Category Archives: Fandom

Manchester Reflection: Fear and shame becomes the violent breath

I want to first apologize for NOT making comments on the Manchester bombing when I wrote yesterday’s blog.  There were several reasons for this, most of which had nothing to do with emotion and everything to do with logistics.

However, 40-hours post bombing (give or take) now, I suppose I do have something to say.

First of all, as you all know – I’m American. I’ve been to the UK twice in my entire life, so it’s not as though I can count it as my home. But somehow, I do feel that way. No, I’ve never lived there, but I think part of my heart remains there regardless. It comes with loving this band, adoring the people I call my UK friends, and some of my favorite people on the planet being British. I love the UK. I love how different it is, yet so similar to “home”. I embrace the cultural differences, and the fact that even while being given a thorough tongue-lashing by a Brit – it STILL  somehow sounds far more polite and refined than when I call someone a jackwagon. Or worse. (probably worse, let’s be honest)  I wasn’t there in the Manchester Arena the night of the incident, I wasn’t in the UK at all. I was here at home, but when I read some of the tweets from friends who live in Manchester, my heart was with you. No, it didn’t happen to me. But somehow, it feels like it did. I witnessed it all unfold with friends online, just as I’m sure many of you reading experienced as well.

Secondly, I’m a concert-goer, just like many (if not all) of you who are reading. I think as Duran-fans, we know the significance of Manchester Arena. As concert-goers, as long time fans, we all know what it is like to be one of those little girls, or little boys, in an arena. As a parent, I know what it is like to send a child to their first concert, or to go along with that child and see their eyes light up as the show begins. As an adult, I know what a concert means to me. It is my safe place. I love music. I adore it. Music is what makes me come alive. The energy flows through my veins like blood, and when I’m at a show – yes, particularly Duran Duran – but any show is like this, it is when I feel like I’m the most ME. To have that space violated rocks me to the core. I know I’m not the only one feeling this way.  It doesn’t make me sad, it makes me angry. Very angry.

In 2015, when the mass shooting at The Bataclan in Paris happened, I was also here at home, working on a poster with my youngest for school. When the news broke, I can remember stopping whatever I was doing and slowly sitting in a chair because I knew the band was in Paris. When they mentioned who had been playing at the Bataclan that night, I felt a shiver go down my spine. It was far, far too close to home for my taste. I can remember frantically tweeting the band and Dom, hoping any one of them would respond. It seemed like hours before someone finally answered, assuring us that they were fine. I think when Dom finally tweeted that he and Martha were fine, I wrote back saying that if I could hug them both right then, I would. And that’s 100% accurate. All I could think about was that they had kids, and that they were both there that night. You’d have thought I knew them personally. I didn’t – and still don’t. I’m just some weird woman from the US to them. But I was relieved, regardless.

I just don’t know if I ever felt really angry about the Bataclan, though. At the time, I was just so relieved. I mean, in some ways it’s silly – the band doesn’t know me. They aren’t my personal friends, but even so, I felt relief knowing they were safe. I wouldn’t have wanted anything horrible to happen to them, in other words. That feeling of relief was far stronger than anger for me at that point. Sure, I was shocked and horrified by the incident – I still am when I think about it, which is exactly why I try not to dwell on it – but I wasn’t angry.

This time though, I’m furious.

This isn’t about being a mama bear, protecting my (or anyone else’s) young. It’s the idea that some asshole decided that his beliefs were more important, more “right”, than the lives of every other soul in that building and surrounding area that night. It is the fact that a concert is the one place where many can go and completely be themselves. It is the belief that music is healing. It is a place to go when the world is closing in, and escape can be found, if only for a few hours. A concert is a place of celebration, of hope, joy, and love. And that night, some idiot tried to ruin that for not only the people who were there in Manchester, but for everyone in the world.  Now, I’m angry.

Yes, I’m also sad for the lives lost and forever changed that night. I have a difficult time thinking about the kids, particularly because I’m a mom, I’m sure. But it’s also because at one time, I was one of them. Part of the reason I still go to concerts is because when I’m there dancing to music, I still feel like one.  My heart hurts when I think about how so many souls went to a concert in Manchester that night and didn’t ever go home. No one should have to die just because they went to a concert.

I’m also angry because no matter how much we say we won’t change the way we live – we are. It’s not about the damn metal detectors or about a simple bag check at the door, either. I see friends openly arguing on social media about whether or not they should continue to allow burkas to be worn on the streets of the UK, or about armed police presence.

I see racism in places that (quite frankly) know better. I’ve been called names purely because I didn’t agree with something someone else said, or because I wanted to stop being angry about an election for one single day so that I could enjoy a freaking holiday with my family. That doesn’t make me a Nazi, or a Nazi sympathizer, people. It makes me FUCKING HUMAN. I can see how our world is changing, and honestly – THAT is what scares me. It’s not the terrorists themselves. I have a better chance of being flattened by a bus than I do being killed by a terrorist. I’m far more afraid of what is to come from an argument between friends about building a wall or allowing refugees into a country than I am about some lunatic shooting up a nightclub.

I’m not about pushing my personal beliefs on others. I’m not going to tell you how I feel about walls, refugees, burkas, or praying to cabbages, for that matter. All I know is that fear is a strong motivator. It coaxes and lures us to act in ways we never thought we might otherwise, and I’m angry that fear is changing our world.

I will leave you with one last thought for today.  I find it hauntingly poetic that the one thing that has the ability to bridge all cultures, languages and beliefs – music – was targeted to display such violence and hate in Manchester.

I don’t have a lot of answers, I just know that fear isn’t going to solve this.

