Category Archives: fame

Saw a Close Up: Fame, Privacy and Criticism

I am a member of many different Duran Duran groups on Facebook.  For the most part, I just read the posts but rarely participate.  In fact, I probably have only posted to share an event that Rhonda and I were hosting, either online or in person.  Despite my lack of commenting, I still like to read to see what Duranies are talking about.  I’m a student of fandom and Duran fandom, in particular, after all.  In most cases, the topics fit into the usual categories of concert going, seeing a Duran reference somewhere, finding a cool clip on YouTube, and more.

This week, though, I saw some photos of John Taylor posted in a number of different Facebook groups.  These pictures featured a shirtless JT on a beach.  Perhaps, they were taken when they were in Miami.  I’m not sure.  Some groups posted one or two pics while others posted many.  Immediately following the photos came the comments, which were often numerous and critical.  I chose not to say anything but filed my reaction away in my brain for this little blog here.

The first thing I noticed about these photographs was that they were clearly not posed.  The photographer snapped the pictures as John walked around the beach, sat read a book or socializing with those near him.  I suspect that these photos were taken without John’s permission and, perhaps, without his knowledge.  Now, this argument I’m about to make is not a new one but one I can apply to many celebrities.  Does being a celebrity mean one’s privacy can and should be invaded so that their fans can see scenes from all aspects of one’s life?  Personally, I don’t think so.  I think John’s job is to perform on stage.  It isn’t to have pictures taken of him when he is away from the job.  Being a rock star doesn’t mean that he can’t have time off and away.

Now, I know that others say that one must accept things like having people take your picture whenever and wherever you show up when you are a celebrity.  The idea is that if someone wants to be famous, s/he must know that privacy is not an option anymore.  The argument would say that if John wanted to go swimming, he should have stuck to private pools.  I disagree.  I think that everyone, no matter the level of fame should have the right to some privacy.  I also feel like there can and should be a line between John’s (and any celebrity’s) job and personal life.

Then, if that was not enough, the comments I saw in response shocked me.  Many stated things like “John needs a gym” and “He really never had a body”.  The first thought that popped into my mind was, “I hope John doesn’t read these comments.”  Truly, these kind of statements are nothing but hurtful and mean.  Again, I suspect that people feel that John’s famous person status means that they can say whatever they think.  As a celebrity, he should expect that level of examination and criticism, right?  Wrong.  He along with the rest of the band should expect criticism about their albums, their videos, etc.  They do not deserve mean-spirited statements about their appearances.

I know that I wouldn’t want anyone to talk about me that way.  Why would I think I could talk about others that way?  I could point out that none of us are perfect, physically, and that John is 56 years old.  Honestly, I could only be so lucky to look a fraction as good when I am his age.  Heck, I won’t appear on a beach in a bathing suit anywhere so I admire the heck out of him being able to do so.

Now, I know that some will say that they didn’t mean anything by posting the pictures or by making the comments that were made.  I’m sure the fans will say that they still love him and all that.  Still, I have to say that the pictures and the comments made me uncomfortable.  Yes, some will say that John might not care but I did and I’m sure that other fans who saw those posts felt the same way.

-A

You’re Welcome to Celebrity

I am a political person.  I hold teacher certificates in History and Political Science and has volunteered for many campaigns from local races all the way up to President.  Yet, I try to avoid political discussions here or on our Daily Duranie social media.  Fandom is supposed to be focused more on fun.  Plus, I recognize that not everyone agrees with me and I would never want to alienate anyone because of that.  (Heck, my partner-in-crime doesn’t always agree with me.)

The latest big new story about Donald Trump’s statements about sexually assaulting and objectifying women really has me thinking, especially since part of his statement in 2005 surrounded fame and celebrity-ness.  According to the article from the Guardian, which you can read here, “…a tape emerged of the Republican candidate bragging about using his fame to try and “fuck” women and groping them without waiting for their consent.  ‘When you’re a star they let you do it,’ Trump says in the recording, which was obtained by the Washington Post and released on Friday. ‘You can do anything.’  Does fame really give people or men, specifically, a free pass to commit sexual assault?  Then, I wonder what would happen if I ever found out anything close to this about Duran Duran.  Could/would I still support them?

