Category Archives: Fandom

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

Welcome to the 21st Century!

My kids say that to me constantly these days.  At first I suppose it was funny, but when they started referencing the fact that I was born prior to the internet being “born”….well, let’s just say they ran from me as they were laughing.  The sad (or not so sad) fact is that it’s true, I have seen many a technological dream become a reality in my lifetime.  The same could be said for most of Duran Duran’s fans, and most certainly those who have been around since the very beginning.  At one point (that doesn’t seem nearly that long ago!), fan communities were called “Fan Clubs”, and they communicated with fans through good old snail mail with a stamp and envelope.  Bands communicated with their fans through doing TV, radio & magazine interviews, through the rare newsletter sent to their fan clubs, and of course through their music.  There was always some sort of barrier, whether inferred or actual, between the fan and the band.  Of course, this was also back in the day when we actually bought record albums, or CD’s – Tower Music or Wherehouse Records were not only places we would spend precious hours pouring over each aisle of record bins, but also where we would stand in line for hours waiting for tickets to go on sale, or for our favorite musicians to make an appearance to sign record albums.   I can remember standing in line for hours waiting for tickets for a concert to go on sale, only to see a few people go in, buy tickets and have a clerk come out to tell us they’ve sold out.  (this was before the dreaded randomly numbered wristbands were handed out, and before Ticketmaster took to the internet!)

It’s a very different world today, indeed.  Not only do I have the luxury of buying tickets to just about any concert or show in the relative comfort of my own home, but at any given moment I can check in on Twitter to see how Boy George is spending his day, read about what project Curt Smith of Tears For Fears is working on, or read how Cookie Monster is handling his cookie addiction!   Facebook has brought the friends of my youth back into my life so that they are not only a part of my past, but also my future.  I can read how my dear high school friend is moving to another state, or get an update on what The Killers are doing – all in one place.  
Duran Duran has never been the type of band to shy away from technology.  Let’s face it, they are the band to make MTV a household name to many of us; they were the first band to make a song available to be purchased and downloaded online.  While I feel as though they have embraced technology, I have felt that to some degree, they’ve been extremely slow to warm up to the idea of interacting with their fan base online.  It is true that they’ve had message boards – duranduran.com had an online forum for several years before shutting down a few years back.  Duranduranmusic.com is their paid fan community, and for just $35.00 a year a fan can have unlimited access to the message boards and exclusive news bytes, contests, presales and other “goodies”.  Even with all of the ways that fans can interact with one another, the band has remained relatively out of reach for most, if not all fans.  There would be the occasional bit of news sent out through newsblasts, or perhaps an update video posted on DDM or even more news given out through Katy Kafe on duranduranmusic.com – but as a long time fan, I always felt that the band was missing out on one of the best and easiest ways to reach out and interact with their fans – through the internet!   The band eventually did set up a facebook page and a Twitter account, but their attempts to actually use the twitter account properly were dismal to begin with.  Rather than the band sending out a “tweet” once in a while – we’d get a post of a picture, or a post to remind us to check into dd.com for updated news.  It was as though the band (or more accurately the people who worked for them) had no idea what twitter was really used for.  Of course, I write that knowing that at first, *I* didn’t really get the point of twitter either.  Honestly I think the learning curve for some of this stuff gets steeper and longer with each decade of age!  Their facebook updates were a little more successful, but for the most part – the updates would be much of the same that would be posted on dd.com.   Many fans would be upbeat and thankful to see some updates, but on the boards, and in private – many of us lamented at what the band was really missing.  
These days, bands have to do their part to connect with their fan base.  It’s not enough to put out an album, do a tour and think that the fans will just willingly follow along for the long haul.  (Those were the days, weren’t they??) Fans, especially younger fans, want more. That doesn’t mean that you have to be another Britney Spears or Paris Hilton and tweet absolutely everything, but it does mean that the band has to at least appear as though they are willing to share what they’re working on.  It’s a tough balance, admittedly – and I can’t fault the band for not jumping in with both feet.  
Lately, however – I’m seeing a new and improved Duran Duran.  Gone are the days where virtual cobwebs were showing on their Twitter account – and even Simon seems to have remembered his Twitter!  Just last week Duran Duran not only wished us a Happy Thanksgiving, but we actually saw a few times where the group (or someone working for the band, of course!) asked us WHAT WE THOUGHT.  A dangerous question to ask any Duranie, in my opinion!   They’ve been replying back to fans, and genuinely trying to interact.  A definite improvement.  Granted, I don’t think it’s actually ever Roger, John, Nick or Simon (well…actually I wouldn’t be surprised if Simon is doing his own tweeting) that’s interacting – but that’s not really that surprising.  It’s the thought that truly counts, and it’s all about Public Relations.  
That brings me to the “why”.  Why have the band decided to finally jump on board and throw their fans a virtual bone after all of this time?  Why not just continue to appear as though they are out of our reach and continue to create more demand?   Let’s at least be honest and recognize that, at least at one time, the fans were so hungry for the band that they couldn’t be seen in public without being mobbed.  It’s really not all that different these days, much to MY chagrin as a 40 year old fan.  Seems to me at that our age – we should be old enough to know how to act in front of the band, but I digress.  Is it that they finally recognize that by keeping themselves out of reach, both in person and online in various methods, that they aren’t creating a demand as much as they’re creating a real gap between themselves and their fans – many feel as though they act far more elitist than they really should at this point, and it’s turned fans away.  Could it be that the band recognizes that their fan base has shrunk to the point where we’re a manageable mob?  Or, perhaps the band realizes that it really is the music that has brought us together – and that is something that should be celebrated after 30 years, not something that they need to hide from.   In the past week I’ve gone from thinking that these are signs of the apocalypse, to wondering if the band has been taken over by aliens, to realizing that maybe, just maybe, they are giving this the old college try.  
It’s really hard to say, but I must thank their PR person for guiding them, and I thank the band for giving it a chance.  It might even work – and they may find that they can interact with us without fearing for their lives in the process!  😉  

