Category Archives: Fandom

Duranie Culture

Do you think there is a Duranie culture?  For the last 11 years, I have been teaching 7th grade Social Studies and a large part of that curriculum focuses on world cultures.  Obviously, in order to discuss this topic, the students must first learn what culture is.  Perhaps, that will also help with the question I posed today about Duranie culture because I honestly don’t know.

I teach my students that culture is a way of life of a group of people who share similar beliefs and customs.  I can pull out two main parts to help with my question:  beliefs and customs.  Obviously, I think we do share similar beliefs, at least when it comes to Duran Duran.  We think their music is fabulous. I think for most Duranies, we also think that there videos are pretty great, too.  I’m willing to bet that we might also think that the band members themselves are pretty terrific.  These beliefs, in fact, are essential in the definition of a Duranie.  All Duranies think that their music is great.  If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be Duranies, right?  Now, of course, this is all in the general sense.  We might not agree on which songs are the most fabulous and which songs are the least fabulous, but overall we all agree that the music is great.  Beyond the music, though, we might have lots of differences on a personal level, especially on big issues like religion and politics.  I think that is okay as many people belong to multiple cultures.  We don’t need to have similar beliefs about everything.  We just need to have similar beliefs about Duran to have a Duranie culture.  Thus, we have the first part of the definition about culture.  What about the customs?

Here’s where it is more complicated I think.  Customs are actions.  Beliefs are about what we think and customs are about what we do.  Maybe it would help to think about what are some of the things Duranies do.  Duranies talk about Duran.  They might do it on message boards, on social networking sites, or among friends.  Duranies might also spend money on Duran, including on albums, concert tickets, merchandise, and more.  Some Duranies might express their beliefs in an artistic format through art, graphics, music mixes and fanfic.  Yet, all of these things could represent just fandom, in general.  Do those actions, those customs represent something specific to Duran?

What kind of customs do people think of when they think about Duran and specifically about Duran?  In thinking about their music, their videos, their lifestyles, a few things pop up as essential Duran Duran.  First, I think about having a good time.  This is the band that claimed way back when they they wanted to be the band playing when the bomb dropped.  This is the same band who Simon often states as “the band designed to make you party”.  Even during horrible times and world events, Duran has recorded songs about having fun, about partying.  Yes, I know that they have released songs that are much more serious as well.  That’s true but those songs, those moods don’t hit me as quickly as the party, fun music does.  Most of those more serious songs are also hidden in veiled lyrics, masking the seriousness of it.  Beyond the partying, I also think of Duran as artistic.

I remember hearing Nick say something about Duran is like a multi-media corporation.  They weren’t satisfied to just make music.  They had to create small films (video) and they were concerned about fashion.  Obviously, some of the band members have dived into the art world more than others.  Nick did it with his photography and John has done his share with graphics and even acting.  I would go further to say that Duran’s artistic nature is contemporary and often thought-provoking.   An example of this, of course, is the album cover for All You Need Is Now.  They got people talking, which is part of art, in my opinion.  They don’t always go for what is beautiful but for something with more depth, more meaning. 

So, if Duran Duran’s biggest focuses are on music, art and parties, where does that leave the fans?  Do the fans participate or focus on the same things?  If not, does that mean that there is no Duranie culture or does it mean that not all fans participate in the culture?  I obviously cannot speak for all Duranies about whether or not they focus on the same things.  Personally, I admit that I enjoy a good party and love modern art.  I may not party exactly like they did or do but I like to have a good time.  The same can be said for art.  I’m not really big into fashion but really like the visual arts.  For example, if I am on vacation, it is common to find me in an art museum, especially in the contemporary arts section.    Can I live their lifestyle?  Obviously not.  I do travel some but nothing like they have or do.  I don’t have the time or the money for that.  I like staying in hotels but they aren’t always the best in the world.  For me, touring is a chance to get as close to that lifestyle as I can, in a way.  Overall, though, I feel some connection to Duran, on a cultural level as I seem to share some customs, in my own way. 

So, what about the rest of you?  Do you feel a cultural connection to these elements of Duran Duran?  Did I miss some essential Duran elements?  What if you don’t seem to have that connection?  Do you think that means that there is no Duranie culture or is it based on something completely different?  Perhaps, it is a situation where some Duranies are part of a culture and others are not.  What do you think?

-A

Expressing Fandom

I apologize for the lateness of today’s blog.  I have been busy, though.  During summer, like many people, I try to get some projects done and this summer, despite any or all of its weirdness, has been no different.  One of the projects I have done is to reorganize my Duran collection.  I wanted to get rid of one book shelf that housed some tour photo albums and get something that could display random Duran related items instead, which I did.  Then, I decided that I wanted to change the posters–not that I didn’t love that 1982 group shot but that I wanted something different.  I decided to frame the covers to the vinyl albums and place them in cool, meaningful way.  After hanging the albums today from their debut through Thank You, I’m close to finishing.  Yay!  Of course, this display is all for me as regular visitors to my house wouldn’t see it.  That doesn’t matter, though.  It makes me happy.  It is one way that I express my fandom, but there are many other ways.

