Category Archives: Fandom

Doing It Right This Time!!

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

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

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

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

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

-A

Are we really THAT crazier than anyone else??

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

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

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

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

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

Crazy? Somehow I doubt that.

-R

Are Fans Really That Like That?!

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

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

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

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

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

-A

Falling Down-An Interpretation

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

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

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

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

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

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

-A

Girl Panic (The Shortened Version) and Entertainment

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

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

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

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

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

-A     

Stress of (and) Contests!

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

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

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

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

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

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

-A

The Impact of Duran Duran

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

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

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

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

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

-A

Sometimes, the fangirl in me takes over…

I know all of us have read about them or heard them – those moments when a fan (and this could be a fan of any band, any celebrity, etc.) finally gets in front of their idol and completely loses it. “It” could be anything: their voice, their sanity, etc.  I don’t know about you, but I’ll hear about those moments, or I’ll be online reading a message board or even an article where someone is telling an anecdote about when they met the band, and when they get to that crucial part of the story when they fell apart and did none of the things they thought and everything they had said they’d never do – I cringe, I get uncomfortable, and I desperately want to turn the page, turn the channel or do whatever I can to stop listening or reading to the rest of it.  (Of course though, I’ll keep reading/listening/etc.  It’s that train wreck philosophy when you want to turn away but just can’t.)  I have to admit that I’ve never had that kind of thing happen – the one time I was in front of all five of them (at a signing in Los Angeles), I stood outside of the door to Virgin Megastores and absolutely willed myself to calm down before going in to see all of them.  I remember telling myself that I’d waited 25 years to finally be in front of them, and that there was absolutely no way I was going to giggle, cry, or be hysterical.  I can remember doing some very firm “self-talk” that day before Nick Rhodes called my daughter and I to the table, and yes – the fact that my oldest was with me that day had all kinds of bearing on my attitude as I walked in the store.  It was the one time I’d ever be in front of all of them at the same time, and I’m happy to say that no, I didn’t accost any of them, there was no crying, and aside from a quick moment at the end when I caught myself about to giggle in front of none other than Roger Taylor – I made it, and to this day I feel very lucky.  I can’t say I’m always so composed.

I find that the fan girl moments creep up on me, mostly unexpected, and thankfully, mostly in the privacy of my own home.  There’s no danger of John Taylor sneaking up on ME with a camera while I’m wildly grinning at a photo or the recollection of a past memory, and for that, I’m thankful.  It’s one of the last things anyone really needs to see.  One of these such moments came upon me this morning, just as I was simply trying to read an article, of all things.  I’ll dare to even show the photo that did it:

It’s a harmless photo.  The fact is though, I couldn’t get past the photo to read the darn article!  I can’t even put my finger on exactly what it is about this particular picture that did it, but I can share some thoughts.  I will say that it hung in my room on the wall behind my bed – it was basically the center point of my “wallpaper” so to speak.  I know it was one of the very first posters I ever bought of the band (I had tons of pinups from magazines, but this was a full sized poster), and I absolutely adored the poster.  I would go into my room, flounce onto my bed after turning on my record player (yes, you read that correctly: record player!), and stare at my posters.  You can call that whatever you’d like, but I choose to think of those times as my own personal zen moments.  Life was incredibly stressful as an eleven or twelve year old, you see.  School was tough.  The popular girls at school hated me, and in return I wasn’t incredibly fond of most of them either.  My room was my safe haven, and sometimes I just needed those times to center myself.  Of course back then I never really thought of it that way.  I would lay back and briefly consider each band member, trying to decide which one of them was to be my future husband.  Who would wait for me? (none of them, dang it…)  Which one of them appreciated brownish hair, green eyes and a light dusting of freckles?  (Again, I’d have to go with “none”)  Which one of them liked younger women? (Nick, of course!)   I’d go down the line, starting with Roger.  I’d inspect each aspect of their likenesses staring back at me, going through their attributes and trying to ascertain how it was that five guys could be so incredibly perfect looking.  (I think I need to remind you all that I was 12, maybe 13 at most here.  I really believed that whatever I saw in a magazine was real.   Yes, you probably could have sold me many bridges too….)  It never even crossed my mind that one or more of them could be doing drugs…or even drinking for that matter.  Ah the naivety of youth!  I think that to some extent, I’m still amazed when I read of the real life problems that take place with these guys – I was always so quick to believe that all must be perfect for them. They are rockstars, what could possibly not be perfect about that?!?  A lot, of course.  But, that’s the double-edged sword that comes with idols.  We want to believe they’re perfect, and I think to a large extent – we very much need them to be perfect.  It’s a long drop off from that pedestal that we carry them on, and the very first time they fall, it’s a shock.  The trick is being able to still have that fangirl-like idolization and still know that they are human.  I don’t think that many out there can do that, but we try.  Some fans fall away, recognizing that the idolization for them is in the past.  They may always have good memories for the music and their youth – but they’ve reached their point where the usefulness of the idolization is over.  Then there’s the rest of us, which apparently is where I’m located!

