Category Archives: Fandom

I’m Not Alone: Embracing the Connection from Fans

In one way or another, I have been studying fandom now for just about nine years. You’d think I’d be an expert by now (or at least have a Master’s degree!), but instead I’ll just say that I have a very good grasp on the complications of fandom. Not an “expert”, not even very knowledgable. I just know about how much I don’t know.  Progress?  I’m not sure.

Every once in a while, something new comes down the old Twitter timeline to grease the wheels. This time, it was something a friend who had recently gone to see New Kids on the Block in concert. I believe it was an excerpt from their tour program (forgive me if that’s incorrect), and it’s certainly worthy of sharing here.

photo courtesy of @expired_data

When I read the statement, I have to admit, I wished that I had been a New Kids fan. I was never into their music, but I have friends who still go to see them. They speak of meet and greets, and fan events like cruises, and even tweeting back and forth with them on Twitter. There seems to be very little barrier (if any), between fan and band, which to me is both incredibly unusual…and honestly…a little other-worldly, given my own experiences as a Duran Duran fan. It’s completely different from what I know.

Maybe some of you would argue otherwise. Perhaps those who really know the band would say they’re just as tuned-in. Maybe not. Maybe Duran Duran is more reserved. Personally, I still revel in the moments when Simon comes to center stage just before they perform during the encore, because he usually speaks from the heart. Sometimes it’s about the fans. I appreciate that moment because it’s heartfelt. I almost always leave a show feeling bittersweet and thankful I’m fan.

There are so many potential discussions to be had here, it’s difficult to know where to begin. I can also see how easily this can slip into “why can’t Duran Duran be this way” territory, which it did the other night when I had some chats about it on Twitter.

There were tweets about the relative absence of Duran Duran members on social media (aside from the DDHQ posts). Some mentioned that sometimes the band just seems very inaccessible, cold, and distant. I had one person even say that sometimes they look down from the stage at the fans as though we’re trying to climb into their lifeboat  just a like a scene from the movie Titanic. Still others think the band is slowly trying to disengage because they are coming closer to their own retirement.

Whether or not any of that is true, I think as fans we tend to expect a lot more than any human can deliver. Also, despite speaking the same basic language, the differences between our cultures and the types of boundaries we maintain are vast. I can cite hundreds, if not thousands of tweets I’ve seen with my own eyes from fans that are miles over the line of what is socially acceptable. While yes, it’s all in good fun when we send them, we don’t know how they’re being taken on the other side. I must count myself in that insanity. I’ve done dumb things over the years just like anyone else. Lastly, the band skyrocketed to fame hard and fast at a very young age. I can’t help but believe that didn’t have some effect.

Comparing Duran Duran to the New Kids on the Block is like comparing an apple and an orange. They’re both fruit – juicy and yummy – but in completely different ways. It is unfair to hold one up to the same standards as the other, so we (I) must resist the urge.

So, let’s focus on the obvious – how cool was that statement??  I think what strikes me most is how well they recognize exactly what fans feel. Not only do they acknowledge how they feel as a band, they seem to realize that fans feel the same way. They share that connection, and one feeds the other. I’ve often wondered if bands out there really get it. NKOTB certainly does.

The last few lines really tug my heartstrings. “That reminder, that ‘somebody out there knows me’ and that ‘I am not alone.'” (Anybody know, are those lyrics?)  That’s how I feel at a show, which is crazy because Duran Duran doesn’t know me, but sometimes it feels like they do.

The one thing I’d say to Duran Duran, if possible, is that whenever I’m on social media and get into this kind of discussion with fans, invariably someone will interject and say that the interpersonal connection doesn’t matter. It’s only about the music. I can count on someone tweeting me to say that every single time. In some ways, it feels a little like a dismissive statement, in other ways, it feels like they’re trying to tell me that since I’m not “all about the music”, I’m less-than.  While I cannot deny that for some fans, it may really be all about the music… maybe they go to concerts, buy albums and go home. I don’t hear from them about my blogs, or see them online very often, if at all. I’m here to tell you that for the vast majority of Duran Duran fans that I have ever run into, it is NOT JUST ABOUT THE MUSIC. Music plays a huge part, but there’s a little something more there than just liking some songs or a few albums over the years.

