Category Archives: Fandom

Broken glass for us to hold

Things are looking up.

Yesterday, I noticed that DDHQ had their #WatchItWednesday as “Is There Something I Should Know”.  That is my favorite Duran Duran song, and of course I love the video too. On #TuneInTuesday, they featured my other favorite – “Late Bar”.  This adds up to this week not being too shabby, in my opinion.

I had started to type out a tweet in response to DDHQ’s choice for Wednesday, when I realized how elementary it sounded. Of COURSE they’re good at choosing my favorites.  Duran Duran is my favorite band and has been for begins counting on fingers and toes and runs out….a very long time! Posting a song and having it be one of my favorites (or anybody’s favorite) is pretty much like shooting fish in a barrel, isn’t it?

There is a lot of comfort in Duran Duran, and I’ve needed it quite a bit during the past six months, and I’ll need it going forward. I know that music like the back of my hand. I know what I’m going to hear when I put on any one of their albums. I remember what it was like to be a fan back in the 80s, and I know what it is like to still be a fan now. (far better now than then, in my humble opinion!)

I love that my memories are entangled with their music, and I especially enjoy that since the early 2000s, I can even retrace my steps based on their tours (OK, so that’s probably a little crazy sounding to some, but that’s fine). My closest friends, the people that I count on, and that I immediately share good news with, I’ve found as a 100% direct result of being a fan of this band.

During the past couple of months, I saw a few things from well-known people who are directly or indirectly connected to the band. Well-meaning questions and comments about why they aren’t already in the Hall of Fame and so forth. It is pretty easy to fall down that rabbit hole. As a fan, of course I know they should be included, and should win awards, and so forth. On the other side of that same coin, I know in my heart that they’ve already done so much – a silly plaque, award, or induction isn’t going to change what so many of us already know to be true.

I don’t want to be too melodramatic, but for so many of us, this band has changed our very lives. Maybe that doesn’t matter so much to a radio host or even a PR person, or even the band themselves (but I’m betting it does). As a fan – and someone who can honestly say this band has not only changed my life but in fact saved it – no Hall of Fame is going to make that simple truth any more or less real to me. I’m not saying that wanting them to be recognized is bad, I’m just saying that for me personally, I already know.

-R

Memories of The Belasco Theatre 2016, or “GA lines aren’t that bad”

A couple of years ago on this very day, my husband kindly drove my friends and I up to LA for a show at the Belasco Theatre. It was a very warm day for it only being May, but we found a shady spot to spread out, and wait the day away in the GA line.

By contrast, today it is raining, and cool – at least by “Los Angeles-in-May” standards. Oh, and Duran Duran is NOT playing today. Yes, there is that, too.

I remember the day outside The Belasco well. Despite my plans to sit down and relax, I found myself up and walking around, talking to everyone I knew. The hours seemed to fly by as I chatted away with fellow fans from all over. I am one of the first people to say that I don’t like GA shows (I really don’t), but I have to say that standing (sitting) in line with everyone all day is not all that terrible. In a lot of very bizarre ways, it’s like a giant pre-show party.  You see people you haven’t seen in a long time, you gab about the band (of course), music, other shows you’ve attended, and maybe someone goes on a food run.

While sure, the waiting can be monotonous, and sure, I suppose it can be a bit cutthroat when you have people around you who are more concerned with being at the rail and loudly asserting that no one dare get in front of them than they are with making (and keeping) friends. I find that many times, those people are the minority, and in the end, don’t need to make a difference in my evening unless I allow it. For the majority of people who are there to have a good time, even if they end up in second, third row or beyond, I can think of far worse ways to spend a day.

The weird thing is that I did know a lot of people in that line at the Belasco!  It was a stark contrast to even a few years prior, when I went to a show at the Mayan Theatre. That show was also GA and required many hours of waiting in a line, yet I really didn’t know that many people then. I kept mostly to myself, talking with my husband and a couple who stood behind us, although I did say hi to the few people I recognized.

