Category Archives: Fandom

And Still They Come To Hear The Drum

Amanda’s post earlier this week on the new Depeche Mode film struck a chord with me. Not only am I excited to see the film, I have a feeling it will affirm my belief that serious fandom for a band (or three) fills a void in our soul that would otherwise remain empty. I knew early on in life that I was that sort of person and my Duran-fanaticism blossomed when I was only ten. By the time I was in high school, my tastes were expanding and my fandom was stretching into new sounds.

By the end of the 1980s, I was becoming a, for a lack of a better term, “serious” music fan. I was exploring the birth of the delta blues as I followed Eric Clapton’s influences back in time. I was absorbing the country music that my parents were listening to as well as the garage rock they grew up on. I was intrigued by the T. Rex cover from The Power Station which led me towards Bowie and glam rock. Eventually, all these threads reached a crossroads with one band: Cowboy Junkies.

On paper, Cowboy Junkies are an extreme departure from Duran Duran but my fandom for both has co-existed peacefully. How extreme is too extreme when you’re a fan of a band? Can you see too many shows? I am about to reach 150 Cowboy Junkies shows since I first saw them in March of 1994. I quit my job in 2010 and literally followed their tour around America. And I still look forward to more shows. Their music fills a need that I cannot explain. 

One of the things that gets lost in translation when talking to people who do not share the obsession for music that we have (you’re reading a Duran Duran blog so clearly you are one of us) is the community that grows around fandom. With a band as massive as Duran Duran, there are still individual friendships born from attending shows and seeing familiar faces. This is even more pronounced when your favorite band has been consistently playing small theaters year after year.

Through an old-fashioned message board on the band’s website, friendships were born around Cowboy Junkies. Once, I arrived in San Francisco for a show and walked into an apartment of someone I had never met in person. Five minutes later, he left me in his apartment and went to work before we met up at the Cowboy Junkies show later that night, trusting me not to steal his furniture. I’ve crashed on more couches than I can remember over the 147 shows I’ve attended. Everyone helped each other out with the single goal in mind: see the show. If crashing on a floor or even sleeping in a car means one more show, serious fans go for it! 

I’ll leave you with one story from my travels with Cowboy Junkies. After a show in California, a handful of us following a week’s worth of shows were chatting with Margo Timmins, the singer. One of the guys mentioned that he was bringing his wife and daughter the next night and that a specific song had helped them as a family during the difficult “teenage” years. He asked if the band might play it and Margo looked concerned. This was an obscure song from them. It was a bit like if Rhonda asked Simon to play “Late Bar” the next night at a Duran Duran show!

The next night, the band invited us in for soundcheck as is the norm with the core fans and my friend had his wife and daughter with him. As they worked through a few songs, Mike the guitarist called out “A Few Simple Words”, the song that had been requested. The drummer’s initial response was something along the lines of, whaaaaatttt???? But Margo whispered to him and the band pulled off a totally unrehearsed version of the song for the fan and his family. There was only about 12 of us there but there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. I don’t remember what the band played during the show but I’ll always remember that soundcheck. 

Like Depeche Mode, almost every band has a flock of fans who will fly anywhere and do anything to see them. Last week, I met a guest at my restaurant who feels like that about Sister Hazel. Remember them? He takes cruises with them and showed me tons of pictures of his adventures to see shows. While I might not love Sister Hazel, his narrative felt like my own. Being a Duran Duran fan comes with the added bonus of being the underdog, of being slightly dismissed by the “serious” music fans. To me, that makes it all the better. So fly your Medazzaland flags high and proud!  As a man I worked for once said, if we weren’t crazy, we’d all go insane.

Cowboy Junkies covering David Bowie

Got To Do the Things the Way I Do

I’m giving you the news

This past weekend, my husband and I went out with a couple from our neighborhood. Like us, they moved in last winter, and have been acclimating themselves to the area. Unlike us, they don’t have children, and they still commute to the Bay Area (San Jose, which is about 2 and a half hours from here) during the week for work. Their home in Atascadero serves as their weekend home, and eventually they’ll live here full time. We went to a local wine bar in our tiny little downtown area, which was nice. While we were there, we talked about nearly everything under the sun, including this website, blog, and the writing project Amanda and I are working on.

For me, these little outings tend to make me feel just the smallest bit like a fish out of water. Most of the time, I’m the only one who doesn’t work, and so I don’t have a lot to add to conversation about high tech jobs, marketing, or engineering. On this night though, I had the opportunity to explain what I do with my days. Tentatively, I tried to give a basic overview of Daily Duranie, without raising the “oh my gosh, you’re a crazy fan” alarm bells.

I’ve got a right to say

I have decided it is nearly impossible to explain a fan blog. I mean, once I start in with “Well, I write a daily blog about being a Duran Duran fan…” and before I’ve finished, they’re already looking at me with an amused expression. I find that from there, the more I try to explain, the more stuck they are on the fact that I’m still a fan “at this age”.

Personally, I think it’s sad that more people our age aren’t big fans of something. On this night though, I dive in headfirst, no thinking it through before the words flow. I explain that I write this blog, and have done so for nine years. Then I say we’ve written several manuscripts that remain unpublished, but that we’re working on something new that really excites me.

