Category Archives: Fandom

Banning Superfans and other misnomers

Amanda and I have been studying fandom for about ten years now. I think we each try to stay current with publications and research, but every now and then something will come out that takes us by surprise. This weekend, an article was published in the Daily Mail (maybe not the hardest hitting newspaper out there) that made me stop and think about superfans. I shared it across social media, hoping to generate some careful thought and response.

The article is about a fan named Heather Vaughn, who considers herself to be a Bay City Rollers Superfan.  By her own estimate,  she has attended over 4000 BCR concerts and has been a fan for over 40 years. Unfortunately, since April, she has been asked to leave gigs and has been banned. She claims not to know why, although the article discusses a specific situation where Mr. McKeown was checking into a hotel, saw Heather out front and took a photo of her on his phone.  You can read the article here (in fact I really think everyone should).

Just in case you’ve never heard of them, the Bay City Rollers were a 1970’s Scottish pop group that happened to have quite a huge female following. They split in 1978, but the lead singer (after taking time to recover from drugs, etc) continues to tour under the name “Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers”, and – this may surprise some of you given some of the “Who the heck are they?” responses I saw yesterday – they still have quite a strong following. These are people who go to every show, who have been fans from nearly the beginning. There have been many books and articles written about their fans, and there are definitely parallels to be found between that fan community and our own.

While the article interested me, I was even more curious about some of the responses I read, specifically from Duran Duran fans who had posted the article for their friends to read.  The responses went one of two ways:

  1. People felt there must be more to the story than this woman simply being seen at the same hotel that Les McKeown was checking into.
  2. People were appalled that the band was not thrilled that they had such a loyal superfan.

After reading those types of responses from several people who had commented, I decided I would post the article to the community-at-large over social media and monitor the reactions. I wasn’t really sure what people might say, but I was fairly convinced Duran fans would have SOME sort of opinion!  I was not wrong.

Overall, the same two original types of responses I read seemed to be the norm throughout the community. Although stated in a myriad of ways, directionally they were the same. Either fans were convinced there was more to the story than what was being shared, or they were firmly supportive of superfans.  There was also some discussion defining obsessive behavior and “crazy fans”, but ultimately – it comes down to whether or not you support the superfan, or you believe something happened where the band is “just” in their decision to ban said fan.

This seems to always boil down to the same discussion of what is acceptable fan behavior. And, as I could have predicted—everyone has a different opinion about that. It’s not an easy conversation.

I chatted with some people who felt that if you go to “too many shows”, it starts to look odd to the band. If you wave to band members, maybe that’s too “familiar”.  If they begin to recognize you,  that’s too much. If you talk to the band online as though you would anyone else, and expect them to answer, that’s bizarre.

I started looking hard at my own past “fan” behavior after I got offline. Unlike Heather Vaughn, I’ve never been called up on stage, or had photographs taken of myself doing housework for one of the band members. (Don’t even think about it. I love the band…but not that much!!) I have, however, traveled great distances to see them. I’ve been in hotel bars and restaurants at the same time as they’ve been. I’ve stayed at the same hotel before. I’ve gone to show after show, and yeah, I’m pretty sure that at least Simon recognizes me at this point, and likely Nick too.  What makes me any different from Mrs. Vaughn, other than the amount I’ve done?

The thing is, we don’t know why Heather Vaughn was banned. Chances are, there’s more to the story than what was reported, on both sides. What really concerns me is the idea that some Duran Duran fans think that no matter what she’s done, it’s OK because it was done in the name of being a loyal fan.  What exactly does “loyal” mean, anyway?  How do any of us know that she didn’t try to break into a room, or make threats, or continually show up to private events completely unannounced—purely because she thought that she was so much of a great fan that she belonged?  We don’t, but think about it the possibility. She’d gone to over 4000 shows. The band clearly knew who she was. She felt familiar, both in being a fan, as well as thinking they knew her.  I would imagine it is very easy to believe you’re more than just another fan in that case. It can be intoxicating to be validated by a celebrity, and after decades of just that, you start to believe you belong. That’s the risk.

It is those types of things, where you’re showing up to things a fan shouldn’t be, and getting into places you were not invited, that get a fan banned. Fans do not get banned because they happen to be in a hotel lobby, or because they’ve been to one too many shows in a stretch. Fans aren’t told to go away because they asked for a photo, and I’ve seen some really forceful asking! Restraining orders are for people who don’t know enough to back the heck off.  Blocking and banning are used for those who don’t realize what “private time” or “personal space” means, and have to be continually told, most of the time at the peril of the band member or others that work for the band.  Fans are banned because they ignore that a band member is actually a human being with a real life, or because they threaten a band member and/or their family.  Bands and artists don’t want to have to block fans from events. That’s not their goal, so when they do it, it is as a last resort, when nothing else has worked.  Assuming that this person is the victim is likely the wrong way to go here, and I really hope people who see it that way think twice. Or even three times.