Everyone I know who isn’t a huge fan of a specific band the way I am always asks me how I can keep going to shows. They don’t mean financially – although my husband has certainly asked me that very question over the years! Ha ha! They just can’t understand why someone would want to see the same band fifty or sixty times, or more than once during a tour. The thought of going to fifteen shows during a single tour blows their minds. Yet, as we all know, my experience is tame compared to some who have gone to twice or even three times as many shows.

My answer is always the same: it isn’t purely about the band. In some ways, my life might be a lot easier if it were ONLY about Duran Duran! For me, seeing my friends is everything. I don’t live near them. Sometimes, weeks go by without even a single text…and those are just my close friends. There are many people that I just don’t keep in that close of touch with, yet I do consider friends. I see them when I go to shows. I look forward to seeing and hugging those people as much as I do seeing the band. After all, Duran Duran is only on stage for about 90 minutes these days (give or take). What in the hell do I do with the rest of the time while I’m away from home?  I talk to my friends. We get together. We go to lunch or dinner.  We do video blogs. (this is true…and we’ll do them just about anywhere, right Amanda?)  We have vodka tonics or sodas in to-go cups with lids that don’t fit! We try to squeeze in as much time together as we possibly can during the time we’re gathered.

 

 

I don’t know how I missed out on all of that for so long. The Belasco show was in 2016. The Mayan show was in 2011. Before the reunion, I’d only gone to a few Duran Duran shows, and I definitely didn’t know anyone from the fan community. In a lot of ways, I think I’m making up for lost time, now. When I think to my friends in the UK or even a few on the east coast – I can’t help but be a little envious. They grew up together. They spent their teenage years going to shows, waiting in the GA line (and yes, even waiting for band members outside of studios). I spent mine doing anything but all of that. I didn’t meet my touring buddies and best friend until after I’d already grown up, gotten married and had children. So now, I don’t miss an opportunity to go and be with them. It is a truth that is sometimes difficult for my family, but it is something that I don’t want to give up.

Yesterday, I had a student and parent at my desk at school. I was looking something up for them on my computer and they noticed my mousepad. It is one of my prized possessions these days – Amanda had it made for me. It is filled with pictures she and I had taken at various Duran Duran shows. I always smile when I look at it, even during the toughest days at work, and lately – there have been quite a few. Anyway, they wanted to know who those people were (the student, who is in middle school and is now one of my very favorites thought that one of the men must be my husband. HA). I explained that they were Duran Duran which of course led to a full discussion of how many shows I’d been to, who was my favorite band member, and of course – this blog – which I honestly try NOT to publicize at work. The question asked by the parent was simple “how long do you think you can really keep going to these shows and not feel silly?”

My answer? “How long can Simon and the band keep going?  They’re older than I am…and I’m not going to give up before they do.”

Note to the band: YOU’RE NOT DONE YET!

-R

 

She’s Not Afraid of Leaving

Recently, I had a long conversation with my mother about friendship.  I’m not even sure how we got talking about that but the conversation got me thinking.  As I considered the conversation, I started to think about how my students and how they have met their friends.  Here, the answer is obvious.  They met their friends in classes, through their parents, in clubs and sports.  In fact, they spend a lot of time with their friends, which could make their initial friendships deeper and stronger.  Looking back to my youth, I experienced the exact same thing.

What about as an adult?  I have definitely made friends from work.  In fact, some of my closest friends now are people I have worked with.  Beyond that, I have met people through various political activities and through other people.  Yet, when I think about friendships, I often turn to fandom.  How many people have I met through fandom?  Countless.  You might think that I’m exaggerating but I don’t think I am, especially if I consider online friendships.  While I have not met every Duranie I know in person, I have met a bunch of people through this fan community.  In fact, I would say that the people I have met keeps me here when I might not have otherwise.  It is great fun to go to events and know that you will run into people you know.

This makes me wonder about why friendship within fandom seems so unique.  When I compare my friendships from fandom to other friendships, there is something different there.  For one thing, real life friendships seems to take longer.  There is a lot more surface conversation or small talk with real life friends.  It feels to me that it takes a long time to develop real trust with colleagues, for example.  Yet, I don’t sense that as much from fans.  There does not seem to have as much small talk with fan friendships.  I might even go so far as to say that I think there is more chances for equal trust.  Take my friendship with Rhonda.  I didn’t know much about her when I met her for the first time and we hit it off right away.  In fact, we decided to go to a show together and share a hotel room right after having met in person only once.  How did I know that I could trust her?  I don’t know.  I just did.

