Yesterday, I wrote a blog about favorite band members, male fans and the competition that too often is experienced by female Duranies. As part of that blog, I went ahead and asked the question: “If you are a male Duran fan, do you have a favorite band member? If so, what does favorite mean to you?” I got many, many responses both on Facebook and on Twitter and hope to get more as the more responses I get, the more accurate my conclusions are (from a social scientist point-of-view!).
One thing I immediately realized right after asking the question is what do female fans mean by favorite band members. I assumed that many/most/almost all female (straight or bisexual) fans, at least, initially chose their favorite band member because they found them attractive. Perhaps, of course, that personality, sense of style, interactions with fans and on interviews, musicianship and more has reinforced that initial attraction over time such that most female fans now have a favorite for a variety of reasons. Goodness knows, that is how I would describe why and how John Taylor became my favorite. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. He turned his head to look at the camera in the Reflex video and I was done. I was from then on a John fan, a John girl. It was about his looks first and foremost, at least back in 1984. Is it now about his looks? Obviously, if you read my blog on his birthday, you would realize that it isn’t.
Based on this assumption, I wanted to know. Do male fans have favorites? If so, did they pick a favorite like I did or like so many female fans I know. Was it about the band member’s looks? If not, what was it? While I got a range of responses, it became very clear to me, very quickly is that most male Duranies fall into one of two camps when it comes to favorites. The first camp is the no favorites camp. These fans love the band as a whole. They might definitely appreciate one band member for this and another band member for that but one band member does not really rise about the rest. For these fans, it is all about the collective. I can imagine that for these fans, they prefer group pictures over individual ones, follow everyone on stage and seek out picture taking opportunities equally between band members.
The other camp is the “I do definitely have a favorite” camp. For these male fans, they do have favorite band members and these favorites might have been favorites since they became fans. Unlike my story or so many female fans I know, they didn’t necessarily choose the favorite because they were attracted to the band member’s looks in the same way that female fans were/are attracted. For most female fans with favorites, it was about being attracted to that band member, romantically and sexually. For the majority of male fans who responded to me, the attraction is more about appreciation of style or personality. They aren’t attracted to that band member out of some romantic fantasy but because they want to be LIKE that band member. They admire something about that band member. They don’t want to be WITH the band member like many female fans do. Thus, for those male fans, I got a lot of responses having to do how much they admired someone’s personal style or personality characteristics. There was a LOT of mentions about the band member’s musical skills as well. Would we get the same from female fans? If not, why not? And, if a female fan talked about musical skills would that get respect or would the female fan’s opinion be mocked. Something to think about, I guess, and probably another whole blog topic, in and of itself.
Of course, there are male fans that don’t fit into either of these camps. For example, men who responded who do not consider themselves straight did respond more about the favorite band member’s looks than other male fans. This could lead me to conclude that the band member’s looks matter in picking favorites when fans are attracted to men. It is more about sexual orientation than gender, perhaps.
The follow up question to all of this has to do with the second part of my theory. Since male fans, generally, don’t pick out favorite band members in the same way that most females do, do they experience the same level of competition that female fans often experience? I guess that would require another survey on my part. From the few conversations that I had yesterday, I suspect that they do not. This makes me think of other fandoms which do not have favorites much at all or which are made up of mostly men. Then, I wonder how our fandom could combat this, to rise above, to create a more harmonious and generous fan community rather than a community filled with competition.