Category Archives: Fandom

Have You Met the Band?

If I had a dollar for every time I have been asked the question, “Have you met the band?” I would be a rich woman or at least able to pay for future tours!  I think this is one of the most common questions within the fandom.  It is more common than, “Have you seen them live?” or “Do you have blank album?”  I think those tend to be more assumed questions, especially if you are at a meetup or a show.  As for the question at hand, I am not sure what to say.  When people ask this question, I’m never sure what they mean.  No one ever defines it.  People seem to think that “met” is clear enough.  I beg to differ. 

When I think about my personal life, met means that I have been formally introduced to the other person.  I have given my name and received the other person’s name in return.  In many cases, we have exchanged a handshake.  I would then be able to address the other person by name and the other person could address me by name.  Yes, obviously, there are situations where a mutual friend does the introductions, which is the same idea.  In real life, it means a lot more than seeing the other person.  For example, I know by name most of the people who work in my school.  I can address them by name and vice versa.  We often greet each other in the hall with a simple, “Hi.  How are you?”  Yet, there are people I work with that I see on a frequent basis whom I have never “met”.  These are people that I might learn their names but still would feel weird just going up to talk to them.  If, for example, we had to collaborate on some project, when I approached them, I would introduce myself before getting started.  Yet, it seems that my definition of meeting is very different when it comes to Duran Duran.

Some fans seem to define meeting the band as seeing them some place other than the stage.  This sighting could be right outside the venue as they enter or exit.  It could be that they were spotted at an airport or some other public location.  It might be that they passed you when entering or exiting a bar or hotel lobby.  Then, other fans, describe meeting the band as when words are exchanged.  In that definition, it does not matter if you stated your name or not.  It is just that words were exchanged.  Like the previous definition, this exchange of words could take place in or out of the venue, in a public location or at some place the band might hang out at, like a hotel or bar.  The exchange of words could be quick like, “Great show, blank band member!”  I would assume, for this definition, that the chosen band member would need, at least, to respond with something even if it is just a thank you. 

Are these definitions good enough?  Do they adequately describe a meeting or is there more to a meeting?  Should a proper meeting include an exchange of names?  The chance for an autograph and/or picture?  I think that the fandom should work to come up with an universal definition so that people aren’t confused like I am when answering this question.  Should the definition be as broad as possible so the largest number of Duranies can claim having met them or should it be a narrow definition so that fans will continue to work for a higher quality exchange with the band?  What do you think the definition of meeting the band should be?  Then, based on your definition, have you met the band?  At what moment did you know that it was a legitimate meeting? 

To answer my own question:  Yes, I have seen the band off the stage.  Yes, I have exchanged words with all of them, except for Dom or Andy.  Yet, I, personally, don’t know that I feel like I have met them.  I never exchanged names, except for when John asked me my name at a cd signing.  I never had the chance to get a picture, which, sometimes, feels like I’m the only one who hasn’t had her picture taken with one or all of the guys.  (Although, I did get a picture with Nick with a friend.  I would like one with just me.)  Maybe I don’t want my experiences to count so that I still have something I’m working towards, some goal to meet.  Maybe no experience will be good enough unless I feel like there was a real exchange.  I don’t know. 

So, readers, I ask you.  What is your definition of “met the band”?  Do you think that everyone agrees with that definition?

-A 

UK vs. US and the Ideal Show

Since attending my first UK show in Brighton a little over a week ago, people have asked me if I prefer to see shows in the UK or the US.  I think they would like a simple, quick answer.  Unfortunately, I don’t really have one.  I have learned about what kind of experience I prefer to have over the course of this tour and previous tours.  In most cases, my preferences have little to do with the location.  That said, I’m willing to admit that there were some differences between the two.

Rhonda and I have been saying that we need to write a book with the title, “Things We Have Learned on Tour”.  In this book, we would have a whole chapter, at least, dedicated to what makes an ideal show experience FOR US.  Those last two words are key.  Elements that we desire might not be what everyone desires.  Nonetheless, we have been able to determine what makes an ideal show after seeing Duran perform in various locations over the course of years.  Our ideal show starts out pretty simple.  We need to have good seats.  (Disclaimer:  We have been very lucky to have had many “good” seats and realize that not everyone has had this experience or can have this experience.)  So, what do I mean about good seats?  When I first started touring, I would have said that good seats include any seat within 20 rows of the stage, on either side, as long as they are too far off to the side.  I have been fortunate in that I have been able to get seats that fit that description through DDM, the fan club.  Now, though, my opinion has changed.  We had good seats for this tour.  In most cases, this is partly due to our willingness to spend a lot for them and the fact that we got tickets after they had gone on sale so we could be really picky before purchasing.  On this tour, we had 2nd, 3rd and 4th rows.  The 2nd row seats were the best and not just because they were the closest but because they were in the middle.  We could see everyone and everything happening on the stage.  When you are off to a side, this becomes a lot more difficult.  For Rhonda and I, this is the ideal setting.  She can watch Dom and I can watch John.  We are both happy, especially since so much of the show happens more in the middle.  Thus, we have now been spoiled and will have a hard time not going after seats like this again.  They were worth the money.

