Category Archives: competition

But Here and Now It’s a Different Storyline Part 2

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.

-A

 

But Here and Now It’s a Different Storyline

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?

-A

“Their knives are out”…OR the Rocky & Bullwinkle alternative title “Dark sun rose on the ridge”

I apologize for the tardiness of the blog today, but as you all know – I am the mother of three, and one of my children needed my attention today more than this blog.  Interestingly enough, said child wasn’t even at home or is even aware of what I’ve been doing, but basically – due to the fact he has High Functioning Autism, his teachers and I are working on a new 504 Plan, and we’re actually trying to decide if returning him to a full IEP would be appropriate.  I just want the child to go through high school, do well, and feel as though he at least has the option to attend college.  Options are important.

As I always say, it is never a dull moment. I only took the time to explain this here because much to the shock of some – my life does not revolve around this blog, or even this band.

I think that I am fairly lucky because I have a group of very supportive friends. Rather than find fault, they support. They help me find answers. They might not have extreme interest in the sociology of fandom or even of Duran Duran, but they support ME 100%. I even have a friend who truly cannot pick Simon LeBon out of a lineup (!!!) that is coming with me to the convention in October. She bought her own ticket, she’s after me to get our flights set up, and she is really looking forward to the weekend. That’s true friendship right there. Amanda and I have a friend whose husband happened to see a post on Facebook about a dilemma we’re facing who offered his expertise. Out of nowhere. I thought he was a very cool guy before, and now I have even more respect, because he didn’t have to help us at all. I have a dear, dear friend that I communicate with nearly every day on Twitter because her son and my son both have Autism and have had tough times in school. She’s also an author, a Duranie, and I can say that aside from Amanda – she’s probably the one person I sincerely trust in this community and would go to for advice. Not that I don’t trust others, but there’s a different sort of bond there between the two of us. I count myself lucky.

On the other hand, I see so much disconnect in this community, and I really don’t get it. Every single day I see horrible, hateful things said about everyone from Katy to myself and Amanda as Daily Duranie, people who win contests, and even other authors who just happen to be Duranies. I have to constantly remind myself that no, this really isn’t junior high school or adolescents tweeting about one another – it’s grown women. Why is it SO important? Is winning really that big of a deal? There is far more to life than a CD or a t-shirt or whatever the piddly hell they’re peddling in the name of the band today, and if nobody else will stand up and say that – I will. My goodness, I have won ONE contest in the entire time I’ve been a fan of this band, and it was for a t-shirt. Don’t get me wrong, I love the shirt – but even so – it’s a shirt. If I was counting on those contests to somehow sustain my love for the band or even as a sort of validation to who I am – I would be in huge trouble.

Then there are the people that just want to take the wind out of the sails of others, and they find joy in that. Blows. My. Mind. Jealousy sure runs deep in this community, to an extent that is really kind of frightening. It’s not enough to want everything for yourself when it comes to this band, some have to make sure that no one else gets a single moment of joy either. I just do not understand that sort of sick jealousy. To even assume you’re so different, so unusual that you’re going to make it into that “inner circle” of theirs is also ridiculous. Why is that?  Simple – that boundary is there for a reason. Fans cannot be friends…at least not 99% of the time. Can you even begin to imagine how desperate some of us look to them? We provide their lifestyle. In one sense, we’re just customers. At one point you might have said we were their meal ticket. To move past that into a different sort of function in their lives is highly unusual if not completely abnormal. Sure, they’re humans just like you – but really, how weird is it to become friends with someone who fawns over you at shows and has you up on their wall at home? It’s WEIRD.  Even if you act normal, there is something about the fan/idol connection that rarely works beyond the stage. It is truly RARE, and not something that you can really try to make work. Can’t anybody see that? Why is that so difficult to understand? Saying bad things about other people who have taken their love for the band and done something creative with it STILL won’t make it happen. You can attend every single concert from here to Timbuktu and at the end of it all – the only “experiences” you’re gonna have are the ones you’ve had at the shows. He…whichever ‘he’ is your guy… is still going to go home to his wife, as he well should. So why the jealousy?