I like a lot of different bands. I sing along to many different songs on the radio, and buy hundreds of albums. I love music in general. But there are remarkably few bands that I spend real time on. I mean REAL time. Forget the money, I’m talking time that could (and probably should in my case) be spent elsewhere. My friends come from this community. My travels are at least in part due to this band. I wouldn’t spend that time if I didn’t like, if not adore, the people I was supporting. I’d just sing along on the radio or buy an album and be done with it. That isn’t what is going on for me (and thousands of others) with Duran Duran. You don’t spend thirty or forty years on a band if you don’t feel some sort of connection with them. You just don’t.

Sure, you can pay someone to do all that work for you. The tweeting, the fan gatherings, the contests. Every band does that, and by all means it is a vital and necessary part of PR that no one has the time or passion to do on their own. I will just say that the few times John even goes to the trouble of sending a video that gets posted, or when Nick takes a picture pointing out Late Bar on a sign…or when Simon takes a picture from his hotel room just to share what he’s seeing, those moments are golden. Why? Because it’s an acknowledgment that we exist. That they know we’re out here, still paying attention, still supporting, still being fans…and maybe, just maybe, we actually matter to them even a fraction as much as they matter to us. It’s about the connection. Despite what some try to tell me, I know enough to realize that yes, it really does matter.

I applaud the members of New Kids on the Block for not only getting the message, but embracing it. By far, this is the most lovely thing I’ve ever read from a band to its fans.

-R

 

 

These Beautiful Colours – It’s All About Happy

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve had it. It’s Monday, and I’m already done.

I’d really like a day, heck, I’ll even take a MORNING, where there’s at least a little peace. Life is busy. My schedule is crazy and changing every single week because of various things going on. I never know where I’m supposed to be (and when). I have things written on my huge master calendar at home, in my phone, and even on a calendar I keep near my desk, and yet I still forget things. I’ve even had to turn down a couple of really fun and quite frankly, once in a lifetime type of opportunities for various reasons – all of which have to do with being an adult and putting my own feelings aside. On one hand I feel like I did the right thing, and on the other I wish I could just seize the day and take a chance for a change. Isn’t that just like being an adult???

I’m not even mentioning the world. I don’t really need to do that, as I’m sure all of you have heard the news each day. I don’t want this blog to turn into a political forum, but I will say this much – peace would be good right about now. It’s pretty bad when I am thinking about stocking up my trailer (camping caravan), throwing my phone in the garbage and heading north to pine trees, blue skies, and no internet connection.

There are moments when I see all that is happening here at home and abroad, and wonder if the “good old days” are totally behind us now. Sometimes I think that’s what the media wants us to believe. Sometimes, I even think that’s what we want one another to feel.  But then, there’s Duran Duran. The bright light.

The band tweeted this picture this morning from a show they did for a Princeton University class reunion this weekend. (Never before did I wish I went to an Ivy…) Dom retweeted it saying that he loves the colors. At first all I could think about was that in a month from today, I’ll be picking Amanda up at the airport and we’ll be headed to San Francisco. That thought alone made me smile. I can’t wait to see Amanda, our friends, and yes – the band.

Dom says he loves these colors. To me, they are joy and happiness.

I am no different from any other fan. I’m excited to go see the band in July. On one hand, I feel like I’m going to be seeing old friends that weekend, and on the other, I sound like a hopelessly deluded fan. They don’t know me. I only know them from their posters. Yet it all feels so familiar after thirty—nearly forty—years.  I can’t help but feel that way. Yes, I hope to at least make eye contact long enough to say hi and let them know they were missed, and I’m glad they’re back.