The second element we need for an ideal setting is a good crowd, in both a large sense and in a smaller sense.  We need the whole venue to be into it or at least willing to be into it!  At the Brighton show, for example, people did not stand much during the first song but then jumped to their feet for the second song and stayed there.  They got into it even if it took a minute.  On the other hand, Bournemouth’s crowd sat down A LOT.  This is unacceptable to me.  Yes, Duran suffered from technical difficulties during this show.  That said, they might have been better able to regroup if the crowd was good.  Yet, for Rhonda and I, we also need a good crowd around us.  We need our area of the venue to be especially into it.  For both Brighton and Glasgow, especially, we were surrounded by friends.  The show then became like a large party.  We could share the intense, funny, or cool moments together.  We could then feed off of each other’s energy to intensify our fun! 

For a long time, I focused on show elements that a lot of people focus on:  the venue and the setlist.  People want small venues and they want new and exciting setlists.  While I, too, would appreciate a more intimate setting (as long as there are assigned seats!) and a varied setlist, I have discovered that those don’t matter as much as the other elements of good seats and good crowds.  The most boring setlist can become a lot of fun with the right people and with a band that is full of energy!  Goodness, even Rhonda learned to appreciate Hungry Like the Wolf!  I found new excitement over songs like the Reflex this time.  The setlists, I think, become more important if those other elements of good seats and good crowds are missing.  The same is true for the venue.  I figure that the venue doesn’t matter much if I have good seats.  The largest arena in the world can feel small when you are 2nd row!  Then, in fact, if the crowd is good, it becomes a real party of 10,000 people!  For example, when everyone at the SECC in Glasgow was clapping to Leopard in unison, the echo of the claps was overwhelming. 

This, of course, brings me back to the original question.  Which is better:  the UK or the US?  In many ways, for me, it isn’t about the country as my ideal show can take place in either location.  Right now, the best concert I have ever seen in the one in Glasgow because of those parts I mentioned earlier.  That doesn’t mean that I can’t have the same experience in the US because I think it is possible.  Of course, I can acknowledge that there are differences beyond those aspects I have already discussed.  One thing I thought was weird in the UK is how far back from the stage, the seats started.  There was a walkway for photographers, then there was a barricade.  I would have thought that first row would have started at that barricade.  Nope.  There was still more space before the seats began.  I think that makes less seats “good” at least with my definition.  That said, I found the non-US fans to be refreshing.  Many of them have been friends for not just years but decades.  Duran brought many of them together and they haven’t lost their friendships in the quest to one up each other that I observe in the US.  For me, that felt nice to not have to worry about what other fans are saying, thinking or doing like I feel like I have to do here.  One thing I did miss, though, is the after parties that typically take place after shows in the US.  I didn’t see as many people doing that after shows in the UK.  🙁

Yet, obviously, traveling to the UK is very expensive and requires a lot of money and a serious amount of time to do it right.  Thus, while I hope to go back to the UK for a convention or for shows, it won’t be the standard touring location.  It just can’t be.  This makes me appreciate our experience more as it was special.  I had such a fabulous time and learned a lot about what is an ideal show for me.  All I can do now is save money to do shows the right way, no matter which country they take place in.

-A

State of the Fandom and Keeping Fandom Alive

It seems rather quiet in Duranland, lately.  Our daily readers have decreased and we are receiving a lot less comments here, on twitter and in facebook.  What I can’t figure out is whether my statement about the quietness is true or not.  I know that is how I feel, but it may not be factually true.  It might be that things are quiet on the Daily Duranie front  or on a personal level.  So, readers, I ask you.  Do you think it is quiet in the fandom?  If you think so, too, why do you think that is?  If not, what am I missing?  If it is quiet, what can or should be done about it?

I admit that I’m insanely busy and that is putting it nicely.  I have been basically working two full time jobs and trying to get ready for not only this huge trip but another trip.  Therefore, I haven’t had a ton of time to check into the various message boards or browse through twitter and facebook.  I only have time to check into my specific world.  Who has left what comment here?  Who has mentioned us on twitter?  What facebook notification needs to be dealt with?  Yes, I do check to see if the band has posted anything important and what John and Simon have said lately on twitter.  I openly admit that I have been lost in my own personal fog and haven’t had the time to interact much with other fans that I am missing but I just haven’t had the time to indulge that way. 

