Where were you on July 16th of 1980? I was only nine years old. (does that age anybody out there??) Quite a few of you were much younger than that, and maybe some of you out there weren’t even born yet. (again I ask, anybody feeling old yet??) At that time, it was the summer between fifth and sixth grade for me – which was a big moment because I was going from elementary school to intermediate school. Summers were always really hot in Glendora – the town I grew up. We didn’t have air conditioning in our house, instead my dad installed what most people call a “Swamp Cooler” in what was once a window in our living room. Swamp coolers use water to cool down air that is blown into the room. I didn’t know the difference when I was younger, all I really knew was that on the hottest summer nights all I wanted to do was sleep in our living room (because it was closest to the cooler), and sometimes my mom let us. I also remember, with a lot less joy, that I had to stay with a sitter during the day while my parents both worked. My sister (who is five years younger) and I both went to the sitter, and without going into a ton of detail, it was a horrific experience. The best memory I have from this summer is finally standing up to this woman – the sitter, and my mom getting a phone call that she would no longer be our sitter. I think I cheered, even though my mother was furious with me at the time. I don’t remember much else from that ordinary summer, but overseas from where I lived, a spark had been lit.
On July 16 of 1980, Duran Duran performed at the Rum Runner with the classic band of five line up that we all know. Hard to believe that it’s really been 33 years since that first performance. I don’t know where the time has gone, only that it’s went and we’re now in the year 2013, anxiously awaiting tidbits, news, pictures, etc. from the studio on #DD14. Fourteen albums. Hundreds of performances (thousands?? Is that possible??), several different lineups…tens of thousands of fans, websites, blogs, books, posters… all beginning with five guys, some pink leopard print pants, a notebook of lyrics, and the Rum Runner.
Naturally, this all took place in Birmingham, England. Not in Hollywood, California and not in New York City. I make that distinction because I’ve noticed just how quick UK fans are to make sure the rest of us understand and remember that they are in fact a British band. Some take extreme issue with John working to achieve his US citizenship, saying that they hope he remembers where he’s really from. This band is certainly not American, and we have no right to claim them as “ours”. I would agree. They are not from here, and yet they worked very hard to make sure they broke the charts here in the states, and they spend an awful lot of time touring here. I think that at times, the overexuberance of welcoming, excited fans here in the US puts the rest of the world, including our British friends, at odds. We really don’t claim the band as our own product, but we love them as though they belong. How can that be bad?
Over the years, especially in my adulthood, I’ve seen the ire raised in more than one UK fan over announcements that have been made for things here in the US while events in the UK have gone mostly unnoticed. I’ve also felt the extreme disappointment of fans in the UK as the band has announced relatively short tours there, while the US hosts them for much longer. Try as we US fans might to explain that we have a much larger surface area to cover, with far more large cities as well as people IN those cities….many UK fans continue to feel slighted, and yes – they do take it out on US fans, as though we actually have some sort of say in the matter, and that we should feel horrible that they come here at all. I know I’m not the only American fan to have noticed.
My only point in bringing this up is that for whatever reason, there seems to be a tug-of-war in the sense of “ownership” of this band, and who “deserves” what. Now, I realize that there are many more countries and continents out there – but it is these particular two where I see the most friction. This isn’t really a discussion of where they should tour, but more of a matter that I see the comment “They are a British band, why on earth are they being represented by Americans?!?” quite often, but mainly when anything of interest is announced.
Yes, I am well-aware I just kicked over a dead stump to expose what was hiding beneath.
Aside from being aware that Wendy Laister is a relative of Nick’s – I don’t have any knowledge of why they have chosen to work with one manager over another, nor do I honestly care. Whatever works for the band is what is going to work for me because you see, I’m just a fan. I don’t understand the industry, and aside from some very limited PR I did at one time – I’m no expert. In fact, I’d assert just the opposite, that I know just enough to make myself extremely dangerous, which really means – I know nothing.
I can certainly see and even understand some of the points people make. It’s hard not to notice that the band does a lot here in the US – even if I can justify the reasons for doing so. I think it’s incredibly difficult to reason why the band and their management does anything they do, because none of us are in Wendy’s head, and it’s not as though she or anyone else in that management office actually answer to fans. (A point that I really believe is lost on most fans at one time or another.) I don’t know why it is that some events that happen in the UK go almost without mention and others that happen here in the US get weeks of comment and notice. I don’t really know why the band doesn’t have a management company located in the UK- I can’t even begin to guess, but it really shouldn’t matter. Yet for many, it really does.
I have to admit, and maybe this is just my perception – but I get the feeling having UK management really matters to their UK fans. I suppose, and yes – I am making a basic assumption here, but I suppose that they must feel that since the band is from the UK, that management would be better served being in their own country. I just don’t think it matters, and perhaps it just doesn’t matter to me. What’s the big deal?? Maybe this argument wouldn’t occur if fans weren’t able to point out how management caters to the US fans in every way from the press they receive to the public appearances they make, and even the way fans are addressed and holidays are acknowledged. Maybe that would have made a difference, but it’s my own opinion that fans would have just found something else to complain about. I suppose my feeling is that I couldn’t care less who manages the band as long as they’re happy and feel as though it’s a workable relationship, because that’s when it is all productive. The trouble is, I don’t really think that is what this debate comes from. Is it really about whether or not the band is productive, or is it about the fact that the UK has a very strong sense of nationalism that we just don’t have here in America?
The makeup of my country is very, very different from anywhere else in the world I’ve traveled. Even our patriotism is different – it comes from a completely different place in our sense of “self”. I think a lot of this is because very, very few of us can trace our roots back to an origination here in the US. My own family moved here between two and four generations back. My paternal grandfather came here from Italy when he was just 10. My paternal great-grandparents were from England and moved here to own a hotel in New York. My maternal great-grandparents were from Germany and Ireland. Very few people I know really identify their nationality as American when you casually ask them. If you ask my husband his nationality, he’ll tell you that he is Hispanic and English. His mother is from England, his father is from Santa Fe, New Mexico – and they can trace that part of the family back to Montezuma and Cortez, but yet he doesn’t typically say “American” or “US”. The only time it comes up is when he’s being asked his citizenship at the customs area at the airport, really. I don’t think he is all that unusual. Sure, we’re proud of our country – but I just don’t think there is this need to claim things as our own in the same way there is in other parts of the world. My point is NOT to say that this way is better, but to explain why we really don’t get it. But, we should do better to understand one another, which is why I hope to learn from this blog.
I don’t think there are easy answers here, except in one area: we are not intended to be the experts for the band. Our job is to be fans. To enjoy what they do, to consume the art that they create. I’m pretty good at that last part – so I’ll let them handle the tough stuff.