Unfortunately, Donald Trump is probably not the first, nor will he be the last celebrity to make statements like this.  I think there are some celebrities out there who do believe that their fame gives them the opportunity to do whatever they want to whomever they want.  I’m not naive as I’m sure that for some people, fame is a turn on and they would gladly jump into bed with whatever celebrity they can find.  Of course, that is not what is going on in this situation.  This is about the lack of consent.  It isn’t about someone thinking a celebrity is hot simply because he is famous.  No, it is about the assumption that Trump felt (feels???) like fame means that he does not need to wait for consent.  He didn’t need to wait to get permission before acting in a sexual way towards someone.

In my world, consent does not change depending on who is the person giving or getting the consent.  Every person, every woman, has the right to say no.  Every person must get consent before acting sexually.  According to the Department of Justice, the definition of sexual assault is, “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”  Based on this definition, sexual assault is sexual assault.  Trump’s statements on tape indicate sexual assault.  His fame is irrelevant other than the fact that fame could create more of a difference in power.  Therefore, in my eyes, fame does not excuse sexual assault.  It just makes it worse.

The next question is more challenging.  Would I be able to support Duran Duran if one of the band members was accused of something similar?  I’ll be honest.  I didn’t like Donald Trump before this.  (Actually, that might be an understatement.)  Therefore, this news did not change my thoughts or feelings about him.  My negative thoughts about him were just reinforced with this revelation.  Obviously, Duran is the opposite.  I have been a passionate fan of theirs for decades.  Finding out something even remotely similar to this would crush me.  Luckily, I can’t imagine anything so horrible to be true of my favorite band.

Yet, I have to acknowledge that they aren’t always or haven’t always been pro-woman.  The video for Electric Barbarella is pretty dang sexist, in my opinion.  The woman is designed to just clean and be a sex toy for the band without actually having or using a voice of her own.  Does that kind of sexism equal what Trump said and did to women?  I don’t think it does for a really big reason.  A video is fiction.  It isn’t real.  It is made up.  All of the people are acting.  I still don’t like it (understatement) but it isn’t the same as sexual assault.

Donald Trump wasn’t playing a character in that tape from 2005.  He was being himself.  I have never heard one story about a member of Duran Duran treating, thinking, or talking about women in such a way in their personal lives, in their real lives.  Instead, I hear them speaking highly of their wives, their daughters, their mothers as well as the women who work with them and women in the public eye.

What would happen if I did find out something horrible about a band member?  As I stated earlier, it would crush me.  I could not continue to be a fan or support someone who advocates assaulting women.  It is a line in the sand for me.  They could disagree with me about how best to approach countless political issues, but they could not be hateful of women like the Republican nominee for President.

As I continue to process this story and what it means for this year’s election and politics in general, I’m thankful that I am a fan and a supporter of a band, made up of men, who may not be perfect in their treatment of women over their careers but who, personally, have demonstrated nothing but respect for women in their lives and women in general.

-A

Fame and Fans

This blog, generally, focuses on fans and fandom.  While we certainly talk about Duran Duran, it is from the fans’ point of view.  We rarely take the time to really think about what it must be like to be Duran Duran or anyone else famous.  Yet, I started to think a bit more lately about what fame and having fans must really be like.