Perhaps, then, the problem is just with me or is it?  If it is a community wide lull in the action, is the lull in the US fanbase?  It might feel as if it is the whole fanbase to be becuse the biggest fanbase that I interact with and know best is the US community.  Could it just be that people aren’t really interested if the band isn’t touring near them?  Maybe.  I know that I have seen excitement from people going to the UK tour but haven’t seen much from others.  I don’t fault anyone for not being all that interested if the upcoming tour doesn’t affect them.  I think everyone’s interest in their fandom of choice comes in waves.  At times, we are super into it and other times not so much.  It could be that people are tired from the US tour.  It could be the holidays.  It could be that everyone is as busy as I am. 

So, if the fandom is, generally, disinterested now, should something be done about it?  Maybe nothing should be done about it because it is natural for people to have down times with their fandom.  On the other hand, maybe, we all need something to spark our interest again.  For me, I will be very Duran focused for the next week or so, assuming that I will be going to shows in the UK.  Yet, how should fans stay interested who aren’t going?  What would you recommend?  Should people get together with other fans?  Should people make a plan to hang out on twitter or facebook and talk to other fans?  Should there be more time on message boards?  What about putting their videos on or listening to their albums?  How do you, personally, keep your fandom alive?  Do you give yourself breaks?  Do you try to check into Duranland on a consistent basis?  

-A

Doing It Right This Time!!

Sometimes, life presents itself in a kind of theme.  I’m in one of those periods.  Last winter and spring, everything seemed to go wrong, which obviously included our first trip to the UK to see shows.  The summer, then, was spent trying to stop my world from reeling.  Now, I’m starting to feel like things have finally shifted in my favor.  In 10 days, Rhonda and I leave for the UK again.  While I’m SO not looking forward to that long plane flight, I’m SO looking forward to the trip and doing it the right way this time! 

As much as I’m looking forward to the shows, I’m also excited by the idea of seeing how shows work in the UK.  I often joke that, in the US, for me, shows are broken up into three major parts.  The first part is usually some sort of get together beforehand.  This get together can be a large group in which people have organized a planned meetup or it can be a group of people just planning a dinner or drinks before.  The middle part is, obviously, the show.  It is the center, the main event.  These two hours are often what keeps me going.  It is 2 hours when the rest of the world falls away.  It is beautiful.  The last part is the after show.  This after show can consist of going out for drinks with the people you went to the show with.  It could also consist of finding the location where a lot of the fans are hanging out.  It can be going to a club and dancing until the sun comes up.  I simply cannot just go to a show and go home.  A show is a big deal and deserves a lot of time and fun than just the two hours when the band is on stage, in my opinion. 

Now, for this tour, we are pretty well set for the middle and most important part, the concerts.  We have our tickets and we have good seats on top of that.  We did make some plans with friends at a few shows but it doesn’t feel like our plans are complete.  Maybe my usual pattern of having three parts to every show is not a common occurrence in the UK.  How common is it for people to meetup before shows?  If it is done, is it usually done just among friends or do people set up large meetups for fans to meet each other?  Then, what usually happens after a show?  Does everyone just go home?  Does everyone find a place to hang as a very large group?  Or again, do smaller groups of people hang out?  Does anyone go to clubs after shows? 

I ask all of these questions for a few reasons.  First, I would like to know what to expect.  I don’t want to be disappointed if everyone does decide to go home after a show.  Rhonda and I will know that we have to make our own fun, then.  Second, I want to know what the real, normal, common fan experience is like there.  As someone who studies fandom, I’m very curious as to which elements of fandom are woven into every culture.  If there are differences with the fanbase, I want to understand why there are these differences. 

So, UK fans, help me out here.  What is a common show experience like?  What should I expect?  Of course, I would welcome any and all situations in which Rhonda and I get to meet people and have fun!  If there is something we should do before or after a show, let us know!  Fill us in!  We will be attending four shows while there:  Brighton, Bournemouth, Birmingham, and Glasgow. We want these shows to be memorable and the most fun ever.  After all, this fall is about making things right in my world and that would certainly help! 

-A

Are we really THAT crazier than anyone else??

Last night I was catching a bit of the news on TV and there was some coverage over a different sort of “Occupy” type event here in Los Angeles.  (I’m assuming that everyone has heard of the Occupy Wall Street movement? If not – email us and I’ll explain!)  Apparently, several hundred “Twilight” fans had set up their own camp outside of LA Live in downtown Los Angeles.  LA Live is kind of an entertainment/restaurant area in Los Angeles right next to the Staples Center, complete with a movie theater that is apparently going to be the “Red Carpet” premier for Twilight: New Moon Part 1.  The camping was done with permission by the movie theater (they’d even set up a sort of sheltered area for the campers), and as I understand the campers were there waiting for wristbands to be given out by the theater so that they could be in the stands for the big celebrity red carpet premier tomorrow night.  I don’t even think these folks will be actually seeing the movie since it doesn’t come out until the 18th, but because they camped out, they’ll be able to see all of the stars walk the red carpet.  I don’t know exactly how many people camped out – but there were MANY tents under the shelter they had constructed for them.  It was impressive to see how organized it all appeared.