In many of my blogs, I try to remind the world that to the band, our relationship is probably more transactional than anything else. Very few of us have a real person-to-person connection with them. Yes, it would be nice if it were more than that after all this time, but realistically – how can they really know thousands upon thousands of people?? I’m even shocked when Simon says he recognizes faces in the crowd.  Even so, as I sit here writing this—I’m thinking of how lucky I am to be able to still go and see the band I grew up idolizing, and sure—a big part of me wants to pretend that when they see me standing in the audience, they recognize my face. Who doesn’t?

It is very hard not to feel like there’s some sort of relationship there, just based solely on the amount of time I’ve invested. Of course there really isn’t—I don’t know John, Nick, Simon or Roger—but as a fan, there’s all the loyalty in the world there. Of course, then there’s Dom. I’ve met him more than once. I’ve spoken to him while on a plane and traded emails a few times. Yet every time I see him up close enough to say hi, I’m pleasantly surprised he addresses me by name. I don’t really know why that surprises me so much, because if he were anyone else – any other guy for example – it’d be normal! There are many people I’ve met one time, and then seen again two or three years later, and we all manage to know and remember one another’s name. Yet with him, it’s different. I both love and kind of hate that all at the same time, I must admit.

I just think now, more than ever, if you get a chance to be close enough to say hi, give/receive a hug, or whatever – it’s important to let them know we care. There’s a lot of bad going on in this world. Even if, like 99% of us, you only know them for being Duran Duran, I think right now, it’s good to let them know how much they’re loved.  Love is a very good thing. We’re lucky to have this relationship, however confusing, messy, and undefined it may be. Not everyone does…and these moments are what carry me from one show to the next. The memories of a hug, a hand squeeze, or even a wink from the stage remind me that all is not so bad. So in the moments when I’m struggling to remember what paperwork I was supposed to bring to a doctor’s appointment, or that I need to contact the registrar at Gavin’s school about his high school transcripts, I try to think about those happy times. It helps.

I’m also really excited that for at least a couple of days – I’ll be nothing BUT happy. So the more I looked at the photo, the more I realized that yes, for me – the colors are happy. I need happy. Don’t we all?

-R

A Field Guide to Duranies

I had another blog post planned for today but decided to scrap it in light of the news.  As I’m sure most of you know, there was another terrorist attack last night in the UK.  In hearing about the news, which seems to becoming common, routine, the usual thoughts and feelings popped in my head.  There was fear for my friends who live there and for those innocent people who were at the wrong place, at the wrong time.  Then, feelings of anger take hold directed towards anyone wanting to not only injury or kill people but who also want to create fear.  They want people’s fear to change how they live.  Instead of going out with friends or going to concerts, people would stay inside or give up freedoms in order to stay safe.  The more these attacks happen, the more determined I hope people are not going to let them win.

Therefore, instead of posting a more serious blog about the difference between male and female fandom, I am going to be a little fluffy.  No one needs me to be super serious now.  There is plenty of time for that later.

Speaking of time, I am looking forward to my life in a week when the 2016-2017 school year is behind me.  I cannot wait to be done with grading, contacting parents and attempting to pull students across the finish line with passing grades.  One thing I hope to do with my extra time is to get a lot of reading done, especially for a project Rhonda and I are working on.  Luckily, I have been able to squeeze in a little reading here and there in between class sets of papers and lesson planning.  One of the books I have been reading is “The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy:  A Handbook for Girl Geeks.”

While this book focuses on fandoms based more on movies, TV shows, comics, etc, I have been able to apply some of it to the Duran fandom.  In fact, in the beginning of the book, the author describes various fandoms using the following categories:  Defining Characteristics, Key Accessories How To Become One and Unending Debates.  As I read about various fandoms, I wondered what I would say about Duranies.  Here’s what I came up with:

Defining Characteristics:

The author listed the three big characteristics for this category.  It is not easy to list just three but here is what I came up with.