Superfans aren’t the problem. Loyalty isn’t the issue at all.

If nothing else, the article gave me food for thought. I hope it did the same for you.

-R

 

Reportage: The Fabled, Fanciful Golden Ticket

Yesterday I wrote about a rumor involving a new Duran Duran album. Apparently, if we are all to believe the rumor, the band has been working tirelessly – fingers to their bones – to record an album entirely on their own in their “spare time”.  I put myself out there and said that based purely on my own past experience as a Duran Duran fan, I really doubted this to be true. That opinion still holds this morning (and I appreciate that I wasn’t burnt at the stake yesterday for saying so).

A few Duranies asserted, probably with a fair amount of wishful thinking thrown in for good measure, that perhaps this could be Reportage.  I have some thoughts on that.

First of all, the existence of Reportage has turned into this fabled, prized, collection of work that has taken on the enigma of being The Golden Ticket.  I myself have spoken to a fan or two that somehow has either heard the album, or that claim to have a copy. One person said, “anyone who is anyone in the fan community has heard it. The music is floating around.”  Well, I haven’t heard it. Not a single note. That means I’m not anyone, I guess. Not really a surprise there, either. I love it when people tell me they’ve heard it, because they have this air about them. You know what I mean.  The whole “Yes, I know I’m on the inside and you’re just a lowly REGULAR fan.” Even if they don’t mean to sound that way….they absolutely do.  And they secretly love it, because they have The Golden Ticket, while you and I do not.

Let’s face it, had I ever heard it – I’m sure I’d come off that way too. But I haven’t. At this point, I’m really starting to wonder why anyone cares. Do any of us really know how many songs and material, have never made it onto an album over the course of their career?  Reportage is probably just a group of 9-12 more songs that never quite made it. Sure, some of you are probably saying, “Yeah, but these might be outstanding!” Yes. That’s true. But Duran Duran probably has quite the archive of songs that had the potential to be outstanding. After all, this is the group that wrote “Rio”, and “Paper Gods”, and/or “Danceophobia”.

Ok, “Danceophobia” aside… (sorry “Danceophobia” fans. I just can’t.)

The point is, while I know Reportage has become this Holy Grail type of thing for the fan community, it is possible we might be putting way too much stock into something that we know next to nothing about.  Sure, we were teased about it for way too long to have never heard it ourselves. Yes, we know Sony turned it down. I have heard there were legal issues. But do those things all add up to it being the golden album to end all golden albums?  I’m just not so sure. And if one more person tells me that they’ve heard it with that knowing look on their face…

Well, I’m just gonna need a vodka tonic in order to deal. And it’s only 10:30 am my time. Oh, and yeah, I’m still nearly 100% sure that they’re not going to be releasing any album next month, Reportage or otherwise. Until someone from DDHQ says otherwise, and I’ve been properly revived from falling on the floor in a dead faint, I’m sticking with it.

But hey, if anyone wants me to hear Reportage, by all means my inbox is open and ready.

-R

 

 

 

I Live for Concerts and Fandom

Sometimes, it is good for me to have a blog topic in my head ahead of actually sitting down to write.  Other times, it is good for me to be flexible, to go with the flow, to be prepared to react.  I think today is definitely more of the go with the flow kind-of-day.  Social media has pointed me in some direction about where to go or what to write about after reading an article about fandom and taking a little quiz about concerts.

Fandom Is Good for You!

That header is not one I usually read.  More likely than not, I read articles, essays and even books talking about how fandom can be problematic.  Even recently I read a book by a fan giving advice to other fans so that they don’t take their fandom too far.  I’m not even sure exactly what that means.  Don’t get obsessed?  Don’t become a stalker or a groupie?  Don’t have fandom totally take over one’s life?  I don’t have a clue.  My point is simple.  Fans and fandom are usually presented as something weird or negative.  If you are a fan, it must mean that you don’t have a life or cannot have relationships or something.  The stereotype usually means that fans spend all day, everyday at their computers or TVs and don’t move from their basements.  After all, they are so obsessed that there is no way for fans to be productive members of society.  Therefore, when I saw an article today, which you can read here, about how fandom is good for you, I had to read it!

