All this talk of signings and lineups to get into signings and so forth has me thinking about just how hard it is to navigate this fan community on a social level. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, stick with me because I think you’ll get my point in a minute or two.
When I first decided to get involved on a message board, I seemed to like everyone I “met”, and even better – I trusted whatever they said to be true. I guess I was pretty naive because it never occurred to me that people might lie, whether about their background, life circumstances, or how they came to know the band, or even if they’d met them. I think that’s pretty insightful about who I really am as a person – because I just expect people to tell me the truth. Why lie? I must remind myself that the truth just is not the same for everyone. Not everyone intentionally deceives.
The trouble is, of course, that in a community like this, everyone wants something. I really dislike talking about the band as though it’s a limited commodity. I don’t go around picturing them as orange futures or pork bellies, and yet many times, that is exactly how the community as a whole seems to react to their mere presence, as though they are pieces of meat and we are the lion pride. It has the potential to breed anger, greed and deception, and over the course of the years that I have been most involved, I’ve seen plenty.
If that greed weren’t enough, there is the sheer diversity of our group. I am pretty sure that there are fans from nearly every walk of life represented here. All races, creeds, careers, ages, and places on the planet. During my blogging, I’m fairly certain I’ve managed to offend someone out there, even without purposefully meaning to do so. It’s a very narrow ledge that must be navigated with care, and I truly do care. I’m also well aware that for every stance I take on a subject, there is with certainty, someone with the opposing view. This doesn’t just go for blogging – it is found in every segment of fandom (and life). Navigating between the lines, hoping not to offend, desperately trying not to stir up the pot-of-crazy that we all know exists, and hoping to somehow meet and befriend other people who have a similar interest in the fandom can be exhausting! I’ve yet to find the “secret recipe” that makes it all work, but I start by just trying to be honest and friendly with everyone. That doesn’t mean that I am friends with everyone, that everyone likes me in-turn, or that I even trust everyone – but I try to give the benefit of the doubt, at least until I’ve been wronged without a doubt.
In the research I’m continuing to do on fandom – much is made of this concept that fandom is an escape from normal “reality”. Due to the fact it is an escape, it is attractive to many, and part of that attraction is that at least from the outside looking in, it is paradise. An oasis in a desert. I might argue that many times, it is really only a mirage. Many, if not all of us from time to time, pretend to be something they simply are not. The troubles of the world wash away with the time we spend on Twitter, Facebook or in the company of one another and we escape with relish. Let’s face it, when we’re away from home or online – we can be anything we want to be. It only becomes a problem when you spend enough time with one another where the layers get scratched and worn away enough so that reality bares through. Everyone seems perfectly normal until you get to know them well, don’t they??
Now, I know that during my tenure as a Duran fan, I’ve read countless stories offered by others about meeting someone in person only to find out that one has been completely duped – either by their real-life persona, or by the person lying about what and whom they knew, or at worst – by thievery. Let’s be honest, it is really difficult to know what and whom to trust, and yet for many of us, we really and truly do believe the best in people. For me personally, it is shocking to find that someone wanted to “use” me because they thought I could get them something or somewhere (Don’t I wish?), and I’ve got to admit, sometimes it makes me think twice about really getting involved in the community beyond going to a show or two, and I am pretty sure I’m not alone.
So many of us talk about the “crazies” amongst us. Sure, they’re out there and sometimes they are even within plain sight – we just don’t recognize the signs. I see a complaint on nearly a daily basis…always from different people…saying that someone is misrepresenting themselves online. People make judgments about who should or shouldn’t be followed by the band, their management, people who surround them, and so forth without having the foggiest idea of why. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve gotten to the point where the cynical side of me thinks that maybe everyone (including me) is guilty of that from time to time. I certainly don’t look the way I do in pictures at shows (Are you kidding me?!? I have about 2 and a half minutes to get ready in the morning before I’m “discovered” as being awake, which means I must be ready to serve my public, err…children. I’m lucky to have time to put on mascara and eyeliner and even that is a simple luxury.), and my kids tell me I’m not nearly as cool as I sound online. Well, humph, I didn’t even know I sounded cool online!!! My point is simply that none of us really know the full-story of one another unless we care enough to find out, and sometimes, even when we do, we might very well be disappointed in the end.