Learning to Laugh

I don’t know about anyone else out there, but invariably for me – as things are moving along at a good clip, and good things are happening, inevitably a small fly will end up in the ointment.  It doesn’t completely screw everything up, but it’s an annoyance, and if I let it, it’ll ruin the whole thing.  Admittedly, I’m not very good at ignoring the small things.  I wish I were, because then my life would be a lot less stressful at times, but I suppose I am who I am, faults and all.   The same holds true for this blog.  While things are starting to move at a steady pace, and our readership is growing, inevitably there are folks out there that don’t have appreciation for what we’re doing, and you know – in and of itself that’s OK.  At one point a while back another author told me to make sure to write each day, and know that at least one person out there would agree with whatever I was saying.  I’ve tried to hold true to that as I’ve gone along here.  The fact is, I’m no more a writer than I am an engineer, and I’m just learning my way.  That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be held accountable for my writing, it just means that in no way do I consider myself an expert.  I write what I feel is important in that moment, and I’m finding that just as in most arts – the most successful pieces of work I’ve written so far are those in which I allow myself to be the most open and vulnerable.  Putting yourself out there is difficult even under the best of circumstances, and the fact is – not many people appreciate that vulnerability.  
Now, you might be thinking – “Who cares?  That’s all part of writing a blog and you should have expected that!”  You would be right.  The fact is, I expected criticism and ridicule when we started this blog.  I knew there would be those that would immediately scoff and laugh, and the fact is – that’s OK.  Let me be honest for a minute:  I am 40 years old, and I write a blog that at least on the surface, is about Duran Duran.   There are words to describe people like that, whether you call them fans, fanatics, Duran”tards”…etc.  I might have used similar words to describe other fans I’ve met, and I’m not necessarily ashamed to admit that.  The funny thing is that once you get past the annoyance of having been called some or all of those names, you start to realize that it really IS funny.  
Yes, I stand up proudly and say that I travel great distances to go see Duran Duran in concert. I have their posters up in my room (well, it’s actually my closet), and I own a good portion of all of the vinyl they’ve ever released….officially and “unofficially”.  I read a ridiculous amount of articles about them, I monitor message boards dedicated to the band, and I even get a little excited when I see new interviews, TV shows, etc that they are on.  I’m I embarrassed by any or all of that?  No, not really.   I would say that in the past year or so, I’ve realized that at this point in my life, I really don’t care what other people think.  Yes, I would love to have the acceptance of my peers, but the fact is, my peers probably already do those things right along with me.  That’s one reason why the fan community is such a fantastic group.  We may not all get along, we may all participate in our fandom in completely different ways, but it takes each of us to make up the community.  
I enjoy writing this blog, and for those who have actually read and absorbed each post for the day, you should be able to see that while the blog is called The Daily Duranie, and the posts generally have something to do with the band….they are as much about being people in general.  The focus goes well beyond the band and has far more to do with the social science of it all than it does worshipping the ground the band walks on (although we’re not above that).    I suppose some people can’t get beyond the surface, and that’s OK.  That’s why we chose Duran Duran as the sort of “case study” to examine, because we knew that doing a blog solely on examining fandom would never attract the types of readers we would like.  Many of the more “I love the band” posts are sprinkled throughout the blog as a whole, and we’ll continue to do that because let’s face it – it’s fun.  There are many in the community who feel the need to question the intentions of the rest of us, and it’s far more fun to point fingers and ridicule than it is to examine ourselves and what our own intentions are for being here.  Good for them. I hope that they read the blog and find plenty of substance to fill their heads.  The fact is, I laugh at myself as often as I can these days.  I’m 40, I’m just a stay at home mom with two college degrees, and yet I’m writing a blog about my teenage heartthrobs.  It is hilarious when you think about it.  Embrace it and move on, right?   The best part is that I’m thoroughly enjoying myself, I’m learning a lot about people in general and I come away from writing each blog feeling better about the day.  I wonder if there are many other people out there that can say the same?

