities, I still feel like we are different because of our commitment to doing this blog on a DAILY basis. That commitment might be deemed weird or not all that important to others, we take it seriously. We take our responsibility seriously. -A

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

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