It wasn’t so long ago though that I think I fell into that same trap. Back in 2005 and even during the Red Carpet Massacre tours, I got very tired of seeing all of these people win VIP M&G’s, and have their moments with the band. I couldn’t understand why it was that I never won. If that weren’t enough (and really now when I type it – honestly I needed to get myself a life and stop whining), I would feel so let down when I’d hear stories of how so-and-so found the band after a show, had pictures, etc. I started noticing that I’d feel worse after going to shows than leaving joyful, and that being a fan just wasn’t FUN anymore. That’s just stupid!  So I started forcing myself to be happy and thankful for the “wins” of other people.  That’s right, rather than being pissy about their successes, actually toasting them for it.  Cheering them on. Being a good friend. At first, it felt weird. I had to really readjust my thinking. Then after a while, I started noticing just how EASY it was. I felt so much better. It takes a lot of energy to be annoyed and in a bad mood constantly, and so much less to feel joy for someone else…and those are the kinds of people I want to be around and include in my life.  The truly bizarre thing is that after I changed my thinking, good things started happening for me across the board in my life. I love being a fan. Sometimes other fans really get me down with their constant negativity and bitterness towards one another, because I think that the least we can be towards one another is supportive. Sure, we’re not always going to win contests, be the one that the band retweets or even count ourselves as a close friend of a band member. So what? I feel so lucky that I’ve found a supportive group of friends here that I’ve already won the jackpot. My wish for each of our readers, as tomorrow Daily Duranie marks it’s third year of “Life”,  is that they can say the same, whether now or in the future.

-R

 

Fame Puts You There When Things Are Hollow

If there is one thing about this particular fan community that I do not enjoy, it has to be the competitive nature of my fellow participants.  This goes for both males and females in some respects, but in others…let’s be honest…this is some sort of screwy female thing that is truly annoying.

I’m all for a friendly game as long as it doesn’t require me to be on an ice rink with no skates and a taped up broomstick in my hand.  Not following?  Google “broomball”.  Its one of those college games played at ridiculous times of night after a party.  We’ll leave it at that for now, the point being that I am no longer in my twenties, and I’m getting a little tired of the nonsense.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll gladly say it again: the band isn’t going to marry any of us, and for the overwhelming majority, the closest we will ever get to them is that five to ten feet between front row and the stage. So why the constant competition? Is there some sort of trophy that I’m unaware of??

It wasn’t too terribly long ago that I felt that anything I knew about the band needed to be guarded as though it were a precious “State Secret”, not that I actually knew anything of vital importance. Maybe that’s when it changed for me – I realized that anything I knew was obviously “out there” anyway. Others probably knew it too, and honestly, who cares??? It’s the music that mattered to me. I stopped caring about who had what, or rather why I didn’t have something. What I did do was begin caring about how to make all of this more enjoyable as a fan. Rather than work to be the first to know everything as soon as it happens (something that I have never been good at anyway), I started doing what I know I’m good at – being a fan!  I got excited for other people to have their moments with band members, I reveled in watching other people get attention – it’s really kind of exciting to see a friend get picked out of the audience to sing with Simon or introduce him, and there’s also a sort of relief that washes over me when I know that he’s not coming towards me to do it. (I’ll admit, that is where my bravery ends!!) I love planning get togethers and seeing fans get energized even though I have found that I am truly horrible about mingling – something that my counterpart Amanda is much better about doing.  I try to step out of my comfort zone (I am typically at the bar where ever we’re at!) and talk to people as much as possible – and when I do – I get the biggest kick out of expanding my circle of friends.  I think I’ve realized that the real fun is in BEING a fan. I don’t have to pretend that I don’t know some sort of super secret information about a get together later in the evening, I don’t have to hold back information from people – because honestly, I never really know anything!  I’m just like anyone else, and I get excited when other people tell me news I hadn’t heard before.

