Category Archives: Fandom

Why Do You Love Duran?: The Mad Libs Edition

 The other day I was out with some colleagues and one of them asked me a question that I hadn’t really been asked for probably ten years or so.  Why do you love this band so much?  I found myself too overwhelmed to answer as I wanted to say about twenty things all at the same time.  This led me to wonder if my reasons are the same as all the other Duranies in the world.  I could just write my reasons for you all to read, but I thought I could and should do something more fun as I know that I could use a little amusement.  I also suspect that Duranies around the world could benefit with a lighter piece today.  🙂


Have you ever played Mad Libs as a kid?  For those of you who didn’t or don’t remember, it was a game of sorts with the idea to practice parts of speech.  How it worked was that there would be a story with some words missing.  The person leading the game would ask the other players to give words fitting specific parts of speech without giving away the story.  Once all of the words were given, the leader would read the whole story with those words included.  Typically, the results would be completely silly.  Thus, what I will do here is to list the parts of speech then you can write down your word choices.  When you are finished, you can use the words to see why you love Duran Duran, hopefully in a fun, silly way!  Then, please, post your finished story!  I suspect they will provide a much needed laugh!  I promise that I will eventually post my complete story as well!

Words to fill in:


1.        Verb (action word)


2.       Year


3.       Adjective (describes a thing)


4.       Adjective


5.       Song


6.       Verb (action)


7.       Verb


8.       Instrument


9.       Instrument


10.   Adjective


11.   Adjective


12.   Plural Noun


13.   Video


14.   Region or place


15.   Adjective


16.   –ing Verb


17.   –ing Verb


18.   Band member


19.   Video


20.   Physical feature


21.   Fashion piece


22.   Fashion piece


23.   Band member


24.   Physical feature


25.   Physical feature


26.   Physical feature


27.   Personality characteristic


28.   Personality characteristic


29.   Personality characteristic


30.   Adjective


31.   Band member


32.   Combination of two band members


33.   Band member


34.   Band member





There are many reasons that I (1) _____  Duran Duran.  I became a fan in (2) _____ initially because of their music and videos.  Then, the band members themselves helped to reinforce this love as is meeting and getting to know other fans.  Their music was always (3) ____ and (4)_____.  For example, I will always remember getting the chorus to (5) __________ stuck in my head for days and drove my family and friends nuts with singing it out loud!  Their songs always made me want to (6) _____ and (7) _____ (whatever that meant to my ten year old self!).  I loved that I could hear different instruments and appreciated how they seemed to both fight each other and complement each other.  I also appreciated that it was a good combination between different genres.  It wasn’t just loud (8) _____ but it also wasn’t just (9) _____.  How many times have I heard the band discuss their influences?  I can hear elements of their influences, including artists like David Bowie, Chic, Sex Pistols, Kraftwerk and more.  Simon’s voice is (10) _____ and one to be thankful for.  Then, of course, there are his (11) ____ lyrics.  They are like a strange sort of poetry, which aren’t clear but definitely thought-provoking.  I liked that I didn’t always know what they were about.  I could make a guess after having long discussions with my (12) _____.  The lyrics and the music have been easy to adapt to visual images and videos as well.


 Then, of course, there were memorable videos.  Probably the first video I saw of Duran was (13) _________.  I was fascinated by the apparent storyline combined with the exotic location.  It showed an experience that so far removed from my (14)____ existence.  Then, it seemed like every new video provided a new story.  It reminded me of good books where I didn’t know what would happen but couldn’t put them down because I had to find out how they ended!!  Plus, of course, there were some (15)____ British boys featured as well.  Who didn’t want to be the girl (16)____ with Simon in Save a Prayer or the girl (17)____ Roger or John in Hungry like the Wolf?  Who didn’t think that Nick was adorable in Is There Something I Should Know?  Many of us formed attachments to one band member based on seeing our favorite in a certain video.  For me, I became a (18) _____ girl as soon as I saw him during (19) _________.  He had the (20)____, (21)_____, and (22)____.  He was simply adorable.


Speaking of band members, they are a big reason that I became and stayed a Duranie.  I love their general style and the fact that they cared about what they looked like.  Yet, like many fans, I had a favorite.  In my case, that favorite is (23) ____.  To me, he has/had such an appeal.  Physically, I like that he is a (24) ____, (25)____, (26)____ male without seeming too “macho”.  Of course, I am also fond of his chiseled good looks and solid smile.  I also appreciate his style in interviews back in the day and in his tweets now.  He always seems (27)____, (28)____ and (29) _____.  I also enjoy him with his band members as well.  Group interviews are probably my favorite because I find their interactions entertaining.  They have a great sense of humor and make me laugh.  They aren’t afraid of giving each other a hard time, which I adore.  I like that they demonstrate a balance between being silly and being serious and seem to know when each is appropriate.  On top and even more important, they are seriously a (30)____ group of guys.  They are able to think on their feet, use incredible vocabulary, and are able to make connections that I couldn’t even come close to!  Lastly, I also appreciate how patient they are with having the same questions over and over again and with interviewers that clearly do not have a clue.  Every interview is enjoyable to me for one or all of these reasons!


Speaking of enjoyable, I have had the extreme pleasure of seeing the band live and meeting lots of other fans while on tour.  In my opinion, there is nothing better than singing along with (31)____ and thousands of other fans.  There is nothing better than squeeing during a (32)____ moment.  The best is when you share a moment with the band member of choice during a show.  I like singing with (33)____  and screaming for (34)____.  I like it all.  Through the various shows and tours, I have met many, many others who feel like I do.  Many of these friends have become incredibly important to me as well!


If I had to summarize, I love Duran Duran for their music, their videos, their style, their looks and their personalities.  I also love them for the pleasure I get from seeing them live and hanging with other fans.