Another way that I express my fandom is through writing this blog and writing the book with Rhonda.  Obviously, those are pretty significant ways.  They take a lot of time and effort.  In order to do both well, I think, requires that we are observing and/or participating in Duranland quite a bit.  If we don’t, it would be like writing about a book by only looking at the cover.  Then, of course, we like to share our ideas with the rest of the fandom and we often choose to do that by acknowledging our topics on facebook and twitter and through talking with other fans.  Therefore, writing is a huge way that I acknowledge my fandom.  Probably the next biggest or the equally largest way that I express my fandom is through my purchases.

I like to tour.  I won’t lie or deny that.  I do.  If I could tour two or three times more than what I do right now, I would.  This, of course, costs money.  Concert tickets aren’t free, but neither are hotels, gas money, airline tickets, etc.  I choose to do all of that for the love of my fandom.  It is also common for me to buy merchandise when I go to shows as well.  I have a number of Duran t-shirts, for example, which I do wear.  I have purchased a number of tour books, too.  My purchases, then, show my fandom.  Yet, of course, there are many means of expressing fandom that don’t cost much or anything.

Many people seem to express their fandom through a creative means.  Some people might try to learn Duran songs and others might try to make new remixes, if they are musically inclined.  Writers might attempt fanfiction and people who enjoy Duran and reading might go out of their way to read fanfic and comment on it.  Others may create by using a visual art, which could include actual drawing or painting but could also include computer arts like signatures and/or avatars for message boards.  I’m sure that there are many creative means of how people express their fandom that I’m missing. 

I’m willing to bet that most Duranies have some way of communicating that they are fans of Duran Duran.  What’s interesting to me is how they do that and why they choose that route?  Do they choose a way that is very open to the outside world like wearing Duran t-shirts everywhere?  Do they choose a route that’s completely private by writing poetry that is never posted anywhere?  Do they choose something that is in the middle like writing fanfic and sharing it on Duran message boards?  So, this is the question I ask today.  How do you express your fandom?  Is it open to the general public, to just other fans, or only to yourself?  Why do you express your fandom in that way?  Why do you share or why don’t you share? 

-A 

Tour Choices

It has been almost a week since Duran announced new tour dates for the US and Canada.  Many people have developed plans and some have even bought tickets, through the DDM presale or the regular public sale.  Other people are figuring things out and debating which shows, if any to go to.  I think that this indecisiveness is common.  Yet, I don’t really feel like this upcoming fall tour will be normal.  Maybe I feel this way because I flew all the way over to the UK to see some shows and didn’t get any.  Perhaps, it is because I have a lot of questions in my own future.  No matter the cause, I find my thinking about the tour to be different than normal.  It isn’t just a tour in the long line of tours.  It isn’t just the fall tour 2011 with more following.  I don’t know what it is but it isn’t like every other tour to me.

One question or comment I have seen more than once relating to this tour is when Duran is coming back to the US.  I am actually a little surprised by this question as it seems to me that many who are asking it, are hoping or thinking that Duran will come back in 2012.  It seems to me that the people asking this are people who aren’t able to see a show now.  Maybe, thinking that they will come back sooner rather than later helps them deal with their disappointment.  I get that.  It would help me, too.  That said, I’m still surprised about it.  First, I am still worried about Simon.  Do we really even know if he can do these shows.  While we know that he has been able to sing many notes that he wasn’t before, I haven’t seen anything to indicate that he is perfect.  Will he be able to make it through these 20 some dates?  If he does that, will he be able to make it through the UK?  My point here is simple.  Let’s worry about getting through what is already scheduled but don’t assume that everything is like normal.  It isn’t.  Then, if things are back on track, what about the rest of the world?

Duran still needs to reschedule Europe.  They owe it to those fans to do that next.  Yes, I think there is a very legitimate argument to be made that they should have done the UK first then Europe before coming back here.  I wouldn’t disagree with it.  I understand why they are doing this, assuming that they had these dates scheduled before they postponed Europe.  That said, I do think it would be good for American fans to remember that our country has had them twice in one year before the UK or Europe, not to mention the rest of the world.  They still haven’t done dates in South America (yes, I know that they have ONE date scheduled in Brazil), Asia, Australia or make up the dates in South Africa.  There are a LOT more places for them to play before they come back here.  No matter how much we love them here or how big our country is or how much money they make here, there are other places in the world, other fans that need to be reached.  We cannot and should not be selfish.  Yes, obviously, I want to see them as much as I can.  All fans do.  I try to understand, though, that the US isn’t the only place in the world. 