As with any article on fandom, there is a definition of the term.  I liked how this one defined it as, “Fandoms bring people across the world together and unite them based on the things they love most — so it makes sense that they’re good for us.”  This emphasizes the community aspect of fandom.  To me, as someone who has been reading and studying fandom for years, that is key.  I could be a fan of a lot of things but I’m only a member of the fandom in which I have reached out to other fans.  For example, I’m a fans of the Killers.  I adore their music and think they put on a fabulous show.  While, yes, I know other people who like the Killers, I met them through my Duran fandom.  I didn’t seek out to find other fans of the Killers.

The article goes on to explain how fandom makes people feel less lonely.  I have always thought that.  My best friend as a kid loved Duran and I loved that we shared a love for a band together.  My best friend now and I also share a love for Duran.  I definitely feel amongst my people when I’m at a show and can recognize at least 75% of the people around me.  I feel like I’m a part of something huge, something much larger than myself.  I try to explain touring and how going to shows is so cool.  While, yes, the shows are fabulous, but it is also about seeing people who I have gotten to know over the years.  We all come together to see Duran, from, sometimes, all different directions or places.  It is an awesome experience and feeling.

My only complaint about the article is that one quote focused on youth.  Fandom, I would argue, is good for all ages!

Concert Enthusiast

If that article wasn’t enough to bring a smile to my face, I saw people sharing a Buzzfeed quiz, “This Checklist Will Determine If You’re Actually A Concert Enthusiast”.  

This little quiz is pretty easy.  All you do is read through the list and check off the ones that apply  to you.  Simple, right?  Some of the questions asked include if you have been to a concert, how many concerts you have been to, whether you have traveled to see a concert, whether or not you have crowd surfed, etc.  My results?  Here’s what it said for me:  “Geez, what haven’t you done? You practically live at concerts. Waiting outside the venue in the heat or cold is no biggie to you. Heck, you’ve probably been the very first person in line. Venue security must know exactly who you are. You have a ton of fun at concerts and can’t get enough of them. You probably have a ton of shows coming up in the near future!”

I cannot disagree with it much.  I would love to live at concerts as they are my happy place.  Yes, I have waited outside venues.  Heck, I did it just a couple of weeks ago in Oakland and San Francisco.  I’m not sure about venue security knowing me but band security… 😉  Do I have a ton of shows coming up?  I have two.  That isn’t a ton but I look forward to them all the same.

What about the rest of you?  Did you take the quiz?  What result did you get?

-A

People Tell Me I Haven’t Changed but I Don’t Feel the Same

Are you participating in our #2017DDChallenge this year leading up to Duran Duran Appreciation Day?  I certainly am and have been enjoying it!  If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read the blog posted here.  This isn’t the first time that Rhonda and I have done such an activity.  In fact, it is pretty common for us to do something surrounding or for Duran Duran Appreciation Day.  Yet, it was shocking to us at how different the original set of questions were.  Needless to say, this year’s questions for the challenge are far more positive than the ones from a few years ago.  That isn’t to say that all the questions will be positive but the vast majority will be.  We are still thinking and critical Duranies but we are different now.  At least, I feel like I am.

Looking back through the years of blog posts here it seems obvious that I’m far less negative and critical of the band now than I once was.  Even during the All You Need Is Now era, which I absolutely adored, a lot of what was said, talked about, and written about by me was more critical in nature.  Then, of course, the time in between All You Need Is Now and Paper Gods was problematic for me.  I wanted so desperately for the band to capitalize on what I felt they created with AYNIN and was afraid that any or all momentum would be lost with too much time.  My criticism or negativity definitely came from the best of intentions and with all the love I could muster but I just couldn’t or wouldn’t see it from the band’s side.  I didn’t understand that the creative process could not rushed.  Then, of course, I had plenty of ideas of how Duran could help themselves and offered many of them here on the blog.  Some of those ideas might have been good, I don’t know.  I can’t remember.  No matter, now, I like to think that  have learned some big lessons.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned during this album cycle is to just be more empathetic.  I cannot possibly know what life is like for the members of Duran Duran.  While, yes, I might have lots of ideas about how to approach this, that or the next thing, I have no idea whether or not those ideas are even possible.  Some might and others might not be.  I recognize now, though, that as much as I try to think about what it might be like to be in their shoes, I really cannot.  I can only know what it is like to be in my shoes and to have my perspective.

