Part of me wishes that fandom really is this easy. If a fandom test did existence, a person could take a test to determine whether or not s/he was a fan and how big of a fan. Yet, I think that most of us agree that this is truly silly. Who is to say if someone is a fan? Who is to say if someone is a big fan? The obvious, clear cut answer here is no one, except for the individual person. I’m a fan because I say I am. I’m a really big fan, I could admit. Yet, it seems to me that people who identify themselves as fans, including me, constantly try to determine this for other people. I saw this in a couple of ways this past week as part of our “Would you rather” game. This week, we asked people which album they prefer between two choices. Most people just gave their preference and moved on. Some people engaged in healthy discussion with other people about their opinions and reasons. It was cool. Then, I noticed that some people made the comment that basically said that fans should like all of Duran’s albums. I also spotted a number of responders who had not heard the albums listed, which also bothered people.
Now, I understand these shocked like reactions as I, too, have had them. I have this type of reaction or something similar when I hear or read about a fan who expresses his/her fandom in a very different way than I do or sees being a fan in a way opposite of what I see being a fan is. Yet, if I think about these reactions, logically, they seem a bit…harsh. Do Duranies have to like EVERYTHING that the band has done? I don’t really think so. I doubt that the band likes everything they have done. Maybe they liked it at the time and change their minds. Perhaps, they never really liked something but their record label or manager(s) did. I don’t know. It is possible that one member likes something and another member doesn’t. To me, being a fan means that you love the band. I don’t love every song or album they have ever made. Yes, I have given everything a chance but while I love Planet Earth, I hate Zoom In. That’s me. Perhaps, some people wonder how I can be a Duranie or a big Duranie if I don’t love everything. It is simple. I love Duran as a whole, as a package. I love them unconditionally like I do a family member. That said, like a family member, I don’t love every little detail or aspect. Now, this doesn’t mean that someone who does love everything the band does is wrong. S/he is just different than I am. That’s okay. Both should be allowed to express their opinions.
It is also okay if a fan hasn’t heard every song. This does not make him/her any less of a fan. Nor does it make me a bigger fan because I think I have heard every released song. It means that we express our fandom differently. While I get obsessive and want to consume every single thing connected to the band, others are either content with what music they have or need to be more compelled to check some things out. Neither fan is right or wrong, just different.
To me, I guess, a fan is someone who says that s/he is a fan. If someone declares him/herself as a Duranie, isn’t that good enough? Then, does it matter who is the bigger fan? Does it even matter if someone is a big fan? I don’t mind too much, if someone says that I am a big fan. In fact, I will even admit that I feel proud about that, especially if it is connected to our blog and comes from someone outside of the fandom. Yet, I don’t really say it about other fans and don’t feel comfortable if that comes from other fans. Why? I don’t think I’m qualified to make that judgement and don’t really want people to feel pressured to make that statement about me. Plus, I know that those words carry weight within a fan community and can lead to hurt feelings. I don’t want that. Can’t we all just agree that we are all fans, perhaps, even big fans? Isn’t that enough?