To my shock, both want to know what I’m writing, and how it is working with a co-author long distance. Normally it’s at this point that my voice trails off, because is obvious that I’ve either lost their attention, or they’re going to quiz me about how big of a Duran Duran fan I really am. Invariably, it is also at this point when my husband speaks up, talking about his huge record collection. In some ways, I think he does it to try and cover for me, and in other ways, I know he believes the blog to be a waste of time. He might be right, but it has kept me sane for nine years, so I’m not sure I’d call it a total waste. Regardless, I’m pleasantly surprised. I almost never get this far! I realize that I have to explain what we’re studying in fuller detail.

If you know what it’s all about

I think it may have helped that this couple, or at least the male, grew up in Germany. He has an appreciation for Duran Duran and other bands of that era that is wildly unlike anything I’ve dealt with from men here. (unless of course you are a male Duranie – the “unicorn” of our species!) It was refreshing to be able to show excitement for what I’m working on without worrying about how the information was being received – it was obvious he had no preconceived notions about female fans.

I came away from the evening feeling very good about our project, and even about being a fan of Duran Duran, which was nice for a change. Normally – unless I’m surrounded by Duranies, like I was in Vegas, it isn’t even worth discussing my writing. Either my work is totally discounted because I haven’t been published (therefore it is obviously a waste of time) or I’m having to argue my points with someone who doesn’t quite get it.

It isn’t often when I feel satisfied, or validated in the same way I do when I’m with my friends, like a couple of weeks ago in Vegas. I fully appreciate when I’m explaining something I’m working on to people who genuinely understand, and even find value within what we’re doing. The word is probably “encouraging”. There’s joy in that for me, too. The idea that I can be myself – not having to hide part of who I am, or what I do, is so freeing. At home, my time is split between being “mom” and being “wife”. There isn’t a lot left over for me. Not many people understand that. For me, I have to find the time to fit in a blog, or to take notes on a paper, or even write. It’s not just about Duran Duran, either.

Always trying to control me

I’ve been trying to find a week so that I can start going to practice for the community band, something that has proven to be an exercise in futility at best. Either one of the cars is down for the count, thereby relegating me to the role of “chauffeur”, making my driving schedule impossible; or, like this past week – my trusty clarinet needs at least two pads replaced before I can really play. Naturally, these issues are temporary. I keep telling myself that if I really want to put myself out there and join this group, I have to just push through and do it. It reminds me of when I was young and my parents were trying to go back to school. In both cases they gave up because the hurdles were just too numerous, and too high to conquer. I refuse to be beaten, though. Not this time. This is one thing I desperately need, and I’m doing it.

If there is one thing about being a fan as an adult has taught me, is that it’s not easy. When you’re young – there always seems to be time. It isn’t hard to sit down and listen to an album or thumb through a magazine. As we get older though, free time is difficult to come by. The ability to go to concerts might be easier, but the logistics make it tougher. I find that I have to really want it in order to make it happen. The same holds true for writing, and even for things like the community band, too. I have to want it at least twice as much as I did when I was young.

I’ll put it this way, as alarming as it might seem: I need this. There are times when I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of quicksand. The only way to get unstuck, is to follow my heart, even if it takes forever to get there. For me, that includes (but is not limited to) writing this project, and playing in the band. Those two things are on the life raft at the moment, and I’m not going to give in and let go.

-R

You Speak to the Crowd

I spend a lot of time thinking, listening and reading about the current state of politics. Last week, among many other stories, I took note of the giant rally Senator Warren held in New York City. While the size of the crowd was worth noting, the part that caught my attention was that she stayed after (as she always does) to take selfies. This resulted in four hours of selfies until late in the night/early in the morning. As pundits discussed this, one point that was made over and over again was that this is a great strategy for social media as people post their pictures and get people interested in Senator Warren as a presidential candidate.

While I’m fascinated by that as a political organizer, I could not help but think about how this might relate to fandom. I think it is save to say that when people share pictures or videos with Duran Duran, it helps the band’s cause as well. When people who are already fans see this kind of thing, it might excite us more. I know hearing Bridey’s story this week gave me all sorts of warm fuzzies. Of course, I definitely would want to be a fan of a band who treats their fans in the way they did with her in Tahoe by meeting her backstage before bringing her on stage during the show. It makes me proud to be a Duranie! Then, what does this do for people who like Duran Duran but might not consider themselves to be big fans? I would think that it might make them think about Duran, which could increase the amount of time listening to their music or watching their videos. As for people who aren’t fans, could it cause them to give Duran a try? I think so!

Okay, so if seeing pictures with a band could translate to more or more intense fans, what about people who just share thing or talk about the band? Could that make a difference in terms of the number of fans or the intensity of one’s fandom? I think about the people who share pictures or videos or start conversations about the band on various facebook groups. Why do they do that? Yes, I think a lot of it has to do the fact that people love the band and want to express it. I’m sure that they begin discussions from real curiosity about what other fans think. Fans want to talk to other fans about the subject of their fandom. We all know this. This is what causes facebook groups and/or message boards to form in the first place. Is it simply about meeting an urge to talk about any and all things Duran or can it be about more at the same time? Could people posting also help out Duran Duran, indirectly? Speaking from my own personal experience, when I see something posted about Duran in my social media timelines, it keeps Duran in my thoughts. Often, it reminds me of what I love about a song, video, tour, era, etc. Does this help keep my fandom alive? Absolutely.

