Category Archives: Fandom

Why Wouldn’t I? The Question of Blogging

I can remember the day that my husband first brought up the idea of writing a blog.

The past eight years have kind of flown by. It was very easy for me to get caught up in the whirlwind cycle of it all. When we first began writing, it was during the tail end of recording All You Need is Now. We followed the promotion, then the touring. Life was a roller coaster, the band had a rough go of it at times. We were able to follow it all, and the words came rather easily most of the time. I absolutely adored writing the blog, and never had more fun than I did during most of that album cycle. It seemed like the fun should never end, but of course it did when Nick became ill a few shows before the end of their final leg of shows here in the US. Then they went home. I think that’s when I realized that blogging wasn’t quite as easy as I may have thought.

Sometimes I worry about running out of things to say. It used to be that I would push myself to put something, anything out on the blog every single day. We had puzzles, games, videos, anything we could think of to fill the space and time.  I realize now though that part of our story – that of Amanda and I – is getting through the slow periods of every day life. It isn’t so much the touring that makes any of us great long time fans (although I think everyone agrees those blogs are the best!), it is grappling with fitting fandom into every day life for forty years. It is going from album through to album, waiting in anticipation for what will come next without forgetting what came before.

Sure, there are times when I’m antsy and wish they’d hurry so that I can get busy planning for the next crazy weekend. Who doesn’t? I don’t even have time OR money right now, but I miss my friends. Reality speaks (very) loudly over my fantastical dreams of getting away for a girls weekend. Even so, those dreams are nice interludes between packing boxes. I am sure Amanda would say the same. She is extremely busy gearing up for the November election, and fitting that in with the all-consuming job of teaching.  Eventually though, when the time is right, we’ll be on the phone or Skype again and have plenty to catch one another up on, and before we know it – we’ll be talking about new music and touring.

As I look back over the past eight years, I think I’ve learned how to roll with the ebb and flow of album cycles. I’m also far more grateful for the band’s career than I might have been seven or eight years back. It was easy to just assume they would keep going forever, when in fact at this point – they’ve got nothing left to prove to anyone, least of all their fans. I don’t know what motivates them now. except the love of music and being Duran Duran. I think it must be incredibly difficult to get back into the studio and have a blank slate staring at them. One has to have pretty strong motivation and conviction to keep hammering at it for decades on end, don’t you think?

I’ve had people ask why we keep blogging. For me, I write because it has become a habit, and it is therapeutic. The idea of writing every day keeps me connected to the community.  Even when my posts make people really angry, or when I get hate mail as a result – I learn something about myself in the process.  Handling hate, accepting constructive criticism, realizing that I have the right to protect myself, and even learning to apologize, are all things that writing this blog continues to teach me. I think that I keep writing because I like the challenge.

I’m curious to see how the blog evolves from here, particularly as I move from a suburb to the country. Will my writing change as my life  moves forward? I’d still like to have something on fandom published, but I don’t know how or when that will happen. I’m not putting those kinds of heavy goals on myself, but I would like to get back at it sometime. Maybe I’ll write something about homeschooling, instead. I don’t know. I’ve thought about starting a brand-new blog about homeschooling, and even our move from the OC to the country.  I would like to go to the UK again for the 40th anniversary in 2020, whether or not the band actually plays. I feel like I have more to experience there.

Not terribly long ago, I used to believe I really wanted to meet and talk with every band member. Deep down, I was sure that my life wouldn’t be complete until I did.  I am a part of Daily Duranie, I’ve blogged about being a fan for years. How could I not meet them? I don’t know that I feel that way any more. I used to think the pinnacle of fandom, was being one of the lucky few invited backstage, or seeing the show from the wings. What I’ve come to accept and embrace, is that I’ve had an incredible time being a fan. I’ve gotten to be up front, I’ve heard them play my favorite songs live, several times. I don’t know that I need to meet all of them or even have pictures with them to make any of the rest of it more real.  I actually like being in the audience, being a part of the crowd, and taking it all in.  There is nothing like being in that electric atmosphere. The sound and energy reverberating off of the hundreds, if not thousands of other humans in the room. All gathered for one purpose.

Pure joy.

Why wouldn’t I want to keep blogging about that?

-R

What does Fandom Really Mean to Me, Eight Years Later

I’ve been pondering a question someone asked on Twitter yesterday.    Many of us have actively participated in this fandom for decades now, and he wanted to know our favorite moment.

My own response was easy: the convention I attended in New Orleans back in 2004. I loved every minute of that weekend. It was the first time I’d ever felt completely included in a group.  The fact that I’d gone to very few shows, or that I’d never shared breathing space with John or Roger didn’t matter.  Even though it was my first convention, or that I wasn’t a huge Warren-fan, no one cared. We celebrated the fact that we were all fans, and that the original lineup was together. So many of us relished that for the first time in our adult lives, we felt like we had “people”.

