Category Archives: Fandom

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

Keeping Fandom Alive

How do you keep fandom alive?  How does the band?  I have often wondered these things as I ponder the nature of fandom.  Obviously, fandom begins with single fans who are people who have discovered a band, an artist, a team, a movie, a TV, an actor, etc. and liked it.  Then, fans come together (not necessarily literally) to form a fandom.  It is easy to get fans when the object of the fandom is new, young, and happening.  This was the case for Duran Duran in the early 1980s.  They were new to the scene, fresh and seemed to be busy all the time.  Certainly, when I look back, I’m amazed that they were able to release 3 studio albums between 1981-1984!  Can you just imagine that now?!  Then, it was easy for them to get fans because their music was great, their videos were amazing and they looked good!  Those fans were easy to keep for those years because the band was busy doing new music, new videos, interviews, tours, appearances and more.  Fans couldn’t get away from Duran.  I remember seeing and hearing Duran Duran EVERYWHERE during that time.  Turn on the TV and they were there.  Turn on the radio and they were there.  Go to the store and see tons of magazines featuring Duran.  They were everywhere.  It was easy to keep fandom alive then but now seems more challenging.

Duran Duran has managed to keep fans for decades.  This seems to be a pretty amazing accomplishment to me.  Obviously, this says a lot about the quality of their music and related projects.  Once we were under their spell, it wasn’t easy for us to get away from them.  Yet, I suspect that many of us have walked away from the fandom at one time or another.  Why weren’t they able to keep our attention?  Is it because they no longer made products that we were into?  That’s possible.  Is it because their exposure in the media decreased?  That’s very possible, too.  Is it also due to the fans?  I think that can be true as well.  Is it a combination of all three?  Probably.  So, how can the band help keep us?  How do we keep our personal fandom alive?

The band, certainly, can help by getting as much exposure as possible.  I’m sure that they would love to be on the radio and TV all the time.  I bet they want as many magazines as possible to do stories or features about them.  Unfortunately, they don’t have the exposure like they once did.  They also don’t release products nearly as quickly as they once did (and some might argue that they aren’t as good).  Heck, they have released 3 albums in the last ten years.  That doesn’t help.  Of course, it seems like they are trying to combat some of this by participating in social networking and updating their official site with news about what they are doing.  But, do we have some responsibility with keeping fandom alive, at least within ourselves?  I think we do.

Since I have spent time away from fandom for the last week, I have had thought about how removed I feel from Duran and the Duranie community.  I have missed it.  I feel a little lost.  On the other hand, I also feel like the longer I’m away, the easier it gets.  The easier it would be to walk away.  Of course, I don’t have any intention of doing that.  I would miss the music, the other fans and especially my friends who are involved in the community.  I certainly would miss writing this blog and would hate to not finish a book that I’m already extremely proud of.  This led to me to think that it is my responsibility to pay attention to what is going on.  I should be communicating with other fans.  Yes, those things are fun but they also help me to keep my fandom alive.

-A

Girl Panic!

Today is one of those days where I might sell/trade my youngest for some really good coffee and a Duran Duran news tidbit that spurs my creativity.

(I am not serious about the little one yet.  It’s still early in the day.)

Yesterday though – at least, I think it was yesterday (time flies when one is having fun you know) – someone asked John on Twitter if he would ever consider adding Duranies to his list of followers (on twitter).  He answered back that it would cause competition and it would basically undermine what he was trying to do.

After I finally stopped laughing, I put in my own .02 cents.  I do that a lot with his comments – mostly on facebook because I never seem to be on Twitter at the right time – but if I’m on Twitter I’ll comment back if I have something to say.  He never answers, which is fine, I’m not necessarily hoping that he will – I’m actually more interested in what the fans have to say. (that’s not to say I’m not interested in what the band has to say, but the fact is – my interaction with the fan base isn’t to gain their attention, if that makes sense.)   I digress.  Anyway, my response was that he shouldn’t do it!  Competition is merely a polite term for what would happen.  Those of us who are fairly involved with the fan community, at least enough to be participating on message boards and so forth, know that I’m really not exaggerating when I say that there are times when Duranies will seriously eat their young if it means being able to get closer (or say that they’re closer) to the band.  I can’t even imagine the chaos that would take place.