Between the drama, the deception, the honesty and sometimes even the truth, it is really no wonder that many fans choose to stick to themselves and not get involved. Sometimes yes, it’s easier. On the other hand, if I had done that from the very beginning, I wouldn’t have met Amanda and many of you that I count as true friends. You know exactly whom you are.
It would seem that many in the music industry – or at least those with a blog, would agree. Of course, they are making this judgment based on how accessible everything is today. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read the statement that begins “Back in MY day, we waited all night for tickets to ____________, and sometimes STILL didn’t get them. We just waited for the next tour and tried again or went through a broker.” This of course, is true. There really was a time when Ticketmaster was done pretty manually and yes, you had to either dial a phone (risky) or go to an outlet and camp outside, often times all night, in order to secure a place in line for ticket sales that began the next day. Then they got smart to that and started doing the wristbands, so it didn’t matter when you got there, the wristbands were handed out randomly, and whatever number you ended up with determined either your place in line OR you just stood around waiting for your number to come up – similar to a lottery. Did that really make someone a hardcore fan?
Then of course the argument comes around that today, one single song can decide whether someone remains a fan or otherwise. Often times, songs are put online as teasers – that way a band can get a feel for what the public thinks before an entire album is released. Muse did that just recently, and as one could have guessed – they have kind of gone in a different direction with this next album, using what many have characterized as dubstep guitar effects. While many seem to like the new direction, many others who are self-described “hardcore” fans have denounced the album, and are have said this one song is ruining their admiration for the band. Sound familiar, anyone??? I seem to recall the same thing happening to some band around here somewhere over the years. While sure, some people do end up walking away – and that’s probably bound to happen no matter the circumstance – is it really ever that simple? The blogger (Alex May of sidewinder.fm) drives his point home by saying, “While listeners have always had strong opinions about the music they like and dislike, the advent of social media and the platform it provides has revealed just how volatile fans can be. Oftentimes, they dispute and defend such opinions in a vile way, and grow divided based on what kinds of music they love and hate. This mindset, when paired with the instantaneous nature of the Internet, seems to have created a lot more fleeting fans that are less engaged and less willing to give new music a second chance.” Fair enough, but didn’t people ever discuss music before the internet came along? I can remember getting into full-on arguments with friends over the merits of many a rock band, including but certainly not limited to Duran Duran. Maybe at the heart of the matter is the idea of actually having a discussion, where one is as willing to listen and learn as is ready to defile and disengage. Again I have to wonder, is this truly what makes a fan hardcore?
It is true, we don’t have to camp outside for tickets, there may no longer be those midnight releases where fans wait outside for hours, we can now buy music without ever leaving our homes, and comment with friends or adversaries online at will. I am not at all sure those characteristics determine what makes someone a music fanatic. That is a trait that comes from within the person, not from simple actions. But then, I would also assert that a hardcore fan could easily be someone who has never attended a single concert or a signing – it’s about what is created in the heart when they listen to music that they truly connect with. It’s not about how many shows one has gone to, how many pictures they have with the band, or even whether or not someone is crazy enough to write a blog on a daily basis.
I wouldn’t argue with the author that an incredible mistake is being made when we assume that just because someone takes the nanosecond to click “like” on a Facebook page or hit “follow” on Twitter that they are a fan. That is merely the initial step, and most bands out there completely miss the boat from that point. They are completely unaware of what it takes to turn a “like” into a real “fan”. There is a tangible difference between a casual fan who attends shows and buys albums and “likes” a band on social media and the person who has been a fan through thick and thin – whether they’ve loved every record or not, whether or not they’ve even attended a single show.
The task of explaining what really makes someone a music fanatic comes down to one thing in my mind: Passion. I don’t think it matters much whether that passion drives someone to go to a hundred shows, buy thousands of copies of albums, or coerces one to travel overseas to shows, or to simply enjoy being an active “online” participant at home. There’s a certain feeling I get when I listen to music I dearly love – I become profoundly and permanently connected. I don’t just listen, I live.