Fan Gatherings

I have been thinking about fan gatherings for a couple of months, since the Chicago show in April, in fact.  At that show, I ran into a number of Midwest Duranies who I first met at a fan gathering or another.  I started to wonder if such events were dead in the community. If so, why?  Could they be restarted?

What do I mean by fan gatherings?  In my mind, these are one day/night or one weekend get togethers lead by Duranies, for Duranies.  Would this include conventions?  Absolutely.  Would it include a showing of Sing Blue Silver?  Sure.  A weekend in a city?  Yes.  In my head, these types of get togethers are usually open to everyone or to anyone who is a Duranie.  Are there get togethers between friends who are also fans?  I’m sure but that isn’t what I’m thinking of here.  I’m thinking of events that are planned in advance, filled with activities and are discussed on social networking sites or message boards.  These events are, typically, not surrounding a show and are usually held in between shows or tours to help all of us deal with Duran downtime!

I have been to plenty of fan gatherings over the course of the years.  Some of these have been rather formal and some have been informal, but most of them have been a blast!  In fact, one of the most memorable fan gathering in my life was the Duran Duran Fans Convention held in New Orleans in 2004.  I met so many great people there that weekend, including my partner-in-crime, and had my love for the band renewed and expanded.  I also attended a weekend in Chicago in March of 2006 entitled Midwest MaDDness.  It was there that I met many fans both in Chicago and in nearby states.  Beyond that, I have also attended smaller more localized gatherings that just take place over one night.  I loved going to all of these because I enjoy meeting other people with the same interest that I do.  Duran was featured in most, if not all, of these events.  For example, Duran was featured throughout the convention with the dinner/dance, to the scavenger hunt for Duran related locations, to trivia games and more.  For the Midwest MaDDness weekend, we enjoyed watching Live from London together.  For the smaller meet ups, it is common to watch Duran videos or DVDs.  Of course, people also get a chance to share their stories, including the shows they went to, if they were lucky enough to meet the band, how they became a Duranie and more.  I believe that all of this works to enhance one’s fandom and does help to pass the time in between tours and/or albums.

Interestingly enough, I have felt that these type of events were dying off.  Personally, I hadn’t been to one in long time, but I also hadn’t seen or heard of ones taking place far away from where I live either.  This led me to wonder why this is the case, which leads me back to a discussion I had in Chicago in April.  In talking to these other fans, I realized that they do take place but they are typically done within groups of friends and are not open to the general public of Duranies.  I can understand that as I have done that myself.  For example, a number of us flew to Rhonda’s in California last November for her birthday.  We didn’t include the whole Duranie community.  Likewise, in the previous year, we got together in Chicago and didn’t invite others.  I suspect that this isn’t because any of these get togethers want to exclude people but because a lot of us have established friendship groups and no longer need the large fan gatherings to see each other.  The band was just the common interest to develop friendship.  Yet, does this hurt the fan community?  I have mixed feelings about that.  On one hand, I’m not interested in opening up all of my get togethers to the whole fandom even if my friends and I are all “Duranies”.  On the other hand, I think that gatherings should take place in order to keep the fandom alive.  It feels good to be around other fans who think and feel like you do.  Plus, I’m sure that there are many fans out there who don’t personally know other fans.  They should have the opportunity to have fellow fans in their lives.

I’m happy to report that I’m starting to see some movement to planning fan gatherings.  There is a group with a facebook page entitled Duran Duran Fan Fest Convention 2012.  You can find the link here.  They are just in the beginning stages in terms of trying to figure out a location for a convention.  I know that I have mentioned to other Midwest Duranies that we are due for another weekend.  Will it be like ones in the past?  Probably not.  Some people’s interest in Duran is less than it used to be.  Other people won’t want to get together with some other fans, which happens, unfortunately, as people get to know each other.  Not everyone is meant to be friends with everyone.  That’s okay.  It is okay if things change or that these fan gatherings change.  That’s life.  I think the important thing is that they still exist because they are a part of any healthy, current fandom. 

-A

Leaving a Light On…

Time is funny.  I have been back home since Sunday and haven’t really blogged since then.  I have been watching, reading and reacting to Rhonda’s posts.  In many ways, my feelings since I returned from the UK haven’t changed and, in other ways, they have changed.  During the course of this week, nothing much has changed with the band.  Yes, they postponed the rest of the UK tour but I knew that was coming.  They are still scheduled to play in Berlin next Wednesday.  I’m sure I am not the only one anxiously awaiting that day.  Obviously, I hope that Simon is able to sing and that the show will go on as planned.  Yet, I live in fear that it won’t.  I’m probably not the only one feeling that, either.

Over the course of the 9 days in the UK, Rhonda and I had many conversations about many topics.  One of those discussions came at the end of the trip, after we knew that the show in London had been postponed.  In that discussion, we acknowledged Duran’s role in our lives.  In fact, we couldn’t think of anything we had loved as long in our lives beyond our immediate family and that which might be connected to it.  Duran was the first thing we loved independently of our family and it is a love that has lasted for decades for us, personally.  The truth is that we are all scared.  We are all scared to death that Simon won’t improve and that Duran won’t be able to continue, at least not in the way we have come to expect.  I hate even typing those words but that is our fear.  Interestingly enough, after we admitted to each other and to ourselves that we have loved for Duran for that long, we also acknowledged that we wouldn’t know what to do if there was no more Duran.  Would Rhonda and I still talk?  Would we still get together?  Would we still travel together?  The answer to all of those questions is yes.  Easy.  Yet, we both could acknowledge that something would be missing from our lives.  Something huge.  Something monumental.  Something essential. 