Over the course of the nine years of this blog, people have stated or implied that what we do here doesn’t really matter but in thinking about this, I completely disagree. Just like those people who post on message boards or social media, I believe that what we do here helps keep Duran Duran in people’s thoughts. Maybe, at times, it has encouraged people to check out an album, song or video that they don’t know anything about. Lately, for example, our questions of the day have been about who owns what album and in what format. I wonder if asking about each album has caused people to go out an buy an album that they don’t have. I have seen that with people in my personal life, too. For example, I know that my fandom has led friends and family to check out Duran Duran more. I have a lot of friends who follow this blog simply because they want to support me but many of them have listened to the band more from seeing a blog post or two.

Then, I think about our meetups. There have been times when people have come to a meetup, met fellow fans and found friendships that way. Does that matter? While that might not directly put money in Duran’s bank account, could it help to sell more tickets to their shows? I think so. I know that if I didn’t have my Duranie friends, all of whom I met at various meetups, I wouldn’t go to many shows. I would drag someone to a show nearby and that’s it. Having lots of Duranie friends means that I want to go to as many shows as possible to see my friends, to get together with my friends. This results in more concert tickets for me and for the band.

We definitely didn’t start this blog to help the band but now that I have thought about it, I’m glad that it is a side affect. I think it is pretty cool that this blog along with other blogs, podcasts, message boards, facebook groups, etc. are part of a larger effort to campaign for Duran, in some small way, intentionally or not.

-A

Still In the Pleasure Groove

I find that the best idols are the ones who have actually been, or rather still are, fans themselves. There are a number of reasons for this, but the first and most obvious, is that they know what it is like. They understand how it feels to be a fan. They haven’t forgotten.

That would indicate, of course, that many people HAVE forgotten. They have been celebrities, stars, or what-have-you for so long, or they believe their own BS to the point that they’re convinced of their godliness.

Now, I know that sounds harsh, and perhaps it is in some respects. All I can tell you is that there are people out there that you and I may idolize who just cannot quite believe they’re actually still human. Then there are others, like John Taylor, just to name one for example, that seems to still be a fan. He is someone who gets it. I need point no further than his induction speech [into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] for Roxy Music, or even his own autobiography, as proof.

Side Men

He writes about going to see Roxy Music at the Birmingham Odeon with Nick. They initially stood in the lobby of the theater, and were told that the band was in the building (words that I myself have heard many times). “…if we hurried down the alleyway that led down the side of the Odeon, we could hear them playing. This is where I learned about the secret world of the sound check….We couldn’t see Roxy, but we could hear them, vaguely, playing songs from their new album, Country Life.”(47)

It gets even better…and strikingly familiar

As they’re standing there, clearly excited by the music (I can imagine this – I mean, I may have heard a sound check or two in my lifetime as a Duran Duran fan. Just once or twice….you know, in passing….), the sound comes to a halt and they see a black limo pull up. Just as quickly, Roxy comes rushing from a side door and straight into the car, which pulls away at lightning speed. A girl yells that she knows where they’re staying – at the Holiday Inn – and that she knows a shorter way. “off we went, Birmingham’s twelve biggest Roxy Music fans sprinting across the city at full pelt. This was a club I wanted to belong to!” They arrive at the hotel before the band, of course. (any self-respecting fan willing to follow the band would, you know.)

The part that makes me smile and chuckle most though, is this: “I asked one of the drivers to give me the champagne cork I spotted on the back shelf of the limo. I was proud of that. Was this strange behavior for a fourteen-year-old suburban boy? I didn’t think so.” (48)

Even reading the words again today, nearly seven years after I read them the first time – I still grin. I can’t help it, because in some bizarre twist of fate, I feel like I’ve found something in common with John. He knows what it is like to be me. I mean, sort of like me, anyway. I highly doubt he still goes around asking for champagne corks, but then again, neither do I, now that I think about it. For me personally, my love and respect for John grew a hundred-fold after reading his autobiography, and much of that has to do with the fact that yes, he really does know what it means to be a fan.

Sign of the Times

By that same token, I see Harry Styles in a bit of the same light. Now, I’ve never been a One Directioner (I can’t name one song beyond “That’s What Makes You Beautiful”), but I’ve been doing some research for a project. It turns out that Harry gets it too.

Some of this is not that hard to imagine. Harry and 1D came to be during the heyday of social media. In some aspects, they embraced the connectivity to their fans. They also became famous as teenagers, and I don’t think it is so awfully difficult for them to remember what it means to idolize. Harry displayed his admiration for Stevie Nicks during her induction ceremony [RRHOF], but he’s also talked about his teenage fans in a positive way.