I spent about a week, over the holidays, at my sister’s.  My sister is a mom to two teenage girls and one night they wanted to watch a movie with just the “girls” (my mom, my sister, my nieces and myself).  What movie was chosen?  It is one my niece got for Christmas called Beyond the Lights.  I had never heard of it before but I was open to it as it dealt with a fictional famous singer.  You can watch the trailer here to get an idea of what it is about:

As you can tell from the trailer, this famous singer is not a happy person.  She clearly isn’t thrilled with her lifestyle or her fame and is looking for someone to “really see her”.  As I watched the movie, I found myself thinking about the members of Duran Duran.  This character is frustrated by not being able to make her own choices but always doing, wearing, speaking whatever that will maintain or grow her fame.  She feels that she is not understood at all and that thousands feel like they “know” her, but no one really does.  They only know the image, not the real person.

I have to wonder if this is how the members of Duran have felt or do feel.  Do they feel controlled by others?  Do they feel trapped by their fame?  Do they feel like no one really understands or really knows them?  This reminded me of an article from Classic Pop Magazine that I recently read about Duran Duran.  In this article, the band’s success and fame was addressed.  Nick mentioned that, “It felt out of control on a nightly basis…It’s quite bizarre when you’re a prisoner of your own world.”  Wow.  It is interesting that he chose that word of “prisoner”.  Then, he related a story in which he was at a charity dinner with Justin Bieber and how Justin was never left alone even when he was eating!

This, of course, brought me right back to fans.  While I definitely understand the desire for pictures and autographs (and have certainly asked for some myself!), I do wonder if fans add to this feeling of being trapped that Nick talked about or how the movie showed.  Simon addresses this issue a bit further in that same article by talking about selfies by stating, “Selfies are the new autograph.  I don’t mind an autograph…they’re much quicker to do and feel less intrusive.  But people freak out when you say ‘no’ to a selfie.”  Does Simon or any other famous people have the right to say no without having people freak out on them?  I think most of us would say yes.  Yet, I know the argument that many fans have.  Simon and company CHOSE to become and stay famous.  On top of that, the fans are what brought their success; fans made the people famous.  Therefore, shouldn’t fans have the right to expect an autograph or a selfie?

I suspect that the best answer lies somewhere in between the never giving autographs/selfies and the always giving autographs/selfies.  I am not surprised if many/most famous people have some sort of limit about when and where they are willing to give autographs/selfies.  Simon even mentioned in that article that he would never do a selfie when he is eating.  Then, I think that fans should respect those limits.  We often ask the famous people to think about what it must be like for the fans and how the fans should be treated but it is probably good for fans to think about what life must be like for famous people.  It must not always be fun or easy to be famous or to have fans.  It seems to me that everyone (both famous people and fans) should try to be a bit more empathetic towards the other.

-A

 

 

Today’s Date in Duran History – Fashion

On today’s date in 1980…yes, WAYYY back then…Duran Duran opened for the band Fashion at the Rum Runner.  That’s right, Duran Duran opened for Fashion, not the other way around.

Isn’t it weird the way fame and circumstance work?  You’re on top one day, and then somehow – the band that opens for you ends up hitting it huge while you’re struggling to make ends meet as you’re hammering it out night after night.  Just one choice, one decision, may have made all the difference in the careers of both Fashion and Duran Duran.  You just never quite know what’s going to happen in this world – despite the best possible intentions and planning.

I suppose it’s true for all of us. We never really know what change in direction, what one simple, easily cast decision, is going to do for us. It could be as neat and trim as the decision to walk to work one day rather than taking the bus.  It could possibly be the agonizingly difficult decision of what university to attend.  We just never know.

Think about it.

-R

Get Higher Baby

This week, we have a theme to the blog posts.  It is a pretty simple theme and one that we have previewed some by asking for guest blogs.  The theme is about accomplishments, achievements, what to be proud of in terms of your fandom, in terms of being a Duran Duran fan.  We all have things we have done or not done in the name of fandom that we are proud of.  We all have achieved things related to fandom that should be acknowledged.  These achievements or events of pride can vary from fan to fan.  They could be about finally getting that autograph.  Maybe, they are about holding it together in front of the band at a meet and greet.  Perhaps, it is about completing one’s collection on vinyl.  Yet, it could be something as important as going outside of one’s comfort zone to travel to a show or event or meet other local Duranies in person.  Thus, as part of this theme, Rhonda will address hers.  I will address mine and we will have two guest blogs addressing theirs.  Before we dive into what fans might be proud of, let’s stop and think about what the band might be proud of.