I don’t see the point in being the first to have the snippets of news coming from the studio, or being the fan that other fans see as having a sort of “in” with the band.  I’ve seen what happens to those fans, and in a lot of cases, they end up being the talk of the fan community, and not necessarily in positive light. I know other fans love that sort of thing, they strive to be buddies with the band and they want that notoriety – and that’s fine for them. We’re all different. I think that in my case, I realize that it’s a far-fetched dream, and it rarely works out the way you think it’s going to anyway. I’m not at all sure that the inner-circle is the best place for someone who is a fan. It is very, very few who breach that boundary, and with good reason. I’m not looking to come out of fandom with a few friends of the last name Taylor, Brown, Rhodes and/or LeBon. The music is what matters and is what brought me here.  This is always a strange sort of paragraph to write because it is not as though I would say no to friendships – my point is that I’m not looking for them any more or less than any other friendships in life.

On the other hand, I *am* looking to come away from all of this with wonderful memories of real friends I’ve made along the way. I want to have fun get-togethers, conventions, tour experiences. There are times when I feel very close to fellow fans, and then there are other times, like today – when I feel a million miles away. Why is it so important to be the one to say “I did that.”…”I planned the convention.”…”I planned the fan get together.”…”I am the one who raised X dollars.”  Why not change the “I” to a “We”?  Everyone wants credit I suppose. I mean, I’m like anyone else – I’m proud of our blog, and I’m proud of planning fan events, and I hope to be proud of our convention when the time comes (I swear we’re still planning – we’ve hit some detours but we’re still working and I promise when we’ve signed a contract with a hotel for the space we’ll tell you everything you need to know!), but I am completely aware that Amanda and I could never do all of it alone. When the time comes for someone else to do a convention, if they want advice or help – I hope they ask. We would be happy to share what we’ve learned (So far, we’ve learned plenty and I won’t even try to lie about that!!) I suppose that sure, once upon a time I believed that there would be some sort of special parade for us because we wrote a blog (HA!!)…but really, the fact is the band doesn’t really acknowledge us any more than they do anyone else, and in some respects, far less. We’re just a couple of fans. That’s fine with us though, because Amanda and I get a lot of enjoyment out of writing the blog – and we can’t wait to have our book published and know that we did it on our own. When it boils down, we’re all fans – and I still don’t understand the competition.

PS – Yeah I know the title is from a Bowie song. It fit and the band covered it anyway.  😀

-R

Taboo Subjects and Other Observations

A large part of fandom is talking about one’s idols, one’s interest.  In Duranland, the conversations should surround Duran Duran’s music, their videos, their DVDs, their live performances, their interviews, their merchandise, and other things directly related to the band and what projects they are involved in.  Of course, in a fandom as long-lasting as ours, sometimes, our discussions have moved beyond things directly connected to the band is doing.  Some of the discussions that I put into that not-so-directly related category include those surrounding the fan club, presales, band members’ politics, promotion, commercial success, band members’ personal lives, awards and other forms of recognition, and more.  Of course, we also talk about our fan community as well.  Over the years, I have come to discover that there are certain trends to these discussions.  I wanted to acknowledge what I have observed and also wanted to ask why some trends exist because it seems to me that there are subjects that we, as a fandom, don’t really tackle or don’t tackle head on.

The discussions surrounding topics directly related to what the band produces tend to get some discussion but not as much as one would think.  For example, here on the blog, our reviews of different songs or videos gets some views and some comments but they are not the most popular, not even when we were discussing the latest album.  On message boards, the discussions related to direct production of the band seem to involve more men than other topics and seem to include more people with a musical background or more musical knowledge.  I can understand why people with more musical knowledge would contribute more to discussions than those people without that same background.  Obviously, people will contribute more to discussions when they feel comfortable and confident with the topic.  Why does there seem to be more men who discuss Duran’s music?  Plus, these types of discussions seem to occur more often on message boards rather than on twitter.  Is this just the nature of the format?  Do these discussions happen less on twitter due to the 140 character limit?  Or does it have more to do with the fans who frequent message boards over twitter and vice versa? 

As far as discussions connected to the band, from my observations, the amount of discussion and the people participating really does seem to vary based on topic.  Topics like recognition and commercial success tend to be ones that people who discuss the music a lot are interested in.  Yet, discussions relating to the fan club and presales tend to include more women and more people on twitter and facebook.  When I go to message boards outside of the DDM one, it seems like presales aren’t happening at all or that people aren’t even going to shows.  It seems like there are completely different worlds between the message boards and the social networking sites.  Why?  I do understand that many people were on message boards and have left.  When asked, most will say that they didn’t like the drama.  What was that drama like?  What was it focused on?  Was it focused on disagreements about the music or disagreements about commercial success?  Was it simply that the two groups of people focused on different discussions and got sick of seeing the other group focus on the topics that they were uninterested in.  Let me give you an example.  It seems to me that there are posters (people who post) on message boards who constantly ask about album sales.  That is very important to them.  If you don’t care about that, I suppose it could be annoying.  Of course, the person focused on commercial success might get sick of threads about the fan club. 