Does this immediate connection and trust happen because you share the same passion?  The same love for a band?  Maybe.  It is almost like being members of this exclusive club means that we understand each other deep at the core.  We understand something that doesn’t need to be described but something that defines us in a way.

Then, I wonder what happens when that passion does not remain.  What happens when friends leave the fandom?  Does the friendship remain?  I wonder.  I have friends who have left the fandom.  Am I still friends with them?  Yes, I am, but it doesn’t feel the same.  Why the heck is that?  I don’t have a good answer for this.  Could it be that it feels like a rejection of that something that lies at the core of your being or is it a matter of lack of having something in common?  I don’t know.

What do the rest of you think?  Does fandom breed quicker, closer friendships?  Then, if it does, can those friendships last in the same way if one of the people leave the fandom and the other doesn’t?  If not, why not?  What’s the deal there?

-A

“Terrifying and Fascinating”

I made a promise to myself to take a couple of concentrated hours every weekend to work on my fandom projects.  Last weekend, I went to a coffee shop, made myself comfortable and got to work.  I thought that being away from home helped me to stayed focused.  Unfortunately, this weekend, the weather is not cooperating.  It is April 14th.  Spring should have sprung.  Yet, here I am with a winter weather advisory that features freezing rain, ice, wind, and snow (reports vary from 2-5 inches to 6-9 depending on the temperature).  Great.  So, I’m not leaving my house.  Despite that, I’m keeping to my plan.

I decided to focus on fandom research before blogging for two reasons.  One, it is easy enough to put the blog first which often means the rest gets pushed aside.  Two, and more importantly, I had no idea what to write about.  I hoped that working on related projects might spark a topic.  Indeed, it has!

I had been searching YouTube for just the right video to showcase both Duran Duran and their fans.  Sounds easy, right?  Not really.  I still really haven’t found something perfect but I did run across this video here:

I am sure that most of you will recognize these video clips as they are clips from Sing Blue Silver.  Most notably, they are generally clips in which fans, female fans, are screaming.  While that might be interesting enough, the description of the video read, “Fascinating and terrifying. This is a video I edited of various girls going absolutely NUTS for Duran Duran. This footage was filmed between Nov 1983 and April 1984, during their massive world-wide tour. For context, this was all filmed before The Reflex single was even released in April 1984. The video for that song was filmed near the end of the tour in March 1984 at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. I was barely a toddler at the time but I have clear-as-day memories of girls in my neighborhood having a similar, almost venomous passion for this band.”

Fascinating and terrifying?  What exactly is terrifying about this?  I’m not sure I’m following.  Then, the creator describes the passion for the band as “venomous” passion.  Venomous as in poisonous?  Hm…None of the comments on the video seemed bothered by the description but I have to admit that it doesn’t sit well with me.

Are screaming female fans terrifying?  Is there something scary about that group?  If so, what?  Do they have the capability of biting or stinging as the term venomous assumes?  Now, I admit that I definitely could have been one of those screaming fans in 1984 as my best friend and I at the time did plenty of that so maybe I’m taking it personally.  Yet, is there really something wrong with screaming for a band you like?  What about when you are a kid?  A teenager?  An adult woman?

The fact that the screamers on the clips were mostly (almost all?  All?) women and girls really makes me suspicious about the description.  Is this somehow putting down women and girls or it is really just about putting down the level of excitement?  Based on my research about fans and fandom, I’m well-aware that fans get a bad reputation of being hysterical and crazy but describing a group of fans who are mostly women as “hysterical”, “terrifying” and “venomous” seems like a step beyond that.

What do you all think?

-A

That There’s Something Missing

On this date in 2005, Duran Duran played in New York City in Madison Square Garden.  It was the last date in the band’s spring Astronaut Tour in North America.