I think that’s why I have difficulty in completely buying into the idea that the musical fanatic is a dying breed. While yes, I agree finding music is easier these days and the process of becoming or being a fan might be different than what took place in my generation, it is no less momentous when that lifeblood artery of bonding is created between the fan and artist. I would argue that people spend their entire lives searching for such things, and when it is found, the passion is what keeps fans, all of us music fanatics – going.
So a couple of reminders: we are still looking for some good blogs to post during my absence. The two topics we are looking for are: meeting the band, and a favorite concert experience (a song, a show…whatever you would like!) I know that there are many people out there that love to tell their own “band” story – here is your chance! Please send us your work by next weekend – July 28-29. Looking forward to reading some great blogs!!
I took some time this morning to catch up on some of the little video “vlogs” that the band has been posting on Facebook. These have got to be a lot simpler to accomplish than writing a blog and if I weren’t so concerned about scaring people with my morning appearance – I might just start doing the Daily Duranie blog as a “vlog”!! In any case, I’ve enjoyed these small little “snapshots” the band has given during their tour, which I know must be feeling incredibly long to them by this point. Not only have we seen sights of where they’ve been, but they seem to like giving a tiny taste of what they’ve seen and done culturally, which I really enjoy. I have added a few things to my own personal “Must see before I die” Bucket List this week as a result of these little videos. For instance, Nick mentioned my most favorite word in the video I saw this morning: Jewelry. He was speaking of the Ottoman Empire jewelry collection from Turkey…a collection I studied pretty extensively in my antique jewelry courses, and I made a note that yes, someday I need to see that in person. I find myself doing that quite a bit these days. Dom posted a photo of the famous Trevi fountain in Rome, and that is something else I’ve yet to see, and so it too was added to the list. Eventually, I’ll make it to these far off places. As it is, I accomplished a couple of things on my Bucket List: I saw Duran Duran in their own country. That was one thing I really didn’t think I’d ever do, and I still have plans to return for the convention later this year in Birmingham. I can’t wait.
It’s funny how we all have these “lists”, whether they are in our heads or actually down on paper. Amanda and I have this crazy (and probably unlikely) goal of seeing the band in every US state. I don’t know exactly when we agreed to make this a goal for ourselves – I am sure she knows – but we’re making some head way now. It’s difficult though because there are states that the band has never even gone, so it’s unlikely that they’ll travel to those places. Like Hawaii for instance. What’s up with that?? Let me say this: if they ever go to Hawaii – I’ll definitely be making THAT trip and I will be making it an extended trip! I suppose the issue there is shipping all of the equipment must be a fortune, and it’s not like they can do several shows easily. The same probably holds true for Alaska. Oh well. Maui will have to make due as “just” a family vacation once again.
What is really funny about our state goal is that as time has worn on, I’m finding that I’m less and less interested in seeing them here in my own country – I would rather travel abroad to see them so that I can experience something completely different and see friends that we’ve made online over the years. There are a few places I’d love to see the band, should they tour again. I’d like to go to the UK, meet up with our friends there and travel into Europe with them, I’d really like to go to Australia, and I’d also really love to see the band in South America. Wistfully, I recognize that the years are somewhat limited. I don’t know that the band has plans to out do The Rolling Stones in the length of their career, so the chances that I will be able to do everything are slim. Amanda and I will have to make choices as to where we should go, and I’m truly hopeful that the band really will go back into the studio and be successful writing and recording another album.
I’ve read several times this past week that the band is very tired. These statements come from the band. They’ve been mentioned to people, and let’s be honest – our community is small. Word gets ’round. There has been some irritation “voiced” more than once that fans aren’t giving the band space and privacy as they desperately need, and that the band is pretty sick of touring. Fair enough. A year and a half is a long time, to be sure. Everyone needs an extended recharge now and then, and I don’t think that fact comes to light nearly as brightly as it does when you are in a place where privacy is non-existant, as is personal space. I think it’s one thing to be in the same hotel as the band. I prefer to stay at nice hotels myself and I’m willing to pay for them, but once again I feel it necessary to remind fans that these band members ARE PEOPLE. It is simply not acceptable to interrupt their meals, their peace or their downtime. It is not OK to run up and grab them as though they are your long lost best friend. The band probably doesn’t know you, no matter how long you’ve been a fan. It’s RUDE no matter where you are from or what your culture. If they are out and about and make the attempt to hang out with fans in the bar, that’s one thing. If they are out by the pool trying to relax, why is it so difficult to recognize the situation for what it is and leave them be? I have to believe that if we fans allow them a little dignity and space, that the respect will be returned.