-R

They Are Back

No, I’m not referring to the band, for once.  I’m referring to fans.  It seems to me that since the album and single release dates are getting closer, more and more fans are coming back to the fandom.  Of course, one can argue that they never really left the fandom.  While, for some, this is technically true, there were many fans who weren’t checking the message boards and weren’t posting, even if they were.  These fans weren’t talking about Duran in emails or on social networking sites.  Yet, lately, I have begun to see a flurry of activity across the online community. 

Last night, my own particular facebook page and the Daily Duranie’s twitter were alive with Duran comments!  Many of these people were either watching and commenting about the Behind the Music airing or were talking about their excitement over the album!  I see enthusiasm returning to many of my Duranie friends, something that I haven’t seen since Astronaut days.  I also see the message boards getting more and more popular as it is taking longer and longer to read them as so many more people are posting per day.  Obviously, not all of these posts or posters are positive about the album or the snippets of songs they have heard.  For some of these people, a new album still provides a large discussion topic and they go to the boards to read and discuss.  I get that.  I, too, like to discuss the band and their current status.  Heck, I am a co-author of this blog in order to do just that.  Yet, some of the people talking and thinking about Duran now aren’t necessarily those who want to discuss everything but those who are positive about the album.

I definitely was concerned after RCM about the state of the fandom.  Obviously, some fans came back only for the reunion and to relive some aspect of their childhood.  Once they had seen the Fab Five in person, they had no more need to think about Duran.  Yet, many people actually left because they did not like what they heard and saw.  That worried me.  I was concerned that these people would never return, no matter what the band did, musically or otherwise.  Now, some of those fans are returning.  Yes, some are coming back because they are too curious to stay away and they may not stay but some are back because they LIKE what they hear.  They like the feel of the current Duran as it feels like true Duran Duran to them.  This makes me happy.

Why should it matter to me if the fans come back or not?  Well, personally, I believe that participating in a fandom is WAY more fun with more people!  Yes, I could assume to have a greater chance to meet the band or to have really good seats if there are less fans.  That is true.  I don’t think I would have as much fun, though.  There is nothing better than sharing one’s excitement over a new snippet or interview with one’s fellow fans.  Their level of enthusiasm only works to enhance mine!  I have been to shows with non-Duranies and can appreciate the performances of the band but those shows won’t stick out to me as the best shows (even if they were really great, musically).  To me, the best shows are ones with a great performance with the band, attending it with a Duranie similar to yourself (in my case, that always means my partner-in-crime), and hanging out with other Duranies both before and after a show.  I feel like the future tour (dates can be released any time now…) will be really fun again!  I have high hopes for really good times with my fellow Duranies currently that I didn’t have even a month or two ago. 

I love that this new album is bringing the Duranies back.  Now, I hope that the album is good enough that they all stay!

-A

What’s the Difference?

From time to time in this blog, I’ve tried to bring up issues that aren’t necessarily central to our community, but about fandom in general.  One of those topics is fanaticism.