Amanda and I have spoken at great length about whether it is, or would be (in our case) a good or bad thing to be acknowledged by the band – specifically the issue is when the rest of the community sees/hears/reads that you’ve been acknowledged.  I think we’ve come to the conclusion that it is very much a double edged sword.  Of course it would be…well…I suppose a bit of a dream come true to see that the band (in our case here) not only acknowledges our work, but thinks it’s worth reading.  As authors, and of course as fans, we’d love that.   On the same token, while yes, we write about issues that take place within the bands fan base, a very large portion of what we’re doing isn’t really about the band at all.  It’s not that we don’t want them to read the blog, but that’s not why we write, and I hope that all of our readers know that.  We also don’t write for free concert tickets, backstage passes, or for the new album to be sent to us early, either.  (however, if anybody out there wants to hook us up – you know where to find us.  HA!)   As I’ve said before, it is one thing to write and get enjoyment from the writing, which on most days, I really do.  It’s quite another to not only be acknowledged for what we do, but to be told that something we’ve written has affected someone.   I’ve never had a job that’s really done that before.  My kids don’t really come up to me and say “Hey Mom, great job grounding me yesterday – I totally learned from that.”   (I’d fall over dead from shock, I’m sure).  So, when someone writes us here, or on Facebook and Twitter and says they enjoy what we’ve done – that’s really the best, and I mean that, regardless of who you are out there – so thank you.

Which brings me back to being followed. (no pun there…really…)  I appreciate the fact that John doesn’t follow fans…or many (?)…because truthfully I’ve never really checked!   Not only that, but I very much appreciate that John is completely aware of what it might do to the community, not to mention those he would follow, if he chose to do so.  I wonder though if the community at large understands the consequences from those types of actions.  So many people want Simon and John to answer them or retweet them, and of course – it’s about having that moment of acknowledgement and interaction – I get that.  The problem is, every time someone is acknowledged, there are probably 50 others out there that are openly envious…at the least…and have something snarky to say about it.   Jealousy isn’t a pretty thing, even on a pretty woman.

-R

US vs. UK

Typically, when the topic of the United States versus the United Kingdom comes up in the Duran Duran fandom, it is usually about which gets more, deserves more, etc.  The conversation usually involves a discussion about geography, distances, sales, fanbase size, band history and more.  I’m not going to dive into that debate as it seems obvious to me that both sides have their legitimate points.  Yes, the US is a lot bigger so more there should be more dates here.  It is true, though, that the UK is their home and will always be so (ignoring John Taylor’s decision to live in the US part/most of the time).  No, what I am more interested in is how the fanbases in both places are the same and different.  I never really paid attention before but now that I’m going (most likely–cross your fingers that I get final approval from work), I find this subject fascinating.

I have to admit that I’m already seeing some differences, at least in terms of show preferences.  Now, I admit that I haven’t done any thorough survey to find exact numbers to compare so this is just my observation of the fans who have spoken up.  First, I noticed a bit of an outcry from the locals over the idea that many of these shows in the UK are seated.  Personally, I was shocked by this!  Why would anyone want General Admission shows?!  I’m sure that people can argue that it is more equalizing as every fan has a chance of being up close if they arrive early enough and are able to hold their position for a long time.  I also heard some fans claim that they can dance more during a GA show.  My response to this is simply confusion.  Then, I started thinking that GA shows there must be very different from GA shows here.  Perhaps, some reader will enlighten me.  For me, I hate GA.  Those shows mean that I have to arrive early or earlier than I wanted in order to get a good spot.  (Remember that I’m spoiled when it comes to Duran shows!).  Once I have my spot of choice, I am forced to stay there in order to keep it.  This means that I have no bathroom breaks and no drink breaks unless I’m willing to let my spot go.  In America, if you leave your spot, people will automatically move up and fill it.  Heck, that doesn’t just happen at concerts but happens at political rallies, too!  Now, even if I am able to stand for hours to hold my spot, it doesn’t mean that I’m safe.  People will still try to push (literally) ahead of you to get a better view.  Is this what GA is like in England?  Do people want to get up front so badly that they are willing to stand for hours or push their way to the front? 