The band still have a busy month of touring ahead, and they’ll finish supporting All You Need is Now here in the US. I don’t mind saying that I saw them a few times at the very end of the tour for Red Carpet Massacre when they were in the Northeast US. It was beyond obvious that they were sick to death of touring, of playing and unfortunately of fans bombarding them. I am hoping that this won’t end up being a repeat of that finish for them because they are completely burnt out. We fans can help them by giving them some respect, privacy and space when we see them.
(If you’re wondering why I chose that particular title…read the lyrics.)
Someone had tweeted Simon. They didn’t get a response, and tweeted back asking why he never replies. Simon posted (and this is NOT a direct quote) that it’s annoying when people ask that.
I wholeheartedly agree.
Tweeting is not a competition. Whomever thought it was? Let me expand a bit here. We have a profile on there for the blog aptly named @DailyDuranie. Amanda and I both use it – typically I’m the one on during the weekday and Amanda is on there at night sometimes and on the weekends. Sometimes, and this is when we’re really crazy – we’re on there at the same time. That’s joyous (For us, yes. You? Probably not!) and confusing for everyone, so we try (Well, I should say that Amanda tries. I typically just forget) to sign the tweets with an A or an R so that it’s clear whom is tweeting. We are currently following 486 people that include band members, other celebrities that we like, and friends. In addition, we’ve got 887 people following us. Amanda and I really do try to respond when someone tweets us, but as we’ve found – sometimes we just miss them. There’s too many of you and only two of us that do not sit on Twitter all day long. I pop in and out as I can, but I don’t stay for very long unless I get into a discussion with someone. I just can’t. Twitter is a timesuck and there’s just no time left for sucking! Conversely, Simon Le Bon has 71,500 followers as of this moment, and he is following 127 of you people out there. (Nope, he’s not following @DailyDuranie and I can’t honestly say I blame him!) Whenever he’s online – all 800 or so of our followers start tweeting him…so that leaves 70,700 followers (and then some) that are probably also tweeting him. I daresay his timeline moves quickly. He sees what he sees, he replies to whatever he likes, interests him or catches his eye.
Sure, @DailyDuranie has gotten a couple reply tweets from John Taylor and even Andy Taylor before. So yes, perhaps that makes us amongst the few that have been lucky and that might somehow mean that I’m biased. Even so, I feel fairly confident that the rest of you can easily do the math here. One guy – many, many followers, tweets, requests for retweets. It’s just not possible to always respond. It’s not a competition, and Twitter should definitely not be the validating reason for remaining a fan.
At a time where there is much discussion about whether someone should start a drumstick collection or a picture collection from the band and whether or not that’s really “fair” to everyone else, I simply have to ask why any of that really matters? There are so many people out there that have never even seen the band live. There’s a ton of people that can’t even AFFORD to get to a show or pay for an album. I’d bet that most of those people would just be thrilled with a show and even without ever being to one they are still huge fans of the band, so why should I care that I’ve never gotten a reply from a band member?
Sure, having picks and sticks and pictures are great bookends to what might add up to be over 30 years of being a fan in many cases. There’s no question that they are desired items for a lot of people, myself included. Having John or Simon reply on Twitter can be exciting, of course. My only caution is to keep it all in context. At the end of the road – it really should be the music that is remembered and savored, shouldn’t it?
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.
All that aside on a day like today, because Julie Anne Rhodes posted a blog today that I think is well-worth reading. It is focused directly on people like you and I. The fans. It’s a reminder that these people we love so much – the band – really do have lives that go well beyond the stage. Before I go much further, the link for the blog is here. Please read it before you read the rest of the Daily Duranie blog today.