-R

You can call me wrong, you can put me straight

During some of the six and a half years we’ve been writing Daily Duranie, I’ve wondered what the band would say if they read our blogs. I’ve written with the hope that they’d at least be proud to have fans reacting, but not expecting they’d agree with everything I said.

Nothing brought this to light more than a video I watched yesterday.  A friend of mine directed me to a video by FBE. They had Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park watching teens react to their videos.

First of all, allow me to set the stage. I believe the video was done due to the blowback from Linkin Park’s new album. One More Light. The argument is that the band has sold out and abandoned their core sound for something that is more commercially welcome or “pop”. Fans are furious. There’s a deep divide in their fan community at the moment between those who approve and those who do not. Any of this sounding familiar???

Linkin Park has been around since 1996. Chester Bennington, their lead singer, has been with the band since 1999. If we do the math, there are teens in high school right now that weren’t even born when the band began. I’ll go one step farther and say most teens in high school right now probably weren’t listening to music when they had their first semi-hit, “One Step Closer”, in 2001. I’m not even getting into the debate of whether they’ve evolved over the years, so don’t send me mail about that. I’m merely reporting what has been said to give context about the video. The teens in the video (link below) are probably not Linkin Park fans for the most part. They’re kids who the band is likely trying to reach with this new album. Again, any of this ringing a bell???

Teens react to Linkin Park video

So, my friend sends me this link, and of course I watch. At first, I’m amused. Not all of the teens recognize Linkin Park’s old videos. In fact, most do not. When a few do, they’re dismissive, saying that other kids “hate” on them. They might not even know the band themselves, but they know friends hate them, so they should too. (I had no idea, probably because I could be a parent to any of these kids!) Truly, if I didn’t know what year it was, or what band they were talking about, I’d automatically assume they were talking about Duran Duran.

Someone off camera explains to each of the teens that the first video they watched was their new single, “Heavy”, and that the band has gotten quite a bit of backlash from fans about it.  One guy, in a hoodie who clearly knew the band well enough to recognize their hits over the years, agreed. A girl – the one who talks about the haters out there – said that their music all sounds kind of the same, and that this new song feels like a sell-out because it seems like they thought about doing what is trendy right now.

At this point, Mike explains that the “trendy” comment is funny because their album writing cycles are anywhere from 12-18 months, and so it’s either that they are lucky and anticipate the trend, or they do something that was trendy 18 months ago. Good point, and not something I’ve really thought about.  Then other teens weigh-in, saying things like “bands evolve, and so fans have to suck it up” (point taken), and “there’s so many fans where if their favorite band doesn’t do the one thing, in the one category, in the one genre in the one sub genre they’re supposed to do, it sucks…and I don’t think they understand how music works because you’re supposed to change it up.”  Mike claps at that comment.

I couldn’t help but see the parallels.  We’ve had those moments with nearly every album Duran Duran has released. It would seem to be an impossible task, and Mike mentioned this when he talked about the vicious cycle of creating. There are always going to be a group of fans that like one particular “thing” the band does, and they’re going to demand the band stay within that realm. That said, Mike also explained that if they were to put out music that all sounded the same – it would drive them crazy.  Not every song can be “Rio”, in other words, but they’re then always going to have fans that scream “sell-out” when the sound isn’t what they expect.

At the end of the video, Mike says that as long as he loves what they’ve done – he has to keep that foremost in his mind as he goes on stage or releases work. Linkin Park is still going to get a certain amount of hate in reaction to their new material. He says that if at least he doesn’t love what he’s done, then he stands to be very disappointed. The whole video gave me a new dimension to consider going forward.

On the other hand, as a blogger, I went from being mildly amused, to nearly cringing. I recognized myself in those teens as they filmed their reaction. Duran Duran puts their blood, sweat and tears into a new album, and then two yahoos from America decide to review it on YouTube. I am one of those yahoos, by the way, and my reaction isn’t always the best.

In any case, the video provided some perspective on the evolution of a band’s material. As I said to my friend yesterday, I appreciated everything Mike Shinoda had to say on the subject. It was clear from the way Mike spoke that he wasn’t just carrying on the “party line” or “talking points” straight from management. He spoke from the heart even though he is directly in the middle of the market launch of their new album. The words hit home and made me think about reviews I’ve done in the past. I can’t say I’d change what is done, but it does make me think as I move forward. -R

 

Away from here

I try not to get political here on the blog because it’s kind of my escape. But then again, I’m not really sure if the word “escape” is appropriate here. For me, Duran Duran is just a part of everything else. I met my best friend at a fan convention. I write because I’m fascinated about fandom. I listen to Duran Duran music when I’m driving my kids around. I found some of my favorite people on earth because of Duran Duran. So I don’t know if I’d call the band my escape, or a just a really good and happy part of my life at this point. Whatever the case, I try to leave the stress at the proverbial “door” when I start writing, and enjoy the peace.

With that in mind, the solace of the blog has become somewhat more of a comfort in the past year. The world outside is pretty darn nasty right now. I can’t speak for what is going on in other countries of the world, but being American, I can absolutely speak to what I’m seeing and reading here. I don’t like it.

I’m not here to say who is right, who is wrong, or to judge anybody for what they believe. That’s what Twitter and social media is for. <insert big grin here>  My opinion is simply that regardless of who you voted for last November, I think it’s fair to say that our country is a mess. I don’t think anyone openly wanted to see something like what appears to be happening here unfold. I tread carefully here with my words because no one has been impeached, and I think we’re only at the very beginning of what might be a very long and dirty process. Despite what might seem to be the truth right now, there’s really no way of knowing what will happen in the months to come, and that’s no fake news. I worry a lot about what might come of it all in the end. But, I’m not really here to talk about American politics, thankfully.