This morning, I went over each one of the band members in detail.  I searched their faces almost as though I was looking for signs of the times to come in each of them.  I stopped at Roger’s soulful eyes – those always got me when I was younger, and when I looked at them today, I could see signs of the Roger I’ll see pictures of online today.  Then I looked at Nick.  Why is it even fair that he has those defined cheekbones and porcelain skin.  My skin didn’t look like that when I was two, much less at 13 and yet for the most part – Nick looks exactly the same now!  Then there’s Simon.  Youthful Simon.  For an Englishman, I think it’s a crime that he can tan the way he did and I don’t even care if it’s photoshopped – which I don’t even know if they had back then! (Don’t even get me started on Roger’s tanning ability.  I’m pretty certain it’s illegal somewhere.)  Andy.  Andy always looked like a rock and roller to me.  He seemed like the most reckless and dangerous one of the group – but was he really?  Standing next to him was John.  John was the baby face of the group, the one I believed was so innocent.  John on drugs?  Oh come now.  That’s impossible!  (hardly)  It’s true that they’ve all aged.  So have I.  John doesn’t have the same boyish looks he did in his 20’s, but there are some photos I’ll see where I’ll get glimpses of his youthful grin, and the same can be said for all of them.  As I looked at the picture this morning, smiling away, I came to the conclusion that the past thirty years feels as though it went by in a blink of an eye.  Sometimes when I go to their shows, I  forget that so much time has passed.  It’s not until after the show, or the next morning, that the thought dawns on me that I’m in my 40’s now.

When I’m cheering at a show, it doesn’t cross my mind that at 40, I should probably be done screaming for a rock band.  How long can I really get away with going to concerts, staying out late and following a band? (whether that’s literally or just on Twitter)  I don’t have the answer to that question, other than to note that I’m not ready for it to end, but on the same token I’m well aware of what it must look like to others. I can remember being in my 20’s and seeing “older” people at concerts, shows and even clubs.  My friends and I would chuckle and laugh if older men would come up to us and ask us to dance or try to buy us drinks.  We would openly laugh at the older women, trying to dress as though they were as young as we were – and their bodies couldn’t quite keep up with their youthful minds.  There are many moments when I think about that as I’m going out after a show, or when I’m at a concert.  The difference of course is that when I’m at a Duran Duran concert, most if not all of the audience is my age.  It’s easy to convince myself that we’re all still young enough to be there screaming in all our glory.  It’s only when I tell other people who are not fans that are still my age that they remind me in no uncertain terms that I’m “stuck in the 80’s”.  Just the other night we dropped my oldest off at her friends house when we were on our way to the Valley Center show.  The girl’s parents asked us where we were headed, and I tried to be offhanded and calm when I told them we were driving into San Diego to see Duran Duran.  The parents laughed and the father announced that he’d heard there were two people still stuck in the 80’s, and that apparently we were those two people!  I laughed, because I wasn’t about to get into that conversation with another parent, but the comment stung a bit.  As we left, he told us not to forget our lighters – and I had to clamp my hand over my mouth not to tell him to get up with the times, that these days we use our “mo-bile phones”. (as Simon calls them – here in the states we just call them our “cell phone”)  It was a brief encounter, but one that took just a tiny bit of joy out of the show that night.  I know what I look like to other people who aren’t in the fandom, or perhaps any fandom.  I used to be rather defiant, but more often I’m trying to just enjoy the moment.  Isn’t that the point?