Maybe people there aren’t as concerned about where they are for a concert.  After all, it doesn’t seem like a lot of VIP packages sold.  Of course, the cost of those packages could make a difference.  I don’t see a lot of people buying regular presale tickets either, though.  I know that we got decent seats for Nottingham through regular presale.  Yet, it seems like most people were happy to just try Ticketmaster or Gigs and Tours for their seats.  Is it a cost thing or does seat position not matter?  This, of course, leads me to bigger issues involving fandom.

Will people be interested in getting together before and/or after shows?  Do a lot of fans already know each?  Are there established groups of friends like there are here?  Will there be stories about fans trying to find the band afterwards?  Is that even possible there?  I have no idea.  So much seems to go on in hotels for US tours, is the same there?  Is this a silly question to ask?   Personally, I would like to meet people while I’m there.  I would like to see how the fans are similar to US fans but also to see how they are different.  Maybe they would like to learn the same from me and my friends.  No matter how it goes, I am willing to bet that it will be a tour filled with much learning and much fun!!!

-A 

Better/Bigger Fans?

Rhonda and I have begun posting questions over on the Daily Duranie Facebook page (come friend us if you haven’t yet!) as a means of getting to know people, starting discussion and adding information for our book.  This morning I posed a question about whether or not people are willing to travel for Duran shows after thinking and blogging about why tours matter to so many of us.  Many people answered that question.  Some people said that they have and included where they have gone and when.  Others said that they are willing but unable to go for financial, family, or work reasons.  One person got me thinking about something that I do from time to time, especially during touring season.  (Like that…it has it’s own season like the baseball season in my world!  😀 ).  Does traveling to shows make you a bigger/better fan?  What about those people who VIP?  Is that better than not?  Then, of course, I wonder who is judging.  Are we the fans judging each other?  Is the band?  Is the band’s employees like the people who work at DDM judging?  Is there a chance that someone could be TOO big of a fan?  Are there other means of showing how big of a fan you are?  Are all of those ways costly?  So many questions…

Does traveling make you a bigger or better fan?  Of course, this automatically asks the question about who is judging and by what standards.  Is this assumption correct?  Here is what I know, objectively speaking. Traveling and going to more shows might give fans a greater knowledge of the band and the fandom as a whole.  It provides the opportunity to meet and get to know more and more people.  You get the chance to see more and more shows performed live.  Then, is the knowledge and the friends that give more status, assuming that this is true?  I don’t know.  Is the assumption correct?  I definitely think that traveling to shows could give people more status both within the fan community and outside of the fan community.  I know that there are fans who get a lot of attention from other fans because they have traveled and seen a bunch of shows.  Obviously, the travelers are believed to be people who know more and who could have greater connections to the band.  Is this always the case?  I’m sure that it is not.  Yet, I’m sure that it does happen as well.  Outside of the fan community, I, personally, have seen people’s reactions to me when it comes to this question.  People are, at first, shocked when I tell them how many shows I have been to and that I have traveled to shows.  The next statement out of their mouths usually is, “You must be a HUGE fan!”  I’m never quite sure how to respond to that, which I guess leads me back to the question at hand.  Is this assumption about traveling done?  Yes, I believe that it is by both other fans and by non-fans.  Is it right?  No way.  Of course, there might be other ways that fans can be seen as “big” or “better” fans as well.

I believe that fans get placed in this bigger/better category all the time for a variety of reasons.  Maybe they do because of traveling.  Perhaps, it is because they always VIP.  Some fans might seem bigger/better because they have a large collection of something or because they can name every b-side.  Obviously, most of those means are ones that cost money.  Is that a problem?  Do you need a lot of money in order to be considered a big fan?  Of course, I also wonder if you could be TOO big of a fan.  Is traveling some cool but going to all shows too much?  Is going VIP once or twice per tour good but doing it every time appear greedy?  Could you have too many t-shirts or spend too much time online talking to other fans?  Could you have met them too many times?  Is there really a delicate balance between being a big fan and being too much of one?  Again, the same questions apply.  Who is judging?  What are the standards and is it a good thing?