Cognitively, I recognize that I’m supposed to feel like my husband,  “completes” me. I feel just the tiniest bit guilty because that’s just not how it went for me. It was this fan community that completed me. Not my husband, not the band, but the community. The people I met. Friends. Those who shared in my journey. I felt right, for the very first time. If I could bottle that weekend, or my feelings about that weekend, I would.

Many other people responded with their own favorites, more often than not, they included the band in one way or another. Some cited a specific show, others mentioned a time they met one or more of them. Any fan gets those same gushy-feelings when they think about meeting a band member. I just don’t consider those moments as favorites.  I’m trying to understand what make me so different.

What does “fandom” really mean?

It is a question I think about a lot, probably more than I need, but I’m weird that way. I mean, if I tweeted that question right now, I’m sure I’d get plenty of answers ranging from it meaning the same thing as being a fan, or the “thing” we are a fan of.  None of that would be wrong. But what does “fandom” really mean to me?

I’ve met the band in passing, sure. I care about each of those guys very much, just like any other fan. I was thrilled when I met them, too. But for me, the idea of “fandom” is so much deeper than Simon, John, Roger, Nick…Andy, Warren or even Dom. (Sorry guys) I mean, the music brought me here, sure. But when I think about the word fandom, it goes beyond the music. Fandom, for me, is about the people, or the community. I spent a lot of time thinking about that yesterday, and even this morning.  What does “fandom” really mean to me?

That doesn’t mean everyone else who gleefully responded with tales of their meeting Simon or Nick were wrong, either. There’s no right or wrong. Fandom means different things to different people, nothing about that is wrong.

I’ll go one further: I sometimes wish my feelings about fandom stopped with just the band. My “relationship”, so to speak, with the band is simple. They write and perform the songs. I buy the records and concert tickets. We smile and say “Hi, how are you doing?” every few years. It is remarkably easy, transactional on many levels, and simple.

The relationship I have with the fan community is incredibly complicated. This blog hasn’t made the situation less entangled or messy. Even prior to blogging and upsetting people with my written words. I have never been one of those people that everybody loves. I’ve come to realize and accept that about myself, and while I wish it were different – I’ve also learned just to keep to myself for the most part. Popularity isn’t necessarily something I’ve needed in order to survive. All that in mind, I have a small circle of friends who know exactly who I am, and like me anyway. Those people came into my life because I was a Duran Duran fan, and stay because they are obviously as nuts as I am.

It would be far easier if I only worried about finding the band after the shows, getting photos and not bothering with making friends or being an active participant in the community. I just don’t think I’d be happy that way. I think I’d have already gotten bored with the process, to be honest. There’s something to be said for writing a blog for eight years, even if I have managed to make nearly everyone mad at me for something I’ve said at least once. (Then again, in and of itself, even that is an accomplishment!)

I think I’m using this question as a way to put my thoughts of the past eight years on a slow-simmer as I go about my business. As of September 13, Amanda and I will be entering our ninth year of this gig. This time of year always makes me a little introspective. Even our friendship has changed during the time we’ve written. We used to speak at least weekly if not daily, via text and email. Nowadays, it goes weeks, if not months. We’re both busy and I’m 99% to blame. She called me last, and I have yet to call her back. Not because I haven’t wanted, but because I haven’t had time or been alone long enough to really talk. I long for days when life returns to normal, but what if “normal” has changed? Everything is different and I haven’t even moved yet!

I avoid people when I feel out of sorts. For someone who loves to talk, I’ve kind of stopped.  I’ve held on to some things tightly, like music, memories, and things like that. Duran Duran’s music is a constant, and the fandom has kept me feeling rooted, even when I’ve felt unsettled.

-R

When the Title of Your Album is Crowned Upon Thy Heads – Paper Gods

Are they really Paper Gods?

So many times now, I’ll see fans refer to Duran Duran as the Paper Gods.  In theory, I know what they mean. I had their posters as my wallpaper too, and yeah, I definitely worshipped them. They were the Kings of Everything to me. I hadn’t met them, knew nothing of substance about them except their music, and yet, they were everything that mattered. Sound familiar?

Here we are now, some thirty-five or even forty years later, and they’ve been graced with the moniker from one of their own albums – The Paper Gods. Fans hear, “bow to the Paper Gods” and assume it must mean the band. I can certainly see how that happened. If you listen to the song, it isn’t hard to draw the conclusion that they must be referring to themselves in the lyrics. I’d argue that the entire album, from Paper Gods to The Universe Alone, is a reasonable snapshot of their full career, at least until present day.

Bow to the Paper Gods

in a world that is paper-thin.