Taking those few minutes to time travel back to my 12 or 13 year old bedroom made me smile just a bit.  Sure, I’m still a fangirl at 40.  I might be a little more well-read, a little less naive and perhaps a bit more wise, but a fangirl nonetheless.

Oh the article??  I did finally get through it.  It described the use of the waterfall in The Reflex, and it was something I did not know, actually!  You can read it for yourself here.

-R

Looks or Music?

Not too long ago, I saw a brief discussion on Mark’s UK message board about the band’s looks.  No, it wasn’t about whether or not people think the band members are attractive but about whether or not we, as fans, should care about their looks.  Those posters who basically said that fans shouldn’t care about their looks but instead about the music were guys and the people who said that fans can and should acknowledge the band’s attractiveness were women.  Hmmm…

I think Duran’s good looks have both helped and harmed them.  On one hand, the fact that they are good looking guys definitely helped draw people’s attention or kept people’s attention.  Let’s face it.  MTV really helped kick start Duran’s career, especially here in the States.  As I sit here in my living room in 2011, I try to remember what it was like to see those first few videos.  Let’s assume that I hadn’t heard the song, Save a Prayer, before but I was glued to MTV and the video came on.  I would have continued to watch it because it was a beautiful video.  Then, maybe, I would watch it the next time it came on.  Pretty soon, I found myself singing the chorus.  I would then find myself wanting to hear the song as much as I wanted to watch the video.  I would have no choice but buy the single or the album.  Thus, the videos and their good looks drew me and many others to the band where then the music would take over. 

Of course, many of these original fans who became fans through the videos, were young and female.  Let’s face it the guys did look good and the videos created such a fantasy with their exotic locations and the storylines.  It makes sense that a lot of us were attracted to that.  Unfortunately, it seems like whenever young people and young females, in particular, like something, that thing is criticized by the media, the press and critics.  This, of course, was the case with Duran.  This, of course, brings me to today.

Many of the original fans still think that the guys look good.  That said, most of us who do aren’t in it solely for their looks.  As I pointed out earlier, the looks might have grabbed our attention but isn’t what really made us fans.  The music is what did it.  Now, the looks just add to the package.  Think about it this way.  Duran spends a lot of time thinking and picking out album covers.  Why?  It isn’t like it changes the quality of music.  Yet, it might draw attention to the album, which might give people a chance to listen to the music.  This might create new fans.  Will looks keep fans?  I don’t think so.  As attractive as they all are, they aren’t young anymore (none of us are!).  Their looks aren’t going to attract 20 year-olds, for the most part. 

It is interesting to me that many of the male Duran fans are worried about Duran’s chart success, album sales or ticket sales.  To me, this focus could be because success in this way reminds them of the past, reminds them of what it was like to be a Duran fan back in the 1980s.  The same can be true for those of us who get excited over a new picture of the guys.  We all want to have those moments when everything seems easy and right with the world, when everything seems easy and right with Duran Duran and their fans.  Yet, the reality is that it isn’t as easy as 1982 for any of us.  That said, I don’t blame anyone for trying to have a moment of goodness, a moment of happiness with either commercial success or with new pictures.  Fandom is supposed to be fun, right?  Thus, we should all be allowed to enjoy what we can.  🙂

Of course, in my opinion, fandom requires a balance.  If all people were focused on were the good looks for the member of the band, that might be a problem since they are a BAND and play MUSIC.  I also think that anyone that focuses solely on commercial success might be missing something, too, as QUALITY music matters as much as commercial success to me. 

-A

Lacking Meets and Greets, Shows and More…

Somedays, when writing this blog, I can step back and be completely objective, an observer of fandom.  Other days, I feel such a part of the fandom that I struggle with my words.  Most days, I fall somewhere in between as I am aware that we are both observers of our fandom and part of it.  Today, I am struggling with the balance. 