Several things earned my attention during the news coverage.  To begin with, almost every single person they interviewed said that they’d made new friends during the camping.  Several others talked about camping out as though it had been a life changing experience for them, and still more said it was the best thing they’d ever done for themselves.  While I listened, I was thinking in the back of my mind that it reminded me very much of the fandom I’d experienced my own life.  Yet, this was for a movie, not a rock band.  Not a sports team…and even more importantly, not for celebrities.  Yes, I recognize that the people IN the movie might be celebrities (at least now they are!), but as I’ve been told several times by other Twilight fans, the celebrities themselves aren’t what they are fans of.  They are fans of the book series. of Edward, Bella and Jacob and the story that entwines them.  It’s much different than being a fans of a rock band in some respects, but in others – is it really all that different?

When the news was on covering the Twilight campers, my husband continually laughed at the campers.  He just could not seem to wrap his head around the idea that someone would camp out to earn a wristband to see those celebrities on a red carpet.  I grinned when he commented on the “older” 40 somethings that had camped out.  Naturally these women were of the same age as I am…and I’m sure that fact wasn’t entirely lost on my husband.  I tried to point out the similarities between my fandom and theirs: that it was a book series that brought the fans together, but that its the friendships they are making from attending these functions that will bind them.  I couldn’t help but be annoyed by not only my husband but also the newscasters, because while they were covering the event as news, you could definitely see the amusement, in particular from the male newscasters.  As though going to see celebrities or being fans of a book series is somehow silly, yet camping out for tickets to see a football game (soccer or American football…take your pick!) is somehow not at all silly.  Its not silly to put your heart and soul into a team that gets paid money to play a sport?  Its not silly to say something to the extent of “We did it.  We got behind the team, supported them all season and now we’ve brought home the championship!”, as though by being a fan somehow you actually helped the team win.  How is that not silly?  Really?  Are you sure??  What makes that so much more serious and worthy than putting your heart and soul into supporting a band that makes money by playing concerts and putting out albums for over thirty years?  If the team or band speaks to you on some level – what is really the difference??

The one constant that Amanda and I have found over and over again throughout any fandom is that people very much desire to meet others that have their same interest.  They want to make that human connection.  Lets face it, it’s fun to go to a concert.  Its MUCH more fun to go to a concert with a friend or someone else who truly gets it.  I discovered Duran Duran on my own to some extent, but once my friends were also big fans, it elevated the enjoyment I got out of being a fan so much more.  Its no fun to giggle over a video, interview, or news article alone, even at the age of 40, or even 50!

I have to say that I was touched by the very idea that women (I never saw a single male – perhaps they were there but in hiding!) traveled from all over to gather at an event like that.  It seemed like so much fun for them. (even if I was wondering where on earth they used “the facilities” or washed up…)  Some of them talked about how they’d come for other premiers for previous movies in the Twilight series and had met friends they’d stayed in touch with since then, and so for those folks it was somewhat akin to a reunion.  I also considered that at least for these fans, it will be a sorrowful moment when the last movie comes out, because the series will be complete.  The celebrities will move on to other movies, and in time the series will be forgotten by everyone but the most ardent fans.  They will have to find other ways to experience their fandom, if that’s even possible. It reminds me of the same feelings fans had when the LOST TV series came to an end, as that show had it’s own fan following that they themselves characterized as almost cult-like.  Its a moment that Duran fans have somehow avoided thus far, with hopes its still many years in the distance.

Crazy? Somehow I doubt that.

-R

Are Fans Really That Like That?!

Does anyone follow “Something You Should Know:  The Duran Duran Fan Documentary” on Facebook?  Anyway, their status the other day got me thinking.  On Friday, they asked fans to describe their best adventure with the guys and then they gave some examples:  have one of Simon’s empty cocktail glasses, have John’s towel or a half eaten hot dogs.  I love the idea of having people share their best adventure in terms of Duran.  It is something that we might do here.  Obviously, for Rhonda and I, hopefully, our best adventure is yet to come as we return to the UK for the second time in a year.  That said, as much as I love the idea of sharing this, I don’t know if I like those examples given.  To me, most fans wouldn’t fit those.  I think most adventures have more to do with being with other fans.  Plus, on top of that, I think it breeds negative stereotypes about fans that does not help anyone. 