The fools in town, are ruling now.

Bleeding from paper cuts

money from headshots

Fools leading

who needs it

On one hand, the point is that paper is thin. It’s fairly destructible by being crumpled, burned, torn, etc. At the end of it all – paper means extremely little. Nick describes it like an origami butterfly that is able to fly away at any point. Butterflies aren’t known for being strong. Their wings are fragile. It’s like fame in that sense. Besides, even the thickest origami butterfly can also fall from the sky by being shot down or burned at a moment’s notice (I’m feeling violent today I guess?) That hero status is delicate and fragile.

In another way, when you’re a God of Paper – what does that really mean? Are you part of a throwaway culture? Is it really a good thing to consider anything a Paper God?

Or, is the point really that by calling Duran Duran our Paper Gods, by embracing the very thing that the band has tried running from all these years, we’re laughing in the face of the critics?  It is an interesting thought. Is it derogatory to refer to them that way?

I don’t think the words I’m about to share are any different from what most fans feel. This band is far deeper than the words on any lyric sheet. They are geniuses when it comes to communicating subtle points through music and lyric (and even the occasional interview!) – their sardonic, sarcastic and dry senses of humor come through even when most people miss it. Simon intentionally writes things that most see as fairly obvious, when in fact it may mean anything but. It is creative, smart, and quite honestly has kept me intrigued for nearly forty years, along with many other people.

I don’t know for sure what Duran Duran really intended when they wrote Paper Gods, or when they titled the album or tour that way. In some ways, it is certainly shallow of fans to just shout-out “DD is the best band ever!” whenever DDHQ posts anything at all. However, those words are also demonstrative of how the music world goes ’round. Those fans are a significant part of what keeps the band going.  They simply cannot have a league of people who critically question every last detail and get very far.

This band is so much more than just the shallow pinups I taped up on my wall as a preteen. I, along with a legion of others, have spent the better part of the last four decades peeling back the layers. We continue recognizing that through all of the smoke and mirrors, they’re actual human beings. Extremely talented humans at that. I wouldn’t dare tell anyone that they’re not Paper Gods, but to me, that’s merely where they began.

-R

Where is the line crossed from Fandom to Standom?

Hi everyone! Welcome to Wednesday afternoon!  I know I’ve missed a couple of blogging days, so I apologize. I am happy to say though that the “For Sale” sign is out in front of our house, and we have a big open house weekend coming up. Anybody want a house in a nice neighborhood in Orange County, CA?

Meanwhile, there is this blog, which has sadly been neglected this week. I’ve missed writing, and I must warn you that there could be a few more days of that ahead, depending upon how it all works when we actually move. Just recently, I saw a tweet from DDHQ declaring that there would be no live dates until February 2019, and that seems like a good goal for me. Get moved and unpacked by February!  I can only hope…

As I sat down to the computer today, I didn’t have anything in my head ready to write about. Someone must have read my mind and sent me an article about Stans. (Read it here)

A “Stan” is an overly obsessive fan. Funny thing about the words “overly” and “obsessive” – they require interpretation. Where is that line, and how do I not cross it?  This is a question we have continued asking since the blog was in its infancy. It would seem that there is no hard and fast answer, even when many of us would be far more comfortable if there were.

The article isn’t about asking what or who is a stan, but instead talks about the destructive culture itself. What does that mean? Well, in the case of the article, they use a recent incident involving Nicky Minaj and a critic, who dared wonder in print if Nicky could get past the “silly” stuff and write lyric with more substance. Nicky lashed out in return, sending the critic a rather violent and crude response over DM. Not to be deterred, the critic took a screen shot and posted it for all to see. Nicky’s fans went on the extreme defensive, harassing the critic on every known form of social media. They went as far as finding her cell phone number, texting her death threats, and even locating photos of her daughter and circulating them online. In my personal opinion, it was completely unwarranted, unnecessary, and over the top.

The internet allow a shroud of anonymity to hide behind, and some are not afraid of spewing vitriol whenever they disagree with something that they read. In my own experience, it has gotten to the point that I am far more careful about what I say, or even what I write about. For a select few – it in’t enough to disagree, they feel like they need to ruin someone’s reputation, and even harass family members. All for the sake of proving a point?

Disagreeing from time to time with something that is written is normal. I expect people to take issue with things I write, for example. In fact, sometimes I write with that intention in my mind. I would expect that other writers, bloggers, and social media managers are the same. What no one truly expects though, is to have their private lives ripped to shreds because a fan base, or “stan” base.