As many of you are aware, my partner-in-crime is on her way to the Valley Center show.  I couldn’t be happier for her!  Where am I?  I’m laying on my couch hoping to feel better as it appears that I caught some sort of stomach bug.  Ick.  Obviously, I would love to switch places with her–not that she would with me, though!  Anyway, while I’m happy for her and for everyone else who is going to this show or has been to one of the previous shows, I can’t help but to want to be there myself.  I think this is the natural aspect of being in a fandom, right?  We all want to do every show.  Yet, of course, for a variety of reasons, we can’t or most of us can’t.  While we know that, logically, we still can be envious.  Now, I will admit that I have been rather lucky in terms of the number of shows I have seen in comparison to many people.  However, I know of people who have been to many more.  Does that bother me?  No, on most days, it doesn’t.  I understand that I can’t do it all.  I have responsibilities in terms of work and I have financial restrictions that limit my fandom activities.  That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t bother me, sometimes.  It does.  It is also clear that this bothers other fans, too.  Do you know how many comments we get from other fans from different parts of the world who are bothered by the lack of touring near them?  We get a lot of them!  What about those fans who can’t ever get to a show even if the band is touring in their country?  They, too, get upset about it. 

Another element of this that comes up during touring seasons is meet and greets.  Rhonda discussed VIP packages the other day and many, many people talked about the lack of meet and greets on this US leg of the tour.  A lot of people think that the band should do meet and greets with the money VIP tickets cost.  I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about this.  Now, before I go further, let me be perfectly clear.  We have never had an official meet and greet with the band.  Both of us have “met” them at cd signings but nothing like an official meet and greet.  Yes, we have been fans a long time.  Yes, we have VIPed some.  Do I think that the band should do meet and greets with all of the VIPs?  I’m not sure.  From everything I have heard, they don’t last long and most fans get moved along pretty quickly.  If this is how it is done for a few winners, how long would they last if ALL VIPs got one?  I suspect that they would be VERY short.  I wouldn’t want that.  I have already had that with the cd signing.  Then, there is always a part of me that has a hard time with the money connection.  VIP tickets cost a lot of money.  Should it be just the fans who can afford VIP who get to meet the band?  Then, what about those people who always have VIP?  Should they get to meet the band 10 times a tour?  5 times a tour?  Is that fair?  I don’t know.  Maybe it is since they would be paying for that privilege. 

Then, what about those people who win contests to meet the band?  On one hand, money is no longer the determining factor, which is good, in my opinion.  They requires good luck, however.  I have seen many friends of mine winning things like radio contests to meet the band.  That’s cool.  The only show I’m going to is in Chicago, a city more than 2 hours away from me.  If there is a radio contest, I wouldn’t know because I don’t get Chicago radio.  Thus, in this situation, geography and not money blocks my chances.  I have also seen or heard about people who aren’t really fans playing these type of contests and winning.  That is upsetting, too, as it means that Duranies don’t get a chance to win.  Don’t get me wrong here–I’m thrilled for anyone who wins a meet and greet and excited for people who get to shows I can’t do.  Yet, I’m acknowledging that even those of us who get it, logically, can still feel a little envious, can be upset and that this is normal.  It is normal to wish you were the one at the show.  It is normal to wish you were the one at the meet and greet. 

It seems to me that there is a wide spectrum of what Duran fans can and have done in terms of shows and meeting the band.  There are some fans who have seen one show and there are other fans who have seen well into double digits of shows.  Some fans have never met or seen the guys at all and others have done it a bunch of times.  I’m willing to bet that those fans who have been to a few or no shows feel a little hurt, a little upset watching and hearing about fans who do more.  The same is true for meet and greets.  Do the fans who have been to a ton of shows and/or have met the band a bunch of times feel this way, too?  I think they might.  Again, I think the thing about fandom is that people want everything they can get or else they wouldn’t be fans! 

This post is really just to acknowledge that I believe these feelings exist.  I’m not judging those feelings.  I’m not saying that people should try to change their feelings.  I think, too often, people are encouraged, openly or not, to keeping those feelings to themselves.  I’m sure that someone is going to write and tell me that these feelings are selfish and that they never feel this way.  To those people, I’m happy for you, but it doesn’t change my mind that I think the feelings do exist for a lot of people in the fandom.  Now, tomorrow, I will be better, both physically (I hope) and emotionally and can get back to counting down the days until I’m the lucky one at the Chicago show.

-A