Maybe I’m the only one who thinks like this.  Maybe everyone else in Duranland believes that all fans are considered equal.  I don’t know. If people agree that it does exist, should be changed or is there some value to this?  If not, is there someway to improve this, if it exists?  How?  So many questions…so little answers.

-A

So What’s This All About Anyway?

There are days, and then there are days.  After a night where I believe I got less than 3 solid hours of sleep, NOT BY CHOICE…sometimes you just have to take stock in what you’ve got going on, and be good with it.  This, my friends, is one of those days for me.   I’m sick with some strain of influenza that has decided not to let go of me just yet – courtesy of my youngest.  I’ve been sick for a week now, last week being just a bad sore throat and exhaustion and now today the congestion has hit.  It’s a wonderful day to be a blogger, and a Duranie…and a parent…but that’s another subject for another blog.

I believe we’ve been at this blog now for a bit less than 110 days – I can’t remember the exact figure in this moment.  The plan was simple: write a short article every day about being fans of Duran Duran.  It could be a commentary on the news from the fan perspective (as opposed to being unbiased reporting), it could be about a specific fandom issue, or something else entirely. So far, so good.  People are reading and hopefully enjoying the blog, which was the plan!

What made us decide to do the blog, though?  I don’t think either Amanda nor myself ever had big plans to be bloggers in our everyday lives!  I never gave it any thought prior to this past year, although I do enjoy writing.  Amanda truly shouldn’t even have time for blogging at all – but somehow, she finds the time each week!  I suppose though that the idea behind the blog was a seed that was planted several years back.   I am pretty sure I’ve explained that Amanda and I originally met at a fan convention in 2004, and since then we’ve traveled to shows together, posted on message boards, and basically assaulted the community with our opinions, which we now share here for your reading pleasure.  🙂  During that time, Amanda and I talked about writing a book based on our fan experience.  I think that for me, a lot of that was just in joke form – we’d see something while on “tour”, and say to one another “That has GOT to go in our book!”  Then as time wore on, the idea grew more serious in nature.  It wasn’t so much that she and I felt we had a story that was any more significant than any other fan, it was that we shared a desire to tell a story of our fan community.  In our eyes, the Duran Duran fan community, the fandom as we call it, is very special and unique, and deserves a book!  With that thought in mind, we brainstormed about topics that would be interesting to include.  I believe that to begin with, our idea was never to do a gossipy, syrupy tell-all about either the band or the fan community;  we wanted to write a book that could both be interesting and even amusing to our fan community as well as a book that could be taken seriously in an academic setting.  Much discussion and brainstorming ensued.

Our project eventually solidified itself, and we began writing in earnest.  At this point, I would say at best guess that we are closing in on being 2/3 of the way through with the initial writing.    The best way to describe our book is that it’s an examination of fandom using Duran Duran’s fan community as the case study.  We examine why fandom exists, how it continues to thrive 30 years after the release of Planet Earth, and in answering both of those questions, we also celebrate the overall “friendship” of the community.  We try not to gush too much in the book, although I think it’s very clear through our writing that we both respect and admire the band in our own way.  (they’re not too bad I guess.  :D)

Our overall goal is that this book be written both from an entertaining and academic point of view, which has been no easy feat thus far.  It is important to both of us that we remain true to our collective background in social science, (my dad would be so proud to see that I’m finally using all of the writing skills I gained in college with my American Studies degree :D) not only discussing the characteristics of fandom, but examining the “why” behind each one.  We continue to write away, hoping to finish the book at some point later this year.

This blog, while not really designed to be a true extension of the book, has allowed for several discussions to spur our creative juices, and we’ve found out a bit more about our fandom at times.  The blog has taught me some much needed discipline, tact (ha!), and it gives me plenty of writing practice in finding my own voice, and I’m positive it will continue to do more as the years…yes years…go on.  I hope the band is planning on continuing for a while….  We’ll be sure to keep our readers updated as the process for the book, blog and world domination continues.  (wink, wink)

This past weekend, we continued on with our idea of becoming professional Duranies (hey, who said you couldn’t make a hobby, er…obsession…into a career?!?)  by adding a facebook page to our efforts.  Obviously we’re not busy enough with writing the book, doing a daily blog,  and keeping up with John and Simon showing up on Twitter, now we’re doing a facebook page as well!  In any case, we hope you’ll find us on facebook and befriend us!  http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001986818033