Because of this realization, I’m truly picking my battles. Some ideas might still cause a passionate response in me.  For example, a reader posted a quote in some Hawaiian press that the band is considering including Andy Taylor in the 40th anniversary celebration.  That got a response from me.  (For the record:  I’m not a fan.  It isn’t that I don’t or didn’t like Andy.  I just like the band the way it is now and I worry that having Andy return in any capacity would cause problems for the band and/or Andy.  I don’t want that.)

On the other side of the coin, I’m letting go of the little things.  I’m not going to worry about who is modeling the merchandise, for example, or whether or not the right or wrong word is used in a tweet.  None of that really matters to me.  I get that those things might to other fans and that’s fine but they don’t to me right now.  I realize that those little things that I could be critical of don’t change my fandom for the positive.  No, in fact, they could make me less happy being a Duranie.  I don’t want that.  I want and need Duran to be my happy place.

Likewise, I’m also going to cheer things that the band or DDHQ is doing that I like.  For example, I’m loved all of the tweets/posts/pictures of the band in Hawaii.  While I could not be there, I at least feel as if I’m a part of it in some small fashion.  It also keeps that small connection that I felt towards the band from the shows in Oakland and San Francisco alive.  I appreciate that A LOT.

Overall, I don’t think I’m the same person or the same fan that I once was.  Maybe, this change has come from my own experience with the creative process.  Perhaps, it is that the reality surrounding me means that I need my fandom to be just a happy place.  I don’t know.  It could be a new maturity.  I guess it could be a lot of things.  If I had to say, though, I think this change is a good change and one that I’m embracing.

-A

You Can’t Laugh All the Time (or can you?)

This is it, the final Paper Gods video blog!  In fact, today you’re lucky because there will be multiple videos for your viewing pleasure.  Watch the videos in the order listed here. Hope you brought your tissues!

 

OK, just kidding about the discussion of Simon’s dancing!  Instead, we’re gonna talk about the top ten funniest (and quite frankly, stupid!) things we’ve done while the band has toured Paper Gods!

 

Pants – Exhibit A

Pants – Exhibit B

It’s been a wild ride. We have laughed until tears slid down our cheeks, sadness from time to time, and enough joy to fuel three years of blogging through the Paper Gods album cycle. Hard to believe this one is in the history books for us with no idea of what is to come—but we’re looking forward to finding out!

We want to thank everyone who has been a part of this crazy trip: Our roomies along the way:Heather, Shelly, Suzie, Lori and Julie, everyone who came to meet ups, people who stopped us to say hello,  people who bought us drinks, and even those people who couldn’t quite figure us out and didn’t always appreciate our point of view.  Each of you made us work harder, strive to be better writers, and kinder people. (still working on some of that, we suppose!)

…and then there’s the band. Naturally, we can’t go without thanking all of you. It is true that your work inspires us in turn. (as do your fashion choices!) We will miss knowing that we have shows in our immediate future, but wish all of you the best. We hope that each of you know that while we will continue to tease you relentlessly, we do it with love, respect, and admiration.  Whether you’re spitting for distance (seriously Simon, did you really think you were gonna hit us in San Francisco??), watching our antics from the stage, or just playing the music that is the soundtrack to our lives, we adore all of you.

Let’s plan on doing this all again….soon!

-A&R

 

When you get that lonely shine in your eye

The other day, Amanda and I were on Skype. We were beginning work on a project and kicking around ideas when the topic turned to our upcoming road trip to San Francisco. We’re both really excited to have plans this summer, even if it’s only for a couple of shows. San Francisco is a city we’ve never been together while “touring”, and it will be great to see fellow Duranies, too.

That got us talking about our friends. Duranie friends, that is. We have a lot of people we know from the blog – people that we might not know well, but that have introduced themselves to us at various shows and things. We also have our core group of friends, which honestly, seems like it’s dwindled over the years. It is that group that I’ve been thinking about more recently.

When I first started out on the message boards, I stumbled upon a group of women that I became pretty attached to. Many of them were on the organizing committee for a convention that I was a part of, and a few others were involved on the board. (Amanda is one of those people, actually!)  They were what I like to call, my people. (We also called ourselves the Gutter Gals at one time, back about thirteen years ago!) I remember feeling like I needed to study up on Duran Duran because these women knew Duran Duran’s history like nobody’s business. I knew only what I’d read. These women had been to shows. Many of them. I think I’d been to about six at the time, and one of them was a festival. I knew next to nothing compared to most of them.