Like most fans out there, Rhonda and I have full lives.  We are both extremely busy people.  We could definitely survive without Duran but…we wouldn’t be happy.  Duran is an escape of sorts.  The band pushes us out of our normal everyday existence.  Would we be able to do our daily tasks as well without that escape?  I actually doubt it.  I am about to end another school year, which always causes my emotions to run high.  Yet, I know, deep in my heart, that I have been able to teach for as long as I have due in part to them.  They have provided me with something intangible but real that allows me to get up every morning and do what must be done.  Who knows what I would be like every morning, every day without that.  Then, Duran has pushed me out of my shell in many ways.  The most obvious example here is that I did not travel much before going on “tour”.  Now, I have been to many, many cities and some of them more than once because of Duran.  I’m forever grateful for that.  Of course, I have met many people because of them as well.  Some of those people, like Rhonda, have become lifelong friends.  Again, I’m forever grateful.

Obviously, I’m still hoping that everything is okay, that Simon will be able to sing next week and that the rest of the tour goes on as planned.  This, then, would just be a blip on the radar of Duran’s history–a little something but nothing super significant.  I’m also trying to prepare myself that this might take longer than that.  It did in 1993.  Will it take longer than the four months it did then?  Maybe.  Here is what I do know.  I’ll still be here in a week or in a few months or in a few years.  I’m always going to leave a light on for Duran.  They mean too much to me to just let them go that easily. 

-A

Should Duran be a Support Act for Take That?

A couple of days ago, an interview with John Taylor appeared on the Metro.co.uk site.  Normally, this is not such a big deal but there was one question on there which seemed to stir the pot among Duranies.  (You can read the article here:  John interview)  Now, since the title of the article was how John is lucky to be alive, you would think that the controversy was over his past lifestyle of alcohol and drugs.  Nope.  No, what caught people’s attention was the question about whether or not the band, Take That, asked Duran to support them on tour.  As an American who is unfamiliar with that band, I didn’t think much of it.  In fact, I should have noticed that it would have Duran SUPPORTING another band and not the other way around, but I didn’t.  Too self-absorbed with my list of what I get to get done for our UK trip, I guess.  Then, I started noticing discussion on twitter and on message boards about it.

Apparently, Take That is a pretty popular band in the UK when it comes to commercial success and tour sell outs.  Okay.  According to many, they are also your standard manufactured boy band (I’m guessing that they are similar to Backstreet Boys here).  Anyway, the debate is about whether or not Duran should have supported this band when asked or not.  The people who think that they should have believe that Duran would have had a great deal of exposure to a new audience because Take That has large, sell out crowds, most of who have never heard of Duran.  It would mean a great deal of exposure and a chance at new fans and more copies of All You Need Is Now sold.  Okay.  The other side says that Duran deserves to be the headliner.  They have been around for 30 years and have proven their worth.  They should not be working for anyone.  They also feel strongly that Take That isn’t worthy of Duran because they are a commercial, manufactured band.  The idea here, I guess, is that Take That isn’t really in it for art but to make a profit and Duran, while enjoys making a profit, also believes that they are in for art sake.  John, by the way, in the interview said that they turned them down.  He did not elaborate as to the reason they did.

I’m completely fascinated by this debate.  It really shows, in my opinion, the two camps in Duranland between those who need/want Duran to be a commercial success no matter what and those who need/want Duran to be more of an art form.  For the first group, it seems to be about quantity and the other group seems to focus on quality, to simplify it.  Of course, the first group might say that the commercial part is needed for the art part to exist, which is fair enough.  The other side, of course, would argue that having integrity and dignity is worth more than any paycheck.  I wonder if other fanbases struggle with this issue.  Do bands like the Cure face this debate?  While the Cure sold albums and had big tours, they were never the commercial success that Duran Duran was.  Likewise, do Madonna fans have this need for her to demonstrate a level of integrity or are they fine with her always pursuing the largest sum of money possible?  Does this happen in Duranland more because they were SO huge at one point and are not anymore?  Is it so unacceptable to some fans because this drop from the top of the charts seems to mean that the band is a failure?  Others seems to believe that Duran’s commercial success was more of luck and that Duran must not have “sold their souls” to be commercially successful in the 1980s.  Another possibility is that they were concerned about it at first but as they have gotten older, they are more concerned with the art. 

I think that the reality is somewhere in between.  Yes, I do believe that Duran actually considers what they do an art form.  Yet, I also believe that they want to be commercially successful.  I think this is similar to artists like Andy Warhol who definitely created works of art but ones that were meant to be popular.  That said, does Duran have a limit to what they would do to be successful in this arena?  That seems to be the case now.  Debates like this have me thinking back to the days before and after Red Carpet Massacre came out.  Some fans loved it and loved that they took a risk working with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake in order to reach the charts again.  Others were completely horrified by this.  Many thought that they had sold their souls a little bit, especially when reading statements about how Timbaland didn’t know what a bass was.  To many, it felt disrespectful to John, in particular, to the band as a whole and, frankly, to a fanbase that liked the formula of strong instrumentation. 

So, how do I feel about this controversy?  I would probably be more passionate about it if I knew more about Take That and their music.  Based on what I have read, I’m glad that they made this decision.  To me, it does seem like Duran aren’t willing to do anything to sell their music, which I do believe is a good thing.  I have a lot more respect for them if they demonstrate their need for self-respect.  I don’t think that Duran should be supporting anyone after their long career unless it was someone at the same level.  This band clearly isn’t at their same level, both longevity or quality music wise.  Yes, this might mean that they won’t pick up new fans and won’t sell as many albums.  I think that is okay.  I don’t know that these people would have been willing to give Duran a fair chance, anyway.  If they did, would they stick around?  Probably not if they aren’t played on the radio 50,000 times a day.  These new fans would not be worth the loss of dignity.  They also wouldn’t worth the loss of diehard fans as I believe that many Duranies would be so ashamed of this decision that they might walk away.  It happened with RCM, after all.  More money, more album sales and different fans are not worth being a support act for Take That.

-A

To Be a Duranie or Not To Be?