It is during these times when I am most thankful for the fandom I’ve embraced, and the friends I’ve made along the way. It is so good to share even a few lighthearted laughs and tweets with people. I love that I can go online (at the moment, Twitter is that place for me), no matter what time of day, and see at least a few tweets about Duran Duran. Whether it’s someone reminding me of meaningful lyrics, or a picture, or even a memory from last summer’s tour, those simple tweets make me see that the sun really is still shining. While the rest of the world is surging to and fro similar to a washing machine, the simplest of things stay true. The music doesn’t change. Duran Duran is still Duran Duran. Thankfully.

-R

I Knew When I First Saw You on the Showroom Floor

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading recently.  I just finished Electric Ladyland last night, which is about women and rock.  While reading, I found a quote that I couldn’t get out of my head. I sent it on to Amanda because we’re working on something and I thought it would be of benefit to her, too. I’m going to share it here as well, because I’m curious about what our readers might think.

“Even after I realized women were barred from any active participation in rock music, it took me a while to see that we weren’t even considered a real part of the listening audience.  It was clear that the concerts were directed only to men and the women were not considered people, but more on the level of exotic domestic animals that come with their masters or come to find masters. Only men are assumed smart enough to understand the intricacies of the music.” –Susan Hiwatt, “Cock Rock”, an essay from Twenty-Minute Fandangos and Forever Changes

First of all, before the roaring chorus of “No way!!” begins, I feel as though context may be important.  I found this quote in Electric Ladyland, but it came from the essay cited above. Electric Ladyland examines the role of women in music, whether as musicians, writers, or groupies (anyone want to guess why I was reading?).  More specifically, the book targets the years of 1960 through the 1970’s. Anyone who has properly studied that time in history knows how much change occurred during that nearly twenty year period (1960-1979ish).  The quote came from something written in 1971, but I’m wondering how much of it still hold true today, and for the sake of argument, we can take Duran Duran for an example.

I don’t necessarily think that Duran Duran bars women from active participation, per se. I mean, I’ve been to concerts. So have many of our readers. It’s pretty clear they’re on board with the whole “there are women in our audience” thing.

That said, let’s take a few things into consideration. The band itself has never really gotten respect from critics and the like. Part of that reason is because of their following. And who made up most of their following?  Us. Women. Girls. Teenyboppers. Even today, when the band talks about their audience in interviews, they are certain to bring up the fact that their audience has broadened to include men. The point is, if it didn’t matter, I don’t think they’d bring it up.

Let’s talk about the concert itself since that’s something mentioned in the quote I shared. If you spend any time at all looking at the video screens behind the band, the images are mainly of women. Not ALL, but most. This has always amused me, because if the audience is primarily women, and we’re watching the show, which includes the screens…who are those images for, then?  Sure, we can and should argue that girls/women/models/etc has always been a part of Duran Duran’s entire visual package. Even so, there’s part of me that wonders, if the women in the audience cannot tear their eyes away from Simon for even a second to see the screens behind them, who is watching those screens?  Their dates?? Maybe. So while I wouldn’t argue the entire concert is directed towards men (hardly!), I do think there are images there designed for them. Not a bad thing, I’m definitely not condemning the band for them, I’m acknowledging what they’re designed to do.

Now, about that whole exotic domesticated animal thing. I’m not gonna lie – anytime I read words like that I think of “The Man Who Stole a Leopard”, which I feel is symbolism for a lot of different things.  But, when I get past that thought, I would agree that it’s difficult for me to see a Duran Duran concert in that same light. But isn’t that part of the reason why critics had such trouble giving Duran Duran even an ounce of credit back in the 80s?  The band wasn’t playing just for guys, or just for girls for that matter. They were meant for everyone.

On the other hand, I feel like there are a plethora of other examples, particularly in hard rock, where women are merely the eye candy for the evening. The music is meant for men, and they can bring their women along with them for the evening. Or women can show up on their own and then go looking for men! While I’m not saying that can’t happen at a Duran Duran concert, I’m also saying that they’re not the first band that pops into my mind when that scenario is discussed.

What about Duran Duran’s videos? This is another area that I think we have to at least acknowledge packaging.  Let’s be honest: many of their videos have beautiful women in them. Girls on Film, Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Falling Down, Girl Panic, New Moon on Monday, Careless Memories…I could go on and on.  They don’t just put women in their videos for their own benefit. They’re there to attract the audience the label (and maybe even the band) would like to have: men. Now why is that?  Why are men so important, and why is it that even when a band has millions upon millions of ardent female fans, why are they never given credit?

It’s not just Duran Duran in that boat, and it’s not just the 80’s we’re talking about here. The Beatles, Bay City Rollers, New Kids on the Block, N*Sync, Backstreet Boys, and yes, One Direction. By any account, all of those bands were (and still are) very successful. Millions of fans, sold-out tours,  and #1 records to go all around. In every example given, women make up the majority of their fans, and in every case the critical acclaim has never quite been there. (with the possible exception of The Beatles, where the majority of their critical success came after the band broke up). I just don’t think that’s   purely coincidence.

“Only men are assumed smart enough to understand the intricacies of the music.” 

If I am to understand that quote correctly, if men like the music – I think of Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Rolling Stones, The Police, etc – it’s because the music is genuinely good, men get that, and that is why they choose those bands to follow.  If an audience is made up of women and girls, it is because those women don’t really get the music. I mean, how could they – they’re too busy looking at the band to hear much else, and they don’t really understand music anyway. Ah. I see.

I can remember sharing my thoughts about various songs the band has done over the years. Amanda and I have done many reviews on the blog or even on YouTube. I never failed to be amused by some of the comments we received, some of which came incredibly close to a virtual pat on the head, explaining that while we’re cute, we don’t understand music.