Naturally, Julie Anne’s point is really not about fans, but rather it’s about the time taken away from her daughter when she was young. I truly admire her for focusing on that specific aspect because as I know myself, above all else – I am a Mom. It’s funny because as I’ve mentioned – my husband is pretty well married to his Blackberry. It’s something I’ve grown used to out of pure spite, but I have to say – a dear, dear price has been paid by my children. My two oldest have had their father cut outings and even vacations short in order to get back home in time for a phone call, a meeting or a last minute business trip. My youngest is quite honestly surprised when her dad arrives home in time for dinner at night, and I’m not exaggerating. Granted, Walt isn’t a rock star by any means, but he also doesn’t save lives and there isn’t anything that annoys me more than having our family time interrupted (or my sleep!) by the persistent ring of his cell phone. I guess I’m saying that I completely get where she’s coming from, and perhaps that’s why the boundaries are extremely clear to me.
There is something very, very wrong when we believe that we’re owed or entitled to more than a performance on stage. Yes, I know I’ve written many times about how the band should be on Twitter and interact with fans. That is really as much a part of their job as it is for Walt to answer his cell phone on our anniversary, Christmas or even while we’re on vacation. I don’t like it, but it comes with the territory. (Although for the band, I’m hoping they know when it’s time to shut the damn thing off. My husband? Not so much!) Sure, it’s normal and natural to hope for a smile or a wink when they’re out in public after a gig and catch our eye. It’s quite another to expect them to take time out of their day when they are at home, or even worse – to resort to saying nasty things about them, their families, their children, wives, girlfriends, etc. These people really are human, and the band is simply their career. Let me just say it here: if my husband’s co-workers or customers start showing up at our house looking for him to sign things, that’s the day when the electric fence goes up outside! It’s funny, because that’s exactly what we’re asking of these guys when we show up unannounced whenever or where ever they’re going to be. Happenstance is one thing, but continually planning to be where ever they are is another. I just wanted to applaud Julie Anne’s blog and hopefully drive more people to read what she has so eloquently written.
It is so rare when someone writes about what it’s like “on the other side”. I really hate that the wives, girlfriends, children, etc have to be so wary of fans, yet as I just said – they have to be. I can’t blame them. It’s just a shame that so few put the rest of us in such a horrible light. In just the past two days I have heard of no less than three people on Twitter whom interacted with Daily Duranie that ended up being someone completely different from whom they indicated they were online. Sure, that’s a common thing, but it’s still disgusting, and let it be known – I won’t support that sort of nonsense. I’ve read about a couple fans who have stalked specific members of the band, and to be honest it all sounds rather sinister at this point. I’ve had to block two people from not only my own Facebook page, but also Daily Duranie. I’m not even a celebrity for crying out loud, and I’m starting to believe that April is the month for Crazy Fans. I’ve watched a swarm of fans continue to tweet Simon without pause until he acknowledged them, and I’ve just gotta ask “Why?”
As much as I study fandom – both the social and psychological aspects, I just don’t understand and will probably never completely understand why people do not feel validated unless a band member acknowledges them. I try to remember that fans come from all different walks of life, all different circumstances and perhaps the ones that need the most hand holding really do NEED it, but to pester as though you’re still twelve years old and deep in the throws of puberty? I don’t get it. Maybe it’s really that I just don’t want to understand that kind of thought process.
And now, I must mentally prepare myself to sit through Glee tonight. I hear they’re going to perform a couple Duran Duran songs. I can’t even begin to imagine….
Now, I don’t doubt what this man said, for he too was (and is!) an idol for many. We’ve all heard comments about the band being put on a pedestal by fans, a mighty narrow one at that. It’s pretty incredible to consider just how high of standards some fans have them living up to, and one has to wonder if it’s at possible for a human being to really be that perfect.
Of course not.
It’s only natural for fans, especially those who became fans at a very young age, to put a band or celebrity up on a pedestal. I suspect that it has much to do with that Prince Charming syndrome – where we want our prince to come and save us. It’s a beautiful idea at the age of ten, eleven or twelve. The trouble is, most of us are a few decades beyond now. Reality should have set in at some point. We know the band isn’t perfect, don’t we? We know that each of them cannot possibly be happy to see us each and every time we catch sight of them in public. Sometimes, people really do just want to be left alone.