Now, I can imagine that many of you are saying something along the lines of, “You live close to shows so it isn’t a big deal for you” or “You have the time and money to travel”.  I won’t deny that I have been VERY lucky with what I have been able to do.  I am within driving distance of a major market (Chicago) and have been very fortunate to be able to travel to see other shows.  That said, it isn’t like I’m able to do everything I want to do.  I can’t go to all the shows I want to.  I can’t travel all the time.  I have to make choices and I have to make it work with the dates and locations I have been given.  I have to be willing to drive or fly to the shows that I want to see.  I have to be willing to sacrifice buying some things that I want in order to be be able to go to a show.  It is about choices and priorities for me.  I realize that the band isn’t going to play in my backyard or charge me less for tickets.  I have to be willing to work with what they have given as far as any tour goes.  If I’m not willing to travel or spend the money, then it isn’t their fault.  In my case, it is MY choice to not travel or spend the money.  Now, obviously, some people don’t have the choices I have.  For many people, I know, that they can’t buy concert tickets because it means that they won’t have money for necessary items like groceries.  I also know that there are people who can’t drive distances for whatever reason.  Yet, some people might be able to sacrifice one thing or another to get to a concert.  If those people go or don’t, it is about choices.  They choose to go or not.  They aren’t forced one way or another and I respect whatever choices they make. 

Tours or concerts will never be perfect.  Duran won’t always play where you want them to play.  They won’t always play when you want them to play.  The ticket price will never be what any of us wants.  I recognize this.  I accept it.  This fall tour isn’t want I really want it to be, in terms of dates, locations, etc.  That said, I accept that it is what it is and I’m willing to make the choices and sacrifices necessary in order to get to at least one show.  In the back of my mind, I now know that every show, every tour could be the last.  I can’t wait for them to come back.  I can’t wait for 2012.  This could be it so I will do what must be done, at least once.

-A

How we became fans! Part 3!

Rhonda and I completely appreciate those of you who have shared your stories about how you became fans and welcome more stories.  As I read over all of the stories we have received via facebook, twitter or here, I couldn’t help but notice that there are some common themes in them no matter if people became fans in 1981 or in 1993 or in 2004. 

First, most people mentioned a specific song or video that did it for them, usually one heard on the radio.  This song or video grabbed attention and demanded that the listener/viewer ask for more.  Many fans then went ahead and searched out other songs/videos/albums.  While I’m not surprised by this, I have to admit to being pleased by it.  It seems to me that we became fans, that we became Duranies because of the MUSIC.  While this seems obvious, it just reminds me that we genuinely liked their music.  It wasn’t that we saw their pictures on the cover of a magazine that made us fans or even heard an interview on an entertainment show.  It was the music.  Perhaps, this is the reason that we have all stayed.  We will look at that next week. 

Second, most people talked about the videos and how they often reinforced their interest.  Many people talked about how they fell for the fantasies they provided, the escape from their dull lives.  We, too, wanted to travel to exotic locations and have James Bond like adventures.  At this point, people did mention the good looks of the individual band members.  It seems that their attractiveness just added to their appeal but it wasn’t the only thing, which is not what music critics thought then.  Everyone assumed that we became fans because the boys were cute.  Yet, based on this, that is completely untrue (not that we didn’t know that before!).  While on the topic of videos, a number of people mentioned watching MTV and Friday Night Videos.  These video shows as well as listening to the radio are no longer common means of kids finding music.  As a child of the ’80s, I can’t help but feel sorry for kids these days. 

Of course, as people dived into fandom, most began to buy teen magazines that featured Duran and put up posters in their room.  They often bought strange merchandise like school folders.  I know that both Rhonda and I had Duran pajamas.  That’s how cool we were!  We began to show our fandom openly with our posters or with the buttons on our jeans jackets.  We were proud to be Duranies and it seemed that we wanted everyone to know!

The last common theme that most people talked about was that emotional piece.  For some people, being a Duranie connected them to friends or family.  It was something that was shared.  It was a part of important relationships.  For others, the music provided an escape from unhappy or tough situations.  The music and the videos took them away from reality even if it was just a few minutes at a time and this escape could be essential to surviving, emotionally. 

I’m sure that every fandom has themes like ours.  Duranies seem to share common experiences in terms of listening to the radio, watching videos and having an emotional connection to what we heard.  These common experiences have led us all to be the Duranies we are today.

-A 

The Importance of Seeing Duran Live?

In the last couple of days, the Daily Duranie 30 Day Challenge has focused on live songs.  Yesterday, we asked what people’s favorite song was that they have not heard live.  Today, the question was the least favorite song you have seen live.  Basically, what song have you not seen performed but really want to and which song that you have seen, could you live without.  Yesterday’s results varied quite a bit.  33 different songs were given as answers.  The most popular choices were Shadows On Your Side and Late Bar.  Other popular choices were Land, None of the Above, the Chauffeur, Last Chance on the Stairway, Lonely in Your Nightmare, To the Shore, and Hold Back the Rain.  I have to admit that some of the answers surprised me as I have seen a number of these songs live.  What surprised me even more is that a number of fans haven’t seen them live.  This really got me thinking.

It seems to me that most fandoms have some way of celebrating what they are interested in.  They all have some event to really look forward to.  It may be the Superbowl for football fans or the convention for Star Trek fans.  I have always felt like tours were ours.  It is what we all seem to look forward to, what keeps us going as fans.  Now, that I know that a number of people haven’t been to shows, I have to wonder if my assumption was wrong.  Are tours not as important to the fandom as I thought?  Could it be that tours are the big party for some fans but not others?  Could it be that our fandom wasn’t united with this common element of fandom?