I suspect that the first things that come to mind about what the band might be proud would include things involving commercial success, creativity, and larger-than-life projects.  I think we have all heard the story about how John and Nick had these goals of playing Hammersmith in 1982, Wembly in 1983 and Madison Square Garden in 1984.  It would make sense to imagine that they were thrilled when they actually met those goals.  What other elements of commercial success would or could they focus on?  I can imagine that hearing one of their songs on the radio for the first time was a big deal.  The same might be true about the first time they saw one of their videos on TV.  Of course, I’m ahead of the game since they would have first been proud to get a record deal and proud to record their first album.  I would imagine that the first of anything they did in their careers would have been a big deal.  Here, I’m thinking of first tour, first time out of the country, first photo shoot, first interview and more.  Of course, I would imagine that when Planet Earth charted, that was a huge deal.  Likewise, the first time one of their albums went gold and platinum was pretty monumental, I’m sure.  Now that their careers are decades old, perhaps, they could be proud of how many albums they have sold, how many singles and albums have been on the charts, how many concerts they have played, how many albums they have made, etc.  Truly, it wouldn’t surprise me if they chose any of those commercial success indicators to be proud of.  I would be, if I were them.

What about some of the larger-than-life events that they have been a part of?  Obviously, the first event that pops into my head could be Live Aid and, later, Live 8 (with obvious participation in Band-Aid).  Then, of course, they played in front of Prince Charles and Princess Diana and for her tribute show.  A recent event like that could also be the Olympics.  Not only did they play as part of the London games but they also appeared at the Olympic Games in Torino in 2006.  Of course, they have also played many shows for other causes from the Live Earth to Amnesty International to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Perhaps, then, they are proud that they have been able to use their talents and fame to help out causes and organizations that they believe in.  In playing in some of those, they were also able to be a part of history, which is a huge deal.

Yet, perhaps, what they are most proud of is what they have been able to do, creatively.  They have made quite a few albums and it is very obvious that their musical talents have not only attracted thousands of fans all around the world but they have also influenced plenty of other musical artists.  Their sound is distinct and well-known.  People can generally identify Duran’s music when they hear it.  On top of their music, they certainly made their mark with their videos.  Can you imagine what videos might have been like if there were no videos filmed on location, if they were all filmed in some lifeless studio?  What if videos had no storyline of any sort?  Certainly, Duran showed the world that videos could not only be creative but did affect album sales.  Of course, Duran’s creativity didn’t end there as they took their time to create fabulous album covers, used and created fashion to fit their purposes, and developed strong live performances that almost always had something a little bit extra to them.  Oh no, I think no one would debate the idea that Duran has made their mark on the creative world.

In my opinion, they could and should be proud of any and all of those accomplishments.  All of them are pretty substantial in and of themselves and combined, their achievements are almost overwhelming. I don’t know what the band members, themselves, would say is their proud achievement.  My guess is that they would point out whatever project they are currently working on as they always seemed to be focused on the present.  All of this said, I’m not sure I would mention any of those accomplishments first.  I would think of two other accomplishments before I even got to that not-nearly complete list.  No, I might mention their sheer longevity.  There really aren’t many bands to have survived decades.  More to the point, they experienced fame in such an intense way that many, many, most would not have survived and, if they did survive, they wouldn’t be able to still be at the top of their game.  Duran appeared on the scene and never left.  In fact, I think some might argue that they got stronger along the way.  On top of this, they managed to create a very large, very passionate fanbase that has also lasted decades longer than anyone thought it would.  That’s huge.

What do the rest of you think?  What do you think Duran should be most proud of?  Something I mentioned here or something completely different?

-A