Outraged, I’d write back, sharing my education with them. I would punch at the keys on my computer as though each one was hurting the (typically) male who dared question my intelligence. But then one day, I got smart and stopped responding. I don’t need to bother. I know what I know. I am confident that for the most part, the men (and some women) who choose to belittle whatever Amanda and I are doing at the time, aren’t going to ever be convinced of why or how we do it. We run into that kind of judgment all the time, whether it’s someone criticizing why we go to shows, why we blog, or why we’ve written manuscripts. We can’t win those individual battles on our own, but together, we can win the war.

It just doesn’t have to be this way.  I’m interested in reading your thoughts and ideas!

-R

Where does the time go? Come Undone peaks at #7 in 1993.

Well, my spring break has come and gone, and this week it is about getting back into the normal groove. I’m being shaken (with a vengeance) back into reality this week at work because I will be the only admin in the building, which means my downtime will be non-existent. Amanda will be proud, I haven’t even looked at my email yet!! From now until the end of May, which is when my job goes on hiatus (until Septemberish), work and life is jam-packed.  In between teaching lessons, I am taking a last few cleansing breaths before it all begins in the morning.

It’s almost a good thing the band seems quiet right now, I guess…although rest assured I’d much rather be thinking, talking, and planning Duran Duran things. I’m anxious for school to end and summer to begin on one hand, and on the other, I guess I’m coming to terms with the idea that my son Gavin will be graduating and I will no longer be teaching him. In some ways that feels liberating, and in others, I’m sad.

Things are definitely changing here at Casa Rivera. Over my spring break, I had a full list of things to do, many of which didn’t happen—but one thing I did actually finish was moving my youngest upstairs.  My oldest is in an apartment near her school, and so I attempted to clear out her bedroom completely (not an easy feat – my home is her storage unit, apparently!) and then move the little one up there. Up until this weekend, we’d converted our den into a tiny bedroom for her rather than force the girls to share. They are 11 years apart (yes, we plan wonderfully!) so sharing didn’t seem like the best option for anyone. Last night, as I finished sweeping out the downstairs room (which is soon to become my office, yay!), I commented that it’s weird, first we worked to fill the rooms, and now I’m working to empty them. Gavin’s room is next, I suppose, as he’ll be moving to his college in September. Where does the time go?

That sort of fits the theme going forward for the next few years. Where does the time really go?? I suspect the band is going to be a bit more nostalgic than maybe we’re used to, as they celebrate their 40th anniversary. In the podcast interview with Joss Paterson (I believe you can find it on iTunes) John mentioned that they plan to start celebrating that next year, and then kind of rolling it over for the next three years because the genesis (to use John’s words) of the band was in 1978, but it went through changes initially, and then Simon joined in 1980. I don’t really know what the band has planned as far as celebrating goes, but I am sure we’ll all enjoy a look back. As fans of this band, we have a collective history that each of us have had some small part in shaping to get where we are.

With that in mind, I’m here to remind you that on this date in 1993, Come Undone peaked at #7 in the US. Feels like yesterday!

-R

Don’t You Just Grow Out of It? Fantasy and Gender

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were talking about fandom. I can’t remember exactly what prompted the discussion, but  I was explaining that when I was young, I did have the marvelous, very naive fantasy, of marrying Roger Taylor. That kind of ended once he got married and left the band because reality has a nasty habit of setting in to ruin things. After that, while I still idolized the band, my fandom sort of took on new meaning. I explained that not everyone has that same experience. He responded by saying, “Well, don’t you just grow out of that?”

I took a deep breath and blinked a couple of times, trying to process what he was really asking, and what I really wanted to say in return.

So many other thoughts and quotes I’ve heard and read over the years rang through my head..

“You can love Roger Taylor, you can adore John Taylor…but some people need a certificate [are certifiable].” 

“Fan is short for fanatic, right?”

“Oh, we know you guys. You’re fans and you’re all crazy.”  (emphasis not mine)

I didn’t even know where to start or what to say.  I was thinking, “Here I am, the woman who has Duran Duran posters plastering her closet, and blogs about them nearly every day, and you’re seriously asking me that?” 

The truth is, no. No we don’t just grow out of that. Obviously.  Sure, I stopped thinking Roger was going to ride up on a white horse and marry me, but that didn’t stop me from idolizing him. While I may have let go of that fantasy, there are still plenty of others that took its place. Anyone who knows me, including just passing friends and people I know from Heather’s old dance team and teachers from Gavin’s old school, knows I’m a Duran Duran fan. Sometimes, they even send me links to  contests to win tickets, or charity events where the band is going to play! (I still haven’t been hooked up with actual tickets to one of those corporate or charity events though, dang it!)  So yes, I’m still a fan. No, I didn’t grow out of all of it.

On the other hand, I understood where Walt was coming from. At some point, I did let go of the fairy tale, at least to a certain extent.  The problem I see here though, is that we women are expected to give up our dreams and become our mothers at some point. Society trains us to believe that once married, or once old enough to marry, the posters and t-shirts and all that jazz needs to be put up in the attic, buried in the basement, or tossed out with the trash. What is scary, is that I very nearly bought into this insanity at one point. I think back to when I was a new mom, and I can tell you that Duran Duran was about the very last thing on my mind. I very quickly embraced the idea of staying at home, taking care of Heather, and succumbing to the role of motherhood. It didn’t occur to me that I could still be Rhonda AND do all of that.  Gender roles are a real thing, and we need to acknowledge that the expectations are out there, and that quite frankly – they’re a lot of BS.