I can cite numerous examples of this within our own fan community. Attacks on critics who aren’t as positive about the band (that’s putting it mildly – as is the word “attacks”), and even the way we go after one another when someone says or writes something we don’t agree with. But where or when should it be enough? Do we need to “expose” the person on every form of social media? Going after family members and death threats were activities that were at one time left to the most obsessed. They were called stalkers, not fans.  However,  they are commonplace now, to the point where we have an entire category of fan named for them, Stans.

It is my hope that everyone reading this blog will click on the link for the article, and that doing so springboards discussion. The question I  want to now pass on to each of you reading, is simple. Where is the line? At what point do we begin to realize that not every online disagreement needs to end with a threat of questioning someone’s character, or at worst – suggesting death?

-R

 

It’s Going to Tempt You

I am not a very spontaneous person.  I’m sure that those of you who are reading this blog post who know me personally might even be laughing at the thought.  Yes, it is true.  Typically, I take a long time to make a decision even when I have thought about my choices over time.  Let me give you an example.  Over the course of my life, I have saved money to buy the latest electronic gadget.  I will then research, decide on the best option, and save money for whatever I want.  Then, I go to the store to finally buy it and I will still stand there and debate the decision to myself once again.  I kid you not.  This indecisiveness happens with work, too.  For instance, it comes each and every time I don’t feel good.  I will literally spend hours going back and forth about calling in sick.  Why do I do this?  I suppose it is insecurity about doing the right thing.  Should I really miss work?  Should I really spend the money?

Funny enough, the one area of my life that tends not to be indecisive is when it comes to my fandom.  Just ask Rhonda.  It does not take me long from reading or hearing about a new show announcement to deciding that we should go.  Typically, if I see a Duran alert about a new show, by the time I am contacting Rhonda, I already have a tentative plan about what we should do in order to go.  Fandom is the one aspect of my life that I truly allow my heart to lead rather than my head.  Of course, this sometimes has gotten me into trouble.    Take the UK tour of 2011.  The shows were announced.  Tickets went on sale within 24 hours of the press release.  If we were going to go, we needed to buy them then, we said.  So we did.  I knew that this tour, which was to take place in May, was pretty awful timing in terms of work but I just went for it.  I assumed that I would get those details figured out later.  Well…a month or so later, I did get it approved but it took a lot of effort by contacting a lot of people to help me.  If I had thought more, I probably shouldn’t have or wouldn’t have gone for this idea, but I didn’t.  It was Duran.  It was Duran on tour in the UK with my friends.  I didn’t think.  I just acted.

Do I regret the decision to go to the UK for this tour?  No.  Not one little bit.  Did it suck that I had to push hard to get to go, to get approval from work?  Absolutely.  Did I ever give up?  Strangely enough, I didn’t.  Maybe, I should have.  Some might have taken it as a sign that I shouldn’t go, that it wasn’t meant to be.  Still, I pushed.  Now, we know that those UK shows in May of 2011 did not happen.  Strangely enough, I still don’t regret going even with the extreme effort with work.  I learned a lot about myself, fandom, Duran Duran and friendships during that trip.

Of course, over the course of my fandom, I have gone to other events that I should not have due to my crappy schedule.  The best example of this is when I went to John Taylor’s book reading and signing in Chicago in late October 2012.  Not only was that night a “school night” meaning that I had to work the next day but it was also days away from Election Day.  This meant that I was working about 80 hours a week between teaching and campaigning.  I knew that the responsible thing would have been to stay at home, get more work done, go to sleep at a decent hour, etc. but I didn’t.  I couldn’t.  This was John Taylor.  Was it crazy of me?  Absolutely.  I remember standing in line to get my book signed and answering call after call about the campaign.  Then, I ended up with like 3 hours of sleep, if that.  Yet, it was amazing night that was worth the multi-tasking and the sleep deprivation.

Now, I face a similar situation.  It, unfortunately, isn’t with Duran Duran or John Taylor but with the Killers.  If you have read this blog for awhile, you probably know that both Rhonda and I love the Killers.  I would definitely pick them for my second favorite band and I have been lucky enough to see them live a number of times.  Well, a few days ago I saw an event on Facebook stating that they are playing in nearby Milwaukee on September 4th.  Sometimes, I think there is a conspiracy against me.  What date is September 4th?  It is literally the first day of school with students.  On that date, 9th graders come to learn their way around the building as they walk through their schedules and meet their teachers.  It is not a regular day of school but it is tiring as there is lots to do to get ready.  The next day, the 5th, will mark the first normal day of school in which all students come and attend class during regular hours.  Ugh.  What a terrible date for a concert!