“He’s always had a fervent female fandom, and, admirably, he’s never felt a need to pretend he doesn’t love it that way. “They’re the most honest — especially if you’re talking about teenage girls, but older as well,” he says. “They have that bullshit detector. You want honest people as your audience. We’re so past that dumb outdated narrative of ‘Oh, these people are girls, so they don’t know what they’re talking about.’ They’re the ones who know what they’re talking about. They’re the people who listen obsessively. They fucking own this shit. They’re running it.” (Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, “The Eternal Sunshine of Harry Styles” August 26, 2019. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/harry-styles-cover-interview-album-871568/ Accessed August 26, 2019)

Have the time of your life

I too, was one of those teenage girl fans once. It is a breath of fresh air to see an artist actually embrace the people who critics tend to write off as “know-nothings”. I appreciate that Harry continues to defend those people, and that he doesn’t talk about how there’s more men in his audiences these days, as if that is suddenly going to convince anybody that he’s suddenly relevant. He doesn’t need to do that, because guess what? He already matters to the music world. I know this because his first album was the fourth best selling album in the UK in 2017, and was the ninth best globally.

In some ways, I am defiant when I research fandom, or when I write about being a fan. There is plenty of judgment out there about fan girls like me. The assumptions about who I am, or the productivity of my life simply because I am a female Duran Duran blogger, writer and fan are pretty outrageous.

Even so, I’m not one of those super-enlightened “I don’t care what anyone else thinks of me” people. I wish I were. I’m still in the struggle between not caring, and worrying endlessly if I’m doing enough as a person. I say I don’t mind being called a “crazy fan”, in some attempt to tell myself that it really doesn’t matter. I’m not doing anything weird or wrong, even if I’m the only person in my family who writes a blog about a band, or travels to see concerts. Sometimes though, I wonder if I should have stopped doing all of this years ago. Then I’ll read something, and be reminded of why I still do.

-R

Still Fangirling

I came by invitation

When I was in middle school, my experience as a fan pretty much consisted of buying teen mags, searching for pinups I didn’t already have, gabbing with friends about Nick’s seemingly new (to us) hair color, John’s fedoras, or maybe even Simon’s tiger baby pendant. I would listen endlessly to the Duran Duran albums I had, and whenever my friend Marsha’s mom agreed to take us to Tower Records, I’d search the record bins and inevitably I’d find new Duran Duran singles in there that I’d never heard of prior. As MTV arrived in my town and Friday Night Videos or Video One became a thing, I spent a fair amount of time waiting for the next video to arrive, or calling in to local radio stations, begging the DJ’s to play a request. Concerts weren’t really a thing for me, although I would sit and listen intently to friends who had either already seen the band at the Greek theatre (not many of us were that lucky), or were planning to go to the Forum in 1984.

I didn’t really have stories of my own to tell. No descriptions of late nights, running into a band member as he walked out of a club. There were no tales of sitting in lobbies, or trying to tail them from Milwaukee back to their hotels in Chicago. There were just the pinups, the music, the videos, my friends, and me.


Going on to somewhere

In many ways, those times were easy. The only way we could truly “compete” for Duran Duran real estate, so to speak, was through knowing everything there was to know about the band, and whatever we owned – pinups, music, t-shirts, and other merchandise. We’d each lay claim to our favorite band member, and hope no other friend decided to make a contest out of it…although I suspect that even then, we knew there was almost zero chance of any of us ever meeting the band, much less marrying one of them!

Decades later – and in a lot of ways it pains me to type those words (how can I really be nearing 50 anyway??) – fandom, or at least the practice thereof, has changed a bit for many of us. Hannah Ewens wrote in Fangirls, “Fandoms are a sphere where contribution increases with age, the more stories the better, the more access, the more information, the more gossip, the longer loving.” I’ve been thinking about quote that a lot this morning.

Back in 2003 as I attended my first Duran Duran fan convention, I can distinctly remember being fascinated by the stories. So many people I met had their own Duran Duran tales to tell. Stories of traveling, of meeting them in the 90’s, running into them in bars, hotels, restaurants. I wasn’t jealous, I was shocked. The world I never thought would collide with my own was right there, almost within reach.

A crush panic

I can’t really argue that as I’ve aged, I’ve done things that would have seemed completely out of this world in 1984. The very idea of ever being in front row, for example. In late 1983, as tickets for the Sing Blue Silver tour went on sale – my parents were dead set against the idea of even trying to get a ticket. My dad felt that I was far too young, and without having any older siblings (he absolutely wasn’t going to be taking me), I was pretty much sunk. My friend Marsha’s father stood in line the day they went on sale and came up completely empty. The tickets sold out very quickly, and she was sad when she came to school the following day. We stood around at break, listening to some of our other friends squeal in delight that they had not only gotten tickets, but their mothers – clearly wiser and far more hip than our own – had called a local ticket agency and gotten even better seats. Some of our friends were as close as third row, and their moms had no issue with forking over $100 or more to be up there.

This was 1984, I’ll remind you. One of my friends went to the Forum show, and I believe her seat was $11.00. Comparatively, $100 seemed like a fortune. It absolutely did to my dad when I told him later that night! After watching my dad’s face go from his regular ruddy complexion, to tomato red as he gasped in horror at the ticket price, declaring that he would never be “the kind of fool to pay those kinds of prices just so his kid could sit near the front of a damn rock concert!”, I figured front row wasn’t going to be an option. Hell, even just going to a concert was a long way off as it was. Little did I ever realize that someday, I would do exactly that…more than once!