To this day, I still have an ongoing struggle with my own expected gender role and what I really want out of life. I am a people-pleaser, I seek approval, and yet many of the things I enjoy most out of life put me in the direct line of fire and reproach from family and friends. If that weren’t enough, society thinks we’re all crazy for being fans anyway.  I still do an amazing amount of horrible (and really dumb) self-talk at times, telling myself that I need to get “back in line” as a wife, or that I should just give it all up and stay at home because it would make my family happier. Since when do my feelings not matter? Since when does being a wife, mom or woman mean that I can’t have my own interests, hobbies, and enjoyment? I’m learning to ask myself those questions more and more often in return when I start thinking about just giving up. (just imagine my house at times…)

Bottom line: it doesn’t have to be this way. It really doesn’t. The more you, and I, and everyone else, starts embracing the word “fan” and recognizing that it’s OK, and that it is absolutely NOT OK for the word “fan” to equate to the word “crazy”, the better off we’ll all be. Same goes for those expected gender roles. It won’t be easy. There are people out there that desperately need us to fall in line to carry on their own agendas, but it’s time we begin standing up for ourselves.

I know far too many of you out there who have brilliant careers as teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers and accountants, or supermoms,  and volunteers who donate so much of their own blood, sweat, and tears into one thing or another, to know that most of us aren’t crazy. We might get a little excited, or even sway into lunacy when our favorite band member grins at us from the stage, but we’re not crazy.

Being a woman doesn’t mean we are somehow required to give up being a fan, and it’s appalling that some people are determined to preach otherwise.  As my friends have told me rather recently, it’s OK to have the fantasy! I think almost all of us recognize the difference between reality and fantasy, and sometimes it’s those fantasies that keep us going each day. In some ways, I almost feel sorry for the people who argue otherwise, because they’re missing out on so much.

So how did I answer my husband that day? Well, I didn’t, really. I changed the subject. Now, I know everyone would love to read about a moment of triumph, but that didn’t happen for me. I’m admitting this because I want to show you that I don’t have it any more figured out than anyone else. It takes an incredible amount of work. Sometimes I do well. Other times, I take the easy way that does nothing to help in the long run. In that moment, I recognized that if he didn’t get it by then, he probably wouldn’t. I won’t lie, there are some days when I am just not up for the argument, or the scrutiny. So yes, I still have plenty of work to do on my own. I can’t change him, but I can change me.

No, we don’t just grow out of it, and we shouldn’t. The fantasy lives on.

-R

Running Against the Tide – Daily Duranie and Social Engagement

If they could see me now…

“They” in this case is all of you, and thank goodness none of you can. I’m sitting here, at 10:15 am on a Wednesday (it IS Wednesday, right?) at my computer. I have coffee in front of me, and I’m typing this while in snowflake print flannel jammies, a pink hoodie, socks, and my hair…well…it’s a mess. Tissues litter my lap (and floor if we’re being really honest. I see no point in sugar-coating now), my nose is red and raw, my lips are chapped, and apparently cracked, as I just found out (ouch). To top it all off,  I’m sweating because I am pretty sure I’m breaking my fever. Or…I’m having an amazingly bad hot flash. I really can’t even tell the difference anymore. YAY!

What does that have to do with Duran Duran?

NOTHING!!  Except that even while sick, I’m idiotic (shall we go for driven??) enough to blog. I also don’t mind sharing my far less than glamorous moments (spoiler: there are MANY) in excruciating detail. Think of it this way, however bad you might have felt this morning, I have somehow made it not seem so terrible.

So, what’s shaking today? I don’t even know. I’ve been in bed since about 7pm last night. I had my phone with me, but I gave in to the chills around 8:30 or so and finally put my phone down and curled up into a ball under my comforter and afghan. My worst writing days are those when I feel like I’ve been out of contact, and lately—well, for a while now really, I’ve removed myself from just that!

When Daily Duranie first started, I was all about the social media. I loved social engagement! I was practically a social butterfly…ONLINE. I liked flitting in and out, around and about, checking Twitter and Facebook and talking with other fans. I knew what was going on in the community, I heard the rumors, the hyperbole, and the flat-out gossip. Trouble was, some of those things nagged at me. I’d read things, and then not be able to let them go.

A common scenario would be that I’d get our Daily Duranie email and there’d be an unkind comment in there. I’d bring it up online—venting, basically—and then someone would call me out for doing so. Saying that I should expect as much, and so on. It ticked me off that I couldn’t even vent my own feelings without judgment. So, I’d swear off saying anything about the blog online, and I’d be good for a period. I’d keep my thoughts to myself, and then something would happen and I’d unleash it, only to have another Duranie play smack down. It wasn’t fun, and I started having massive writers block. I can’t necessarily attribute that to any one thing, but I can tell you that at a certain point, I started worrying about what I was writing. Would someone get mad? Did the band care? Would I get more hate mail? I wouldn’t say I obsessed about those things, but I’d hit “publish” each day, those thoughts swirled in my head.

A couple of years ago, there was a larger-than-normal blow-up. I am not going to get into details, but it taught me a lesson. First, when you make jokes – someone out there is always going to be offended. It doesn’t matter what is said, what the joke is about, someone will be offended, and reacting is the very last thing I should have done. Hindsight is an amazing thing.  Anyway…   Secondly, there are one hell of a lot of people out there in the online world that take on the role of being holier than thou. I’m not going to elaborate, but there you have it. Lastly, when someone tries to take your bliss away, don’t let them. Friends do not do that to one another. After that incident, I took some time off, and realized that I needed to change the way I handled myself and social media.