So, once I saw the event, I shared it and began debating to go or not to go.  It is right in the beginning of the year,

which means that I am already super exhausted.  That said, I also can and will be prepared so that I can leave right at the end of the day.  Should I let work dictate my life?  Should I be good and stay home?  Double ugh.  Again, I waffle.  Yesterday, though, this changed.  I found myself with a presale code for this concert.  At that moment, I did not stop and debate.  I used the code and within minutes I had tickets purchased.  Oh boy.  Will I regret this decision?  Maybe, I will when I am driving home afterwards, exhausted and begging for sleep.  Perhaps, the next day will be so painful that I will kick myself over and over again.  On the other hand, I did not second guess my decisions in those other examples.  Besides, it is a concert.  It is about seeing a fabulous band live.  How could that decision be wrong?  Now, to find someone crazy enough to go with me…

-A

Fandom Made Me a Happier Person, Too!

I apologize for my tardiness with today’s post. The past 24 hours have been rather unkind. My home, which was spotless on Saturday, now looks as though it has been hit by a hurricane. There is a film of dust everywhere, combined with layers of plastic, tape and yes, paint.

Speaking of which, I have a PSA for anybody who ever plans to paint, or spoil themselves and have their house painted. Always remember to pull out blankets, pillows, and perhaps a few outfits, because otherwise all of your belongings – like maybe your entire house – will essentially end up piled like a life-sized Jenga game into the center of each bedroom, and then shrink-wrapped in plastic without any way for you to retrieve your personal items. I have it on good authority that you will be left wondering at 11:30 that night how you’re going to get your ten-year old to finally go to sleep.  Maybe your significant other will end up folding an old down throw blanket into a cushion and sleeping on the wood floor, perhaps your son will sleep on an office chair, and maybe you’ll be stuck on your couch, without a blanket or a pillow.  Oh, and god forbid you have a stomach virus while all of this is going on. Yeah.

So yep, the blog is late, and I’m tired.

Today, I ran across an article that I think every Duran fan should read. This article, titled “Fandom Made Me a Happier Person – And There’s A Very Real Reason For That” is posted on bustle.com. It outlines some fantastic “side effects” to participating in a fandom.  I replied to the person who originally tweeted the link to the article on Twitter to say that 99% of my experience in this fandom has been positive.

Yes, Amanda and I have examined some of the less-than-positive aspects to certain fan practices. That’s part of studying fandom. However, she and I would be among the first to jump and shout about the good things we’ve experienced and discovered simply because we happened to be Duran Duran fans.

I’ve written about many of these things before, but just the very idea of having some interest that is mine, and mine alone, has been empowering. I’ve traveled, I’ve made lifelong friends, and I’ve even challenged myself to leave my very comfortable “box”, in search of pushing my own boundaries a bit. I’m far from perfect or finished, but I’m much happier!

Sometimes, we all get so focused on the small, insipid annoyances that go along with socializing within a small community that we forget the broader, far more positive, payoffs. I have to thank Kelsea Stahler, the author, for the good reminder. Check out the article (linked in the text above!)

-R

They Lay Back Laughing at Naivety’s Star

Thirteen years ago on this date, I saw Duran Duran play in St. Louis.  This show blew my mind despite the side seats, the massive headache I had and the excessive heat.  (Seriously, it was over 100 degrees that weekend and the sweat just poured off of Simon.  I felt bad for the band as it must have been three times as bad for them with the stage lights.  Interestingly enough, I never saw one bead of sweat on Nick.  Hmm…)  Anyway, while the show was great, the after show is what sticks out the most in my mind.

Let me provide some context.  This show took place during the second leg of the Astronaut tour.  I had been to shows during the spring but still was pretty new to the ways of touring.  I didn’t go with Rhonda but a couple of other friends.  We had decided beforehand that we would try to find the band after the how.  After all, I had tried during the spring with no luck and I kept seeing and reading about so many other fans who had their moments.  I wanted a moment, too.  I never questioned my desire to do this.  To me, it just seemed to be what fans in this fan community do.  More importantly than that, I never considered what would happen if we did.  I never thought about how to act.

In order to achieve our goal, we did what so many have done since.  We guessed a hotel.  Yes, we were that awesome.  Funny enough, though, we were right along with what seemed like hundreds of other Duranies.  Once we got there, I made a decision.  I would just try to get John Taylor’s autograph.  That’s it.  I wouldn’t ask for anything else.  (Maybe this shows how naive I was.  It seemed to me that so many other fans wanted/expected a lot more from the band whether that would be photos and autographs or photos and their time.)  Quickly after that decision was made, the band pulled up.  As the band members exited their vehicles, my group split, trying to get to the band member of choice.  Looking back at this, it makes me cringe.  Never once did I stop and think about how it the band members would have felt in having strange people approach them as they try to enter a hotel.

