I truly love my summers. One of the biggest reasons that I love this time of year is my ability to communicate with friends more. During the school year, I don’t have a lot of times that I can check in with friends, focus on social media or surf the internet. I can’t check my email or my twitter during the 5 hours in front of students and in between those times, I’m super busy getting ready. Trust me, I’m often envious of those with desk jobs! Anyway, yesterday, I found myself chatting with a couple of friends and soon enough the discussion pivoted towards Duranies. This isn’t surprising, right? You have to know that I talk about Duran and fandom a LOT, especially when chatting with Rhonda. What was the focus of this conversation? Simple. Male Duranies. Of course, this isn’t the first time I have thought about male Duranies. Heck, I have even blogged about it a couple of times. (Here is a classic one, if you are interested.)
As a student of fandom, I have always been interested in how fans are treated both by both people within the fandom and outside of the fandom. As someone who also has a women’s studies minor, I am intrigued by differences between male and female fans and how they are treated, which leads me back to today’s discussion with Rhonda and a mutual friend of ours. At some point in the conversation, the topic of favorite band members came up. (I suspect that this is a frequent topic of discussion for many Duranies.) As we have discussed on this blog before, many of us had favorite band members as kids when we first became fans. Heck, I don’t hide the fact that John Taylor has been my favorite since 1984 when I was 8. I’m not even kidding. It seemed that back in the 1980s, friendship groups would often have a Simon fan, a Nick fan, a Roger fan, etc. so that there were no repeats. Only one person could like Nick, for example. Why is that? As kids, there was the fantasy element to fandom, right? We all thought that we would somehow meet our favorite and romance would ensue! Therefore, you couldn’t have multiple friends having the same favorite! That is like having the same boyfriend! That just doesn’t work!!!
When we fast forward to present day, I wonder what has stayed the same and what has changed in terms of how people feel and express about their fandom. Many female fans still have favorite band members. I do. Rhonda does. We don’t hide that. Most (all?! almost all?!?) of us understand that the childhood fantasy of meeting and falling in love with your favorite is simply that: a fantasy. It is not going to happen and I’m pretty certain that many/most/almost all/all of us know that, logically. Yet, why do we still have favorites? Does that enhance our fandom? It probably doesn’t. Despite that, they remain. It might not be a situation in which we put up more posters of our favorite now but does it still come to play when seeing a live show? Do I, for example, have more live shots of John over the rest of the band members? Do I pay more attention to him on stage? I think that is probably true and I can definitely think of fans who are so obvious with their favorites when taking pictures or videos. Still, I would say that having favorites is harmless, right? I mean, after all, who can really control who they are attracted to or drawn to? I certainly now have plenty of friends who also claim John as their favorite and we are all okay with that because…again…we grew up and use logic. It isn’t the same as having the same boyfriend.
Then, I start to dig a little deeper. I start thinking about the subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle competition that goes on in our little fandom. My favorite example is always after a show. Let’s say, there is one group of fans who know where the band is going to be after the show. Do they tell the other group(s) of fans? In some cases, they might, but in many cases, they don’t. Why? (Before people start freaking out on me and talking about how this doesn’t happen, let me just be perfectly clear. It does. I have seen it happen and I have seen it more than once.) What are people concerned about? Are they worried for the band’s safety? My guess is probably not. Are they worried that the band might be overwhelmed and leave? Sure. That is possible. I suspect, however, that it might have more to do with the remnants of days long ago. Who wants competition for the favorite, right? Do I think that fans are thinking this consciously? Probably not but is it possible that thoughts like that are still stuck in our brains, buried deep? I think so. Let’s face it. We all want time with the band and our favorite, in particular. More people means less time per person, right? More people might mean less chance for an autograph or a photo. Because of this, female fans might start to react very territorially to their favorites even if they don’t realize that they are doing it, causing negativity and bad blood between fans.
This, of course, leads me back to male fans. First of all, do male fans have favorite band members? Did they choose favorites when they first became fans like so many female fans did? If so, were those favorites subjects of personal fantasies for the male fans? Do those favorites continue today? Does this play a role in how male fans treat other male fans or even female fans?
I suspect that there aren’t many male fans who have favorite band members. I will be asking today to find out! I also am willing to bet that there aren’t many male fans who experience that competition like I described above. Are they shut out of where the band is, ever? If not, could it be that the other fans, females or otherwise, do not view them as competition or threats?
What do you think? Do male fans experience our fandom differently because they don’t have favorite band members?