Category Archives: Beliebers

Is Fandom an Adolescent Thing? A Girl Thing?

Yesterday, my writing partner discussed an article written in the Wall Street Journal in an attempt to explain Justin Bieber “fever”.  If you are interested in reading the article, you can go here.  If you would like to read Rhonda’s take on it, you can go here.  While I don’t disagree with the points Rhonda made on the blog or points made by other people on facebook, the article did not sit well with me.  After having a few days to really look at it, I can now (hopefully) explain why. 

The premise of the article from what I could see was to explain the screaming teen behavior that is currently found in Justin Bieber fans but had been found in Elvis fans, Beatles fans and even with a little band called Duran Duran and their fans.  They quoted experts including a neuroscientist, a sociologist, psychologists, a professor of communications, and a psychiatrist.  That’s all fine and good.  Cool.  No problem.  They also spoke with some young Bieber fans and their parents.  Again, fine.  As Rhonda pointed out that a large part to the article was this idea that when people hear familiar and favorite music, that neurotransmitters are released in the brain and these are the same ones involved in pleasure and addiction.  That seems logical to me.  The author also states that music one likes as a teen actually becomes wired into the brain, which is why adults like the music from when they were kids.  I can’t argue with that, either.  To me, that does explain a lot about how fandom begins.  What I can argue with is the emphasis on adolescence and on females.

The article is framed in a way to explain young girls infatuation with Justin Bieber.  The other examples of fandom also were of young girls.  Heck, Duran Duran could have been included in that.  Yet, not all fans of Justin, Elvis, the Beatles or Duran were young girls.  Many, many fans became fans later in life.  Many of our readers might be people who became fans later in life.  Yes, I’ll agree that those pleasure and addiction neurotransmitters can happen at any time of life.  Yes, they can happen enough to make for solid wiring within the brain.  Sure.  This could explain why and how fans become fans NO matter what AGE.  Yet, the author and the article didn’t say that.  Instead, we are left thinking that fandom is only about teenagers and mostly, female teenagers at that.  Thus, while trying to present fandom as normal, which the article does for the most part, it also locks fandom into a “stage in adolescent development” and to a gender.  How does that help older fans like myself?  How would that work for all of the male Duranies I know are out there?  

Male fans of pop/rock stars were completely ignored in this article.  The article mentions how girls fall for pop stars as an early, but safe entry into romantic and/or sexual interest.  Okay.  Sure.  I can go with that.  That couldn’t happen to boys, too?  Young gay boys couldn’t have been interested in male pop stars for the same reason?  What about the fact that there are a lot of female pop stars now?  No boy has been interested in Madonna or Beyonce for the same reason I might have liked John Taylor?  Really?  No, they say that most boys were more interested in athletes because they could emulate them.  Couldn’t I have emulated Madonna?  Why would I have been interested in a romantic fantasy at age 10 and not looking to have a role model of the same gender?  Why boys be the only ones to do this?  How would this work for straight boys who started liking Duran at an early age?  Could some boy have become a fan in order to be like Simon?  Or Roger?  Nope, the author didn’t offer this as a possibility.  Instead, the focus was on how the pop star created a fantasy for the young girl.

At the end of the article, the author talked to this parent who commented about how her daughters lost interest with Bieber when he began dating.  In this parent’s opinion, it was all about the fantasy of having Justin as a boyfriend.  Once the fantasy was gone, so did the interest.  Does this contradict the earlier notion from the neuroscientist that said that once certain music was wired into the brain, it would release those pleasure neurotransmitters?  Perhaps, so.  Now, is it possible that for these two girls it was all about this boyfriend fantasy?  Sure.  Maybe, the music had nothing to do with it.  Yet, for a lot of fans it is and was about the MUSIC.  It was never really about the fantasy of having a Duran member as a boyfriend.  Not really.  If that was the case, wouldn’t I have lost interest a long time ago?  Again, I ask.  Why would a straight guy ever like them if it was all about this romantic fantasy? 

All in all, I like the idea that science can explain that there is something chemical related to fandom.  To me, it gives a reason that most people can’t argue against.  I just wish that the science included in this article wasn’t surrounded by stereotypes that all fandom is about teenage girls who fantasize about their idol(s).  This definitely feeds into the stigma that I and every other adult Duranie has to deal with.  People then assume that adult fans are simply people who refuse to grow up, who are stuck in some sort of perpetual immaturity.  It also completely ignores the male fans while presenting female fans as people who are only fans because the pop star is cute.  Yes, in my case, I thought and think that the members of Duran are attractive.  I’m alive, aren’t I?  Yet, it is much more about their music than it ever was about their looks.  To assume anything else is offensive.

-A

We really ARE wired this way!!

I’m sure most of you have read the Wall Street Journal article from Tuesday, “Inside the Brains of Bieber Fans”.  You can read the article here. While I recognize most, if not all of us are well-beyond Justin Bieber at this point, this article could have easily been written thirty years back on Duran fans and been every bit as applicable.  The article even points out that back in the days of Franz Liszt (classical musician from the times of Romanticism during the 1800’s), his fans would throw their garments at him and fight over locks of his hair.  Sound familiar???