I have observed something interesting in the Duran Duran fandom in the last few months. Some Duran fans do not like the term “Duranie” and would never refer to themselves in this way. This is fascinating to me. I have always called myself a Duranie and never thought much about it. To me, the term equals any other term used to identify fans. For example, my brother and sister-in-law are Trekkies. (I realize that some Star Trek fans prefer the term, Trekker, but the idea is the same.) So why wouldn’t someone want to be called a Duranie?

I am not sure where the term came from or when it started. I did listen to Top 40 Chicago radio as a kid and remember hearing the term then (early to mid 1980s). Even as a young age, I remember understanding that the term was not always used in a complimentary fashion. I knew that some of the DJs were making fun of Duran Duran fans even as they played Hungry Like the Wolf. Could this be part of the reason that some fans don’t like the term? They don’t like it because it was/is used by people to make fun of the fans? I can understand not wanting to be made fun of. Then, there is another part of me that says that I don’t care what people think of me. If they want to make fun of me because I’m a Duranie, go ahead. It won’t change how I feel or that I’m a Duran Duran fan.

I heard rumors that the term started in America. (Is that true? Does anyone know that for sure?) Perhaps, if this is true, that could cause negative feelings toward the term. If the term is connected to American fans, I can understand the rest of the world being annoyed. After all, Duran Duran fans are everywhere and the band themselves are from England. They aren’t an American band so why should the fans there get a nickname to identify them, right?! If the term just reminds people of American fans then that isn’t good. Yet, I wonder and worry if the dislike towards the term has more to do with the stigma involved with being a Duranie or a fan, in general.

It seems to me that fans get a bad reputation. Fans are often seen as slightly crazy, slightly obsessed. People, sometimes, think of fans as people who haven’t grown up. They worry that people who identify themselves as fans might be stalkers who follow the band or celebrity. Maybe they would do something harmful to the famous person/people. Now, obviously, there are fans who cross the line. While it is rare that fans actually want or do harm the subject of their affection, there are people who seem to take it a bit too far. Thus, is it possible that normal fans don’t want to be associated with these fans who have gone too far? Yet, I believe that normal fans have nothing to be ashamed of because we know where the line is and would never think of crossing it. We shouldn’t let those who are unstable ruin something that we enjoy or make us ashamed. I, instead, embrace the fan in me.

Of course, another possibility here is that our fan community has forced this anti-Duranie feeling. Perhaps, people have seen or been in the line of fire with other Duranies. Our fan community is not always one of love and inclusiveness (as much as we like to think otherwise). Duranies can and have had arguments. They do not always get along and have talked about each other, both in public and in private. Thus, is it possible that some fans reject the term because they want to reject this negativity? I think that is possible and is understandable. Yet, again, I refuse to let that type of activity influence me. I realize that this type of behavior happens within the community. While I hate it, I’m still going to do what I want to do and be proud of who I am.

I am a Duranie. While I realize that there are negative connotations to the term, I don’t let that control me. To me, the term means that I’m a Duran Duran fan, nothing more and nothing less.

-A

Embarrassed to be a Fan?

Yesterday, I went door-to-door talking to voters about Wisconsin’s election on Tuesday.  Normally, the conversations would focus on candidates, political ads on TV, polling places and other political like topics.  This canvass was a little different as this political world of mine crossed into the fandom world and it offered me a mirror of sorts. 

At one house that we stopped at, the woman who lived there started telling us about an event coming up with various musical artists to support working rights in the state.  Normally, these local events bring artists only well-known within the community, the state or maybe the region.  No one really famous.  The guy I was canvassing with mentioned about how he would like to see Pete Seeger come to town.  (Pete Seeger is pretty famous when it comes to the worker rights movement, by the way.)  The voter we were talking to said that she would prefer Bruce Springsteen.  I found myself tuning out a bit.  I can’t say that I’m a Bruce fan despite him having political ideas that I generally agree with.  Musically, he doesn’t do much for me.  Did I think her idea of having him come to town was out of the range of possibility?  I don’t know.  I can’t see him coming for a small event held at one of the local theaters but I saw him when he was playing at Kerry/Edwards rallies during the 2004 political campaign season.  Anyway, that really isn’t the point of sharing this story.  Let me continue.  My canvass partner agreed that he would be great to get.  Then, the next thing I knew the two of them started comparing how many times they had seen him in concert, including when and where.  When she said that she had seen him in New York City, clearly, she wanted the fan prize of being bigger and better than the other guy.  This competition of sorts continued as he said that he saw some special acoustic show.  She responded with how her son works at a venue in Milwaukee and that she tried to get a note to Bruce through her son.  The note was going to be about how much she absolutely loved him and that she would still be willing to marry him.  I was not contributing to the conversation at all.  Instead, I stood silently, blinking furiously.  Should I laugh or cry?  Is this what I seem like when I am talking about Duran?

Obviously, there was so much to that conversation that I could relate to.  I, too, have found myself talking about how many concerts I have been to, which usually does include when and where.  Goodness knows that I want to tell everyone and anyone who will listen about how excited I am to be seeing them in their hometown, in their home country!!  I might have said once or twice in my lifetime, too, about how much I love John Taylor.  I might have even said that I would be willing to marry him.  I’m also sure that I would use a connection like she had with her son.  I can’t say that I would tell John how much I loved him in a note like that as I would probably be more likely to give him setlist recommendations.  (Have I mentioned how much Rhonda and I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear Late Bar?!)  Despite all that I could relate to, I still found myself having mixed feelings.  I was slightly embarrassed for this woman.  I’m not sure why.  Obviously, I think going to shows is great.  I think it is wonderful to travel to see shows as I do it all the time.  Was it that she was expressing her inner fangirl to us, people who were random strangers?  Was it because she didn’t seem embarrassed about it that caught my attention as it isn’t typical for adults to talk about being an intense fan of something? 