Some might remember back when Amanda and I would interact on Twitter. We’d “talk” on Daily Duranie,  which got very confusing because it seemed as though our Twitter was talking to itself (it was), but it was fun! We don’t do that these days. It is a very rare thing when I respond as Daily Duranie, and while I sometimes all of the social engagement, I enjoy the peace of mind.

I let my thoughts fly as I blog, hit “publish”, and then I am done with it.  I think it was Simon that explained that for the band, they own the album until it’s released, and then it becomes the property of the listener, of the fans, of the public. I tried very hard to understand what he meant, but for a long time his words would circle in my head and while I’d pretend to “get it”, I really didn’t. Well, I do now, 100%.  Once I hit publish, I don’t look back. The hardest days are when we get comments, and I have to read through them. Sometimes I’ll want to debate or argue, but I’ve trained myself to just hit “approve” and move on and stop thinking about it. The exercise is difficult, sometimes painful, but I have to do it. Anything else just gets me into trouble.

I typically won’t even respond on Facebook when readers discuss the topic, because when I do—invariably it gets me into muddy waters. At some point I learned that my “job”, so to speak, is simply to begin the conversation. The rest of it is up to you guys, and I let you have at it. There are times when readers completely miss my point or disagree with me, and in the past I would try to explain. I’ve realized that most of the time, it’s pointless. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means that I need to let you, dear reader, decide what my words mean to YOU, whether I like it or not. It has been one hell of a rough road and learning curve, but I think I’ve finally managed to learn my lesson.  Maybe. Sometimes I’ll still respond on Facebook depending upon what is said and, most importantly, who is saying it, but mostly I try not to even look.

Particularly in the case of Twitter, it is far too easy to let 140 characters get the best of you. Or me. I think most of us have had our fair number of Twitter “exchanges”, and while some don’t care what anyone else says to them, I do. The bad things tend to really stick with me. In fact, I can still relate, word for word, one of the last truly bad Twitter exchanges I had on the Daily Duranie account, and if you ask Amanda, she’ll tell you that I still bring it up from time to time. The experience spoke volumes to me, and weighed heavily. Overall, it got to the point where the negative things outweighed the positive, and it was then that I made the conscious decision to stop feeding the monster.  I couldn’t continue social engagement in the same ways without really hurting myself and the blog. Coincidentally, this is was almost about the time that Amanda and I began writing with a firm deadline, and I had to focus on writing.  In September I took a job, and now I’m not even at home as often anyway.  I suppose my priorities have changed.

So, if you were ever wondering why Amanda and I stopped participating in social engagement…there you go. My guess is that we’re not alone.

-R

Of Crime and Passion, or Mosh Pits and Survival…

What defines “passion”?

The last festival I attended was Voodoo in 2006. My memories of that show are pretty graphic. I’d walked onto the festival grounds with Amanda, our friend Sara and my sister that morning, thinking we were so smart. We’d bought general admission tickets, and figured we’d wait through the day, securing spots in about the second row or so.  All was fine until late afternoon, and then things quickly turned ugly. It wasn’t long before we were no longer congratulating one another, instead calling ourselves idiots while ruefully laughing.

At one point, I turned around to see the hell that was behind me. The crowd went back as far as my eyes could see. I made a silent pact with myself to never turn around again, no matter how bad it got. (I’m more than slightly claustrophobic and that was a sight I never needed to see) About that time, My Chemical Romance took the stage, and we went from a mildly calm crowd to a mosh pit. I would not use the word “passion” to describe the scene. No, instead I would describe it as a cauldron of anger, and I was floating in the middle of it, right alongside Amanda, Robin and Sara.

It’s one thing to be in a mosh pit at say, a club the size of the House of Blues. You feel people push and shove and you just step aside. It’s not a big deal. It is entirely another to be in a crowd of tens of thousands and feel the wave of energy overtake you. I remember feeling as though it was similar to being in the ocean. Nothing was going to stop that wave, and I was either going to go with it, or it would mow me over, and I’d drown. The trouble is, there isn’t much to hold on to, and I’m of the opinion it is rude to grab onto someone I’ve never met and hope for the best while quickly introducing myself.

“Hello, my name is Rhonda, and I’ve never wanted to be in a mosh pit. Chalk this up to a crazy idea to see Duran Duran…a band I am starting to have second thoughts about supporting, if I’m honest. I’ve got two kids at home, and honestly I just want to survive. Help me!” 

That wasn’t the route I took. Mostly, I just fell into Amanda, Sara and Robin and hoped we weren’t all going down for the count in the process. I stumbled a lot, tried to not to fall down completely and made a lot of bargains with the universe.

“Dear God, if you let me live, I swear I will NEVER go to another festival again.” 

“This stupid band, WHY did I think this was a good idea???” 

If that weren’t enough, there were the crowd surfers. Bless their evil little hearts. I couldn’t care less if someone wants to live out their fantasies of being carried by people they don’t know, as long as I’m not involved. However, that’s not what happened that day. People came by, surfing away—and they expected you to hold them up while they might grab and pull your hair, kick you in the head, not-so-playfully slap you, or use their razor-like long nails to scratch your face—which is exactly what happened to me that day.

Never did I expect to leave a Duran show with a scar, but I earned one that evening. It’s very faint and blends in well, so most people don’t notice. I’ll never go to another festival again unless I’m invited to watch from backstage, and since that’s not gonna happen, I’m good right here at home. It’s not a lack of passion that keeps me here—it’s a little bit of fear (well, more than a little, really), and a whole lot of sanity. I didn’t enjoy having my face scratched, or holding on for dear life while the crowd surged. The fact is, I like going to shows. I love cheering for Duran Duran. I’m not interested in blood loss, among some other personal atrocities I haven’t mentioned, while doing so.