  • Love for the color and creative spirit of the 1980s especially surrounding New Wave culture
  • Deep understanding for how the visual including video and fashion can impact the coolness of music
  • Appreciation for the influence of punk, disco, glam and more as well as poetic lyrics

Key Accessories:

This includes merchandise that would show off one’s fandom.

Latest concert t-shirts, classic albums on vinyl especially Rio, posters that once covered bedroom walls, John’s autobiography, unofficial and intangible Duranie card, Sing Blue Silver on DVD, concert ticket stubs, and photos of concert/tour experiences.

How To Become One:

This category is pretty self-explanatory.

Listen to all of the albums, preferably in order to understand the band’s evolution.  Familiarize yourself with various side projects, especially Arcadia and Power Station.  Watch all of the band’s videos on YouTube or through the Greatest DVD.  Attend a concert with someone who is already a Duranie to learn all of the moves and phrases.  Start following Duranies on social media.  Read a good blog.  😉

Unending Debates:

Obviously, this is about what the fandom can talk about over and over and over and over again.

Which guitarist is better:  Andy, Warren or Dom?  Why did Andy leave?  Why can’t Duran be more commercially successful these days?  Was Red Carpet Massacre a great album or not?  How should Duran Duran treat their fans?  Why doesn’t the setlist change?  Why can’t Duran Duran be more like ____________________ (insert band here)?

So, what do the rest of you think?  How did I do in describing Duranland?  What would you say to those categories?

-A

Breaking Stigma with a Commercial

I have written about a lot of different topics over the years.  I have written about Duran Duran’s music, their career, band members, rumors, fans, fandom, and so much more.  Yet, I never thought I would write about a commercial.  That’s right.  I’m writing about a commercial, an advertisement, something to sell a product.  In this case, the product is a bank’s credit card.  If you know me at all, you know that commercials, companies, businesses, profit are not normally terms I embrace or even talk about.  Generally, I focus on people, not money.  Stay with me, though.  I promise that it will make sense.

What commercial am I talking about?  The one you can see here:  https://ispot.tv/a/wdOI.  Seriously, go watch it but know that I’m not championing the product as I have no opinion on it.  No, the focus here is the commercial itself and its message.

The focus of the advertisement is two guys who work together.  One pops into the other’s office to confirm a rumor.  This rumor, of course, is that a favorite band is playing a gig that weekend.  Without too much thought, the pair buy plane tickets, hotel rooms and concert tickets.  At the end of the commercial, you see the two enter the club, all smiles.  Of course, the premise is that this particular credit card allows them to do this.  Again, that’s fine and dandy but that’s not why this commercial makes me smile.

I relate to the entire commercial.  After all, I’m a fan of a band.  Rhonda and I have had many conversations that sound exactly like that.  We often share rumors about what the band is doing show wise with each other and then give an “official Duranie alert” when there is confirmation.  The line about “we gotta go” that is stated by one guy and repeated by the other is one that Rhonda and myself have said to each other countless times.  Seriously.

Then, the plane, the hotel, the venue all remind me of what life is like on tour.  After all, many/most of our tours feature those.  The excitement that they show from rumor confirmation to entering the venue resembles us, too.  We are that happy on tour as well.

Beyond how similar this advertisement is to my fandom, there is something bigger at work here.  Normally, when fans are shown in advertisements, they are sports fans.  In fact, when I googled to try to find this ad, I came across a lot of ads with sports fans.  Here’s an example:

I have nothing against sports fans.  Heck, I like many sports.  I get tired of the assumption that it is totally normal, or even cool to spend money on sports but not on other fandoms.  This Bank of America commercial shows that music fandom is just as cool.  We need more of that before we are able to really destroy some of the stigma around being a fan of a band.

I applaud Bank of America for this commercial.  It is nice to see an ad I can relate to and one that makes fandom a little more acceptable.  I say that the ad worked well.

-A

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