I am not going to lie.  I have been to a few more than a few Duran shows.  I have traveled to see them.  I will also admit that I have seen various members in their hotels, in bars and in clubs over the years.  Yet, if I were to answer the question about the best adventure, my answer would have very little to do with the band members themselves but about my life on tour.  Yes, they are the reason I travel to places and see many of my Duranie friends.  They aren’t the main characters in my adventures, though.  I’ll give a couple of examples.  The first time I went to Vegas for Duran, my friends and I partied all night in a club and reached up for the sunrise after enjoying a hearty breakfast at 6 am.  Yes, we were there, in parts, to see Duran and, yes, we did see Roger.  Did I talk to Roger that night?  Nope.  Yet, that night was super fun as I enjoyed a lovely buzz for about 12 hours straight, danced with my friends and had a real good time.  It wasn’t about Roger and it wasn’t about taking his wine glass after he finished.  For me, that idea would never even cross my mind.  Why would I want anyone’s glass after he was finished with it?!  I guess I don’t understand why someone would, really.  I remember someone saying to me that she got Roger’s towel once at a show.  My response was, “Eww.  Is it used?”  To me, that just isn’t the way that I express my fandom.  While I realize that they are my “idols”, I also recognize that they are human and probably don’t want me to want stuff like that.  They want me and others like me to buy albums and concert tickets.  Another example of an adventure I had on tour might be when we went to New York City for the fan show in 2007.  The best part of that “adventure” was going to the Duranie meetup at the Pyramid Club where I met lots of people and had a great time dancing to 80s music.  The band might be the catalyst to the adventure but they aren’t the adventure. 

To me, fandom is only partly about the celebrities of choice.  Fandom is about the community that is created with other fans.  I don’t know that I would care as much as I do about Duran if I didn’t have friends to share that interest, that passion with.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that Rhonda and I keep each other going.  When one person is busy or not focused on Duran, the other is.  Then, when we see each other or talk, that interest is reignited.  If I was just focusing on when I see the band or get some weird object connected to them, I think I would have lost interest a long time ago.  After all, how would fans who live in places that the band doesn’t go to maintain their fandom?  They don’t do it through taking cocktail glasses, that’s for sure. 

More seriously than that, this idea that a typical “adventure” involves taking something that one of the guys had or used negatively impacts all fans and fandom, in general.  I have talked about the stigma involving being a fan all the time.  Non-fans don’t get it.  They don’t understand why would be so interested in something.  They don’t understand why would spend so much time and so much money on something like a band.  Part of what Rhonda and I hope to do with our book is show that it is perfectly normal to be a fan because in the end it comes down to exactly what I mentioned earlier–friendships.  The band might bring people together but it doesn’t keep people together.  Friendship does that.  Unfortunately, these images of stealing towels makes non-fans conclude that being a fan means that do kinda strange things.  Now, I’m not criticizing those who want or have the cocktail glasses and the towels.  Obviously, in some cases, those items might have even been given to you.  It just isn’t my thing.  Also, I don’t think that is super common.  I think more fans are the ones focused on getting the music rather than items that some member touched.  I just think it is hard enough for non-fans to understand why I want to go to as many shows as I can.  If they can’t get that, how in the world would they understand someone who takes a kleenex that John used that he talked about in some interview in 2005?  In fact, I think it could make non-fans think that fans, all fans, aren’t normal.  It feeds stereotypes or reinforces them. 

I’m not obviously saying that people don’t have the right to take a towel, if given it.  I’m not even saying that people shouldn’t even if I wouldn’t.  What I am saying, though, is that this behavior does reflect on fandom in general and Duranies in particular.  I also think it overshadows the real story of fandom and that is friendship and the bonds that are formed between fans. 

-A

Falling Down-An Interpretation

In yesterday’s blog, I mentioned that I believed that there were two basic camps of fans; those who want just fun and entertainment and those who want to analyze as well.  To me, the Red Carpet Massacre era showed this division clearly.  Many fans liked the music because songs like Tempted were “fun” and made them want to move, to dance.  Others recognized the music as lacking soul, specifically Duran Duran soul.  I was one of those fans criticizing the project.  Yet, for me, there was one glimmer of the Duran I knew and loved in the form of the video for Falling Down.  Thus, it seemed so strange to me that so many fans seemed to be disinterested in that video, at best, and hated that video, at worst.  I couldn’t figure it out.  I even posted my interpretation about what I thought the video was about in various message boards and still no one seemed to appreciate it more.  No one saw that it was filled with meaning and that the majority of the rest of RCM was empty.  Clearly, this animosity for Falling Down still exists.  Let me give you my interpretation and then we can ponder if my interpretation is crap or if it is just an example of the two camps of fans and that, in this case, the larger camp is one that just wants the entertainment.

On the surface of the video is the story of a celebrity entering rehab or some sort of psychiatric hospital with others like her.  She is resistant to go but does.  Inside the hospital, she meets others and is under the care of doctors played by the members of Duran.  At the end, she leaves the hospital and returns to her regularly scheduled life, including drinking champagne, hanging with a disinterested agent, and riding around in a driven towncar.  Thus, it appears to be about celebrities like Britney Spears and is once again filled with the model types that are frequently shown in Duran videos.  I saw something completely beyond or below this surface story.  I saw the bands’ story and I saw our story.