After we left that woman’s house, my canvass partner continued to talk about how great Bruce is live.  Okay.  I had the chance to jump in and tell him either about seeing Bruce at the Kerry rally in 2004 or tell him that I could relate because I feel the exact same way about Duran.  I didn’t, though.  I still don’t know why really.  I have been in many situations where I have blabbed about my love for Duran.  In many of these situations, the people are new people to me.  I wonder if it had to do with the fact that when I am going on and on about that British band we love, it is usually with a crowd of women.  I have shared things about Duran with men that I know before, though, so that can’t be it.  I admit that I don’t know my canvass partner well.  I had only met him a couple of weeks earlier but he has volunteered a lot for my team and I suspect that he will stay involved.  Is it because these two worlds of politics and fandom are usually so separated that I didn’t know how to respond?  I wondered if it could be the stigma of fandom that I was worried about?  Let’s be honest here.  Most people think that fans are crazy.  Maybe they don’t think we are mental hospital type of crazy but they might think that there are so many more important things that we should be doing with our time.  Perhaps, they think that we haven’t grown up quite yet.  I think being a Duranie usually gives that stigma and more since Duran isn’t so respected, especially here in the States.  Was I too busy worrying about being respected by this new canvasser that I didn’t want to risk having myself labeled with the fandom stigma?  After all, I want this guy to join my team and when I mean my team, it literally is my team.  I’m the leader. I am the one who communicates with the actual campaigns and provides direction, organization and more to the team.  I do think that my members need to see me as a leader and that might not happen if all they can see is that I’m a Duranie.  I don’t know.  I don’t have any answers.

I doubt that I’m the only one out there who has held back the fact about being a Duranie, about being a fan.  While I don’t know for sure why I held back, I do know that I believe the stigma of being a fan, of being a Duranie is real.  I’m not sure what to do about it exactly, but I know that acknowledging it is the first step in ending it.  Then, I believe that I need to be prepared to actually say it no matter the people around, myself obviously included.  It shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed about.  Frankly, it should be something to be proud of.  After all, I believe that the band is good, really good.  I should be proud to be their fan.  I should be proud to write this blog and to write the book.  Maybe if all of us came out of the fandom closet, the stigma would lessen.

-A   

The Spectrum of Fans

This past week I was reminded of the spectrum of fans.  This spectrum could be referring to age, location, political opinions and more, but, in this case, it refers to the spectrum of positive and negative.  On one end of the spectrum are those who seems to think that everything the band does is fabulous and that they can do no wrong.  On the other end of the spectrum, every move the band does is met with criticism.  Most of us live somewhere in between, I believe.  Nonetheless, this whole idea of a spectrum of this sort calls into question if both kinds of fans are good for the fan community or not? 

This idea that there is span of positive and negative fans started early in the week when I was on some social networking site and saw that a friend of mine had posted something about an actor she likes who just signed on to a new project.  I glanced at it quickly and planned to move past until I saw that she wanted people to comment on this new project, but only if the comments would be positive.  She didn’t want to read negative reactions at all as she just wanted to be excited and happy about seeing her favorite actor in some new show.  I almost responded to it, but not to react to the actor news but to respond to the no negative statements wanted comment.  I didn’t, though.  Then, a couple of days later, Simon hurt his back and the band had to cancel their appearance on Sirius radio.  Immediately, there were negative reactions to the news as some seemed to think that this would stop Duran’s ability to do a lot of promotion and to play shows, which would seriously harm their chance at success for this album.  Again, this type of reaction caught my attention and again, I thought about commenting, but didn’t. 

To me, both of these types of comments are extreme.  As far as the “I don’t want to hear anything negative” person goes, this seems not only silly to me but detrimental.  Are all moves that a band, actor, sports team or author does good moves?  I don’t think so.  I have seen Duran Duran make moves that I thought were fabulous and I voice that opinion here, on social networking sites or on message boards.  Like many Duranies, I was beyond thrilled with the reunion and expressed my excitement all over the place!!  That was a great move, in my opinion.  On the other hand, I have also seen moves that make me cringe.  For example, the decision to work with Timbaland was one that I questioned.  Now, years later, I might conclude that this was a bad move for them.  Yet, do all Duranies agree with me?  No way.  I’m sure that there are many fans who liked Duran with just Simon, Nick and Warren.  Maybe Warren was their favorite member.  I’m also sure that there are those who think that working with Timbaland was great.  Disagreements are going to happen.  Should fandoms just accept the idea that everything the band/actor/author does is fabulous?  I don’t think so.  Part of fandom’s goal, in my opinion, is to discuss what is good and bad.  I think this type of discussion keeps people involved and engaged and that once people become unengaged, then they will leave and the fandom dies.  Of course, the fandom could also struggle if every fan is on the other end of the positive/negative gamut.

Some fans always seem to find something to criticize about the focus of their fandom.  In these cases, it is almost like the band/actor/author/sports team can’t do anything right.  In Duranland, I,sometimes, feel like these fans are just sitting and waiting for the next move because no matter what the band does, it isn’t right.  It reminds me of those parents who aren’t satisfied with their kids getting Bs and As on their report cards because they should have gotten all As.  It is never good enough.  As much as I don’t understand the “let’s always be positive fans”, I really don’t understand the others.  Isn’t there something positive and good with the band/actor/author?  There must have been at one time or another or else I’m assuming that they wouldn’t have become fans in the first place.  Now, I’m not saying that people should stop having opinions.  I don’t think that.  I also realize that there are times when it might seem that all of the moves are negative but if that is all that there is, then why still pay attention?  Why still care what the moves are?  If they are all bad, why not just walk away?  Plus, I don’t think it does anything to help the fandom thrive, either, as this doesn’t lead to meaningful discussion either.  Maybe there can be some good conversations, but after awhile, people will stop listening or caring about what Mr. or Ms. Negative is saying.