Soon enough, I reached the crowd surrounding John Taylor.  Many of the people there seemed to be those professional autograph hunters who had tons of professional photos to get him to sign.  I just wanted my poster signed.  When I got to him, he kindly signed my poster.  Then, I simply walked away.  Mission accomplished.  I went to go find my friends.  I saw one talking to Roger.  Did I say anything or do anything?  Not really.  I already got what I came for.  (Later, I wondered if I should have asked for something.  Did I miss an opportunity?)  Then, I walked into the hotel to find my other friend.  Once inside, I found John Taylor surrounded by people in the lobby.  He could not move beyond the crowd.  As people started to touch his arm, he turned looking for security.  This made me uncomfortable.  He seemed trapped.  Did he want people touching him?  Did he want all this attention?  It got me thinking.   Does being famous mean that you don’t have the right to consent or freedom of movement?  Is that part of what he signed up for?

Fast forward a bit.  I desperately needed something to drink.  One of my friends had found a spot at the bar…next to Roger.  Well, then.  My mixed emotion self did not really know what to do.  Do I try to butt in and get in the conversation?  Do I leave her alone?  I knew this much.  I was dying of thirst.  After all, it was ungodly hot that weekend.  Perhaps, this was my way in.  I could get a drink, which would give me a logical reason to be there.  But it also meant standing there for awhile to get someone’s attention to take my request.  After a few minutes of just standing there, I left.  I distinctly remember feeling just foolish on top of not really knowing where my comfort level was as a fan.  How do I manage to have my fan moment without doing something that makes me feel uneasy?

The next day forced me to think more about the issue as the message boards exploded with posts and comments about the post-show activities.  Many fans were excited for those who shared their moments or their photos.  Still, others criticized the fans there, implying that some crossed the line.  I had no idea that there was even differing philosophies when it came to interactions between fans and the subject(s) of their fandom.  All of a sudden, the fan community felt a little less safe to me.  After all, many included me with the group of fans who were harassing the band.  Did I?  Looking back, maybe I did.  I followed some of the people I was with.  Maybe I shouldn’t have.

By even the next day, I knew that while I, too, still wanted my moment, I needed to decide about how I would ever act in that situation again.  I starting figuring out what makes me uncomfortable for either myself or a band member.  Notice I said what makes me uncomfortable, where my line is.  That line might be very different for others.  I get that.  Heck, I don’t think I totally have it figured out for myself.  I am still learning.  One thing I feel strongly about now, in 2018, that I didn’t even really think about before that night is St. Louis is touching.  I know that if I ever see a band member or anyone else famous, for that matter, there is no way that I would touch that person without seeking consent first.  Have I always done that?  No but it is something I am working on with people in my life as well and when I have done it, I feel really good about the interaction.  Let me give an example.  When I met President Obama, I consciously decided that I would assume nothing about how the interaction was going to go.  I was there, along with others who had worked on his campaign.  We were lined up to meet him.  I watched to see how he greeted people ahead of me.  When it was my turn, he opened his arms for a hug which I happily returned.  Besides touching, I have also decided that I really like giving anyone famous space.  I won’t surround someone as that would make me uncomfortable.

I know that many people out there might disagree with my philosophy.  You all might be saying…but they are famous.  They had to know what they signed up for.  I think they signed up lots of media attention, sure.  People want to know them and know what they are up to, but, personally, I think they should have the right to their own bodies.  It is okay if you disagree with me.  Fans do not always have to be agreement.  It doesn’t make me a better fan or a bigger fan.  All it means is that after 13 years, I’m starting to get an idea of who I am and what I believe in as a fan.  It has taken me a long time to get to this point.  I have made a lot of mistakes.  Heck, I did 13 years ago today.  That night, that weekend provided a crash course in fandom that I didn’t ask for and didn’t know that I needed.  Looking back, I’m thankful for the experience.  It taught me a lot about fandom, but about myself, too.

-A

Through the Barricades – a Wild debate over Spandau’s new lead singer

In the few minutes of spare time I’ve had since my last day of work, I’ve kept up with posts in a Spandau Ballet Facebook group. Just as Duran Duran fans sometimes find themselves embroiled in debate, Spandau fans are currently going a similar, yet far more intense deliberation. The subject, is  of course, the new lead singer. His name is Ross William Wild, which doesn’t quite roll off the tongue or my keyboard quite so easily yet. He’s young, good-looking, and most importantly, at least to Spandau fans—he is not Tony Hadley.

Whether or not that is a problem, depends upon with whom you’re chatting. Ross performed at his first Spandau Ballet gig last week. Social media went wild, no pun intended. There were many who felt as though he has the potential to re-energize the band. Some felt strongly that Spandau needed to hang it up. Still others have taken to calling the band nothing more than a “tribute” at this point.  (That last one is an “ouch” for sure!) It would appear that either you are “for” Tony and therefore hate everything about this new frontman and the existing members, or you are “for” the newest reincarnation of Spandau and therefore cannot possibly still love Tony. There is simply no in-between. Choose a side and get on with it…or so may seem.