Like everything else in life, nothing is quite that simple. I know many fans that say “The band are celebrities and everything that goes along with that, the being kind at all times, the ‘perfection’ (or at least carrying on the idea that it is so), all of that goes along with the fame and fortune they found.” I’m pretty happy and well-adjusted enough to know that’s crazy talk. People are people. Sure, when they’re on the town, working the “Duran Duran” machine, that’s WORK. I would say that yes, they probably do need to try and remember to at least give a smile and be friendly, just like I’m supposed to do so when I’m at “work”. At least…that’s what I hear. That does NOT mean though that every day when they’re on tour, whether there is a show, a press function, etc. that day or not, that they are required to put up with eager fans. You take your chance on those occasions, and I have to say that I’m amazed at how decidedly unaware fans are as to when it’s a “good time” or a “bad time”. For those folks, I wish them luck. They’re the ones who are unfortunately going to find members of the band at the worst possible moment, have one bad experience, and then blab away about it on a public board, expecting all to agree and lament their bad experience. It’s unfair to assume that since they are indeed celebrities, they are somehow public property at all times, is it not?
For me personally, I think I left my idolization for the band, and truly for all celebrities alike – back in childhood. What replaced that idolization is respect, for the most part. I respect the band. Sure I still love them to pieces, but I don’t think you can call what I feel for them idolization. It’s different. I see them as the faulty humans they truly are. That doesn’t mean they’re somehow horrible because of that; it’s just that while yes they might have larger homes, drive nicer cars and take more luxurious vacations than I do, they’re still just human. I respect the fact that they have put out over a dozen albums, toured the world many times over, are a good ten years older than I am and yet they still get out there on that stage and rock it better than I think they ever have before. I respect that they’re not quite finished yet, and that they continue to try new things, even when sometimes those new things have completely thrown me. I respect the fact that they’re people, and that sometimes people have really crappy days and the very last thing they want is somebody like me in their face.
Here is the double edged sword though – I want that same respect in return. No, the band doesn’t know me. I don’t expect for them to look at me in a crowd and recognize me, know my name, or lastly – even have read the blog and be able to put two and two together. Hardly. By respect I mean treat me as a human rather than a dollar sign with legs. Don’t wince as I’m walking down the hall because let me be clear – chances are – I will walk right past without even daring to do much more than smile unless they stop me first. (Again, hardly think that’ll happen in my lifetime.) Naturally, I recognize that for the most part, fans would never just walk right by, and I know the negative connotations that go along with being a fan. It sucks to be on this side at times. That said, we kind of ask for it, don’t we? Generally speaking, it’s a two way street, isn’t it? Treat others as you wish to be treated?? Anyone recognize that saying??
Let me be clear, I’ve never met the band outside of a signing, a chance “meeting” with one member of the band at a club in Vegas – and no, I did not speak to him (I smiled and left him alone to enjoy his night as I was enjoying my own), and another chance encounter with a fellow plane passenger/guitarist on a flight to New Orleans. I am not the type of person that will go running up to any of the band members expecting hugs, photos or who-knows-what-else. That sort of thing completely freaks me out, as I’m pretty sure it must them at times. I try to remember that as often as I can when I’m “on tour” or at a function where they are in attendance. I’d much prefer to have a casual discussion over coffee or drinks and leave the whole “Oh my god I’ve been a fan for my entire life, can I hug you, can I get a picture, can I can I can I?!?” at the door. Again, that whole scene freaks me out just a little when I think about it.
Granted, this is probably why I’ll never have photos with the band, and I get that. On the same token, and I mean this seriously – I write a blog about being a fan. Many people read this blog every day, as well as some others that I write on occasion for other places. My fandom, as it is, has taken on a completely different role in my life at this point. I have deep respect for the people within my fandom, whether those are friends, fellow fans, readers, or the band themselves.