I did not attend that concert.  Did any of you?  I remember thinking to myself that Madison Square Garden was a big deal.  Do I believe that because it is a large, well-known venue or because of that story within Duran lore?  I’m sure you all know that one.  I’m referring to this idea that John Taylor has shared many times when he said that the plan of theirs was to play Hammersmith in 1982, Wembley in 1983 and Madison Square Garden in 1984.  The band met those goals.  I could not even think about attending the show in 1984 there.  No way.  If my age didn’t stop me, the distance would have.  But what about the show in 2005?  Was it as big of a deal as those 1984 shows there?

In thinking about that 2005 show, my thoughts immediately turn to the reunion.  I have such strong memories of that time.  To me, as a fan in 1980s, the reunion represented a real hope of a repeat of that time period.  After all, the five original band members were back together!  I knew what they were able to accomplish in the 1980s.  Why couldn’t they do that now, I wondered.  It felt to me as if the band was everywhere in terms of press.  For instance, they appeared in my local paper.  If I had taken a bet about how successful this reunion was going to be, I would have said that it was going to blow the roof off.  All of the fans from the 80s would return and they would bring new fans in.  They would return to the top of the charts and everyone would love them.  Thus, when I saw this particular date on the tour schedule, it felt perfectly normal.  Of course, they would play there.  Don’t all the big artists perform at that venue?  To me, it was a sign that they had returned to form, in all aspects.

Looking back now to that show, am I sad that I didn’t go?  Maybe.  Maybe not. I went to a bunch of shows in 2005.  So I have no room to complain at all.  Still, then, I went to shows that I could drive to and that’s it.  While at that time I had traveled to go to a convention, the thought of traveling to shows was unheard of in my world.  Even weirder than that was the notion of taking time off of work to do so.  I never even allowed my brain to go there at all. Back then, my life centered around work and my students.  It was one thing to think about taking a day to go to a convention but not to a show.  After all, they would come here Chicago.  I would be able to see them.  Then, I was really lucky that they played a lot of shows near me over my spring break.  After attending most of the Midwest shows, I never even considered  this show in New York City.  At the time, I recall feeling a tiny bit jealous of those fans who were going but I didn’t let myself feel more.

Now, though, knowing that there was not many shows there since then, do I regret not going?  Sure, it would be cool to say that I have seen them play there but more than other shows?  Hmm…I don’t think so.  I wonder if I had seen them there, would I have felt like I had done it all.  I saw the band play at this ever important venue, their peak goal in the beginning of their career, so that I could walk away knowing I had been to the top.  Maybe.  It is hard to say.  Looking back, I’m also glad that I just jump in and do everything all at once.  Perhaps, fandom would have burned out then.  No, I think my fandom journey is good the way it is.  I have no regrets.

-A

Fan Fiction Wonderings

A few weeks ago, I watched the season finale of the X-Files.  As I have mentioned before, I adore the show but I’m not sure about the last episode.  Apparently, I am not alone in being perplexed by the ending as I have seen a number of comments about it on social media.  After the episode, I did what many others did, I sought out fan fiction.  Could fans of the show provide a different, more understandable, more enjoyable ending?  I wondered.  Needless to say, the number of stories that popped up were many.  As I began to read some, I pondered the role of fan fiction in fandom and then specifically in our fandom.

It seems to me that fanfic for TV shows, movies and books serves an important function.  It adds to the story, in some way.  Maybe these stories extend the story beyond what was shown either after it ends or through a potential missing scene.  Of course, some readers prefer the alternate universe in which the characters are placed in a different context.  I can understand all of that and have read my fair share, especially when I was a big Roswell fan.

What about the work of fanfic in a fandom like ours?  We are not fans of made up characters.  No, the subjects of our fandom are real people.  Does that make a difference?  Looking at the purpose of fanfic in those other genres, could they be applied here?  Could authors extend the Duran story by adding to an unknown future or filling in a period or episode that is unknown to us?  I’m sure that writers could.  Could they place the subjects into different contexts?  Again, that seems logical.

What interests me is that while I have enjoyed these fan created stories when thinking about TV shows like Roswell and X-Files, I never grabbed onto fanfic within my Duran fandom.  Why is that?  I wonder if it has to do with the fact that the focus on the fandom is real people.  Yet, I can read historical fiction and enjoy it.  Those works of fiction are often about real people and events.  I’m not sure.    Maybe it feels different because I have seen the band members in person and for me, that makes it feel different for me.  Perhaps, it is because I have spent so many years researching fandom and thinking about this fandom in an academic sense that I have lost any ability to enjoy this aspect.