Luckily, I believe that most people in any given fandom are somewhere in between these two extremes of all positive and all negative.  Most of us, Duranies, think that most of the moves have been generally good, but will agree that some haven’t been.  We like to discuss which moves are which.  People then engage in conversation and get to know other fans.  This helps the fandom stay alive as people get a personal connection and remain part of a community and a community with diverse thinking.

-A   

Don’t Spill My Secret…

It is touring season in Duranland.  This means, of course, that there are discussions about which shows people are going to, about presale frustration, about setlists, about merchandise, and more.  It also means that somewhere, on some message board, on some social networking site, there is a thread, a question, a discussion topic on meeting the band.  This thread or topic usually begins with a person/poster asking, seemingly innocently, about how people have met the band.  The question is a common one.  Perhaps, the person really wants to know other people’s meet and greet stories.  Maybe, they want to know if VIPing is worth the money.  Yet, it is also possible that the person wants to know how other fans get their information about where the band is staying.  Maybe they want to see who seems to know more than the average fan.  What is always fascinating to me is how people react to the question.

It seems to me that there are common responses to this question.  The first kind of response is to ignore it.  The second kind is to mock, at least in a subtle way.  The third kind is to give an answer but an incomplete one.  I suppose it is possible for the response to be completely frank and open but I doubt that I have ever seen it in Duranland.  Why?  Why the different responses?  Before I dive into my theories about the different responses, let me point out something that may or may not be known.  Fans can and do find the band.  I have seen and heard enough to know that.  It also seems to me that some fans are more likely to do this than others.  Yes, some fans, like me, have met them through legitimate means (in my case-a cd signing) but others seem to find them outside of official meet and greets.  Yet, even that fact does not ever seem to make the discussion threads.  It seems to me that a lot of people hold back this information.  Why?  Why respond in the way that people do?

It seems to me that the most common responses to the “how do people meet the band” threads are either ignoring the thread entirely or to give what seems like partial answers.  For example, you never see someone post, “I know that they always stay at this brand of hotel when they visit such and such a country and they usually show up there about blank time after the show and I recommend you approach this band member in such and such a way…”  Nope.  I don’t see that.  I see people talking about cd signing or finding them outside of the venue right after a show.  Now, those are legitimate ways of meeting them.  Absolutely.  I agree.  Yet, I think that people have met them at hotels or at clubs or somewhere else that I can’t even guess.  So, why don’t people share openly?  My theory has to do with the idea that people don’t want to share.  They might be willing to share with their friends but to share with random posters on a message board or on a social networking site is out of the question.  I suspect that most fans, especially in Durandom, don’t want to share the band with others.  I can understand that.  We all want our time with the guys.  We all want our moments with them and we don’t want others to take that time away from us.  Plus, I think there is always a concern that if too many people show up, that the band will just leave and I wouldn’t even blame them for that.  They deserve their space and their privacy.  Part of my concern is always about whether or not people would be respectful of the band and respectful of their space.  Yet, we never say any of this on those threads. 

Some people don’t respond to the question about where/how to find the band but instead secretly or not-so-secretly mock the person who asked the question.  Why?  I don’t have an answer to that.  Maybe they just like having their secret means of finding out where the band is and would never even consider sharing.  Perhaps, they don’t think that these fans are worthy of having knowledge like this.  Maybe it is a way that they can feel superior.  I don’t know.  I just know that I don’t like that.  I can understand not wanting to share.  I get it.  It might not be a great personality trait but it is one that I think most of us can understand and relate to, to some extent.  But making fun seems just mean-spirited.  Heck, I will admit that I don’t even know if they are intentionally mocking.  It just feels that way to me. 

I wonder if the people who ask the question are aware that no matter the answers there is not full disclosure.  Where the band is seems to be information known by some within the fan community.  It seems to always be treated as a precious secret that should not be shared.  No matter the reason this information is treated in that way, it must create different levels of fans.  Is that a good thing???

-A

Longevity

One of the major themes for our book is longevity, both for the band AND for the fan community. Interestingly enough, you can’t really have one without the other to some extent.  Sure, The Beatles still have fans, and I would assume that somewhere out there there’s a fan community….but I don’t think it’s quite the same as a fan community for a band that is still very much in existence.  Perhaps you might disagree, and that’s OK. (leave a comment below as I’m sure this would be an interesting discussion comment!)  I don’t really know of many bands that have the longevity of Duran Duran, yet there’s no fan base.  If you can name one, let me know.  I’ll check it out!

The goal of our book is two fold: Why does a fan community exist, and how does it thrive for so long.  For a lot of us, we’ve been fans since we were in that wonderfully awkward adolescent period of our lives.  Yes, there are fans that may have been older, a lot that are younger – but the one thing that I feel makes our own fan community or fandom unique is that most of us literally grew up with the band in our lives.  Many of us are now entering that also delightfully awkward “middle” age period (you’re welcome for the reminder – I know of what I speak, every morning MY back and knees remind me too!), and yet we’re still huge fans of the band. At times, we even forget that we’re not still 12!   The point of our book is to answer why.  I’m not sure that Amanda and I will ever be able to say we have the definitive answer – I’m sure there are as many reasons as there are fans, but we really hope to encourage fans to embrace their fandom and celebrate what brought us all here, and why we stay.