One of them had organized more than one convention, and seemed to know everyone, everywhere. When I looked at her (virtually, of course) and then looked at myself, I felt like I had absolutely nothing in common with her. She seemed hard-edged, and there I was—Miss OC Soccer Mom—trying my best to fit in. Another one was easily likable. She was popular on the boards, friendly to all, and everyone thought she was cool.  She could use humor to diffuse almost any situation, a tool she still uses to this day. I witnessed women tripping over themselves to befriend this person, and when she and I hit it off – calling one another the “other half of our brain”, I thought I’d made a friend for life. Yet, I was really nothing like her, either.  She was young, independent, single, a partier—and everyone loved her.  Still others were quieter, but they knew their Duran-stuff. They had history following the band, whereas I had spent the majority of my life prior on the outside looking in.

As many know, this group of women embraced me, for reasons I still don’t really quite understand. I never felt like I measured up. I don’t have tattoos or a number of piercings. I don’t know the band, haven’t had any body part signed by them, nor have I jumped the stage and been carried off by Dave. I look ridiculous in Doc Marten’s, and I look stupid with burgundy colored hair. The hardest-edged thing about me are probably the toe rings I wear in the summer – and yes, that’s a joke (although the toe rings are not). Rocker-girl or goth enthusiast, I am not. I’m more apt to wear pink than black on any given day. Oh, how I’ve wished I could be one of those women who can pull off black hair, black leather, etc. I’m just the opposite. I’m more like bubble gum, really. I suppose in many ways, it’s why I started this blog. I wanted to prove to myself that I could be like those women in one way or another. For once, I wanted to be on the inside and actually do something. But, as time has gone on, I’ve noticed that most of that original group of women are no longer around.

I probably can’t really call them close friends, anymore. It’s not that I don’t love them, or care about them, but they’ve moved on, and I really haven’t. The most I see or hear from them is on Facebook. They’ve got careers, lives, marriages, and they’ve kind of dropped Duran Duran along the way. I don’t know if the band got “old” (I don’t mean in age), or if they got tired of it all, or if the trend changed—and me being me—I missed my cue to leave and instead, I got more involved. Many of them complain about the band in one way or another, and yet I embrace them tighter. Maybe it’s me, really. (It is probably me.)

I haven’t seen many of them in years, now that I think about it. I don’t travel alone (meaning without the family) much unless it’s for Duran Duran. Then again, I can’t afford to fly these days anyway, so unless the band plays on the west coast (thankfully they are this summer) and I can drive there, I’m sort of stuck. The good news is I’m just about halfway through the whole “paying for two kids in college” thing, so I’m hoping it will get better from here. Point being, I don’t get out much, so I don’t see them often, if at all. Maybe that’s it. Or maybe it’s just that people drift apart, and we weren’t all meant to be friends forever.

The one thing I know for sure, is that without those women, I wouldn’t be writing. The only reason I ever started writing was because I missed being able to tear through album, song, video and show minutia. I loved talking about all of that “little” stuff. I liked examining the human condition and how news would affect the fan community as a group. I used to do that on the message boards, until there stopped being message boards. So, without those women, I don’t think I would have started this blog, and I don’t think I would have gone to the last thirty shows or so. I still love this band, for some crazy reason. I have a blast when I go to the shows. I have spoken to a few from that original group over the years, and the subject of meeting the band always comes up. They don’t understand why we continue to put in so much effort to be completely ignored by Duran Duran.

First of all, I haven’t been totally ignored, and Daily Duranie hasn’t been ignored. At least for me, it really has been about the expectations I had swirling in the back of my head from day one. This was never about being accepted by the band. I wanted to be accepted by my peers. There have been times when I’ve let the idea of acceptance by the band cloud my judgment, and the outcome has not been good. This is not about them. It’s about me. I wanted to prove I was more than just a housewife. More than just some nerdy kid than never quite grew up. More than solely a mom. I desperately wanted people to like me.

The irony that I have weeks like this, where I openly muse about friends I’ve lost along the way, isn’t lost on me. Speaking out has come to mean standing alone, sometimes. Even so, the nostalgia for that close group of friends I once had, and the journey I’ve been on since, is a little bittersweet.

I’m excited for my upcoming trip, and if you see Amanda and I at a table or at the bar—come say hello. We’d love to make a new friend or two along the way!

-R

10 Years Ago: The Fan Only Show

Ten years ago, yesterday, Duran Duran played at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City.  This concert was open only to paid members of DuranDuranMusic, the band’s official fan community.  This show took place during the writing and recording of Red Carpet Massacre.  In some ways, I feel like this show was just a year or two ago, but, in other ways, it feels like a lifetime ago.  I learned a lot about the Duran Duran fan community.  On top of that, it represents not only that time period but also marks a dividing line in my personal fandom.