Don’t get me wrong here.  I’m not criticizing fanfic readers or writers within our fan community.  No, I’m trying to understand myself because it feels like a weird hang up that I have.  So, those of you who read or write Duran related fanfic, why does it work for you?  What makes you like it?  I would love to hear some good reasons to push me to try it again.

-A

Can’t Tell the Real from Reflection

I wonder how many Duran Duran lyrics we have used in blog posts.  We have written a LOT of blog posts so it would be many.  More than many.  Why this lyric?  Why this title?  Simple.  I have started a period of reflection.  I don’t think I would be overstepping to say that Rhonda, too, is reflecting.  This is pretty normal after a big project finishes.

Just to catch people up.  Last weekend, I was at the National Popular Culture Conference, presenting our research on female fandom.  Since then, we have received quite a lot of feedback through Facebook, Twitter, this blog and even our email.  In fact, we have received so much feedback that I haven’t even responded to everyone.  I had hoped to spend time this week doing just that, but it has been an extremely busy one both with work but also plans and appointments.  Needless to say, I’m feeling pretty tired.  Despite being so busy, I have begun to think about next steps and where to go from here.  Rhonda and I have begun some initial conversations as well.  I know that I cannot possible take all weekend to reflect  due to other responsibilities, but I do plan to take at least a couple of concentrated hours for this purpose.

So what exactly will I be thinking about?  First, I want to think about where Rhonda and I should go as far as our book/research projects.  Funny enough, we suffer, in some ways, from having too many possible angles to pursue.  Of course, I will take into consideration all of the responses we got back on the presentation.  Overall, we received lots of positive feedback, including from experts at the conference.  Beyond that, I will think about what we are most interested in and passionate about as well as what might be most important to share in today’s climate and society.

Second, we need to think about how this blog will fit into the picture.  In some ways, the blog has served its initial purpose.  Thus, what is its purpose now?  What should it be?  How do we best fit this with our other projects?  Which one is being prioritized?  I know that there are dedicated readers (which we are extremely grateful for) and I know that new readers find us all the time. For that reason, among others, we plan to continue the blog in some way, shape or form.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, how does all of this fit into our fandom?  This is an area that we have struggled to figure out for years.  Yes, we are fans.  We love Duran.  There is no denying of that. Yet, we are more than that.  We chose to also study fandom as academics, as researchers because we wanted to understand ourselves and other fans.  Some people love us when we are fans and hate us when we are academics and vice versa.  Yet, we recognize that we are both and want to continue being both.  The question then is how to both well at the same time.

One thing I know, for sure, my recent presentation has had one very significant affect.  It kick started my brain.  Time is now needed to process it all.

-A

 

Presentation Video: Uniqueness of Competition in Female Dominated Fandoms

I am tired.  The last few days were pretty mentally and emotionally exhausting  that also included a very long drive home.  While I need time to process everything regarding the conference, I do know a few things already.  First, I feel confident that I gave the presentation well and that I was thoroughly prepared.  Second, I did receive some useful and not-as-useful feedback, though all coming from good intentions.  That said, I am left wondering if it was worth it in terms of the time, stress and money.  I hoped to feel super accomplished and motivated and that did not happen.  I know that I did learn from the experience, though.

On that note, I know a lot of people wanted to see the presentation.  I recorded me practicing it from my hotel room.  That means that this does not adequately show what it was like to see the real presentation but I do share the ideas and as much of the visuals as could fit on the screen.

-A

 

Step Out Into the Future

This is it.  Today is the day.  I’m sure by now you are all sick to death of me talking about my presentation or presenting at this Popular Culture Conference.  I have a few things that I want to comment on before I head downstairs to the room in which I will present.