I am pretty open about the fact that tours are a big deal in my life.  I look forward to them and definitely countdown to the next one once I have tickets in hand.  Tours represent fun, travel, friends and more.  Yet, even more importantly, they represent shows.  Concerts.  Gigs.  They are filled with seeing the band perform live.  Let’s face it.  Duran is a band.  They play music.  The two ways they provide us with the music are the live shows and the albums.  While I love, love, love the albums, I don’t know that they are enough for me.  If you look at Duran’s history, they actually don’t happen all that often.  How many studio albums have there been?  13?  That isn’t very many for a band that has been around 30 years.  Are those albums enough to sustain interest?  Enough to keep fans?  I don’t think they would be for me.  While I love the music and can listen to the albums over and over again, I know that my fandom is reinforced at most shows.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that a great show actually increases my love for Duran.  Shows makes the music more powerful, more meaningful.  Then, of course, when I see their reactions to the music and their interactions with the crowd, this pushes my interest as well.  Yet, obviously, there are other fans who don’t share this outlook with me.

I wonder why people haven’t been to shows.  Yes, obviously, I realize that many fans probably have wanted to but haven’t been able for a variety of reasons (financial, health, other responsibilities, no shows near them, etc.).  I wonder if there are some fans who don’t want to see them live, who don’t think it is important.  Is it that their fandom needs are met through the albums?  Maybe they get enough through videos or dvds.  Perhaps, social interactions with other fans give them what they need.  I don’t know.  Nonetheless, it seems to me that my initial assumption about tours being essential isn’t totally right.  Tours might be key for some of us but not all of us. 

-A

Fan Criticism

I love Duran Duran.  This isn’t a secret.  At this point in my life, my love for them is almost unconditional as I have loved them for decades.  I can’t imagine that I would stop loving them, stop being a Duranie for anything.  That said, I don’t love everything that they do and I am not afraid to say so.  I’ll post my opinions here, on message boards, on facebook, on twitter, wherever.  I’ll tell them when I think they have done a really great job and when they missed the mark.  To me, this is what being a fan means.  It means that I care about them and love them unconditionally while having opinions about everything they do.  I thought that this is how most fans are.  I started to wonder yesterday when reading the responses to yesterday’s question about most overrated Duran song or video. 

Rhonda explained the term, overrated, on here well, I thought.  Picking a song or video for most overrated isn’t about hating a Duran song or video.  You could even like or love what you deem most overrated.  The point is that the song/video is often stated as something grand, fabulous, magnificent and you just can’t get there.  In my head, this praise can come from the fans.  Perhaps, it is a song that everyone seems to love when the band plays it live or a video that people couldn’t get enough of and you just didn’t feel the same.  In response to this challenge, many people came up with good answers, I thought.  The results were very close.  The Reflex was the big winner followed extremely closely by Hungry Like the Wolf.  Behind the lead was Save a Prayer, Wild Boys, Girls on Film, the Chauffeur and Notorious.  I thought it was interesting that all of these songs were standards in their live performances and, yet, many people thought they weren’t all that.  While these results were interesting (and they always are!), what was more interesting was that some people (I’m not talking a few people here but MANY people) couldn’t or wouldn’t give answers.  Why?  By the way, by asking this question, I’m not criticizing them just wondering the reasons.

It seems to me that some people couldn’t or wouldn’t give answers for a few possible reasons.  One possible reason is that no song came to mind quickly and people didn’t want to search for an answer.  Another possible reason is that they really love every song.  A third reason could be that they had answers but didn’t want anyone to know what those answers are.  I had a number of thoughts based on these possibilities.  I guess I can’t really see someone loving every song even by a favorite band, especially a band like Duran.  They have been around for a long time and have an extensive catalog.  On top of that, their catalog is not uniform as there are some dramatic differences between songs like Notorious to Before the Rain to Box Full O Honey to Rio.  Thus, if this isn’t the case, what could the deal be?

Could it be that they didn’t want anyone to know their answers?  If so, why is this the case?  It could be that they didn’t want people to see them doing something that would seem like criticism of their favorite band.  I could get that.  When I’m in public or with non-Duranies, I would say that everything Duran does is great.  I would never let the outside world see their imperfections.  Never.  Yet, I have no problem giving criticism or questioning what they do among Duranies.  I know that we all love them, generally.  Therefore, any criticism is done with love.  It isn’t meant to harm but meant to improve the next thing they do, if possible.  It also shows that we are thinking beings even within fandom.  Could this be the case with yesterday’s question?  Could it be that these fans didn’t want non-Duranies to see criticism?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  Of course, it could be that they didn’t want fans to see it, either.

Why would fans not share with other fans their thoughts about the band’s songs or videos?  I don’t really know but could speculate that they might think that other fans would judge them.  What if I went on every Duran message board and on every social networking site and started criticizing the album, Rio?  How would that go down with other Duranies?  Probably not well.  Some people would be shocked.  Some might be angry.  Some might think less of me for thinking that.  Perhaps, they think that fans should love everything the band has ever done.  I don’t know.  Maybe they think that fans should “publicly” love everything the band has ever done.  Maybe they were thinking of music critics and the media which never gave Duran credit and didn’t want to seem like those negative people.  Again, I don’t know. 