Recently I commented to the wise man I mentioned earlier that when idolization gives way to true respect that goes beyond the music and the person on the cover of a magazine, you realize we’re all just human, and respect comes freely – flaws and all. I really believe this. What about you?
As I was considering the purchase, I have to admit that I really didn’t know how much I’d get out of either book. Surely our Duranie community is a completely unique entity. Most of us really believe that Duran fans are among the most loyal (to put it politely) or rabid (to be blunt!). How could Bruce’s fans be even remotely similar?! I tried to keep an open mind and remind myself that in as much that the book Amanda and I are writing is about the Duran Duran fan community – it’s also about fandom in general. We would not be doing ourselves justice if we didn’t at least get a good birds eye view of other fandoms out there, and these two books are among the first I’ve seen written on a specific fan community within rock music. (not counting The Beatles and Elvis)
I cracked open the Springsteen book yesterday. The title is Grace from the Stage by Linda K. Randall, and basically it’s a book written from a thesis paper she completed to earn her Masters degree. To begin with, Randall is indeed a fan – and like many of us in the Duran community – she’s middle-aged. (I hate that term and hereby am wiping it from my vernacular. You should do the same) She was a late “convert” to Bruce, and the thesis, or “big idea” from her book is simply that the fan community is very akin to a religion. I’ll let you take a moment to allow that to sink in. Go ahead. I’ll just wait here and drink my vanilla cream coffee.
Most of you, especially if you’re at all religious or spiritual, are probably ready to shut my blog now. I understand that, but I urge you to continue reading. Make no mistake, Randall is NOT making the grand assertion that Springsteen is a deity – she’s stating that the fans come together for a central cause or interest; they “worship” in a congregation, they help one another out, and they do “good works”. Let me expand a bit.
When we go to church to celebrate – it’s typically as a group, and there’s generally a central interest. Randall is saying the same can be said for when we go to a concert. There’s really no argument that when we attend a show, it’s to see a main act. Ours would be Duran Duran, and Randall’s would be Bruce Springsteen. Simple, yes?
Countless times when I have read the fan message boards, I’ve seen comments about “Worship”. Hell, we even have a very active Church of the Bass God group within our fan community. Guess whom they’re worshipping? Now of course in her book Randall is also saying that there’s a certain amount of gospel being spread – the “gospel” of course being the songs, the lyrics contained within, and the comments made by Bruce. The messages being sent by Bruce Springsteen are most assuredly different than the messages we get from Duran Duran – but in either case they can be uplifting and important. Don’t see it yet? Let me give you two “Durancentric” examples:
“Stay with the music, let it play a little longer, you don’t need anybody, all you need is now.”
-All You Need is Now
“Now the time has come, the music’s between us; though the night seems young, is at an end; only change will bring you out of the darkness; in this moment everything is born again.”
-[Reach Up for the] Sunrise
Congregation is just a fancy word for a group…we can congregate anywhere: a church, a mall, a bar, and yes, even at a concert venue. When we do get together, we absolutely celebrate. Going to a concert can be one of the biggest celebrations in your life if it’s done correctly. Its rare when I have come away from a concert experience feeling sad and depressed (although it’s happened and it is the biggest let down I’ve known!), and we’ve talked many times about the concert “high” that we continue to chase. I have to admit that I’ve never gone to church and come away feeling the same sort of high – but I suppose it’s possible. The point is that we all celebrate.
Finally, Bruce’s fans do the “good works” together. What does that mean?!? At church you might pass around the plate or basket to which you donate money to whatever cause the church is supporting at that moment. Perhaps they’re collecting money to help a group of missionaries, maybe they are collecting food for the local food pantry, or maybe they are trying to send their youth group on a special trip to help build houses for the poor. At Springsteen concerts, apparently Bruce requests that local charities run a food drive. They’ve also organized help amongst themselves for many fellow fans who have hit hard times. The fan community supports one another in the same way that perhaps a church congregation might.
I have not finished the book completely, and I only chose to include the very broadest of topics here, but I’m curious to see what other commonalities are drawn. What I’m more curious about though is what other Duran fans think. Is fandom that similar to a religion? Do you feel that uplifted after a show? Is it really that far fetched of a theory?