I have heard Simon introduce or discuss this song many times and he almost always states how it is about falling down in public.  It is about making a fool of oneself, becoming an embarrassment, falling from grace, etc.  I think many of us can relate to that idea, in general.  Yet, for the members of the band, they have made their mistakes in the public eye, for the whole world to see.  For them, they must live with what the public thinks of them and of their perceived mistakes.  The video showcases what their mistakes were or what their embarrassing moments are BELIEVED to be.  For Simon, he is surrounded by women and is clearly being tempted at all times.  This is shown by even the nurse who is showing quite a bit of cleavage.  Isn’t that Simon’s reputation?  To be a womanizer?  Someone who is focused on female bodies?  Then, there is John.  What does he do in the video?  He passes out the medication, the drugs.  Obviously, John is very open about his drug addictions.  Thus, the video shows that his public moment of falling down surrounded drugs and drug use.  What about Roger?  In my opinion, Roger is barely shown in the video and I believe that this was intentional.  After all, didn’t Roger seem to disappear for YEARS, for decades?  Roger was the quiet one who was rarely seen and heard from, at least “back in the day”.  Again, this video shows Roger’s experience.  Lastly, there is Nick.  What does Nick do?  He takes photographs of the women.  In many cases, Nick is taking strange photos.  Isn’t that what Nick is famous for?  He is known for not only taking photos but taking very strange photos.  Nick is believed to be not ordinary in any way and the video shows that. 

Now, the video also addresses the fans and our weakness.  The band and the fandom is our weakness.  Don’t we all go a little crazy when we become fans?  Don’t we leave behind our rational side for something emotional?  I keep thinking about how I will be going back to the UK in a couple of weeks and keep thinking to myself about how no normal person would do this.  Look at how much time and energy we spend on thinking about or discussing the band and everything associated with them.  Therefore, I believe the women really represent us.  Before you start typing about how you aren’t crazy or that you don’t spend that much time on the band; yes, I realize that this is a generalization and one that won’t apply to everyone.  Think about it, though.  What do the women do in the video?  They seem fixated on things related to how they look (like many of us before a show, for example).  Other activities include reading magazines (wonder what those magazines might be about…one’s chosen celebrities?!) and playing with their cell phones.  I’m sure that no Duranie ever plays with his/her phone.  Nope, I’m sure no one does.  😉  Towards the end of the video, these women all go to seats to do what?  They go to see Duran perform.  Then, you start to see the women smile for the first time.  You also start to see the women take pictures of each other.  Again, this is a common occurrence at every Duran show I have been at. 

At the end of the video, the main character seems to leave.  Let’s assume that the hospital represents fandom and being a Duranie, in particular.  Does she really leave her chosen fandom?  It certainly doesn’t seem like it, especially when Notorious begins playing when she enters the car and I think the choice of Notorious is intentional as well due to the meaning of “notorious”.  Perhaps, this is saying that even when a fan is away from the band and maybe away from a show, they are still connected, still part of the fandom.  One could go so far as to argue that the champagne and nice car represents the travel and the partying that Duranies often do when going to a show or going on tour and these activities remain as part of fans’ culture.

So, now that you have all read my interpretation, does that make you appreciate the video for Falling Down more?  Does it make you conclude that I think WAY too much and analyze things to do death?  Are you still just interested in watching the video for fun and this video isn’t fun?  What do you think?

-A

Girl Panic (The Shortened Version) and Entertainment

By now, I’m sure many (most/all) of you have seen the shortened version of the Girl Panic video.  I have seen many people say that they prefer this version over the 9.5 minutes of the original.  I can’t say that I have seen many reasons why they prefer this version.  A few people have mentioned that they feel like it showcases the song more since the song is played all the way through and it is a more traditional version of the song.  I suppose we are more used to this format of having the regular song being played the whole time.  As I ponder the differences and my preferences, I thought back to another Duran video from another era with different lengths and that is New Moon on Monday.

As a kid, for a very long time, I only knew of two versions of New Moon on Monday.  I knew the “regular” clip that was shown on MTV.  This clip was the exact length of the song and had no dialogue despite the very obvious storyline.  I was not sure exactly who the main female character was but I knew that there was some sort of protest being planned and that Duran had to hide from the totalitarian government.  This female seemed to be working with them, Simon in particular, but decided to turn them in, even though at the end, she rejoined their efforts.  The other version I knew was the one from Dancing on the Valentine.  This one was longer and had Simon by a big moon (the opposite of a new moon, ironically enough) and showed shots of John playing bass and singing that were to die for!  These additional shots did not enhance the storyline but they did add plenty of squee moments (ha!).  Later, I discovered the movie version and I thought I died and gone to heaven!  This had the storyline that I thought was fascinating AND it had dialogue!  It was 17 minutes of pure Duran gold, in my opinion.  I thought Girl Panic was going to be similar in that I would like one version and LOVE the long version.  It is not similar.

