I’ve had no trouble boasting, bragging, reminiscing, and even lamenting that I have been a fan of Duran Duran since 1981. Planet Earth drew me in, and I was hooked immediately. Oddly, I’ve never really left – sans for about a year or two in the late 90’s when I was knee deep in diapers, bottles and laundry. I don’t know that I could have told you my name and address at the time without having it written down in front of me, much less anything recent about Duran Duran…. but once I awoke from that night…er…dream… I was back to normal. (don’t ask me to define “normal”) I’ve been a fan for a long time, as have many if not most of our readers.
I think that as a fan who was around in the 80’s, I feel as though I’ve seen the band come full circle, and then some. I remember what it was like back in the day when kids my age would call the local radio station and beg for Duran Duran to be played. Hell, I remember calling the stations myself! I remember squealing in delight when their videos would come on TV, or when they’d play a performance on TV for a show like American Bandstand, New Years Rockin’ Eve or something on MTV. I know I’m fortunate that I have those memories to look back on. (and I’m lucky I still HAVE those memories!!) I was around to read the news on DD.com when the band announced Warren’s departure and the reunion of the original five members, and I was there the night that they announced they were playing the Pacific Amphitheater near my home in California. It’s been a long, strange trip, as they say.
I think it’s pretty obvious that there aren’t just 30,000 other fans (I just picked a number out of thin air – I have no idea how many fans there are out there!) who started out with the band in the 80’s. They’ve had the good fortune to pick up fans along the way, and we should all be thankful for that. It’s one thing to have a loyal fan base from day one, it’s quite another to be able to continue to attract new listeners over the years. It’s the difference between being a one-hit wonder and having staying power in the industry, isn’t it?
Yet somehow, there does seem to be a difference between all of us. There’s a sort of utterly annoying superiority that comes from fans just like myself, who have been with the band all along. I can’t explain it – it’s almost as though since we’ve been around the longest, everyone else must be a newbie and somehow not quite worthy; but that’s not really the way it should be. I myself have friends who have been fans only since the 90’s, and I don’t really look at them any differently. Some of them have been fans that long because they were born in the 80’s! So aside from calling them “youngsters” (and someday they’ll be happy for that title)… I would say that they’re as big of fans as I am. I’ve seen it on message boards though. Everyone judges everyone else simply because they haven’t been a fan since the moment of inception, or because they wandered away after Seven and the Ragged Tiger and didn’t come back until Ordinary World…and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I’ve done the same.
I could probably admonish everyone, including myself, and be done with this blog for the day (as I glance at the mountain of laundry lying on my table to fold…), but that’s not really my job. I just have to wonder WHY we make such a big deal about how long we’ve been fans. Does it really matter??
It’s one of those items that is brought up any time there is a moment of ambiguity in Duranland. In between albums, tours…when there’s speculation about the band’s future, or when there’s discussion about a change in musical direction. Then suddenly everyone, including myself, starts throwing “I’ve been a fan since….” into the ring, as though because we’ve been fans for X amount of years, that somehow gives us credibility over one another. At the time, the argument seems particularly worthy, but from a distance, I think we all start sounding like complete idiots with no other substance in our lives. I say that about myself as much as I say it about everyone else. I know this tiny detail about myself, I see when I’ve done it in the past…and I can guarantee that it’ll happen again in the relatively near future, I’m just that perfect of a human. (insert a rueful smile here!)
The one constant I have discovered in the time I’ve spent studying fandom is that it’s all code for competition. Yes, you can absolutely choose not to compete with others and still be a fan. My assertion here is that if that were to be the case – why would you bother labeling yourself? You’d go about your business, enjoying the music, going to shows, etc…and never once even bother to think beyond that personal enjoyment. It’s only when we start announcing to the world that yes, we’re fans of whatever we’re enjoying at the time that we are announcing that we’re ready to engage. We all see it at that moment as wanting to make connections with other fans. We want other fans to recognize that we have that interest in common. Somehow though, there’s a moment where the tide turns, and that need for connection becomes a need to keep up, to prove our worth, to show that we know as much as the next person. That’s fandom. Can you be a fan without that sense of competition? Yes, but chances are, you wouldn’t be announcing your fandom, either.