Beyond the topics directly related the band and the ones indirectly to the band are the topics about us, about the fandom itself.  In this blog, we have brought up subjects that we assume would get a lot of people talking and they don’t or the responses are ones that appear to agree with us.  Why?  Again, I provide an example.  The other day, Rhonda posted a blog in reference to a blog from Nick Rhodes’s ex-wife.  In Julie Anne’s blog, she talked about how fans demanded constant attention from Nick that directly impacted time that they had as a family and pondered why people needed so many autographs and photos with/from the band.  The responses that we got on our blog all agreed with Rhonda’s points as well as Julie Anne’s.  Yet, I know that there are fans who think that it would be okay to approach a band member out in public when he isn’t working.  I also know that there are fans who have a ton of pictures and autographs.  Why didn’t those people defend their views and/or actions in our blog?  Why don’t they explain why they think that the band should be approachable at all times or why they do need so many pictures or autographs?  I’m asking without judgement, by the way.  I’m truly curious.

Then, of course, there are all of the discussions surrounding how we, fans, treat other fans.  The reaction, usually, to any discussion about fan drama or social status is to declare that people are immature, or jealous.  Then, they suggest that the fans grow up.  The questions that tend to pop up are, “Why does this exist in this fandom?  Does it happen in all fandoms?”  Everyone is quick to blame and no one seems willing to take ownership of his/her behavior.  Why is that?  It seems to me that the “drama” that seems to happen in fandom takes at least 2 people.  I will openly admit that I have had people in the fandom who I, at one point, called a “friend” and no longer do.  I’m not innocent here either.  In the situations I have been involved in, for me, most of them were directly related to some of the topics I mentioned here in this blog.  The truth is that we all have a philosophy of sorts when it comes to fandom whether we know it or not.  We all have opinions about meeting the band.  We all have opinions about how many shows people should or should not go to.  We all have opinions about what people should know the band and we have thoughts about what people should own or not own.  Yet, instead of having very difficult discussion about what we think a fan should be like, we keep it to ourselves and then judge other fans when they don’t do what you would do.  So, why don’t we have that discussion?  Why is so hard to talk about this?  I’m sure that we don’t because we are worried about being judged.  Maybe, for some, there is concern that they can’t really defend their positions or philosophy.  I fear, though, that until these topics become less taboo, drama and hurt feelings will continue and our fan community will not be as united as it could be.

-A

What does jealousy really do for you?

Good morning…I’m a third of the way back to sanity.  Well, maybe I should call it insanity, but it’s my normal all the same.  One out of the three kids went back to school this morning!  It’s a very quiet morning in my house, as my youngest still isn’t up yet!!  (I suspect that when she does arise, there will be evidence of illness…*sigh*)  I’ve been watching CNN (I’m a news junkie and since the Iowa Caucus is tonight, I’m paying more attention than usual), and even enjoyed an interruption free shower…with hot water!  It’s the small things that make my life super special.