Last week I blogged about a thread I’d read on a board about aging fans.  Naturally, this hit home with me because I am one of those fans.  I won’t lie, it hit a raw nerve – and perhaps I shouldn’t have let it bother me so much.  I’m human as it turns out, so it did – and I blogged about it.  Many agreed with me, but there were a few dissenting opinions as well.   Over the weekend, my husband and I had a date night, and in the discussion over what we should do and where we should go, my husband wanted to go bar hopping in an area that we used to go when we were younger.  Much younger, as in I think the last time we were over there – I had just one little one at home.  That “little one” is now 14, and she’s got a younger brother that is two years younger, and a little sister that is 11 years younger.  So yes, it’s been quite a while.  I can remember the days when I would jump at such an offer – but this time, I stopped, looked at my dear husband and laughed.  Admittedly, I was tired that night.  He’s been traveling quite a bit which means my days are very long, and with three kids – it’s tough.  The real truth is though, I had zero interest in going clubbing.  I remember when clubbing was fun, but nowadays, I go into those places and feel extremely over dressed (I have on far more clothes than anyone else), very old (self-explanatory here), and I’m typically shocked at the crap (aka really bad music) they’re playing.  If those aren’t signs of impending old age, I’d be surprised.  We ended up deciding to go to dinner (sushi, one of my favorites) and a movie (Adjustment Bureau – very interesting but nothing like what I thought it would be).  It was a fun night, and when I woke up the next morning, I didn’t feel like I was about to die, which is always a bonus!

When I first really got back involved with Duran Duran, and by that I mean joining the message boards and getting to know others in the fan community, going to shows and that sort of thing, I was about 33.  When I went to the convention in New Orleans, I had no trouble staying out very late (as in seeing the sunrise), having many beverages on Bourbon Street, and pretending I was in my 20’s.  In 2005 when the band toured for Astronaut, I was still feeling good.  I didn’t look like I was about to turn 35, and I pretty much ignored the threat of middle age.  Somewhere in 2006 though, life decided to toy with me.  I had major surgery in October of that year, and I swear to you – it aged me a good 5 years.  It was insulting, rude, and uncalled for, in my opinion.  Every time I went out with friends, rather than taking a few hours to undo the damage – it was taking days.  Then in 2008, I did the craziest thing ever – I had a baby at the age of 37.  If that didn’t almost kill me (and it really did), going through the grief after my father died two weeks later didn’t help matters.  It took me forever to really get back to myself after all of that, and it wasn’t until September of that year when I attempted to party it up like I was still in my 20’s again.  As it turns out, I’m not!  The hangover from that trip (it was to see what I thought I would never see – my good friend Jessica getting married!) lasted about two weeks, I swear.  The stitches I received from getting smart with the ceramic soap dish in the shower took a little longer to heal. *sigh*   Later that year, I went with Jessica, Amanda and our good friend Mac to see some DD shows on the east coast.  Between the time difference, the driving every day (I believe we did 800 miles in what – 4 days or so -because we’re clearly insane), and the shows – there was a moment as we were watching the band at the House of Blues in Atlantic City where I thought I was really going to hell, hard and fast.  I had to go and sit down – which has NEVER happened at a DD concert before, and I realized then that as much as I might try, I am not 18 or even 25 anymore.  I went to bed fairly early that night (2am really IS early when I’m with the girls on a weekend trip!), and prayed to any god who would listen to give me some energy to finish the trip.  I mentioned some of this to my friends, who naturally looked at me as though I’d grown three heads, and they seemed to laugh it off, telling me to grow a pair and get on with it.  I would have laughed with them, except that my body hurt too much!   I finished out the weekend, and have even been to a show or two since then, but I have to admit – I’m much more careful now.  I recognize the differences in my body between the ages of 35 and 40 – and for those of you who haven’t had the joy of looking into the mirror and wondering why you STILL have bags under your eyes even though you’ve had a full night’s sleep for the past 3 months, enjoy.  The bags come quickly and they don’t have the decency to leave!  Never mind the grey hair or the aches and pains.  Seriously, turning 35 sucked and 40 isn’t being much kinder!

All of this begs the question – when will I be done?  I’d love to say never, and that they’ll have to pry my cold dead hands off of my Duran Duran albums at some point, but I’m not so sure anymore.  Well, they’ll probably still have to pry my cold dead hands off of my DD albums, but as far as going to shows…I really am not sure.  Is it cool to keep going to concerts into my 50’s?  I’ve asked these questions on the boards before, and I’ve had fans remind me that the band is in their 50’s now and that I have to stop aging myself and the band.  I guess the thought is that if they can still do it, so can we.

Could someone just tell my BODY that?  😀

Being Part of a Group

I have been pretty quiet on the fandom front for a couple of weeks.  Yes, I completed my blog posts last weekend but have not done much beyond that.  I have debated how much I have wanted to share about why that is.  Yet, I have decided that I should share what has been going on with me because I realized that it absolutely connects with fandom.  You might want to get a glass of wine or a cup of coffee, depending on what time you are reading this as it make take awhile for me to make the connection.

I am a teacher in the state of Wisconsin.  As many of you are probably aware, a bill was introduced a couple of weeks ago that has gotten a lot of people upset.  This bill has been presented by the current governor as a means of fixing the state’s budget.  This bill is a lengthy one that contains a lot of very controversial ideas.  Some of those ideas directly impact me and my job.  First, this would require me to pay a significant more money for some of my benefits.  Second, it would take away collective bargaining rights for public employees, including teachers.  This would, in essence, break the unions here in the state.  For those people who don’t know much about unions and collective bargaining (and I admit that I didn’t until it came into my life), unions work to get workers the best working conditions possible from their employer.  This is similar to a business’s purpose of making as much money as possible.  The employer and union sit down and discuss what the contract will contain.  The contract could include everything from wages and benefits to things that are not related to finances.  For teachers, this may include transfer procedures from one school to another or might include what time we need to report to school.  In this way, the two groups discuss and reach a compromise.  This bill is upsetting to many people because we feel like we should have the right to group together in a union and to be able to negotiate for our working conditions.  (Now, before I go further, this blog post isn’t one where I want people to discuss politics.  You are welcome to disagree with me but the purpose of this entry isn’t to have political debate.  I’m just trying to give background to the rest of the post.)  Personally, for me, if this bill passes, I won’t be able to continue to teach here.  I won’t be able to afford it and won’t feel like I have a voice.  I will absolutely feel like my rights have been taken away.  It is destroying me as I keep hearing really negative statements about teachers and other public employees.  Honestly, I believe that teaching is an important job for the good of the public and deserves both respect and fair compensation. 