No matter the reason for the non-responses, I was once again reminded of something I love about fandom.  I love that we aren’t all the same.  We approach questions and events about the band differently.  This is good.  It makes things interesting and it keeps discussion going.  It helps to keep fandom alive.  Now, of course, I’ll be watching for the results of today’s challenge:  Best Storyline in a Song or Video.  Have fun and keep playing, Duranies!  🙂

-A

Fandom is Fun!

This morning, the Daily Duranie’s twitter and facebook has been very active!  Today is the first day of our 30 day Duran challenge!  We absolutely love, love, love to hear/read other Duranies answer our question of the day and hope that the participants are bringing the challenge over to their facebooks and twitter so that their friends can read and comment, too!  Just a reminder that today’s challenge is, “Your favorite DD song.”  It seems that many people can answer this question super quickly and others are really challenged to figure out their absolute favorite.  Still, other people are picking their favorite of the day as it can change for them, depending on their moods.  As the challenge moves along, we will do our best to both remind everyone what the daily challenge is and to report back what we hear!  I’m enjoying the challenge so much and it is only day 1!

This excitement reminded me of a fact that can and does get lost in the midst of worrying about Simon’s voice, concert dates, in-fighting, and more and that fact is that fandom is supposed to be fun!  Goodness, why would we continue to be involved if it wasn’t a good time?!  Besides fun little games like this challenge, what else is fun about being a Duranie?  As I think back through all of my years as being a Duranie (which makes me feel old, by the way), I immediately think of a few really entertaining things, including watching Duran stuff with other fans, touring, meeting other fans, squeeing over pictures, learning about the band, hearing new music that really kicks ass and more. 

For me, the most fun time being a Duranie is definitely when I’m on “tour”.  Obviously, the shows, themselves, are a complete blast and really are the best 2 hours I could spend (assuming that they are good shows!).  There is way more to touring than just the show.  I love hanging out with other Duranies, including and especially, my partner in crime.  I think back to past tours and realize how many great people I have met at shows!  Seriously, how fun is it to meet and get to know other Duran fans?!  To me, it definitely feels like meeting a kindred spirit, someone who understands you without you having to explain yourself.  It is like meeting a long lost friend.  I like having those discussions about what shows you have been to, how people became fans, and more.  Of course, in many cases, surrounding those shows is usually a party!  I’m not sure how the rest of you live, but I don’t often get to party like I do when I’m with my Duranie friends!  I remember reading a quote from John once and he said something, “Have you ever had so much fun that you didn’t know if you would get over it?  It was like that.”  I think that is a perfect way to describe a good tour!  Honestly, it is this fun that keeps me going back time and time!

Of course, tours don’t happen everyday so many of us find other ways to have fun within our fandom.  Sometimes, again, if we are lucky, we are able to get together with other Duranies!  This could be something large like a convention or a meetup or just having a few friends get together to watch our favorite Duran related material.  These settings can and, often, do take on a party atmosphere as well!  I, personally, love all types of get togethers!  Conventions are super special because they take a lot of work and don’t happen very often at all.  When they do and a bunch of Duranies get together, it can be magical.  Meetups outside of tours don’t happen very much either but are still tons of fun.  Usually, for both conventions and meetups, there is a time when a little bit of drinking and/or dancing takes place.  Our fandom is expressed in that way!  Smaller, more localized, get togethers are a good time as well!  I love watching Duran related material, including classics like Sing Blue Silver to newer classics like Live from London and everything in between.  It reminds me of when I was a kid and my best friend and I would watch Duran videos for hours just to see a certain look from our favorite or to pick out a new detail!  We couldn’t get enough.

I think we are lucky to be part of a fandom in an era where fans can come together online.  We don’t have to have Duran friends nearby!  Now, we can have friends all over the world to share in the fun!  We have message boards to discuss the latest news and social networking to connect with others.  In those settings, some of the best times, for me, have been when we have a piece of good news like an album release date or when new pictures have been found.  I mean…really…a lot of Duranies like to openly squee over a new picture.  Just the other day, John tweeted some shots from the GQ photo shoot and those pictures got around quickly and there were many, many comments made about the appearance of the guys.  Some of those comments weren’t so PG rated, either!  Of course, then, many online friends get to know each other more and more, which only enhances the fun.  🙂

I believe the entertaining elements of fandom is what keeps us all going during Duran downtime, when there is bad news or when the negative elements of fandom bubble to the surface.  We wouldn’t stay if we weren’t having a good time, right?  So, what is fun for you?  What keeps you a part of the fandom?

-A

P.S. Remember to join in on the 30 day challenge!  Today’s topic:  Your favorite song!

Many Fandoms or One Fandom?

To me, fandom has always meant having a passion for something.  It goes beyond the common, ordinary “like”.  It is more intense than that.  Obviously, there are many bands that I like, but I participate in the Duran Duran fandom.  My feelings for Duran go beyond the like.  In some ways, it is like a romance of sorts as feelings are intense.  On one hand, I have experienced great joy in being a Duranie.  On the other hand, I have had times when I’m frustrated or angry.  I doubt that I’m alone in this description of fandom.  This leads me to think about people who seem to be fans of many things and when I say fans, I am meaning this definition of intense emotions as opposed to just liking something, those who participate in the fandom. 