We’ve commented many times over the “addiction” Duran Duran seems to have caused many of us over the years, and while my tongue might have been firmly planted in my cheek at the time, it appears I was more correct than I wish to believe.  Hearing those familiar chords of Rio or even Hungry Like the Wolf release dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter involved in pleasure and even addiction.  That rush you feel when Simon does his super-cool karate-style moves at the end of Notorious, or when there’s an especially good JoSi moment on stage, or even when Roger dares to twirl his stick or Nick gives you a good smile?  It’s as intense as the feeling a chocoholic gets when they grab a square of their most favorite treat, and yes, it really IS addictive.  
This is no surprise to the many fans who have stuck by Duran Duran over the years.  There’s no arguing that when we see them live, we leave wanting more…and we chase after that same “high” we’ve experienced prior.  There is a reason why many fans do as many shows as possible on a tour, and that there really is science behind it all.
Can this addiction be harmful?  Like anything in life, moderation is key.  Sadly, I’ve forgotten what moderation actually means.  In this particular article, being on a computer for five or six hours a night following Justin Bieber blogs is given as an example of too much.  If you could only see my blank stare at the moment…  If that weren’t enough, the example of a person mortgaging their home only to go to New York and sleep on a sidewalk in order to facilitate their child’s addiction is also cited as being over the line.  First of all, and in my defense, my house was already mortgaged, thanks.  I will owe Wells Fargo for many more years, thank you.  Secondly, who said this was for my kid???  
The last nail in the coffin comes near the end of the article, when of course there’s a dissenting opinion of what is truly normal.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I tend to be wary of folks who tell me what is normal, especially when they don’t appear to recognize good fun.  In this case, Robert Epstein, author of Teen 2.0: Saving our Children and Families from the Torment of Adolescence, holds the hammer firmly in his grip when he says “Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing even slightly developmentally normal or healthy about ‘Bieber Fever’ and similar teen extremisms.”  
Robert Epstein clearly needs to get a life and find some fun out there before he starts giving advice on how to kill the spirit of our adolescents.  
-R

Broadening Duran Duran’s Fan Base

We all love Duran Duran’s newest album, All You Need is Now.  The entire fan base has thrown themselves behind this album in a way that hasn’t really been done since the early days of the first album and Rio.  Despite the band touring, shooting song videos and a dedicated online presence in social media, album sales simply haven’t been there.  This is clearly a problem because without album sales, the band will lack funds, motivation, etc.  Commercial success is important.  Without that success, the band will likely cease to continue. We can’t have that happen.  As fans, we have to do our part to broaden their fan base.  This means embracing the younger generation.  As much as we don’t wish to share the band, we need to in order to have the band continue.  

In attempts to try and find a solution, we look to current, more youthful and popular acts amongst the younger demographic (18-25 year olds) as possible support acts for tours.  While there are many artists that have captured that youth audience, we need to find one that creates the same level of hysteria among females.  Let’s face it – it has always been females that have been the core audience of Duran Duran and other other wildly popular artists throughout rock and roll history. (For instance, The Beatles, Elvis Presley, etc.)  We also aspire to find an artist who uses their fan base as a catalyst for sales and activity.  We want to continue to promote a sort of synergy between artist and fan base.  Duran Duran has made such huge inroads in connecting with their fan base, we very much wish for this to continue.  
Based on all of our extensive research, including this blog here, we feel that there is a very strong case for working with Justin Bieber.  Both Rhonda and Amanda have continued to become increasingly captivated by his work, obvious talent, and fan outreach.  Not only is his fan base incredibly youthful, they are willing and ready to go to work for Justin in any moment, creating hysteria, sales, and press interest in a way the world hasn’t seen since at least 1984.  Just as Duran fans have a name for themselves that they take to heart (Duranies), Justin Bieber fans call themselves Beliebers, and truly embrace the idea of being his army.  There’s no denying the effect that they have on Justin’s continued success. 
Now, we both know the question that is floating through our readers heads right now.  Why would Justin ever want to work with Duran Duran?  Obviously the band has been around a while.  They know how to deal with fan hysteria.  They know what it’s like to have their fan base age.  They know how to do handle long term success with a long term career.  Justin’s fans can learn from Duran’s fans.  We know what it is like to see our idols age.  We’ve learned how to tour appropriately.  We know what it’s like to go from having the band as the posters on our walls to staying in the same hotel as the band on tour.  Therefore it’s a win-win situation for everyone from Duran to Justin to their collective fan base.  
We are advocating for this quality of music to join forces with Duran’s quality of music by having Justin Bieber as the opening act for the 2012 US tour.  One might be curious as to how Justin’s catalog might fit in.  In fact, they would rightly complement each other.  Justin’s musical style has a slight urban feel to it at times, and as we all know, Duran Duran has worked with urban producers many times during their tenure.  For example, Duran Duran’s last album, Red Carpet Massacre, was completed with the fantastic hip and modern producer Timbaland.  Everyone knows his amazing work on Night Runner, Skin Divers and Zoom In set off the entire album as a timeless classic.  As Nick Rhodes himself has said, he feels the album will stand the test of time.  So, it is clear that the two catalogs of music, while distinctly different, very much complement one another.  
For the past year, fans have sat back and effectively been the Monday Morning Quarterbacks   in trying to explain the lack of sales and excitement surrounding what has quite possibly been one of the best albums Duran Duran has ever completed.  It’s now time to be proactive rather than reactive and offer an effective solution, which is why Rhonda and Amanda are calling fans to action.  Let’s promote the idea of a Justin Bieber/Duran Duran tour for the US! Daily Duranie is in the process of getting a petition ready, and we want each and every one of you to sign it, and share it widely so that we can get as many Duranies on board as possible.  This is a huge opportunity for power of the fans to speak and help to insure the bands future for many years to come.  
In closing Rhonda and Amanda are posting a youtube clip of Justin’s new song “Boyfriend”.  Embrace the Bieber.  You know you wanna.  
– A & R