One can certainly tell that things are quiet out in Duranland.  How so??  Within two minutes of checking my Twitter timeline – it was clear that drama had once again taken its rightful place in the community.  I have to say, we’re nothing if not predictable…and 90% female.  (Apologies to the guys out there, who are always very quick to steer me into a good conversation about Duran’s music or other news.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that sort of diversion!!)  Come now, you all knew I’d have to write a little about the drama.  It’s part of what makes our community tick, and to be really blunt, it’s one of the things that fascinates me most.  It’s not the drama itself that entertains me, although there are moments.  It’s the mechanics of it all that make me stop and stare.  I understand the competitive nature of women.  I understand what it means to be territorial, even if that feeling is completely misguided.  I know it is downright exciting to receive a retweet, be followed, or even get a post from a band member.  What I don’t understand is why it’s worth ruining both your own reputation as well as others by saying horrible things about the recipient of said attention…regardless of whether said things are truthful, slight exaggerations, or downright lies.  What you say online is out there permanently. Yes, this is the internet, and I would love to be able to say much of it is done based on the safety of being behind a somewhat anonymous screen – but I’ve seen a lot of you live and in person.  It happens no matter where we are, what we’re doing, or whom we’re with.  We can certainly be a vicious people.  I know it is hard to be excited for someone else when they’ve gotten attention that you’ve been desiring for so long – but is it really that other persons fault? Does it really help to lessen the reputation of that other person??  I am as guilty as anybody else of wondering why “so and so” has been able to find the band so many times, or why that girl always gets a reply back from someone, etc. etc.  What I’ve come to realize though is that sometimes, it’s my own doing!  I’m not the type of person who is just going to barge on up to the front of a line, beg for a pick, insist on a hug, or even run up to the front of a stage….thinking back to Glasgow where for one frightening second too long Amanda and I actually considered staying in our SEATS because we didn’t think it was fair to run to the front of the stage. We missed our chance for a front row spot as a result.  Stupid, I know.  I’m not much of a risk taker I suppose.  I didn’t even ask for a drumstick or a pick when I had the chance.  Why?  Good question, and aside from not wanting to be turned down, I don’t have an answer.  My point though is that sometimes, even when given the chance to have that all-important interaction or attention, I’ll literally run in the other direction!  While there are times when I do catch myself feeling just a little jealous, especially when I feel like some of what I think is the worst behavior possible is rewarded, I remind myself of all the moments I could have had but didn’t take.  Then there are the times that I feel are golden: when someone I know who has had very few opportunities to see the band, have interactions with the band or otherwise has their moment.  They might get a retweet from John, be followed by Simon, get a post from Dom or Roger…or get a picture with any and all them.  How on earth can I be mad about that?  I can’t!  I get as excited for them as I would for myself, and oddly enough, it is in those moments when I am happiest about being a fan.

Let me tell a brief story here.  When I first really got involved in the community, well before I ever became a blogger, I had my own fits of jealousy when someone else would have their moment(s).  I think it got to the point where I would take the time to even consider if that person was deserving, and yes – I’d judge them!  It was disgusting of me, and embarrassing to admit here.  It wasn’t as though I felt like I owned the band and didn’t want to share as much as it was just that I was jealous.  The more it would happen to people I knew and maybe didn’t like so much, the worse it got; and honestly – the worse I would feel at the end of a weekend, a show or even after being online sometimes. I know it got to the point where I worried more about finding the band after a show, or who (fans) would be at the show or who would post the next picture with a band member, than I thought about having fun, and that’s when I realized it was time to change things; specifically – change my own outlook.  I will say it loudly, clearly and brutally honest right here: at first, it was REALLY, REALLY hard to just be happy for other people.  I was so jealous of reading how someone got another photo, or another picture.  I kept forcing myself to simply be happy for someone else, regardless of how well I knew them.  Then in time, it got easier and easier.  Amazingly enough, I am so much happier now than I ever was before.  I don’t spend a lot of time scowling at shows, or after shows, when I hear about someone finding the band.  I don’t get as upset if I don’t see them myself.  I genuinely and honestly am happy to hear good news from other people.  I know a lot of people who say that they just don’t care when someone gets a retweet or whatever.  Well, I *do* care.  I’m thrilled for them.  I like reading that sort of thing, and on top of that – I love being that kind of person, that kind of fan, and that kind of friend these days.  It’s much easier to just be happy than it is to be mad or wonder why it didn’t happen to me…because sometimes….it *does* happen to me, and I can see when friends spend time wondering why it didn’t happen to them.  I don’t have that answer, but I can honestly say that its a lot more attractive and fun to be happy than it is to be angry.

-R

How long do you have to be a fan to be a real fan?

In the comments surrounding Amanda’s blog last week about message boards, an interesting topic came up about fans in general that I think is worth exploring.