In 2007, a lot of Duranies were members of DuranDuranMusic.  The message board was busy all day and all night.  Threads had pages and pages of posts.  Posters had thousands of post counts.  Whenever anyone went to those boards, it was clear which fans were friends with each other and even, I dare say, which groups were more popular than others.  In saying that, I’m not criticizing anyone–just giving my observation.  When the band announced this fan only show, I felt nothing but excitement and determination to get there.  The fan community advertised the event as special, one time only.  Most fans I know desperately wanted to be there because  it seemed to be so special.  I was no different.

While my group was no where near popular or even known by many other fans, I still wanted to be a part of it.  Did I think that popularity within the fan community was tied, at least to some extent, to how many shows people went to?  Sure did.  I remember watching other fans in 2005 and 2006 going to tons of shows and they always seemed to have these amazing stories of their experiences.  I felt certain that attending this fan only show would provide me with my own story, so to speak.

I did have a story of sorts.  It focused on our sad attempt at getting VIP tickets.  My group, at that time, included Rhonda and myself and a friend of ours.  We needed three tickets.  The tickets were distributed by lottery.  When the results came up, two of us got regular general admission and the other got VIP floor.  Through trading and much communication with other fans, we were able to score three VIP balcony seats.  No, they were not as good as VIP floor.  Yet, we took what we could get.

Then, on the night of the show, we learned that many fans think that wearing the band’s t-shirt to a show is uncool as we got many unfriendly looks as we walked by.  We also learned that fans don’t always stick together after a show with many groups going off on their own despite any promises to get together afterwards.  This, of course, was all on top of a show that left a lot desired, which we have blogged about many times.  No matter one’s opinion about the show or about the album, it was clear that all was not happy in Duranland.  For our friend, it proved too much.  The fun had left her fandom.  She went to one more show but that was it.

After that show, things changed for me.  I chose to hold on to the fandom with every ounce of strength I could muster.  My friend, as stated earlier, left.  I wasn’t happy necessarily within Duranland as I saw flaws in the album and felt like it was unDuranlike.  I also recognized that others in the fan community didn’t see that.  Tensions were high and arguments were frequent.  I thought for sure that I would be the only one remaining as Rhonda not only struggled with RCM but also had a lot of real life stuff to contend with.  Thus, I did what I needed to go to get through it.

I went back to New York City to see one of the shows on Broadway.  (I went to the second night, the one in which Donald Trump was there.  Yippee.)  I needed to give the band a chance to fix what went wrong at the fan show.  They had to show me that they were going to put all of themselves into this new album cycle.  The performance at that show did just that and gave me strength to make it through the rest of the very divisive Red Carpet Massacre era.

Overall, the fan show ended the first part of my adult fandom.  The innocence I had for the fan community and for the band seemed to end.  Lucky for me, the strength of my friendship and my love for the band kept me in the fight until a new era dawned.

-A

Review: The Fangirl Life

I love summer.  It provides me the opportunity to not only work on projects that have been on my to do list but also the time to really digest them.  This spring I read the book, The Fangirl Life, by Kathleen Smith.  As I read it, I remember thinking that I would like to comment about this or that in a blog post, but never had the time to really dive into the book to do so.  Now, I can.  Before I do that, let me provide you with some background info.  The back of the book describes it as a “witty guide to putting your passions to use in your offline life.”  Basically, the idea is to use one’s fandom and passion to help with real life.  The author is indeed a therapist.

While I appreciate psychology and therapy, I didn’t pick up this book in order to fix things in my life.  It interested me as any and all books on fandom do, especially ones focused on female fans.  I wanted to see how female fans were portrayed and what I could learn about fandom through reading the book.  Not surprisingly, I found some parts of the book to be right on and other parts to be questionable.  Before I dive into the book more specifically, I do want to acknowledge that the fandoms discussed were more likely to be TV, movies, comics, etc.  Music fandom was often left out, per usual.

As the book begins, I found myself nodding in agreement about a lot of it as the author describes the fangirl stereotypes like the screaming 14 year olds at pop concerts but explains that the online communities of fans provide opportunity to form bonds with others. Right on, I thought!  The author dispels the four big myths about fangirls, in fact.  These myths include that fangirls are teenagers, they are trying to escape their boring lives, they can’t develop healthy relationships and that they spend all day on the internet.  By the time I got passed the introduction, I thought maybe this book was written exactly for me!