I have been involved in a couple of other fandoms.  Obviously, I have been open about being a Sox “fan”.  Does that mean that I’m part of that fandom?  In some ways, yes, and, in other ways, I’m not.  Here’s an example.  I voted for the Sox first baseman, Paul Konerko, to make it to the All Star game, but I don’t go to Sox message boards.  I don’t really communicate with fans outside of my family.  I have been more of an active participant for a couple of other fandoms outside of Duran and the Sox.  For those, I have read message boards and talked with other fans.  I have even made life long friends that way.  That said, there has been no fandom like Duran for me.  I haven’t traveled for other fandoms and I haven’t written anything about other fandoms.  Why is this?  Is it because of the fact that I have been a Duranie for decades?  Is that the difference?  Is the difference that the other fandoms were based on fictional characters and Duran is real?  I suspect that both of those factors might play a role.  Despite these other fandoms, I don’t see myself as someone who is always involved in a fandom.  For me, because the fandoms are so personal, I think the ones that are worthy of my participation are truly few and far between.  Therefore, right now in 2011, if Duran were to stop, I wouldn’t try to find a new fandom.  I couldn’t.  It doesn’t work that way for me.  Besides, how would I replace decades of fandom and all of the experiences I have had because of it?  This fandom is irreplaceable to me.

So how about those people who are fans of many things?  What makes them tick?  Is their fandom less worthy because of their varied interests?  Let me be clear about the fans I’m talking about.  I have seen people move from one fandom to another to another to another.  For example, I knew someone who was a fan of the show, Roswell, then Harry Potter, then Twilight and now the Vampire Diaries.  She has never been without a fandom.  What about the people who do the same thing with bands?  First, it might be Duran then Depeche Mode, then the Killers, etc.  They could be a fan and be a part of those fandoms of all of those bands at the same time, too!  Honestly, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with this.  People can’t help how they feel or what they might be interested in at any given time.  Perhaps, this is similar to that romance analogy where joining a fandom is like falling in love.  Some people are very selective when it comes to getting involved, romantically, with someone and other people can fall for people easily.  Neither one is wrong, just different. 

Why do people become fans of something in the first place?  They become fans because they see something they like and someone that makes them feel good, right?  For many fans, I believe they get a little high from their fandom.  I’ll give you an example.  I bet every Duranie reading this can remember a time when s/he got SO excited by Duran.  Maybe it was the first time you heard a certain song.  Maybe it was the first time you saw them live.  Maybe it was seeing the best concert ever.  Do those moments make you want to stop caring about the band or do they make you want more?  For me, every great show makes me want more shows.  I can’t ever seem to get enough.  In this way, fandom is sorta like a drug, then, huh?  Perhaps, those people that are fans of a ton of things are always searching for that high.  Maybe, for them, the high is short-lived and only happens in the beginning of joining a fandom.  I don’t know.  Maybe being part of a lot of fandoms helps with the disappointments that can and often do follow fandom.  If you aren’t focused on one thing, it doesn’t hurt as bad if it falls apart.  For example, if I’m a fan of sci-fi TV shows, then, if one has a bad storyline, I can deal with it because other shows might have good storylines.  If I’m into bands, if one isn’t touring, maybe others are. 

I think I understand, logically, those people who are in multiple fandoms or go from one fandom to another.  They might want the high that joining a fandom gives or they might want protection from disappointment.  They might always want that distraction that a fandom can bring in their lives.  Emotionally, I admit that it is much harder for me to understand.  I have only given my heart a few times and can’t see giving it as easily in the future even though I, too, would like the highs and the protection.  I just can’t do it.  It is too personal to me or something.  Plus, let’s face it…you can’t make something excite you if it doesn’t.  I guess this means that, for now, and in the future I’ll be emotionally living and dying for what I always have, Duran Duran.  What about the rest of you?  Can you be in multiple fandoms?  Does that make you less of a Duranie?

-A

Are All Fandoms Treated Equal?

In about an hour, I will drive to Milwaukee to pick up my parents at the airport there.  They have spent the last week in the Denver area.  Why Denver?  The answer is simple.  They went there to see the Sox play the Rockies.  (BTW, they saw a great come-from-behind extra inning win!)  Strangely enough, I never hear negative comments or see funny looks when my parents tell people that they picked a vacation spot to see a Sox game.  (Last year, they went to DC to see them play the Nationals, for example.)  Yet, when I tell people that I’m going to insert-random-city-here to see Duran, I almost always get a funny look or some veiled statements, like these, “Really?  You are still following them?  How can you afford this?  Work lets you do this?  Why do you need to see so many shows?”  This leads me to wonder if all fandoms are treated equally and I have to admit that I don’t think so.