My stories aren’t that amazing in the sense that no, I don’t have tawdry backstage tales, or memories of hanging with the band. I do, however, have some wonderful friends I’ve made. We’ve traveled to far off places that, back in 1984, wouldn’t have ever been in my biggest daydreams. My fandom is so much bigger at 48 than it was at 12 or even 13 – I wouldn’t have ever thought it possible.

Midnight traffic in her eyes

My tears during Seventh Stranger in Las Vegas were as much about my youth and experiences along the way as they were the band’s. Seeing the images I remember of Duran Duran from the 80s, bigger-than-life onscreen, combined with the Duran Duran I know from today felt like a lightning strike on my heart. We’ve walked a lot of miles together. Duran Duran created a safe place for me during my most awkward years. They gave me a place to grow, to feel connected to others, and to be understood. They still do.

When I’m in the audience at a Duran show – I can see thousands of different versions of myself in the audience. The shy introvert, the confident mom, the girl who saved up extra change from lunch to buy her first Duran Duran t-shirt, the new mother who survived post partum depression, the middle-aged woman that isn’t completely satisfied with her life or marriage. The seventh grader who just wants to be accepted. We’re all out there, living the music, enjoying the moment, together.

“Being a fan means you don’t have to be the person you are in this moment, restricted by time, space and circumstance, rather you can be strengthened by and exist through all the others you’ve been.” (Ewens)

-R

Teach You How to Live

This blog post finds me in Philadelphia on a family vacation. My sister and her family drove from North Carolina to meet my parents and I there after we took a short flight from my home town airport. We are basically taking a long weekend to spend some time together, to see some of the local sites and to go to a baseball game. A few years ago, we discovered that we enjoy going on vacation together and planned this one as a result.

So why Philadelphia on the first weekend in August? Did I mention that we are going to a baseball game? Yep. That’s right. We are going to see the White Sox play the Phillies. Fandom is part of the family DNA. My mother likes to tell the story about how my grandpa used to travel through the Chicago sewers to sneak into old Comiskey Park to watch games for free with his brothers. My dad, on the other hand, talks about dumping an old girlfriend when she was not interested on the day the team won the Pennant. I literally do not remember a time when we weren’t White Sox fans. Games were always on and summers often revolved around listening, watching and reading about Sox games. Family discussions are filled with criticism and ideas about what the team should or should not do. I remember when my grandpa died in 1983. When grief got too much, we went out to play catch or turned on the game, which helped. It is definitely part of my family culture.

I often hear or read about the first time someone went to a baseball game and how memorable it was. I don’t have that. It isn’t that I haven’t been to a game but the exact opposite. My first game was when I was very young and I don’t remember it. The same is true for my siblings and parents. I couldn’t even tell you how many games that I have been to. Lately, we have started traveling to different cities to see our team of choice play. I have seen games in Milwaukee, both parks in Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, Boston, DC and Philly as of tonight. My parents could list even more like Denver, Cleveland, and Kansas City. My aunt and uncle do the same thing as well.

The point here is a simple one. I learned how to be a fan as a kid. My parents taught me that there is nothing weird or abnormal about traveling to participate in one’s fandom. They never sat down and said, “You are going to be a White Sox fan. Here’s why and how you will express your fandom.” No, they taught me and my siblings by example. I saw them be fans like I saw my grandparents be fans. As I was growing up in this White Sox household, I also realized that this brought us together as a family. We cheered the World Series win in 2005 as well as no-hitters and other big games. It provides us with something that we will always have in common. Even when we are frustrated with each other, we ALL still root for the White Sox.

Interestingly enough, this made me think of those Duranies who have taken or will take their kiddos to go see Duran. Rhonda and I took both her daughters to shows, for example. I never really thought much about the fans who bring their kids to Duran functions. Up until now, part of me probably didn’t really get it. I mean I can understand why fans would want their kids to also love Duran Duran. I get that. I would love for that to be the case with my nieces. But to take them to shows? I have taken my oldest niece to see the Killers with me but Duran is different. Would they be as into as me? What if I want to party that night? Could they go where I go? Now, though, in thinking about my White Sox fandom, I think I get it more. I totally understand wanting to really share the love of something with your family and having it unite the family. The question that I have is does age matter? In order for this to happen, do the kids have been exposed from day one?

-A

I think you might have noticed that there was not a question of the day today. I’m taking a break with them while with my family. They will return on Tuesday!

Crazy About Boybands, So They Say

Sorry the blog is late today. I’m trying to steal away the last few days with family for a summer “staycation” before we are back to school.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been doing some reading as of late – and yesterday I found myself watching a British television documentary on One Direction fans. The program was titled “Crazy for One Direction”, and chances are – everyone on the planet has already heard of this but me.

Crazy sells

I sat down to watch knowing that One Direction fans were furious when it was originally aired. They felt betrayed and a bit cheated because the director tended to weigh filming more heavily on what the fans felt was the most extreme portrayals of fandom, rather than focusing on how the overwhelming majority tend to express themselves. I watched purely because I wanted to see how those fans were really portrayed. The title alone, complete with the word “Crazy” – made me cringe.