Chapter one focuses on the fangirl brain and how hearing/seeing what we love actually does various things in our brains to make us happy.  Cool.  She even explains the post-fandom event let down and why we can all get down, emotionally.  More cool.  Then, though, the book takes a turn to assume that many fangirls actually struggle with depression or inability to find balance between real life and fan life, etc.  The goal of the author is to have fangirls remove various dysfunctional behavior in order to be more successful in life and to be happier fans.

Okay.  I get it.  We all have crap to deal with, things to work on.  Every single person, fan or not, would benefit from trying to improve themselves.  I get that.  Yet, as someone who is well aware of the stigma surrounding fandom, I have to wonder if a book like this isn’t reinforcing many of the stereotypes.  Are fans really more mentally ill than the rest of the population?  Do we really struggle with balance?  Again, I appreciate the idea that is woven throughout the book, which is to use one’s fandom to be better, a little self-improvement, but I think the author needed to be cautious not to imply the fans are crazy.

Now, this isn’t to say that everything the author mentions reinforces stereotypes.  Some of what she discusses is how to navigate through one’s fan community, including disagreements, negative comments directed towards you, etc.  While I think that can all be well and good, I wonder that she isn’t missing something beyond the individual.  There is no analysis of sociology of fan communities.  Why do fans go after fans?  This happens all the time, which shows me that it is more than just about the individual fan.  There is something about fandom that causes this.  Fandom too often contains social hierarchies, which we have talked about a lot on this blog.  Why does this happen?  The author wants the individual to be able to deal better.  I want fandom to change so that individual fans don’t have to deal.

Overall, I thought the book was mixed.  I did get some things out of it, such as the brain functioning with things we love and the post event let down.  I recognize that the author is both a fan, which is obvious, and a therapist with the best of intention to help fellow fans be happier.  That said, I think she should have been a bit more cautious not to imply that fans are crazy and I think she needs to acknowledge the community aspect to the dysfunction that can and does happen within fan communities.

Has anyone else read this?  What did you think about it?

-A

“New Found Appreciation”: Influencing New Fans

Last week, I received a thank you card from my student teacher.  In it, she expressed her appreciation with everything thing she had learned during the semester, including the importance of laughter.  Apparently, I make a lot of jokes in my classroom.  Who knew?!  One other thing she learned to appreciate was Duran Duran.  I know.  What does Duran Duran have to do with teaching?  Nothing.  Since I was her cooperating teacher, she had no choice but to learn about Duran.  I played the entire Rio album, for example, on its anniversary.  In order to test new equipment, I played some Duran videos.  The band provided the background to grading semester finals.

She told me that she knew some of their music but was not super familiar with them.  More to the point, what she learned about the band make her like the band more than she did.  Does that mean that  she is a fan now?  I don’t know if the new appreciation will translate to that, but it might.  I did my best or…could I have done something more?

At some point, I did a blog about which songs should be played to try to get new fans but now, after my student teacher and the book, “The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy,” I wonder if I went about it in the wrong way.

The book has an entire section entitled Resistance Is Futile:  Converting Your Friends to Fangirls.  Here are the suggestions the author listed and my thoughts about each one of them:

Ease into it.

The recommendation here is simple.  Don’t mention the history of a fandom, that’s too intense, too intimidating.  Instead, one should keep it fun by sending pictures or something light.  What do I think about it?  I’m not sure.  On one hand, I can see why the history might be a bit much or make it seem like there is no way that someone could jump into the fandom right now.  Yet, I think there is a way to acknowledge the awesome history but also showing that one can join.  For example, I might say, “It is pretty cool.  Duran formed in 1978, almost 40 years ago and have thousands of fans.  Yet, because they are still writing new albums and touring, new fans can jump in at any point.”  Then, I might send a fun live clip.

Play human recommendation engine.

The advice here is really easy.  Suggest something you know your friend would like.  In our case, if someone likes more ballads play that person “Save a Prayer”.  If they like more rock, I might choose “Careless Memories”.  It is important to know what the potential Duranie likes, music wise.

Discover something together.

The idea here is to find a fandom together.  Okay.  Cool.  Not an option for me with Duran.  Maybe another band?  Although, I can’t really see me liking another band to the same extent that I like Duran.  Goodness.

Make it a party.

The suggestion here is to have a party and invite a bunch of people.  I do have Duran parties but would I really invite non-Duranies to it?  I’m not sure.  Would they be bored?  Feel out of place?  Wouldn’t that be just like the first recommendation where everyone else has a lot of experience and knowledge that the newbie(s) don’t?!  Maybe I would do that if the person is now a fan but not quite to Duranie status to push them over to the dark…I mean Duran side.