In the meantime, I will leave you with one final thought that I know Amanda and I both plan to write more about in the coming days.  Why is it that we fans feel the band owes us?  Why do we think they owe us interaction on facebook & twitter?  Why do we feel they owe us answers to our never ending questions, both personal and professional?  Why do we act out of such complete desperation whenever the band is within “striking” distance….and why do we continue to do that even though the band has been around now for 30 years?  Other fandoms aren’t quite like this, so why is this one?  I look forward to reading some comments here on and on facebook about this!!  -R

Fickle Fans

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a definite uptick in the amount of posts and activity on virtually every DD dedicated board I visit.  Even on facebook and twitter, there is evidence of rebirth and renewal.  Naturally, much, if not all, is due to the new album – and one can’t help but applaud.  That said, I’ve seen quite a few screen names belonging to people I haven’t seen say or post a kind word towards any one member of the band (much less the group as a whole) in many, many months.  In some cases, it’s been years.  Suddenly it seems as though it’s back “en vogue” to love the band once again and show your inner Duranie.

Fans are a fickle sort, and I add myself into that category just as I would anyone else.  We tend to come and go with the breeze, so to speak.  Some fans stick out the tough times, and while they might not necessarily love an album, they stay with it for the long haul.  Other fans tend to leave the fold and come back during fairer weather.  In the past, there has been much discussion over what makes a “real” or “true” fan.  Truly an unfair and/or loaded question, if you ask me.  At the time, discussion centered around whether or not we followed the band during the “leaner” years – basically the period after about 1993 to about the year the reunion was announced (not just rumored) in about 2002 or so.  Many said they stuck valiantly by the band – posting on the boards, going to shows, buying their albums, so on and so forth.  Many others said that they still watched out for them, but that no, they weren’t really involved and still others admitted that they actually had lives that didn’t center around the band during that time.  Naturally there were as many opinions about what made a real fan as there were answers on the board, and I would suspect the same would hold true today.

From my own observations, I’ve seen even the most ardent of fans fall away from the group, or the community during the last 5 years since the Astronaut tour.  These fans encompass the breadth between those that gradually fell away from the fold quietly to those who stuck around and hurled nothing but insults at every turn….and obviously everything in between.  I myself went through periods of insult (towards the band) during this past 5 years, and slowly I came back around, hoping for the best with this new album.  Obviously I am not the perfect fan, nor am I going to win that “big prize for best fan” at the end of this road.  *wink, wink*  Now that the album has been released and we’re waiting for tour dates, I’m seeing more and more of these screen names return, apparently evolving from hypercriticism, to tentative embrace, to full blown adoration once again.  I’m here to admit that in my mind – it’s very difficult not to call foul at times.   That’s how imperfect of a fan, and a person, I am.

I suppose that at the end of the day, it’s not up to me or anyone else to decide who gets to stay and who should leave the “kingdom of Duran”.  I mean let’s face it – if there were such a judgement  made, I might have been exiled years ago.   *gasp*

-R

New Music Discussions

Apparently, a number of Duranies have heard or are in possession of the new album.  While I could write about what I think about this in regards to the legal issue or future record sales or morality, etc., I am not going to.  What I find interesting is reading all of the reactions to the new album.  There are countless discussions about how good or bad it is throughout the Duran fandom.  While discussions like this are not new, my reaction to them is different.

Like many Duranies, I joined the online community during the band’s reunion.  I was aware of how the web was creating a place for fans to be in order to be excited together, to discuss, to meet other fans and more.  I, personally, decided to jump in with the reunion because my excitement over the return of the Fab Five was too much for me!  I needed to find others who were just as thrilled as I was!  I knew that I wanted other fans to go to shows with me and to discuss the new album, Astronaut, with me.  At that time, I remember reading some negative reactions about the album, how the band was promoting it, how the label was promoting it, etc.  In my mind, those negative statements were small in number and were by fans who couldn’t or wouldn’t join in the party I was having.  I learned very quickly who seemed to embrace the positive and who didn’t.  Those who didn’t could be ignored by me.  Then, Red Carpet Massacre came and I joined in on a lot of the criticisms.  I absolutely hated that the album was causing so many of us to be upset, but I understood the need to express one’s feelings. 