I bring this seemingly un-related issue up here on a Duran Duran-dedicated fan blog purely because it has been both fascinating and heart wrenching to watch the debate unfold. The issues are vaguely similar, yet incredibly different, to some of the things we ourselves have debated.  It has been enlightening to witness the passionate outcry, and it reminds me that fandom is driven completely by emotion. Barely containable under the best of circumstances, fans struggle with change. Emotions run high. Choices are taken on an incredible, personal level.

This claim can be substantiated by recalling the heated debates in our own fandom over guitar players or even changes in musical direction from one album to the next. The fact is, fans are entangled tightly around the heart of Duran Duran. Like it or not, sometimes it is forgotten that we fans are not the band.  Many times over the past week I have read posts from fans proclaiming, “had it not been for the fans, the band would never be here”. We’ve grown up as fans, entered adulthood as fans, we are skipping down the path of middle-age as fans, and it can be very difficult to separate our own lives from the career of the band.  Decisions made by the band, are taken as a direct hit to fans. It makes no difference how pragmatic, practical or business-oriented those choices may be. Fans take each one to heart.

Fans are so personally involved at this point—twenty, thirty or even forty years in, there’s just no way to ignore what a serious change like a lead singer leaving (regardless of the backstory, which still seems to be in question) would do to any fan base. I don’t envy Spandau, they have quite a rebuilding process ahead. It is painful to see fans, completely torn by loyalty—to whom is very much the point of contention here—say that they’ve enjoyed their time with Spandau but they cannot continue on, citing that the band is not the same with Ross, or that he’s not good enough. It is heartbreaking to read posts pointing blame, or completely discounting the work of one young man purely because he dared to step into a spot previously owned by another. The arguments of why Tony left, or who is to blame, will not doubt continue.

I feel for Ross. Like someone else I know, he is the one most likely to “pay” in this situation. He cannot win. Even if he is every bit the singer that Tony is, the reality is that he is not Tony Hadley. He is Ross William Wild. That alone is a sin far greater than any bum note he may ever hit. He will never sing “Through the Barricades” like Hadley, even if he sings it note for note. The same can be said for “True”, “Gold”, and pretty much any other song in their catalog. I have already seen the words “hired gun”, “stand-in” and my favorite, “hack studio-singer” used to describe Ross. Unfair? Definitely, although I know I’ve read most of those words before somewhere…. He’s in an impossible situation because while many have and will embrace him, just as many (if not more original SB fans) will not. Many will openly (and loudly) proclaim him to be nothing more than a stand-in. It is most assuredly a no-win situation.

Tony Hadley tours with his own band as a solo artist, and still sings many of the same songs Spandau will also continue to sing with Wild at the helm. How on earth can anyone move forward under these circumstances? I am not sure.

While undertones of this debate seem very familiar, the truth is— what we’ve dealt with as Duran fans is likely 1/10 of the agony and turmoil Spandau fans have felt, particularly lately. It is painful to watch, particularly since I have some limited sense of what it feels like.  Spandau Ballet as we once knew it ceases to exist. While the band has stood at the crossroad and decided to take a new direction, fans must decide for themselves. I do not envy them.

-R

I’m Lost in a Crowd

In this discussion I had with one of our readers regarding buying tickets, the question, “Does it really matter who buys the tickets?” came up.  I gave an answer that I thought captured my thoughts and feelings well, but is one that I realized that I wanted to explore further.

The commenter asked, “Would it matter to Duran Duran who bought the tickets to their shows?” or something to that affect.  On one hand, do they know who buys the tickets?  No.  Does any band?  Any artist?  No.  They can see how many tickets were sold, what percentage of capacity that is and what the bottom dollar was.  Heck, let’s be real.  The band might not get that information at all.  They have people to watch that kind of information for them.  If I was a member of a band or someone involved with setting up tours, would it matter who buys the tickets as long as someone does?  Probably not, at least not before a show.  I would want as many tickets sold as possible.  That is what matters most.  I think about when Rhonda and I were selling our own tickets to our convention.  Did it matter to us who bought the tickets before the convention?  No.  We were far more concerned with whether or not we had sold enough to cover our costs.  I’m sure touring acts feel the same way.

That said, I do believe in the power of fans and fan communities.  Does it matter who is in the audience at a show?  I cannot help it.  I feel like it does matter, to both the band and their fans.  First, does an audience affect a band’s performance?  My response–how can it not?  Let me give some examples to explain what I mean.  If the crowd is filled with record label executives and the band is trying to get a deal, does it matter to them?  Absolutely.  They might be more nervous in that setting.  Perhaps, they also practice more or put more into it than they would have otherwise.  What if the crowd consists of people who had never heard of the band or doesn’t like their music?  Could that impact the performance?  Again, why wouldn’t it?  The band might play harder to try and win people over, but a band might also feel deflated if the response is lame.  (By the way, I’m speaking in generalities.  On top of that, that is not a criticism.  I recognize that people are human, even people in bands.) So, what about a regular show?  Does the crowd matter?