As I watched, I saw behaviors that were not really that far off from what I’ve witnessed even as a Duran Duran fan. Sure, if you took specific incidents to heart – I suppose some situations felt a bit out-of-hand. Context matters, but I suspect the full intention of the director was to show the extremes. This is something I’ve grown very accustomed to even as an adult – as I’ll come back to a bit later.

What I will say though, is that despite fandom itself being a gender-neutral sort of activity, this documentary focused SOLELY on females. No males aside from the band and perhaps a wayward adult male or two were seen in the documentary, and certainly not interviewed. I highly doubt there are zero male One Direction fans in the same way that I know for certain there were male Duran Duran fans back in the day (and many more now!). This very obvious slant enrages me as someone who not only studies, but participates in fandom because of the obvious implications that continue to be made about female-specific fandoms.

Context is everything

The director speaks with two teens (the interviews were done in the girls’ bedrooms – and in every case, their walls were wallpapered with One Direction pictures and pinups) about what they might do in order to meet the band.

The girls giggle, as one answers, “I wouldn’t kill a puppy, but I might kill a cat!” She is chided by her friend – and she quickly backpedals. I suppose that to some adults, that answer might seem a little too far into crazy-town, but they’re KIDS. Exaggerations go with that territory. Maybe it is comes with being a mom, but I wouldn’t have been worried if it had been my kid. We would have, however, had a little chat about wording and context while in the public eye.

We know the exact time of their birth, and the hotel they’re staying at!

They speak about Twitter, explaining, “We can find out everything about them.” Even the tiniest personal details about the band, such as their exact birth times, can and have been mined and shared via Twitter. Directioners rely on Twitter as though it were a life line, particularly when they wish to track the band’s every movement. It surprised me to see how easily the teens were able to find the band while they were touring, and of course this subject sparked discussion of actually meeting the band – which for this community (as well as our own in many aspects) is of paramount importance.

The girls seem to take pride in giving exact numbers for the amount of times they’d met One Direction, explaining (just as fans who have met Duran Duran multiple times) that finding the band “takes time and a lot of patience. We’re not lucky, we work hard.” They suggest that other fans just don’t bother, or don’t try and that because they go the extra mile – they are rewarded for their efforts. “They say I’m a stalker and that people [presumably she means the band themselves or management] don’t like it, but I don’t care.”

Border-policing

One of the teens interviewed comes across an online post suggesting that one of the boys (the band, of course) should die. There is an immense line of cursing and violent suggestions of what should happen to the person who created the post. It is border-policing (what fans do to keep one another in line) at it’s most extreme.

I don’t think anyone would disagree when I write that fandom can be intense. It certainly was portrayed as such in the documentary. That intensity runs like a river throughout every possible nuance of the One Direction fandom, good and bad. These are young women who recognize that much of their fandom has to do with being a part of a larger group. It is a community. More than one of the girls interviewed commented on the friendships she’d made as a result. That can’t be bad….although one of those interviewed mentioned that she is part of a fan community that “can kill you if they decide”. That’s the double-edged sword of fandom. What builds you up can also slice and dice like a Ginsu, I suppose.

Is it Larry….or JoSi???

Then there are the shippers. One Directioners have a fantasy/fanfic going about Liam and Harry – they call it “Larry-shipping”. There are stories, memes, and even fan drawings and paintings about “Larry”.

Before scoffing, I’d just like to remind everyone of “JoSi”. It is indeed, a thing.

Ultimately, the longer I watched, the more I realized that these teenagers are no different than I was at their age – although most of them enjoy far more freedom than I did. However, as the documentary concluded, I recognized something more.

I can’t really say that these girls are much different at 15, than many of us are at 40, 45, or even 50. I still see people my age chase after the band after a show. I’ve watched people follow Simon right into a restaurant, or wait just outside. Many of us have shed tears at concerts, or become tongue-tied when we meet the band. Information of all-sorts is spread via social media, and we border-police ourselves as good as it gets. The label “stalker” is thrown around rather liberally – and truthfully, we are the kings and queens of double standards when it comes to this band. Anything we do to meet them is fine until we see somebody else doing it, then it is judge, judge, judge all the way.

I don’t know how I feel about that connection. On one hand, I can see the obvious – perhaps we never quite grew up. I became a Duran Duran fan at the age of 11 or 12, maybe I still feel that way when I hear them play to some extent. Feeling young again isn’t a bad thing. On the other hand, I’m nearly 49. I’m still trying to sort that out, I guess. My advice? Watch the documentary for yourself and decide. I’d love to read what you think!

Watching these girls tell their story was very much like watching us tell ours – and then having the media decide to play it up as though we’re far too crazy to be roaming free on the streets. For me personally though, this documentary wasn’t nearly as cringe-worthy as watching “Something You Should Know” – which is our own fan documentary. The fact is, extremism sells.