First of all, I want to thank all of you.  So many of you have helped me/us with this project that I definitely need to acknowledge that and offer my gratitude.  This past week, when I needed images of whatever, all I needed to do was hop on social media.  I would ask for this, that or the next thing and you all posted exactly what I needed.  If I wasn’t feeling supported, this would have done it.  So, I thank each and every one of you that shared a photo or two or ten of your collections or your live crowd shots.  I ended up with more than I need.  That said, having choices was so nice.

Second, beyond the sharing of photos, I also want to thank people for all of the supportive comments.  You all have such confidence in us/me that I’m overwhelmed.  I am not sure what I did to deserve this but I appreciate it beyond words.  I can only hope that I will live up to these expectations today.  Truly, I want to be able to report back that I did well and that none of you were wrong to have such faith in me.

Now, I know a lot of you are dying to see my presentation.  I did my best to record me practicing yesterday.  While it won’t be the same as watching me give it in person and you can only see part of the visual presentation, I’m hoping to be able to upload it tomorrow when I’m home and share it then.  I do want to warn you all, though.  Rhonda and I don’t beat around the bush and we do not always paint our fandom is the best of light.  That said, we explain what we believe is the cause of our biggest flaw as a fan community.  Our goal, though, was to provide some hope to make our fan community the best place in the world to be.  After all, this week has shown me how awesome, amazing, supportive and loving this community can be and makes me proud to be a Duranie along side all of you.

It has been an interesting experience to be at this conference.  I haven’t had a ton of conversations with others, which I’m a little sad about, but I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone.  If that wasn’t enough, I have definitely learned a lot from many of the presenters I had the pleasure to watch.  I’m thrilled to be able to share our theory with others who will have knowledge and expertise in the field.  I look forward to see what questions and comments people have for us.  Likewise, I’m hoping that the presentation itself will be a moment of growth for me.  As Rhonda and I exchanged tweets yesterday, one thing became clear.  This theory of ours is one that we believe we could expand into something.  The future awaits and I’m ready to step out to meet it.

-A

A Little OCD Much?

I arrived in Indianapolis around 5 yesterday afternoon for the National Popular Culture Association Conference after a long, wet drive.  After having spent days getting the presentation ready and practicing, now was the time to just get going.  I cannot say that I’m feeling exactly 100% about the presentation as I have varied the time it takes to give when practicing between 18-24 minutes but I’m here anyway.

After having checked into the hotel and getting organized, I went down to the 3rd floor where the conference registration was taking place.  There I was handed a program and a name tag along with a special ribbon showing my first time status.  One guy told me that the ribbon was so they all could laugh at me, which made me laugh.  Then I commented that this would feel familiar as my students laugh at me all the time.  From there, I waited for the evening entertainment, Paula Poundstone.  While I obviously knew of her, I don’t know that I watched a lot of her stuff before.  Now, though, I would.  She was hilarious and definitely made me feel more comfortable about being here.

She started her routine by asking about this little conference, wondering how people got here, what they talked about, etc.  She called on some random guy who claimed he was a “trailing spouse” and that his wife was presenting.  What was she presenting about?  Buffy the Vampire Slayer, of course!  From there, Paula wanted to know how long the husband knew about her “interest” in Buffy.  He stated that he found out pretty early in their relationship as her house was covered in Buffy memorabilia.  Paula then wondered if this sort of thing was something the “trailing spouse” found attractive.  As you can imagine, the rest of the crowd was hysterically laughing.

From there, Paula found out some other topics that people were presenting about.  At this point, it became clear to her that people at this conference were kind of obsessed about some tiny aspect of popular culture.  As I was laughing, I found myself nodding.  This is true.  It is one thing to have a little conversation or two about fandom.  It is another thing to read countless books about it, write a couple of manuscripts about it, and present about it to a bunch of other geeky academics.  In realizing this, I have to recognize that Rhonda and I have been rather obsessive about understanding fandom and our fandom specifically.  At that moment, I found myself smiling, knowing that I’m around people who are just like me in that they, too, are obsessed about something. They are so obsessed about whatever that they have studied and are excited to present about their learning.  That’s really pretty cool.

I look forward to going to some presentations today.  I’m hopeful that they will help me feel more confident about what I’m presenting.  On top of that, I hope to learn something from my fellow obsessive academic geeks.

-A