In many cases, when people are upset with their government or with a law, they find a way to protest their displeasure.  The workers, union members and supports have done just that in Wisconsin.  For last 12 days, thousands of people have made their way to the state capital to protest this bill.  I have joined in to have my voice heard for the past 11 days.  When I haven’t actually been there, I’m communicating with others fighting the same cause or doing something to help with the cause.  My focus has been on this political battle (one in which I didn’t invite, by the way.  Yet, the fight came to me).  I haven’t had much choice as I feel like I’m fighting for my students, my colleagues, my state and myself.  Thus, I haven’t had much time or energy to focus on Duran Duran or on fandom.  I desperately miss that normalcy.  Yet, I had the strangest realization the other night.  This protest, this movement for worker rights is just like fandom.  In fact, in many ways, it captures some of the best elements of fandom.  Now, I’m sure you think that sleep deprivation and stress has caused me to lose my mind but keep reading. 

How many of you have participated in a protest or demonstration?  How many have been involved in some sort of group or organization that is pushing for some change, in a public, political way?  Well, I’m going to do my best here to describe what it is like.  Before I do, I feel it necessary to say that this protest/movement has been like NOTHING I have ever seen or been a part of.  I have participated in other demonstrations before but they cannot begin to compare to what is going on in Wisconsin’s capital.  The heart of the protest has been taking place in and around the Capitol.  There have been many rallies outside of the building which houses the state government.  These rallies are like other rallies in that they have speakers and an audience who cheers when the speaker says something interesting or exciting.  In many cases, individuals and groups have marched around the downtown area to get to the rally.  This idea is to voice one’s opinion through signs and slogans as well as through chants and songs.  While those outside rallies have been powerful and interesting, they do not have the same flavor as what is taking place inside.

When I’m inside the Capitol, I feel like I have been placed back in history.  Confession time:  I have a history degree and focused on social movements of the 1960s/1970s.  What is happening here reminds me of things I had only read in history books.  Inside the Capitol, a community has been born as rules and expectations have been established (Note: Protesters are present at ALL times inside the Capitol).  Some of the rules include being polite, being respectful of each other, always being peaceful, cleaning up after yourself, and more.  Strangely enough or not, I have only witnessed such things since I have been going.  Besides these rules, there are common activities.  During the day, the protesters are speaking about what they think and why.  There are also many chants and songs that are said over and over again to express our collective opinions.  These songs and chants include music that is made with make shift instruments.  For example, there are many people hitting buckets as if they were drums.  Some of these chants are in the form of question and answer.  For example, a group of people might say something, “Tell me what democracy looks like.”  The rest would answer with, “This is what democracy looks like.”  Other chants are more constant, like “Kill the Bill” or “Recall Walker”.  Beyond the chants and songs, people are carrying signs or making posters.  In fact, the walls of the Capitol are covered in them.  These posters also work to express people’s opinions.  Of course, people are also walking around and talking to each other.  Strangely or not, I have seen a number of people whom I haven’t seen in a long time.  It has become the meeting center for many, many people.  The music, the chants, the posters, and the people create a sensory overload inside. 

A couple of nights ago, I found myself outside of the governor’s office with a few of my colleagues, chanting a “tell the truth” chant during one of his many press conferences and I realized that social movements are very much like fandom.  In many ways, it shows some of the best elements of fandom.  (If I was teaching this entry as a lesson, I would ask the class if they can guess what makes social movements like fandom.  Any ideas?  🙂 )  First, fandom doesn’t exist without people.  Fandom begins when one fan meets (literally or figuratively) another fan.  Then, those two fans find more people like them and it continues to grow.  This is the same for social movements.  They begin with individuals coming together as well.  Like fandom, the numbers involved can ebb and flow.  In Wisconsin, it started with about 10,000 people and, tomorrow, there is a crowd of 100,000 expected.  In Duranland, there were millions of fans in the 1980s and thousands now.  Fandom brings people together over some common interest as do social movements.  For our fandom, people often come together to go to a concert.  For this social movement, people come to the Capitol.  If you go often enough, chances are you will meet people and/or see people you know.  The same thing happens at Duran shows.  Second, In both cases, these groups form communities with common expectations and written as well as unwritten rules.  In the movement for workers rights, some of the rules that I listed above are literally written on signs and some aren’t.  In fandom, rules are rarely written, but some are.  Take a look at message boards.  Most message boards have a post or a thread describing rules.  Of course, many unwritten rules exist as well.  Typically, those rules are discovered solely when someone does not follow those unwritten rules.  Then, of course, there are common activities.

For Duranies, concerts are times when fans get to sing along with their favorite band.  They are also a time to buy a t-shirt or two to show others your support.  It is common place to find people holding up signs at shows.  These signs are message for the band.  The same things are found at this social movement.  We go to the Capitol now knowing that we will say the same chants that we did the day before and the day before that.  Many people are making and wearing t-shirts in support of workers’ rights.  Lastly, there are tons of signs that citizens have made.  In this case, the messages are not for a band but they are for legislators and the governor.  They might also be directed at the media in hopes for truthful coverage.  Yet, beyond the rules, the slogans and songs are the people.  While the cause of group formation between the two might be completely different, the results are the same.  Participating in fandom and participating in a social movement provides a sense of belonging.  When I’m at a Duran show, I feel like I’m with my people.  I’m with people who understand me and who share something at the core of who I am.  The same has been true for me at the Capitol.  While I don’t like fighting to keep my rights, I have loved being a part of something monumental  Something important.  Something bigger than me.  I have loved standing with my colleagues, with my fellow workers, with my state.  I feel as if I belong there. 

-A