This is something that Amanda and I know firsthand. We’ve written more than one manuscript that has been submitted and rejected by publishers at this point. While with each one we’ve sharpened our pencils and improved our research, writing, and voice(s) – we’ve also learned that virtually no one cares about the positive things that fandom has done. Publishers aren’t interested in reading about friendships that have been created, or the sense of community. They want to know the dirty. Editors want to read the torrid tales. Slept with the band? Snuck onto a bus? Verbally threatened another fan who dared get in our way? They want to read about crazy. The widespread belief, of course, is that female fans are crazy.

It is unfair when you think about it. Men could follow Bruce Springsteen around the country on tour, and not only would they be held up as heroes amongst fellow fans – they’d get press, and the slant would be incredibly positive – “it’s about the music and the brotherhood, man”. Let women follow Bruce around, and it suddenly becomes a whole lot less about the music…because what could women possibly know, right?

Let me know what you think after you watch the documentary!

-R

Fan-made Time is Durantime

I don’t know if Amanda or I have flat-out written the words here, but we’ve been working on a new project. Right now, it is not much more than a very basic outline – topics, basically – of a direction we’d like to take, but we’re both reading, and doing some researching, and reflecting. I don’t think either of us have quite given up the dream of having something published, but it has taken us quite a while to decide to try writing again.

So with that in mind, yesterday I was reading about teen fans of bands such as One Direction and The Beatles. While there are many, many things I could write about here – ways fans have been marginalized, or how pop was created for women (true story!), I’m going to stick to something a little more basic and easy-reading.

I’ve been reading, writing and studying fans now for as long as we’ve been writing this blog (longer, actually). I am continually learning new terms and angles to see things. Yesterday, I learned about “fan made” time, which applies directly to us as Duran Duran fans.

In this community, we have something called “Durantime”, which is a well-loved moniker we’ve applied to the wait-time in between albums, projects, tours, etc. In our case, “Durantime” not only describes the time, but it also has come to be known as the clock the band uses (which is unlike any clock or calendar I’ve ever known). In this sense, we hear things like “the album will be done when it is done” – which is Durantime for “it could take decades. Probably should go get yourself some sustenance and another hobby while you wait!” Or, “we hope to tour next year” which could easily mean, “we hope to travel to Mars.”

Yes, I’m exaggerating a little…and maybe poking a little bit of fun at the guys. Hey, at least I didn’t mention that one time when Roger announced that the album would be finished by year end and instead it took another couple of years!

Oh wait. I just mentioned it. Oops!

Regardless, “fan-made” time is the wait in between present and whatever anticipated event is coming next. That could be a show, a tour, a movie, interview, appearance, etc. The term is rather elastic and fits just about everything. In my opinion, the word “Durantime” is far catchier, but a lot less generic. What makes fan-made time such an interesting topic though, is that it is one way fans have taken back control.

What does that mean? Well, we have zero control over when the band tours or when the new album is coming out…or even when they plan…IF they plan…to do anything more to celebrate #DD40. So, fans do what they can with that downtime and “in-between” space. They control that piece but doing countdowns, having fan parties, creating whatever content they wish during that time. It is about the fans continuing the party without the guests of honor, so to speak.

The thing about fan-made time is that even while we’re sitting outside of a GA venue, or waiting in line at whatever event might be taking place, we’re creating that fan space. Talking to friends in line, organizing ourselves into a systematic group, even chatting about the set list, or taking surveys or citing our own fan stories are all ways we manage fan-made time. I would say it is THAT space where (and when) we go from being relative strangers to a community.

Fan-made time as Duran Duran fans in the same way that fangirls of other bands do. They might be two decades younger, or lived out their concert days in the 60s, but we all do the same things. Just a little something of interest from yesterday’s reading…

-R

So Complicated Part 2

Yesterday’s blog talked how simple fandom can be in as I wrote about the three interactions I had with random people who either were fans or knew fans of Duran. At the time, I found myself envying the simplicity. It was just a matter of liking the band’s music. In one case, that’s all there was. The woman in the second case went further in that she attended concerts near her and the last case, the person talked about how big of a fan he was. Yet, I suspect that while these fans like Duran, they do not participate in the fan community at all. They might not know other fans and might not talk about the band much. There is no traveling for shows, friending or following other fans, collecting merchandise or any other fandom practice. Their fandom can be described as casual.

I, of course, am on the other end of the spectrum in that my fandom consists of producing new material related to being a fan (like this blog!). Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I am a bigger or better fan by acknowledging that. I’m just pointing out that I devote more time and money to fandom than these people do. (Again, maybe, I’m the crazy one!) We just express our fandom differently. One is not better or more important than the other. In meeting these people, a part of me was jealous of them. It must be nice and easy to just be a casual fan. I know that it is easy for me to be a Killers fan as I just buy the albums and go to concerts nearby. That is the extent of my fandom there. No one in the fan community knows me and I don’t know any of them. Part of me wishes that is how things can be for me in the Duran world.