Give the gift of fandom.

The author says that giving gifts about your fandom that you think the person will like can work.  Okay.  I have about 20 million copies of Paper Gods that I could give as gifts.

Don’t get defensive.

If someone doesn’t like your fandom, don’t get defensive.  You can calmly explain that sharing a fandom does give a ton of fabulous experiences and friendships that you wouldn’t have otherwise.  I think it is important to realize that no matter what you share with the non-Duranie, s/he might not ever become a Duranie.  That is okay, too.

Overall, I do believe that it is GREAT to have friends who are Duranies.  It definitely makes fandom WAY more fun and provides a great foundation to a friendship.  That said, it can also be tough when a friend who was once a Duranie is no more or when someone you thought was on her/his way to being a Duranie changes her/his mind.  Sometimes, that really affects friendships, even though no one wants it, too.  So, word to the wise.  Have fun with trying to create a new Duranie but don’t get disappointed when it doesn’t work or doesn’t last.

-A

 

The Concert Ticket Buying Experience

Yesterday afternoon, while I was in the midst of grading the last set of semester finals (woohoo!), my partner-in-crime posted a video on our Facebook page.  Immediately, people watched and expressed not only how entertained they were from it but also shared stories indicating that they related to it.  What video did Rhonda share?  What was it about?  How come so many could relate to it?  I’ll tell you this much–if you have bought concert tickets online, you will appreciate it.  Click on the link below and watch it.  Trust me.

When You Are Trying to Buy Concert Tickets Online:

https://www.facebook.com/thebragsydney/videos/1539565626056578/

Okay, people, who has purchased concert tickets online?  Raise your hands.  Don’t be shy.  Yeah, I’m willing to bet that most/many/a lot of you have.  I think you all know that I have.  Heck, I wonder how many blogs focus on the ticket buying experience, especially for those little ticket sales we call pre-sales.  So, what parts of this video can I relate to?  What parts are accurate?  Where do I start?!

Honestly, I could relate to SO much of this.  The person in the video definitely does a lot of talking aloud.  I’m not gonna lie.  I do the same when by myself going through the ticket buying process.  Self-talk isn’t a bad thing, correct?  Right from the beginning of this video, I found myself nodding with much agreement.  I refresh the ticket websites over and over again with 20 minutes before the tickets go on sale then 3 minutes before then 60 seconds.  Of course, I also usually spend time talking to friends about the plan especially if we are all trying to buy tickets.  This reminds me of the shows that we went to in March.  Rhonda bought for a show and I bought for a show.  Up until the time of purchase, I was so nervous that I would buy for the wrong day and we would end up with 4 tickets for Friday and 0 tickets for Saturday.  Luckily for us, it didn’t happen.

The ticket buyer’s feelings were right on, in my opinion.  I have uttered the phrase, “I have been dreaming of this concert for so long!”  Likewise, I have paid a lot more money than I probably should have all in the name of a concert “of a lifetime”.  Usually, for us, the phrase is a little different.  We are more likely to say that it is going to be the “tour of a lifetime” or “you never know when a tour will be the last tour” or “they might not tour for years after this”.  The sentiment is the really the same as are the tears of relief and joy once the tickets have been purchased.

One part of the video that I found especially entertaining is when the ticket buying does not go as planned.  In this case, the site wouldn’t load and the wi-fi wasn’t working well.  We have all experienced something similar when buying our tickets, especially when Ticketmaster is involved.  Just recently, when buying tickets for the San Francisco show, I couldn’t get the site to load on my computer and I ended up buying the tickets on my phone.  Like the video, I knew that I wasn’t the only one as I exchanged messages with a friend leading me to buy tickets for her, too.  Of course, like the video, the fear of having the show sold out or only having crappy seats left is real, my friends.

While I loved the heck out of this video, I do wonder about something.  Hmm..anyone else?  Why is a dude dressed in a wig and attempting to sound “like a girl”?!  Is the implication that only “fangirls” would respond this way to concert ticket sales?  Was the idea behind the video to mock female music fans?  I assume that the main character was also supposed to be young, probably a teenager since “she” lived with her dad and didn’t know her post code.

Perhaps, I’m assuming ill will where there is none.  Maybe the creators of this video just wanted to relate the concert ticket buying experience in a funny, relatable way.  That’s very possible.  That said, why not have a teenage girl or a teenage boy or…an adult woman in it?!  I think that still would have been funny.  Why not show multiple types of fans since we come in all ages and genders?  How hard is that?

-A