Obviously, there are many fandoms out there.  There are movie fandoms, TV show fandoms, book fandoms, specific actor/actress fandoms, music fandoms, sports fandom and more.  It seems to me that the only really acceptable fandom in American culture is sports.  No one thinks it is weird for football fans to set aside their Sundays to watch the games.  I doubt if those who are getting ready to travel to the All-Star game gets questioned like I do.  In fact, major media supports the sports fandom by not only showing the results of the games or events on the news but also by showing featured “big” games on primetime TV.  The Superbowl, itself, is a crazy, big deal with a significant viewership and big time dollars being spent to have an advertisement during it.  Can you imagine if the news covered things like Sci-fi conventions?  How would it be if they showed big concerts live in primetime?  Is the lack of media attention the cause of the unequal treatment between sports and every other fandom?  Perhaps.  Maybe the media coverage just reinforces what was already in existence.  *shrugs*

In analyzing fandom, I have thought a great deal about the differences between fandoms as well as the similarities.  When I think about what makes sports different from the rest, I’m forced to acknowledge the demographic difference.  Who were the majority of fans when most of the major American sports came to be?  Men.  Who are the majority of fans for things like Duran or movies like Twilight?  Women.  Are there female sports fans?  Obviously.  I’m a Sox fan and so is my mother, my sister, and my nieces.  I know many women who are into football or basketball.  Are there male fans of things like Duran or Harry Potter?  Of course.  Do they make up the majority or are they in the minority?  I think it is pretty clear that they are in the minority.  What about fandoms like Star Trek?  Those fandoms have a decent number of guys from what I can tell.  How come they aren’t treated like sports are?  Could it be that the guys involved in sci-fi or comic fandom aren’t like the guys into sports?  Perhaps.  Obviously, this assumption could be based solely on stereotypes of both types of fans.  Nonetheless, it does make me wonder if sexism isn’t playing a role.

If sexism is playing a role, could it be that some fandoms, like ours, won’t be accepted in general American society because the majority of fans are women?  Could it be that other fandoms aren’t treated equally because the majority of fans for those fandoms are made up of men who are deemed as cool as sports fans?  I don’t know.  What about fandoms like Phish or the Grateful Dead?  How are they treated?  They certainly aren’t put in the spotlight like sports but they aren’t as made fun of as Twilight fans?  What makes those fandoms different?  Could the age of the fans also play a role in determining how acceptable fandoms are?  Thus, younger fans equal less respect?  Could it be that Duranies experience far less acceptance because it is made up mostly of women, because many of us started when we were young and because the men that are involved aren’t as cool as sports fans? 

If this is the case, then, it seems like being a Duranie will never be accepted.  I wonder if there is anything we, as fans, can do to try and change this unequal treatment of fandom.  Of course, some will argue that it shouldn’t matter to me or to anyone else.  While I agree with that and will certainly deal with that, I have to admit that I would prefer the rest of the world to treat my fandom as it does sports as I believe that both can have value.

-A

Is it really like that?

I’ve been doing a lot of reading this summer, thanks to my trusty iPad and it’s Kindle application.  I love it, and I don’t feel bad about ordering books constantly now because they don’t take up space in my very small closet/bookshelf/Duran Duran shrine! (no comments from the peanut gallery on this one)  One of the books I’ve been reading is by Rob Sheffield; Talking To Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest For True Love and a Cooler Hair Cut.  Naturally, I was most interested in the “Talking to Girls about Duran Duran” part, but as it turns out, the entire book is a really good glimpse into what it was like growing up in the 80’s.  I love the way he uses the music he loved to help weave the stories from his adolescence and teen years into a cohesive tale.  His book could really be the book that any of us who grew up or were influenced by events in the 80’s could have written, and many of us wish we had!  One chapter of the book is called “Ask” (1986), and I have quoted a couple of excerpts here:

“We all have our Ally Sheedys, the things we cling to and do not leave behind at the bus station.  All men have Ally Sheedys and mine is Stephen Patrick Morrissey.  he has devoted his life and mine to making me a lamer, dumber, more miserable person.  I can’t leave him behind, because I’ve tried, and yet he follows me everywhere I go.  Six years on my trail?  I should be so lucky to get off that easy” (page 183 – Kindle edition)

I should explain that the Ally Sheedy reference here is to the scene at the end of St. Elmo’s fire where Rob Lowe’s character leans into Judd Nelson, takes his arm and tells him not to let Ally Sheedy’s character go, even though we’d just seen the part where Ally and Andrew McCarthy’s character are creating their own steamy shower scene.


….


“I broke up with Morrissey after the second Smiths album, Meat is Murder, came out in the spring of 1985, because he was just….too much of a jerk.  I was desperate to get out of the humdrum town Morrissey had helped me build in my brain.  My lie had gotten totally grim – I just sat around my dorm room in a depressive stupor, too distracted by gloom to get any work done, too afraid to shave or answer the phone or go outside.  Morrissey had turned into a lame self-parody, and so had I. 