I hate the short version.  Hate it.  If I wasn’t a big fan, I wouldn’t have a clue that the supermodels were supposed to be the members of the band until the very end when they are “playing”.  Before that, I would just assume that the video was about supermodels.  The storyline was totally taken away.  I might not even know if was Duran, if I was unfamiliar with this song and their style, as we don’t see a band member until we see John driving about one minute and twenty seconds into it.  To me, the storyline was not maintained like it was in the shortened version of NMOM.  On top of that and more importantly than that, it took away literally everything I found fabulous about the long version.

The shortened version did not contain any interviews from the band members.  It did not and would not make me question stereotypes and assumptions about rock stars or celebrities in general.  Instead of showing how over the top and over-indulgent these assumptions are, they reveled in them.  The video became the stereotype instead of questioning the stereotype.  Early in Duran’s career, they got a lot of grief in the press and with music critics because their videos seem to be promoting a lifestyle that the common person could not relate to, which was seen as an insult to common people (at least by these critics).  While I obviously don’t agree with those negative reviews, in this case, it would appear to be true, in my opinion.  The longer version, however, showed that this lifestyle isn’t real.  I saw an interview with John and Simon where Simon says that everything was based on some experience in their lives and John responded with, “We wish.”  Enough said. 

This leads me to wonder why my response was so different than other peoples.  Is it because they felt comforted in the shorter, more traditional format?  Maybe.  It seems to me that there are two camps of fans.  One camp of fans just want the entertainment, the fun.  I can understand that.  The other camp is where I live.  I want something that makes me think as well as makes me feel.  I want my entertainment to be something that I can analyze and look for deeper meaning.  Obviously, Rhonda feels the same way or else we wouldn’t be writing this blog or our book where we analyze what it means to be a fan and a Duran Duran fan, in particular.  Tomorrow, I will talk about one other video that showed this division within the fandom and contained models!  Can you guess what that video is?
It is one that is usually talked about in a negative way as it seems that most fans hated but one that I thought was brilliant.

-A     

Stress of (and) Contests!

I am 110% stressed.  I admit it.  Last week, I put in about 65 hours of work between my actual job and my volunteer gig.  This week will be much of the same as I have parent-teacher conferences Thursday and Friday, which means that I will be at work for 12 hours both of those days.  Then, I have meetings Monday and Tuesday evening and an all day conference on Saturday.  Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal but we are leaving for the UK in little over 3 weeks and have SO much to do before we leave.  I spent my entire weekend just getting organized and getting things checked off for work, for my volunteer gig, for my household to keep running and for the upcoming tour.  Needless to say, there is part of me that is really looking forward to December 24th as I will be at my sister’s and just relaxing.  That isn’t to say that I’m not looking forward to our trip because I totally am!  Once I’m there, I’ll be totally excited.  It is the getting ready part that is tough.  🙂

I feel like I’m struggling to keep up with Duranland, which is completely unacceptable.  I haven’t put my scrapbook together for the Chicago show.  I haven’t had a chance to listen to the Katy Kafe that was put up WEEKS ago in October with Simon.  I need some time to be able to watch the Girl Panic video on Tuesday and review it.  (No worries, Rhonda, it will get done!)  This personal craziness has led me to look back to about a month ago when DDM announced its latest contest, which is to design a t-shirt.  The winners would be able to pick out their show of choice to get VIP seats and a meet and greet.  Rhonda and I actually discussed some ideas.  Needless to say, we ran out of time with planning for the Chicago show, doing the initial travel plans for the UK and completing all of our regularly scheduled activities.  (Seriously, can someone find a means of extending the day?  Yes, I know that people in the States got an extra hour this weekend as we set the clocks back.  It isn’t enough.) 

Now, the t-shirt designs have been submitted and voting has begun.  Part of me, obviously, wishes that we could have done one but the other part of me is glad.  Contests in our lovely fandom scare me.  I admit it.  I have seen too many contests turn ugly and ugly, quickly.  There always seems to be concern that the same people are winning and too often it turns to a popularity contest as some members openly ask people to vote for their submission.  Obviously, I’m not judging these people as they just want to win.  I get that.  Yet, to me, this is problematic.  Aren’t the submissions supposed to be anonymous?  Aren’t the winner(s) supposed to be chosen on merit?  Yet, at least, to many within the community that this isn’t how it is done. 