At this point you’re probably wondering why I’m telling this tale. Well, for the last week or so, I’ve seen tweets from Duran Duran and others, talking about how amazing a time they’ve had at Lollapalooza. By now, you’ve also read about how passionate those fans are, and that they played in front of 95,000 fans in Argentina. On one hand, I’m glad that they’re having such a great time. On the other, are they really any more passionate than the rest of us…except that they seem to be en masse?

It’s a word I’ve seen used a lot this week by various band members…including my personal favorite…and I just have to wonder what that word really means. Let’s face it, I live in the US, and overall, it’s easy to be a fan here. The band performs a lot in the states. We don’t have to wait decades or even more than a few years at most between shows. Does that mean we’re less passionate as a result? I’m sure some fans around the world would say yes. But is that a fair statement? Just because it’s easy to be a fan doesn’t necessarily mean there’s less passion or loyalty. On the other hand, it is very difficult to argue against the sea of people who screamed for the band in Argentina, and I am not taking anything away from those fans anyway. Sure, you can look at the crowd and say that they weren’t all there for just Duran Duran…but they sure look and SOUND like they are, and the videos I’ve seen don’t lie. It’s the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen, and while I think it looks amazing from the stage, I am still relieved I wasn’t there. I can feel my heart begin to race just thinking about being in that crowd, and not in a good way, but that’s just me.

The fact is, I have to remind myself when I see tweets about how great those audiences have been, that for the band, those big crowds keep them going. It might not be very fun or exciting for them to play in front of 3,000 people (even if I’m having the best night of my life at the time), particularly if they’re playing in a casino where chunks of the audience were given their seats because they’re high rollers at the casino, or won the tickets from the radio. On the other hand, when you’ve got 150,000 music lovers screaming for you, of course you’re going to come away feeling energized, ready, and wanting for more. Those shows are what keep you going. It’s no contest, even if you’re like me, and want the band to love coming to where you live to play. I know the audience in Rancho Mirage, or anywhere else I’ve seen them lately,  didn’t even come close to in comparison.

In America, as much as we die hards love Duran Duran, it’s an uphill battle for the band, and they know it. We know it, too. Doing festivals here can be tough work. They don’t necessarily “fit” with every festival, and the crowds can be very fickle. Other countries don’t seem to have quite the same problem. I could be wrong, but I don’t think that America would ever draw the same sort of audience for them as they had in Argentina for Lollapalooza. That makes me sad, but it’s the reality. I’m sure it makes Argentinian fans wonder why the band doesn’t take advantage and tour there more often—and thankfully, it’s not my job to figure that out!

So are those fans really more passionate? Individually, I doubt it. I think a Duranie is a Duranie, no matter where they live. I’m not convinced enough to say that I don’t have the same passion as someone else, because we all do whatever it is that we can do. We all love the band. However, there’s no denying that crowd, and I’m glad Duran Duran got to experience that type of energy. They deserve it.  While I don’t wish I had been there, I do wish that our audiences created that same type of energy for the band.

Good luck Atlanta, Florida and North Carolina fans. Have great shows, and give ’em what you’ve got!

-R

 

Media Representations of Fandom: Be Somebody

It has been a long time since I saw fans represented in a movie, TV show or book so I haven’t done a post about the media representations of fandom for a very long time.  Yet, last weekend, I saw a movie called “Be Somebody” that definitely featured fans and motivated me to do a little writing about the movie.  What is the movie about?  How are fans featured?  How are they shown/depicted?

IMDb describes the plot of this movie in this way, “Pop superstar Jordan Jaye has a big dream – he just wants to live like a regular teenager. When he’s chased down by some excited female fans, he finds a perfect hideout and a reluctant new friend from a small town, high-school art student, Emily Lowe. Despite being from different worlds, they soon discover they have way more in common than they ever imagined. Over the course of several days, the two embark on an unexpected journey of friendship, first love and self-discovery — proving that maybe opposites really do attract.”

If you notice the story begins when fans chase down Jordan, the teen idol.  The chasing happens when Jordan leaves his tour bus to have a break from the non-stop life of a pop star.  He assumed that he wouldn’t run into anyone who would recognize him.  When fans did notice him, they went all crazy by screaming and literally running after him.  Within the first few minutes of the movie, I found myself shaking my head.  Do all teenage female fans scream and chase the star of their desire?  Did all of you, if you had the chance to be anywhere near Duran?  While I didn’t have the opportunity to see Duran in person until I was way beyond my teenage years, I doubt that I would have chased them!  My point here is simple.  This feels like a stereotype about teenage female fans.  All teenage music fans would chase after their idols, is that what they are saying?  All of them?  Every last one of them?  How does this make the female fans seem?   Illogical.  Crazy.  Hysterical.  Emotional.  Out of control.

Then, when the pop star finds another teen female, the assumption is that she must also be a fan.  When he thinks she is a fan, he asks her not to scream because all female fans scream.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Many female fans of all ages scream.  I do.  I’m not judging it.  What I am questioning, though, is that movies, the media, perpetuate images of fans, especially female fans as being hysterical, crazy, over-the-top.  They aren’t showing them as just excited but going WAY beyond excited.  You can see what I mean in the trailer:

After the pop star finds out that the teenage girl is not a fan, he opts to stay with her.  Obviously here, the message is that non-fans are safe for stars but fans definitely would not be.  While I understand that this is the usual storyline for movies like this, I wish that they would have shown the female main character as a fan but a reasonable one.  Wouldn’t that be cool?  The idea could be that he gets in the car of a fan and is about to jump out when he realizes that she’s cool, that he’s safe with her.  Being a fan doesn’t mean that she has lost her mind.  Then, the movie could be about how an idol becomes a real person and about how the idol starts to see the fan as a individual rather than one of the collective.