I have been to shows in which the audience is made of a lot of people that I wouldn’t describe as the typical fan.  At those shows, I have seen bands lose their excitement when they realized that they aren’t getting any sort of positive response.  On the other hand, I have also seen crowds lift up a band by sending them more energy.

What about the fans?  Does it matter to fans who is in the crowd?  I can only speak for myself when I say that it does.  When I’m at a Duran show, for instance, and I know a lot of people there who are as excited as I am, my enthusiasm grows exponentially.  Of course, the opposite is true when I have people near me at shows who don’t care who is playing.  I find myself having to expend some energy to ignore the lame crowd to enjoy the performance.  As much as I logically know that it shouldn’t affect my enjoyment, it does to some extent.  If I have a less than stellar experience, I’m less excited to go back.  The opposite is true, obviously.  This, in turn, could affect the bottom dollar for the next show or the next tour.

Having a lot of fans in the crowd makes me have a better show.  To me, fans can make a good show, a great one.

-A

Generational Universality of Fandom

Last weekend, I went to a friend’s birthday party.  This friend is someone I used to work with, which means that there were a lot of colleagues there.  I enjoyed talking to them outside of the school/work setting.  More than that, it was nice to speak to people whom I have very few conversations with at work, simply because our roles don’t interact much.  One of those people is in charge of our tutoring program.  She is many years younger than me and when we started chatting, I doubted that we had anything in common except where we work.  Then, I learned that wasn’t true.  We do have something in common.  No, she isn’t a Duranie, but she is a fan.

I don’t remember exactly how the conversation moved towards the area of fandom, but when it did, my interest level increased dramatically.  I think someone mentioned the Spice Girls and that’s all it took.  This colleague of mine mentioned that she was a huge Spice Girls fans when she was a kid.  I nodded and said that a lot of us  found our favorites as kids.  She went on to say that she was such a big fan that she led a little local fan club.  The group, made up of her friendship group, met weekly.  They wrote agendas that usually focused on discussing any news on the group.  Of course, I felt like I could relate to this.  I explained how I became a huge Duran Duran fan as a kid.  While we didn’t have a fan club of sorts, my best friend and I frequently shared whatever news we had about what the band was up to.  In our case, the news either came on radio or MTV or through magazines.  Then, of course, we dissected each little detail of the news.  (Somehow, as I am typing this, I realize that life isn’t that different now since Rhonda and I do the same thing!)  Anyway, I told her that I’m jealous that they had a whole fan club and that I would have loved something like that.

I went on to ask her a few questions that directly relate to the theory of female fandom that Rhonda and I have been focusing on for awhile.  Was there competition between the members of the fan club?  What did it look like, if so?  Obviously, I haven’t studied the Spice Girls fandom, specifically, so I had no idea what she might say.  Likewise, the fandoms that we have focused on tend to female dominated ones with males being the subjects of their fandoms.  So, will things be very different for a fandom with women as the subjects of the fandom?

I started my investigation by asking, “Did you have a favorite?  How did you pick your favorite?”  Clearly, many/most Duranies developed a favorite quickly and it was often the band member the fan thought was the most attractive.  Indeed, this colleague of mine did have a favorite!  In her case, it was mostly about which band member she hoped she would grow up to be like.  It was about a role model, of sorts, as opposed to attraction.  Interesting.  Then, I followed that up with, “Could the members of the fan club have the same favorite?”  As we know, many Duranies had an unwritten policy that friends couldn’t share favorites.  (Heck, even Rhonda and I don’t share a favorite.  Could we have become best friends if we did?!)  Surprisingly, my colleague said that they did not share favorites.  If one’s choice about a favorite had to do with identity, it makes sense that they couldn’t share.  Who wants to be exactly like one’s best friends?  This allowed them to be similar in terms of interests but gives enough freedom to be unique.  Fascinating.

Before I had a chance to follow up with more questions, we got interrupted, unfortunately.  I still appreciated the conversation and what I learned.  Clearly, there are some universal truths with fandom, no matter the subject or the generation that fans are a part of.  The Spice Girls fandom, at least to my colleague, presented itself in a similar way to the Duran fandom.  A group of friends loved the same band.  They wanted to talk about their fandom.  Besides that, they also chose favorites and couldn’t share them.  Yes, indeed, fandom is universal, at least between my generation and the generation below me.

-A