From the time I was a child and really became aware of what being a “fan” was all about – it became very clear to me that you can be a fan by enjoying someone’s work (whether that is a sports team, an actor, a band, etc.), and that experience can be very positive.  Somewhere along the line, however; there is a point where fandom can be very negative.  The love and appreciation for a certain entity can become something very ugly, and even dangerous.  There is a very clear difference between hanging posters on a wall and say – photoshopping pictures so that it appears that your life is somehow entwined with the obsession.  Even more drastic, there’s a difference between leaving a kind “can’t wait for the album” comment on a facebook page and writing a threatening and long winded “love” letter to the band.  I think most fans can see that difference and recognize when another “fan” has indeed crossed that line.

What tends to be more blurry, and far less black and white, is when someone who has been a fan for years starts to become frustrated with the band’s situation, or with the fact that in their opinion the band hasn’t “delivered” in many years.  What was once kind appreciation becomes anger and again, frustration.  Of course, this is much different than just not liking a specific album.  The problem is when, for the same fan, over the course of a few years or a few albums, it’s as though the band can do nothing right.  Again, many can say (and would be right and fair in saying!) that perhaps the band/artist/etc. has hit a very bad patch – and there is absolutely nothing wrong with having an opinion.  That isn’t my point at all, and that’s also what makes this type of negative fanaticism difficult to identify, both in ourselves and in others.  It has much more to do with a cycle of behavior than a few flippant comments.  After all, there are many fans who haven’t liked an album or two.  There are still plenty more that joke about “Durantime”, or comment on the bands’ chances of hitting the charts again.  Those comments do not indicate the behavior of a fanatic, other than the fact that we spend an awful lot of time discussing the band!  I would assert, however that there is a distinct point when the negativity becomes much more fanatical than fan.

In the time I’ve been involved in the community, I have noticed there is a definite roller coaster feeling to this nonsense we call fandom.  There are huge highs, and very low points that can sometimes be very difficult to even out from, and gigantic hills to climb to get to the good parts.  I don’t think it’s unlike addiction, to be honest.   At first, the ride is fun – even the drop offs and hills don’t seem so bad because everything is moving so fast.  All we want to do is ride the coaster again and again.  Then slowly, we start to get tired of it all.  We only want the good parts – and yet those seem so far back, and so hard to reach in front of us that we start to hate the ride.  We want the band to play on tour so that we can feel that high again, we want to get new music because we want to feel that shiny and new feeling again and again.  The band doesn’t move fast enough to keep up with our own “needs”…and we start really getting down on the band.  Then the album comes out, and while it’s OK, it’s not exactly what we wanted.  What we wanted was back 20 years ago, or maybe we want more of what was on the last album – but in any case the current album doesn’t give us that high at all.  What’s up with that?  Then they tour, and while the shows are OK, that exhilarated feeling we used to have after the shows seems to be missing.  We want that high – desperately so – so we continue to go to show after show and still nothing.  At this point, we’re getting angry because the band just isn’t meeting our needs at all…yet we can’t seem to tear ourselves away.  We just want the band to respond correctly, and maybe if we complain loudly enough, they’ll hear and fix it.  And so the roller coaster begins again.

The trouble comes when we don’t recognize the behavior for what it really is.  As I said above, there’s nothing wrong with disliking an album or a direction the band is taking.  That’s part of the normal give and take of fandom.  There’s nothing wrong with being disappointed, and it’s very normal to vocalize that disappointment, whether that’s in a discussion with fans or on a message board.  It’s something far different when over the course of extended time there is nothing positive coming from the fandom, whether that’s in words, actions, or feelings about the band.  What is the point of being a fan if there is nothing about the band that feels positive?  It’s behavior that isn’t entirely unlike addiction, which can truly be ugly.

As usual, this subject leaves me with far more questions than answers, and is something I will continue to focus on from time to time.  What makes a self-described fan go from sincere adoration to critical on all counts?  Is it something that happens to all fans over time, or is only a select few?  Is it that longtime fans see where the band has been, and realize the fun is over and that it’s time to quit?  Why bring down the entire community if you never have anything positive to add?  More importantly, why is that these fans don’t always leave the community? Is it really addiction to the band that keeps them around, and if so – what is the real defining difference between fandom, fanaticism and addiction, or is there really any difference at all?

-R