This leads me to wonder why DDM continues to do contests like this.  Why continue to have members vote on each other’s?  Why don’t they take the submissions to the band and let them judge?  Wouldn’t that be better?  Yes, ideally, any community should be able to vote without any problem but that doesn’t seem to be the case, typically, in Duranland.  Then, I always wonder how the contests come to be.  The contests seem to be creative in nature, which, I can understand to a point.  Duran is a band and one that has sought out creativity in themselves and in others.  Yet, in most cases, this creativity is visual in nature and often requiring computers.  They aren’t asking for the finest painting using oils or watercolors.  They aren’t asking for things like writing, either.  I also find it fascinating that they don’t have contests surrounding the usual ways fandom, including ours, expresses itself.  They aren’t picking the best live shot, which many people in the community are fabulous at.  They aren’t looking for cool, new mixes, usually.  Stories that feature them as characters in the best fanfic isn’t a contest.  People aren’t chosen for having the biggest or best collection of ______________.  Knowledge and dedication aren’t chosen for contests, either.  Now, obviously, I don’t have a clue how some of those different expressions of fandom would be judged but it just feels to me that they are ignoring LOTS of members of their fan community. 

Then, of course, there is the question about what people get if they win.  It seems that the easiest thing now is to give tickets and a meet and greet.  That’s cool and all but what about people who don’t get shows close to them?  Are they going to get the people to the show?  Will they pay for the plane ticket, bus/train fare or gas?  At least, this time, people could choose their show.  I also found it interesting that this contest will end long after the North American tour did.  Is there their way of trying to do something for people outside of the US? 

What would you do for a contest?  How would it be judged?  Who would be judging it?  What do you think the winner should receiver?  Should there just be one winner or should there by lesser prizes?  If so, what would they be?  I would love to hear your ideas as I think there could be a lot more to their contests!

-A

The Impact of Duran Duran

As the Chicago show get nearer, I find myself in touch with some of my people (friends) who are also going to the show.  As part of those conversations, I have found myself talking about Duran, which isn’t surprising but, in this case, I have found myself talking about the impact of Duran Duran in the world and in my own personal life.

This is the reality.  Duran Duran has been one of the biggest bands in the world.  They have sold a ton of albums (I have heard 70 million to 100 million), played thousands of gigs, won awards including lifetime achievement awards and have become part of the public psyche.  Say the name Duran Duran to anyone of a certain age here in the States and that person would have heard of Duran.  In most cases, that person could also name a song or ten and might be able to name a band member or 5.  Duran was huge and still is often referenced in movies, TV shows and books because people know them and the reference makes sense.  For example, a couple of years ago the TV Show, House, mentioned Duran and their song, New Moon on Monday.  I read a book not too long ago by Tiffanie Debartolo in which the main character was told that her true love was going to die at an early age.  This character worried about John Taylor.  These references show how big Duran was and is.  They show how their presence was and still is felt in the world of popular culture.

As a fan, I have seen and felt this impact.  On one level, I have to admit to feeling like I have been a part of something huge, something important, something monumental.  The only other times I have felt a part of something this huge was during the Obama campaign in 2008 and during the Wisconsin protests that took place this past winter and spring.  As a fan, I helped to make Duran huge.  I bought their albums, went to their concerts, bought their merchandise and more.  Without people like me, they wouldn’t have become so huge, so important.  John Taylor, himself, has recognized this and acknowledged it.  I remember seeing a clip on Behind the Music in which he talks about how songs like the Reflex and Save a Prayer aren’t theirs anymore but belong to the public psyche.  He’s right.  He goes on to say that to be a part of that is a gift.  Well, I feel the same way.  I feel like I have been able (along with millions of others) to be a part of something much bigger than myself.  Thus, the fans have had a serious impact on the band members’ lives.  We helped them make an impact.  In turn, they impacted our lives as well.

I have been a Duranie for over 27 years.  I have been a Duranie for a lot longer than I haven’t been.  I have been a Duranie for so long that I can’t remember not being one or what it was like to not be one.  They have helped to form many of my opinions, my likes, my dislikes, my interests and more.  For example, I love contemporary art.  Yes, my mother is an artist but I doubt I would love it as much if I didn’t find myself exposed to art through the band.  Another example is that many Duranies, including myself, have found themselves being attracted to a certain type of males.  I may or may not be attracted to guys who have similar characteristics to John Taylor just like my partner-in-crime may or may find herself attracted to men who are similar to Roger.  Did the band might have had an influence there?  I suspect that they did.  They have opened my eyes to books, movies and music that I’m sure I would have never even heard of without them.  On top of all of that and most importantly, they have brought me some amazing experiences, some absolutely fabulous times and some meaningful friendships, ones that I can’t imagine not having now.  My world would have been a much smaller, much lonelier place. 

The simple fact is that I can’t imagine my life without them.  Obviously, now, my daily life is filled with checking in on what is happening with the band and their fans.  It is filled with writing or reading this blog.  When I’m lucky, my days are spent planning, preparing and going on tour.  Duran Duran is always present in my world, in some shape or form.  The truth is that us, fans, have impacted their lives and they have impacted ours.  Together, we have created and sustained something big and meaningful.  I, for one, am grateful that I have been and continue to be a part of it.

-A