Over this past weekend, one of the “Would you rather” questions asked if you would rather see a taping of a Duran Duran TV performance or go to a convention. The point behind the question (and yes, it really was a pointed question) was to see how fans viewed their fandom. Is it that they are here (in the fan community) simply for the band, or is it about making connections and friendships with other fans as well as
Truth be told, I was pretty sure how the answers would play out. Most would jump at the taping, and a select few might say the convention. I wasn’t surprised to read that most people want to see the band at all costs, whether it’s for one song or twenty. That’s why they are fans, and naturally, the band brought me to this point as well. I get it.
I was fairly careful and measured with my words and response on our Facebook page, because the last thing I want to do is alienate people, and that goes without saying even here on Daily Duranie. This should be a safe place to be a fan. I’m happy to read that we all still want to see the band live. Otherwise Roger might need to go back to farming, John might reconsider that acting career, Nick might…well…I’m not really sure what Nick would do (or what he would NOT do), and Simon? Well, Simon might actually take up writing, and I would spend countless hours attempting to decipher his words (incorrectly, I might add). We really cannot have any of that. I am sure the band thanks all of us for our seemingly endless devotion. As soon as I read the responses on Facebook that day, I knew I’d be blogging about this same topic here. I let the subject stew a bit over the weekend, hoping that I’d find words to articulate exactly how I feel without being judgmental. I highly doubt I’m successful.
There are two reasons I am here: the band, and the fan community. To begin with, I am a fan of Duran Duran. I love the band as much as anyone else. I go to what shows I can, and I enjoy myself when I’m there. I hope the band knows that, but I highly doubt they recognize when I’m there or not. Yes, I support the band. Don’t we all in our own way? So, I’m a fan of the band. Then there is the fan community. Certainly I could remain a fan of the band and never once consider myself a part of the community. There are many, many folks out there that simply go to the shows, whether it is one show or ten shows, one appearance or fifty, and we might never know them. Sure, you might recognize them from place to place, but unless they actually take part in the “community” side of things, you don’t know them. There have been times when I’ve met people in line for general admission shows that have been fans for just as long as I have, but they just go to the shows. They don’t get involved online or do the whole fan thing with other people. They are still fans, but they don’t do the community. Then there are people who are more like me, where they are fans, and because they are fans – they sought out other people. They wanted to make friends with other people who love the band. This my friends, is where community comes in.
I’m not going to sit here and argue the merits of being in the fan community, nor am I going to attempt to explain to someone they are incredibly shortsighted for choosing to see the band over going to a convention. All I’d like to do is share why I would never bother to see a taping of the band if I could do a convention instead, and why there is a small part of me is almost sad for those of you that would.
I’m sure everyone knows by now that I was involved planning a convention here in the US several years back. It was probably fairly small since I think just over 100 people attended, but at the time it felt huge. My life changed direction that weekend, and I know that my self, my psyche, was also changed. It is very difficult to put into exact words how one silly weekend changed things forever – but I’ll share this much – the very reasons Amanda and I write this blog every single day came out of that weekend. For me, being a fan and being in a real community came together that weekend. I felt whole, and I know how weird that sounds. I guess one way to look at it is that up until that time, I experienced being a fan as a single person. Sure, I’d go to shows and have a great time, but other than my dear, ever tolerant husband, there was no one to share my excitement with – and somehow screaming “I love you Roger!!!” wasn’t really that much fun with Walt staring at me with wide, incredulous eyes. So yeah, I didn’t do much of that. I could take out my “inner Duranie” as though it were a costume, put it on, enjoy the show, and as soon as it was over I’d put it up in a box at the top of my closet. I’d watch other people at the shows and see that they’d go over to people and hug as though they were old friends, and at the time I’d wonder how in the hell they knew so many people. I got the sense that I was missing out on something.
After the convention, I found what I was missing: friendship. Now I’m one of those who goes to the shows and runs to hug people I haven’t seen. I chat with people online, I plan to go to shows where I’m going to be with friends – even if it means that I travel to see them and don’t do as many shows per tour because I’m spending money flying – because for me, that’s what makes being a fan fun. At the end of all of this, I’m not going to be sitting around tallying up how many shows I did verses how many someone else did. I’m going to be sitting down for drinks with the people I met along the way, reminiscing about the crazy things that went on, and talking about how much we miss those times. The shows, the band, the conventions, my friends and the good times are completely interwoven together in a tight fabric now. I can’t separate one thing from another without the threading coming apart, and I wouldn’t even want to try.
Live TV appearances and tapings with the band can be great. I hear you get to show up hours ahead, stand around for hours, then in a rush of adrenaline you run to find spots as close to the stage as possible, and then gloriously they come on stage to do a few songs, or even a few more if you’re lucky. You might get from reading that I’ve not been to a taping, and you’d be right. I can’t fault people for wanting to support the band by going – because gosh, if they didn’t go, who would? Only the people who were already planning to be at the show for other guests, right? There are priorities, and for the people who want to be at every show, every taping, every possible event – this is key. Friends are fun, and there are times and places for all of that. I can’t and won’t fault them even if I sound a bit judgy. I just know that for me, that’s not even half of why I’m still here. I would have gotten very, very bored by now if it were only about the band. (apologies to the band, but I suspect that they’ll get my point)
Interestingly enough, I think I’ve stumbled onto answers regarding this topic – for some fans, it’s not at all about the community, and that’s OK. For me, it’s ALL about the community. I’d still be a fan, but I wouldn’t be writing the blog or writing a book about fandom if I didn’t care about the community, and that’s where we all differ.
I try not to be disappointed when I read comments like “It’s all about the band”, or “TV taping because the guys are there”. The people who write them typically mean nothing by them other than to say that they love the band, and you know – I can identify with that feeling! That said, there is another very dark, very ugly part of being in our fan community where those comments really can tread dangerously into the waters where community is all fine and good until the band shows up. In which case fans might slit throats to get to them first. Yes, shocking as it is to read those words, this is exactly how it feels to see the cutthroat mentality that comes out like claws when the band is even rumored to be in the same place. It is exactly that portion of fandom that I despise most. Make NO mistake, however; this isn’t about the people who commented that they’d rather be at the taping. Some of those people who replied that way are in fact my friends, and I am in no way accusing any specific person who replied that way of the behavior. There is a specific, yet almost invisible dividing line where seeing the band, interacting with the band, etc. somehow becomes so important that we’d do one another in before offering someone a hand up. How does that factor in with being in a community?