It seems to me that being a fan means that you are passionate about something and this something has made you feel so good or so happy at some point.  Therefore, it is understandable for people to feel the need to vent or to offer praise about something that creates such intense feelings for them.  Obviously, these intense feelings can be positive about something, like my feelings were during Astronaut, and negative about others like they were about RCM.  During both of those times, I was in the majority group.  Now, I am seeing a ton of people who are in love with the new album, but I am also seeing others who are not.  I would have to put myself in the first camp in that I have loved what I have heard and have loved reading people’s reviews who are positive.  Negative reviews are upsetting to me.  Why?  I understand people’s desire to say what they think.  I also completely believe in the freedom of speech.  So, why are these views causing me distress? 

I have given this a great deal of thought.  Perhaps, it is because the criticism was grouped together differently during the Astronaut era that I could ignore it easier.  Maybe I only found the negative views on a certain message board, for example.  (I honestly can’t remember.  Maybe Rhonda does or maybe our readers do.)  It is possible that there was such a small minority of voices going against the album that they could easily overlooked.  Those are definitely possible reasons.  Another reason could be that I also went through the era of RCM where a lot of people disliked what they heard, including me.  Is it possible that I’m struggling to understand how people could group RCM with the new material?  After all, if they are saying that they didn’t like RCM and that they don’t like “All You Need Is Now”, aren’t they saying that they are both bad?  Maybe not equally as bad but bad still.  That I can’t understand.  I wonder what those fans are looking for, then.  If it wasn’t RCM and it isn’t AYNIN, then what?  What kind of Duran material would remind them of why they loved Duran in the first place? 

The last possible reason for my personal difficulty with the criticism is that I am more invested now.  Yes, I was a long-term, die-hard fan for both Astronaut and RCM like I am now.  This time, I am writing a blog.  It has been become even more personal to me.  Being a fan is personal enough.  Being part of a fan community is even more so.  Then, writing or being creative in a way that connects you is way more personal, at least to me.  The reality is that it is all of these things, I suspect, that has frustrated me with the negative reviews.  Of course, time will tell whether or not, I will continue to feel this way.  I may decide that the negative views are more like my view than I originally thought.  I know that I will continue to read the reviews and even welcome the less-than-excited opinions of others even if I disagree or even if they upset me.  After all, everyone has the right to their opinions just like I do.  I can appreciate the discussion because I do know that it is these types of discussions which keep the fandom alive.

-A

Types of Fans

As the release date for both the “All You Need Is Now” single and album move closer, it is interesting to see the comments made by fans on message boards, social networking sites, etc.  It seems to me that the fans are reacting to the snippets and youtube clips of the new material in predictable ways, depending on the type of fans they are.  The first type of fan is the person who is just excited by anything that the band does no matter what, including these new songs.  The second type of fan is the person who is critical of everything the band does.  The third and final type of fan is the one who in between.  Are all these types of fans valid ones?  Equal ones?  I suppose it depends on how one defines a fan.

Should fans accept and love everything that the object of affection does?  Is that what a fan should do?  Fans become fans because they found something special in the person/band/whatever that they became fans of.  Does that mean that they must always be something special forever?  Can you be a fan if you disagree or dislike something that the celebrity/celebrities of your choice does?  What if you stop supporting that person/persons/organizations?  For example, does every Duran Duran fan have to like every album?  Do they have to buy every album?  On the other hand, can you be a fan if you disagree with everything that the band/celebrity does?  I would question that.  Doesn’t being a fan mean that you LIKE something?  Wouldn’t a so-called Duran fan like some music of Duran Duran?  I suppose the “always critical” fan could have liked something in the past and now doesn’t like anything.  To that end, though, why stick around?  Why continue the discussion?  Why spend time on message boards and post?  Is there some joy is expressing negative thoughts and opinions?  I admit that I don’t understand.