I’ve had no trouble boasting, bragging, reminiscing, and even lamenting that I have been a fan of Duran Duran since 1981.  Planet Earth drew me in, and I was hooked immediately.  Oddly, I’ve never really left – sans for about a year or two in the late 90’s when I was knee deep in diapers, bottles and laundry.  I don’t know that I could have told you my name and address at the time without having it written down in front of me, much less anything recent about Duran Duran…. but once I awoke from that night…er…dream…  I was back to normal.  (don’t ask me to define “normal”)  I’ve been a fan for a long time, as have many if not most of our readers.

I think that as a fan who was around in the 80’s, I feel as though I’ve seen the band come full circle, and then some.  I remember what it was like back in the day when kids my age would call the local radio station and beg for Duran Duran to be played.  Hell, I remember calling the stations myself!  I remember squealing in delight when their videos would come on TV, or when they’d play a performance on TV for a show like American Bandstand, New Years Rockin’ Eve or something on MTV.  I know I’m fortunate that I have those memories to look back on. (and I’m lucky I still HAVE those memories!!)  I was around to read the news on DD.com when the band announced Warren’s departure and the reunion of the original five members, and I was there the night that they announced they were playing the Pacific Amphitheater near my home in California.  It’s been a long, strange trip, as they say.

I think it’s pretty obvious that there aren’t just 30,000 other fans (I just picked a number out of thin air – I have no idea how many fans there are out there!) who started out with the band in the 80’s.  They’ve had the good fortune to pick up fans along the way, and we should all be thankful for that.  It’s one thing to have a loyal fan base from day one, it’s quite another to be able to continue to attract new listeners over the years.  It’s the difference between being a one-hit wonder and having staying power in the industry, isn’t it?

Yet somehow, there does seem to be a difference between all of us. There’s a sort of utterly annoying superiority that comes from fans just like myself, who have been with the band all along.  I can’t explain it – it’s almost as though since we’ve been around the longest, everyone else must be a newbie and somehow not quite worthy; but that’s not really the way it should be.  I myself have friends who have been fans only since the 90’s, and I don’t really look at them any differently.  Some of them have been fans that long because they were born in the 80’s!  So aside from calling them “youngsters” (and someday they’ll be happy for that title)… I would say that they’re as big of fans as I am.  I’ve seen it on message boards though.  Everyone judges everyone else simply because they haven’t been a fan since the moment of inception, or because they wandered away after Seven and the Ragged Tiger and didn’t come back until Ordinary World…and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve done the same.

I could probably admonish everyone, including myself, and be done with this blog for the day (as I glance at the mountain of laundry lying on my table to fold…), but that’s not really my job.  I just have to wonder WHY we make such a big deal about how long we’ve been fans.  Does it really matter??

It’s one of those items that is brought up any time there is a moment of ambiguity in Duranland. In between albums, tours…when there’s speculation about the band’s future, or when there’s discussion about a change in musical direction.  Then suddenly everyone, including myself, starts throwing “I’ve been a fan since….” into the ring, as though because we’ve been fans for X amount of years, that somehow gives us credibility over one another.  At the time, the argument seems particularly worthy, but from a distance, I think we all start sounding like complete idiots with no other substance in our lives. I say that about myself as much as I say it about everyone else.   I know this tiny detail about myself, I see when I’ve done it in the past…and I can guarantee that it’ll happen again in the relatively near future, I’m just that perfect of a human.  (insert a rueful smile here!)

The one constant I have discovered in the time I’ve spent studying fandom is that it’s all code for competition.  Yes, you can absolutely choose not to compete with others and still be a fan.  My assertion here is that if that were to be the case – why would you bother labeling yourself?  You’d go about your business, enjoying the music, going to shows, etc…and never once even bother to think beyond that personal enjoyment.  It’s only when we start announcing to the world that yes, we’re fans of whatever we’re enjoying at the time that we are announcing that we’re ready to engage.  We all see it at that moment as wanting to make connections with other fans.  We want other fans to recognize that we have that interest in common.  Somehow though, there’s a moment where the tide turns, and that need for connection becomes a need to keep up, to prove our worth, to show that we know as much as the next person.  That’s fandom.  Can you be a fan without that sense of competition?  Yes, but chances are, you wouldn’t be announcing your fandom, either.

-R