I have to admit, it was acrimonious.  I went from idolizing the Smiths to despising them.  Shit got ugly.  I blamed them for all my problems – and if that didn’t make me a true Smith’s fan, what could?  Hell, Morrissey had taught me everything I knew about blaming my bad personality on people I’d never met.  In a way, hating him was my sincerest possible act of fandom.” (page 187 – Kindle edition)





“Then, just when I’d gone to all the trouble of purging the Smiths out of my system, they did something really offensive, which is they got good again.  The first night my friend Martha played me The Queen is Dead in her room, I was consumed with rage at the fact that it was so unmistakably, ridiculously great, and the fact that Morrissey was making fun of himself and doing a much better job of it than I could.  Morrissey had beaten me to making all the changes I wanted to make – he was now funny, self-deprecating, apologetic about what an asshole he’d been to me, and (unfor-fucking-givable) blatantly trying to make me like him again.  Bastard.”  (page 189 – Kindle edition)
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just so I don’t get into trouble here…please see the end of the blog for the proper Works Cited.  


I know what Sheffield writes here.  I know it all too well at this point.  Fandom is an interesting phenomena, because you can go from loving something with a sincere and pure intensity to thinking that same thing is absolute crap in the time it takes to make one album.  One book.  One movie.  One marriage.  You get the idea.  I think we’ve all experienced that moment of absolute defeat when we see, hear, witness something from an idol (in the case of this blog: Duran Duran) that just pops the balloon of joy, or takes the wind completely out of our sails.  I’m betting that most of you, if not all of you, can name a moment or two where that’s happened.  I know for me, I’ve called the band pretty much every name in the book – and I reserve the very best ones for when one of them really pisses me off!  I’m not the kind of fan that sees everything as a “good thing”.  I don’t turn a blind eye when they make idiotic decisions, and I do call a spade a spade.  Then again, I’m not the type of fan that hates more than I love, either.  I’m in the middle somewhere, until something sets me off in one direction or another.

A good example is Red Carpet Massacre.  I won’t rehash the album, that’s not the point – it’s that for many, it is indicative in a sort of crossroads in their personal fandom.  Many loved the album, so for them – it was just a reaffirmation of sorts.  For others, within one listen they knew it wasn’t for them.  Some disliked it, some flat out hated it.  Others felt it as a personal attack.  I can’t tell you how many times I myself read the words “The band didn’t make the album as an attack on anyone – you can’t take it personally.  Why get so mad about it?  If you don’t like it, so what?”  At the time, I knew what they meant.  It did seem rather silly to get so worked up about one single album.  I mean, no one forces us to be fans, right?  We make the choice ourselves every time we buy new music, go to a message board or buy concert tickets.  My problem at the time was that I did feel let down.  I did take the album personally, as much as I knew in my head that I shouldn’t.  It’s just music.  Isn’t it?

At the time, I felt very much as though the band purposely took a direction on that album many of their long time fans from way back when wouldn’t be able to follow.  I think it’s fair to say that the purpose of that particular album was to help find some new blood to fill the fan base – and yes, I really do believe they were trying to write hits as though by having some magic formula of “producer” and guest “artist” (the quotes there are intentional – my blog, my opinion, thankyouverymuch) they would strike the immediate and profound motherlode.  In that moment, yes – I felt it really was personal, and I was pissed.  Just as Sheffield says he went from “idolizing the Smiths to despising them”, I felt the same about Duran Duran, and it didn’t feel good.  Part of me hated them, and the other part of me missed them terribly.  Talk about conflicted with a huge side order of narcissism! (because yes, I really did believe it was all about me.  Wasn’t it? :D)

Just as I was getting used to pretending that my love for the band would indeed end at Red Carpet Massacre, I went to shows again.  As I’ve mentioned previously – I’d ignore the songs from RCM for the most part.  I would be thoroughly annoyed that the band would still be good live, but in a large way, the band had lost a lot of that unique “luster” it once had.  I came out of most of the shows I went to during the Red Carpet Massacre “era” feeling like I do when I go to see INXS or perhaps even Johnny Vatos and Friends;  the shows are good, I really love the songs and I’ll go again and again and again to see them, but somehow…it’s just not quite the same.

Flash ahead to around December of last year when I first heard All You Need is Now.  I have to tell you – the emotional toll that one song took on me was almost unfair.  I know what Sheffield means when he says the Smiths did something really offensive by getting good again.  I had just gotten myself to the point where I felt that after this book was written, I could probably walk away and feel good about doing so.  I would always love Duran Duran, but I knew that I would get my closure and be able to end this incredibly long saga in my life.  The band of course had other plans.  When I first listened to All You Need is Now – I cried.  I almost never cry.  That stupid band had the audacity to make me like them again.  How rude!! Of course, I didn’t post any of those feelings (of anger and injustice!) on the blog.  Even I have the good sense to keep some of my thoughts to myself.  I listened to the album a lot, and realized what I should have realized all along:  I will never be “rid” of Duran Duran.  They follow me where ever I go, whether it’s to the grocery store (since when is Duran Duran muzak?), to the hospital (I heard “Hungry Like the Wolf” as I was giving birth to my youngest), or when I’m walking around the mall – convinced I’m hearing “Sunrise” everywhere I go.  I can’t be rid of them even if I want, because they are imbedded in my youth, my young adult stage, and now my middle age.  They’re kind of like stalkers that way.

-R

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Works Cited

Sheffield, Rob, Talking to Girls About Duran Duran: One Young Man’s Quest for True Love  and a Cooler Haircut, Copyright July 2010 Penguin Books Ltd, London.