Of course, on the same token, I don’t understand the fans that LOVE everything.  I don’t believe that being a fan means that you have to stop being critical.  Fans can and should think about whether or not something is good or bad.  I don’t think fans have to like everything, especially in a fandom with as long of a history as the Duranie world.  Duran Duran has released a ton of songs, videos, etc.  I think it would be weird to love every song the same.  How is that even possible?  Should it?  Therefore, when the song and album comes out, our readers should understand that Rhonda and I won’t say that every song is fabulous unless we think they are.  If we think they suck, we will say so but we will also explain our thinking.  Of course, we won’t be negative about everything as well.  I wouldn’t think that would be fun.  If I stop having fun and stop finding joy, I’m going to leave.  Now, I can’t see that happening since I have been a part of this fandom for decades.  Therefore, I will continue to the be the third type of fan.  I will be a person who looks at everything that Duran does with a critical eye.  Yes, I fully expect to love some things and dislike others.  I feel that this is the most respectful thing I can do as a fan, for myself, for other fans and for the band.

-A

Leaked Material

Duranland has been a little crazy the last few days.  First, it started with the discovery that the European EP of Mediterranea was available on many European iTunes.  This, obviously, was not a planned release.  Nonetheless, the community went crazy.  Some people were able to download the EP, legally, via those iTunes until iTunes realized their mistake and the songs were removed.  (EDITED TO ADD DISCLAIMER:  I have no idea if this was a mistake on iTunes part or what.  This is my assumption about what had happened.  I know nothing official, people.  I’m just a fan.)  Other people were able to hear a sample of many songs, including “All You Need Is Now” and “Mediterranea”.  Everyone wanted to know or discuss what the songs were like.  Of course, those without the downloaded songs were either openly hoping to get a copy from a Duranie friend or were arguing that the copies should not be shared, for a variety of reasons.  Now, new rumors appeared, which included that some of the songs were put up on youtube to hear or that the entire album was available at a torrent site.  While I would love to be one of these lucky people to have copies of all new Duran Duran material, I’m not.  Therefore, I cannot write about what the songs sound like but I am interested in how the fan community responds to rumors of such significance.

It seems to me that there is no Duranie Alert like hearing that a new song is available in some means.  These alerts are more interesting when the song(s) are not available legally.  Does the legal status deter Duranies from trying to get the songs?  For the most part, in my observation, the answer is no.  Duranies may say publicly that they don’t want to hear songs in advance or wouldn’t want to get a hold of the album before it is actually released, but that isn’t true.  Behind the scenes of the message board, most fans are contacting the other fans they know to find out if they have the songs and are willing to share.  Part of this is simply to hear the new material but there is another piece to this.  For some people, this is a way to show one’s status within the fan community.  For example, if you are one of only 15 people who have the song, you might feel pretty darn special.  Likewise, I can only imagine what that person would feel like when telling others that s/he has one of the only 15 copies of the song.  That must make people feel special and/or superior!  Of course, the people who have to ask about the songs don’t have the same feeling.  Instead, they are forced to beg or do something to encourage the other person to share with them.  It becomes a rather interesting and unequal dynamic.

Where does that leave the fandom on a day like today?  It leads to fan community to be leading two different lives.  On one hand, on message boards and on social networking sites, there is discussion about how people should not download illegally or share with their friends, if they did have a copy.  The reasoning is a logical one.  Downloading illegally or sharing leads to poorer sales for the band and less chart possibilities.  Behind the scenes, fans are contacting each other in order to get the songs.  Duranies clearly are an impatient bunch.  They are also people who can be constantly concerned about their social status in the community.  So, what is the solution to this?  I don’t know that there is.  Duranies, like all fans, will seek out things unavailable to the public.  I suppose the real way to stop this is for the band and their people to keep such incredible control over their material.  Yet, is this a good thing for the band, in the long run?

Does leaked material lead fans to not buy the song(s) or album?  I don’t think so.  Does it create more excitement, more interest?  Quite possibly.  What would they think of all of the maneuvering between fans in order to get the songs?  Perhaps, they would be horrified.  Maybe, they would be entertained.  Who knows.  Here is what I do know:  the next few weeks will be VERY interesting for the Duran Duran fandom.  This will help me survive the time while waiting for the single and album.

-A