While I thought the movie was cute with a good message about sticking up for oneself, fighting for one’s dream, I also found it following a usual formula.  The movie is safe, in that regard and relied on too many stereotypes, including not only stereotypes about female fans but also about the music industry, fame, etc.  Has anyone else seen this movie?  What did you think?

-A

Since when did being a fan become a bad thing: Crazy Some’d Say

I could probably just post this picture and be done with the blog for today, because it probably says everything (and much, much, more) than I’m about to say anyway.  I am consciously reminding myself that sometimes, the toughest blogs to write turn out to be the ones most needing to be read.

Yes, I went to some shows this weekend, and yes, I had a fantastic time. I am so grateful that I had the chance to go and be with friends.

So, while I was basking in the sheer glory of being up front, screaming for one of my favorite people on the planet, a friend took the photo.  I (OBVIOUSLY) had no idea it was being taken at the time. I’m not so sure I love my face, but I see the sheer joy. It’s kind of hard to miss, really.

I pride myself on being pretty low-key. (HA!) I have a great time at the shows, but I also recognize that the band are indeed real people. Being on stage is part of their job, in the same way that wrangling young children during recess and lunch is mine.  I don’t have children screaming for me at work (but I do have a few that are insistent about coming to visit me nearly every day for tummy aches or to apply band-aids to non-visible “injuries”).  In the same respect, once the show is over, I typically don’t bother the band. Yeah, I’ve ended up at the same bar once or twice, but other than that – I expect them to resume their normal lives. My students don’t come to my house and wait out front for me, and I try to be the same way with the band. I get it. It’s a job.

Since Dom is the lucky guy in this photo (which btw was taken by my friend Suzie at the “breast show ever”….just go with it and don’t ask…), he’s part of the example here.  As much as I love this photo, I also struggle with it. I tweeted it out, but stopped short of tweeting it directly to Dom. I wanted to share it with him because it’s both hilarious and really kind of sweet at the same time, but I just couldn’t.  Why?

On one hand, if you really need an explanation of fandom, it is all right there in that shot. I suppose that yeah, you could look at that photo and see all the craziness you want.  Context is important here, because at the time Dom was playing the guitar solo for White Lines, and he knows that I love that song live.  I smiled at him when he started it, and he came right over to me, and this picture was taken just before he bent down to play.  He does an excellent job, and I was screaming for him. I’m proud of his work, and I’m not shy about that.  I was also in the front, and I was thrilled to be there.  I had so much love and joy flowing through me in that moment, and this picture captured all of that.

On the other hand, and this is the part I have a rough time with – I almost hate using the word “fan” because it immediately puts me on the crazy train.  Since when did the word “fan” make me so damn self-conscious?  Here I am, writing a fan blog, and I’m worried about someone thinking I’m a fan?

There are so many different directions I can take this post from here. The path that seems most relevant is simply to say that we fans, collectively speaking, have been equated with the word “crazy” for so long now, that at times it is painful to admit that I am, indeed, a fan. I’ve been a Duran Duran fan since I was ten. I don’t remember life much before being a fan. Yet everywhere I go, particularly when at shows, all I hear is the word, “crazy”.

“You’re still one of those crazy Duran Duran fans? How old are you again?

“You’re a woman out on the town going to a show without your husband?  You’re just crazy to get into Simon’s pants, right?” 

“You crazy Duran fans…we know all about you guys!” 

If that’s not enough, we even admonish one another while we’re at the shows!

“Don’t rush the stage, the guards will think you’re crazy!” 

“I don’t want to go up and try to say hi, because if I do, he’s going to just think I’m some crazy fan.”  (In this case, this fan was ME, and I was specifically talking about going up to say hi to Dom in the hallway. Even though he saw me clear across the hallway and smiled – I was still concerned about how it would look if I got up from my chair at the bar and walked over there. I knew he was trying to just get up to his room and I didn’t want to bug him. For the record, I did finally get up the nerve to walk up and say hi, and I don’t think he believes I’m crazy. Imagine that!)

“Look at those fans fighting over the set lists. They’re crazy!” 

The word surrounds us and it is never-ending.  Even I’m starting to buy into the hype. Since when did being a fan become a bad thing?? Pictures don’t lie – when I look at that picture of Dom, the girl at the bottom is a FAN. That girl is me, yet it’s the last thing I want to be known for. It’s silly because of course I’m more than a fan. I’m Rhonda. I write. I am smart. I play a couple of instruments. I have three amazing kids. My life is pretty damn full, and I have feelings. I refuse to be just another face in the crowd.  When I get up the nerve to walk up and say hi to a band member (or anybody for that matter) in a hallway and even get a hug, the last thing I want for that person to think is that I’m just another crazy fan who won’t let them go up to their room. Yet, in the back of my mind – that is always my worry.

This blog aside, of course. Because yeah, it IS pretty crazy that I’ve written a fan blog for 78 months now. (That’s six and a half years for those of us who don’t love math.)  Someday I’m going to switch the name of this to Daily Duranie Rehab and we can call it group therapy!

The relationship we have with our idols and other people we care about is complicated at best. (I have a tough time calling Dom my idol, I have to be honest. I didn’t grow up with him on my posters, or worshipping the ground he walked on in the same way I did the rest of the band. It isn’t the same.) Impossible at worst. Not everyone gets to have their moment, even fewer become true friends, but somehow – those of us who have been around awhile get called “crazy”, and it’s unfortunately a term that has wrapped itself around my core.  Sure, we can say we don’t care what other people think, but what about what WE think about ourselves?

Food for thought.

-R