I teach my students that culture is a way of life of a group of people who share similar beliefs and customs. I can pull out two main parts to help with my question: beliefs and customs. Obviously, I think we do share similar beliefs, at least when it comes to Duran Duran. We think their music is fabulous. I think for most Duranies, we also think that there videos are pretty great, too. I’m willing to bet that we might also think that the band members themselves are pretty terrific. These beliefs, in fact, are essential in the definition of a Duranie. All Duranies think that their music is great. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be Duranies, right? Now, of course, this is all in the general sense. We might not agree on which songs are the most fabulous and which songs are the least fabulous, but overall we all agree that the music is great. Beyond the music, though, we might have lots of differences on a personal level, especially on big issues like religion and politics. I think that is okay as many people belong to multiple cultures. We don’t need to have similar beliefs about everything. We just need to have similar beliefs about Duran to have a Duranie culture. Thus, we have the first part of the definition about culture. What about the customs?
Here’s where it is more complicated I think. Customs are actions. Beliefs are about what we think and customs are about what we do. Maybe it would help to think about what are some of the things Duranies do. Duranies talk about Duran. They might do it on message boards, on social networking sites, or among friends. Duranies might also spend money on Duran, including on albums, concert tickets, merchandise, and more. Some Duranies might express their beliefs in an artistic format through art, graphics, music mixes and fanfic. Yet, all of these things could represent just fandom, in general. Do those actions, those customs represent something specific to Duran?
What kind of customs do people think of when they think about Duran and specifically about Duran? In thinking about their music, their videos, their lifestyles, a few things pop up as essential Duran Duran. First, I think about having a good time. This is the band that claimed way back when they they wanted to be the band playing when the bomb dropped. This is the same band who Simon often states as “the band designed to make you party”. Even during horrible times and world events, Duran has recorded songs about having fun, about partying. Yes, I know that they have released songs that are much more serious as well. That’s true but those songs, those moods don’t hit me as quickly as the party, fun music does. Most of those more serious songs are also hidden in veiled lyrics, masking the seriousness of it. Beyond the partying, I also think of Duran as artistic.
I remember hearing Nick say something about Duran is like a multi-media corporation. They weren’t satisfied to just make music. They had to create small films (video) and they were concerned about fashion. Obviously, some of the band members have dived into the art world more than others. Nick did it with his photography and John has done his share with graphics and even acting. I would go further to say that Duran’s artistic nature is contemporary and often thought-provoking. An example of this, of course, is the album cover for All You Need Is Now. They got people talking, which is part of art, in my opinion. They don’t always go for what is beautiful but for something with more depth, more meaning.
So, if Duran Duran’s biggest focuses are on music, art and parties, where does that leave the fans? Do the fans participate or focus on the same things? If not, does that mean that there is no Duranie culture or does it mean that not all fans participate in the culture? I obviously cannot speak for all Duranies about whether or not they focus on the same things. Personally, I admit that I enjoy a good party and love modern art. I may not party exactly like they did or do but I like to have a good time. The same can be said for art. I’m not really big into fashion but really like the visual arts. For example, if I am on vacation, it is common to find me in an art museum, especially in the contemporary arts section. Can I live their lifestyle? Obviously not. I do travel some but nothing like they have or do. I don’t have the time or the money for that. I like staying in hotels but they aren’t always the best in the world. For me, touring is a chance to get as close to that lifestyle as I can, in a way. Overall, though, I feel some connection to Duran, on a cultural level as I seem to share some customs, in my own way.
So, what about the rest of you? Do you feel a cultural connection to these elements of Duran Duran? Did I miss some essential Duran elements? What if you don’t seem to have that connection? Do you think that means that there is no Duranie culture or is it based on something completely different? Perhaps, it is a situation where some Duranies are part of a culture and others are not. What do you think?