So, the first question is why? Sometimes, being part of a fan community is tough. Initially, it might feel totally awesome as you are meeting tons of people who love the same band you do. You can gush about how fabulous the music is or how there is nothing better than their concerts. But, then, you realize that it is not that simple. Some fans might not like how you express your fandom or disagree with your fandom philosophy and you to them. For example, some fans enjoy reading this blog. Others might never click on it, thinking that Rhonda and I are terrible people. Sometimes, people love what we have to say or do and others totally disagree with us. By writing this blog, it put us in a position in which we can be judged. I am not saying that to earn sympathy. On the contrary, we knew that criticize was going to happen and still went ahead and wrote the blog anyway. We accepted how this was going to go, for the most part. While we get it, it doesn’t always make things easy.

The next question is can I go back? If I stopped writing the blog tomorrow, could I go back to be like those casual fans I met this week? When I think about my real life, the people I run into and interact with, I know that if I stopped listening to Duran today, they would still associate me with the band. A couple of weeks ago, a friend from high school was passing the area when Duran apparently came on the radio. She immediately thought of me and messaged me to get together. Duran Duran leads people in my life to think of me. That would not change if I stopped writing this blog or even stopped being a fan. What about in the fan community? Could I go back to being anonymous there? I don’t think I could get rid of every evidence of this blog existing or all of the meetups we have done. Could I be anonymous at concerts? I have met a lot of fans at concerts. Would I want those people to forget me? Could I forget them, especially those fans who go to a lot of concerts? I don’t think so.

Finally, would I really want to go back to how things were in 2003 or early 2004? As much as that might be easier, I have never been one for easy. I am teacher. That is not exactly the easiest profession. I’m also an activist. Both of those are such that I work really hard for sometimes minimal changes. Yet, I don’t give up. Even when things are tough in our fan community, I cannot see myself walking away. I am part of this fan community and always will be.

-A

So Complicated Part 1

Sometimes, I need a reminder that fandom can be simple.  I have had three in the last few days.  Then, of course, the follow up question is: “Could I go back to simple like this?  Is it even possible?  Would I want to?”

My brother and sister-in-law were visiting this week.  On Wednesday, we went to a zoo and a local museum of sorts.  I didn’t think too much about this plan when I got dressed so I put on a Duran Duran t-shirt.  Let’s face it.  It is the summer.  I wear t-shirts pretty much every day.  The fact that it was a Duran shirt added nothing of interest to my day or so I thought.  Yet, it provided me of a reminder that fandom really can be simple. 

One of the first stops we made on Wednesday after the zoo was a coffee shop.  I was in desperate need of some caffeine and a break from running around.  As we got into the coffee shop, the barista noticed my shirt and said, “I like your shirt.”  I didn’t even remember what the heck I was wearing.  I glanced down and mumbled a quick thank you, wondering if I should be embarrassed, proud or indifferent.  I went with the latter before I turned my attention back to the menu.  Before I could order, the guy beyond the counter says, “Duran Duran.  They are an old band.”  Rather than be insulted, I said, “Well, they are still around, you know?  They still make new music and tour.  They played like a week ago, in fact.”  The guy seemed shocked as he mumbled an “I didn’t know that.”  If this interaction happened years ago, I might have been annoyed that he was so ignorant but now, I had a burst of excitement in that I could educate this guy.  Will he go out and buy Paper Gods?  I don’t know but he might. 

Not an hour or so later, I found myself getting information from the front desk clerk at this museum of sorts when I was interrupted by another employee saying, “I love your shirt.  I love Duran Duran.  You know it took me 22 years to see them live.  22 years.  I always wanted to see them live but my mom wouldn’t let me.  They haven’t played in Madison since I a kid, you know. So I had to go see them in Milwaukee as part of the Astronaut Tour.”  Before I could overthink things, I commented about how great the band is live and how I, too, was at that Milwaukee show.  I thought about mentioning how I have seen them live since and I travel to do so but I didn’t. Would this woman really care?  Would that diminish her experience?  Figuring that it might, I let it go.  She doesn’t care what I have done.  She ended by saying that she hoped to see them again and I concurred, loving the idea of them playing in Wisconsin while not holding my breath for it at the same time.

Then, yesterday, I was at a meeting for work when I was asked about concerts by my boss.  Had I seen Duran Duran this summer he wanted to know.  I, of course, have not and responded as such.  He then wondered aloud if I had “maxed out” on them.  Ah…no.  Not exactly.  He tried to tell me about someone else he knows who loves the band.  Okay.  Cool. Part of me wanted to meet the person he referred to while the other part was nervous about that. Would this other fan be cool?  Would I have to prove myself to him?  Would he to me? Then, I realized that none of that would matter. It isn’t about that.

These three people reminded me that being a fan can be as simple as liking someone or something. Yes, for some people that might mean liking a song or two like I suspect was the deal with the coffee shop guy. For others, they might take it further by attending concerts nearby. Still, some might be known to be “big fans.” Is one better than the other? No. I could say that the “big fan” might take their fandom more seriously. They might spend more time or money on their fandom but they might not.

With each of these interactions, I had the same overall feeling. First, I was happy that others like the band. Then, I had moments of being envious of them. They clearly aren’t part of the fan community. No one in the community knows them. They are anonymous. They are free to love the band as much or as little as possible. Sometimes, I wish for that as it might feel freeing. Could I do that, though? Would I really want to give up the blog? Could I retreat back to that anonymous situation? What else would I have to give up? To be continued…

-A