Category Archives: Fandom

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.


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)
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.



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.

How long do you have to be a fan to be a real fan?

In the comments surrounding Amanda’s blog last week about message boards, an interesting topic came up about fans in general that I think is worth exploring.

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 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.


Happy Father’s Day and the Lesson on Fandom

Today, like many people, I’m helping my dad celebrate Father’s Day.  The celebration started this morning by taking him out for brunch at the best breakfast place in town.  Later, my parents and I will watch the White Sox game then probably play some games ourselves.  I have been working on a Duran cd for him that I hope to be finished with so that he can enjoy it during the game playing!  That’s the thing about my dad.  While I can’t say that he is a Duranie, I can say that he has always tried to appreciate them, even if he still can’t recognize my “favorite” member after all of these years.  Just the other day I went over there after a bad day and my dad put on the first Duran cd I had made him.  It was very sweet.  That cd was done in 2005 so it is definitely time for him to have a new one.  This shows me that he tries to understand my fandom, even if he doesn’t understand Duran.  In fact, he is a fan himself.  He is such a fan that I actually blame my fandom on him as he is the one who taught me how to be a fan.  Seriously.

I was born and raised in a White Sox household, which is common for those of us from the south side of Chicago.  The family activities often revolved around the White Sox games.  For example, we made sure to have dinner eaten and cleaned up if there was a game on TV.  When we got together with my cousins or grandparents, discussion on the Sox was routine.  The real treats were when we actually went to the Sox games at old Comiskey Park.  We didn’t have good seats but we still watched intently and often kept score.  My dad taught us to take the game seriously.  I will never forget the story that he frequently tells about how he was on this date that he had been really looking forward to on the day that the Sox won the pennant in 1959.  He decided that he had to take this woman to a bar to see the game, etc.  She wasn’t at all interested and my dad just knew that she wasn’t the one for him.  Lucky for all of us, he met my mom who is as much of a Sox fan as anyone! 

My parents and the rest of my family always rooted for the Sox and we sat through many, many, many horrible, losing seasons.  Those seasons were tough as they were filled with frustration and much discussion about what roster moves should be made and criticism over the past trades.  We always took and still take the losses to heart.  It is like we are part of the team and it bothers us to see them lose.  Yet, no matter how poorly they played, we never stopped caring.  We believed in the team.  We didn’t always believe in the moves that were made but we believed in the tradition, in the institution.  We still wore Sox t-shirts and sweatshirts and bought our Sox related household items.  My parents today, in fact, have a Sox mailbox!  It’s true!  Sox fans around the world have survived all of those losing seasons and were able to celebrate a World Series Championship in 2005.  I won’t ever forget that season.  First, they clenched the division on the day that I was leaving for Vegas to hang with friends and to see Duran play at the Agassi charity event there.  Then, they won the World Series on the night before I was co-hosting a Duranie weekend.  It was the best of times, in many ways!

As you can see, I learned many things about what it means to be a fan from my dad.  I learned that to be a fan means that you are loyal, through good times and bad.  While that love always remains, there can and should be criticism when it is due.  Despite this private criticism among other fans, the outside world should know that you are a fan and that you should show that proudly.  I also learned that there is an emotional connection between the object of your fandom and you.  For my dad and I, our Sox fandom connects us to our family, to each other.  It has been a part of our family for decades and will remain so.  The Sox have always brought us together.  For example, whenever there is an exciting event in Sox history, it is common for my siblings and I to all check in with my parents.  When Mark Buerhle pitched his perfect game a few years ago, my brother and sister both called to share their and our excitement!

My Sox fandom isn’t really that much different than my Duran fandom.  I will always be loyal to Duran and have certainly witnessed both good time and not-so-good-times.  I can’t imagine really ever leaving.  That said, I will always offer my sincere opinions about the band.  I will voice my thoughts about when they have done something awesome and when they missed the mark.  To me, that is what is means to be a fan.  Like in my Sox fandom, I’m pretty open about being a Duranie and will wear their t-shirts when I can!  Last, but not least, Duran like the Sox brings people together.  It is the connection I have with many other people, including my partner-in-crime.  Duran is something that we share and always will.

Therefore, as I continue to celebrate my dad today, I will also celebrate what he has taught me about what it means to be a fan.  Happy Father’s Day, to you, Dad, and to the rest of the dads out there, including those dads in Duran!  😉


That Was Then…This Is Now

Four years ago today, I was in New York City along with my writing partner and another friend.  We were there for the DuranDuranMusic fan only show.  It was a Sunday night, on Father’s Day, no less.  We had arrived in the Big Apple on Friday evening and enjoyed ourselves up until that point.  As part of that weekend, we had done a little sight-seeing on one of those bus tours and had met a bunch of cool Duranies at the Pyramid Club get together.  With those happy experiences behind us, we were ready for the VIP party and the show! 

Let me take you all back to the state of the fandom at that point.  The summer of 2007 was one filled with both great anticipation and great anxiety as we were a few months away from the release of Red Carpet Massacre.  At this point, we knew that the band had been working with famous producer, Timbaland, and were hearing rumors about Justin Timberlake.  Many of us were still reeling over the departure of Andy Taylor.  During that time, it seemed that the message boards were filled with much debate over Andy’s leaving and about the collaboration with the Tims (Timbaland and Timberlake).  In fact, I would go so far as to say that the fanbase was divided.  Some were okay with Andy leaving and some weren’t.  Many fans were nervous about the band working with the Tims and others were excited.  In my opinion, it wasn’t such a fun time to be a fan.  No matter my opinions on these moves and I did have them, I hated that people were split!  I hated that we all weren’t as excited as we normally are about a new album!  I feared that many people would leave the fandom, either because they disliked the new direction or because of the contentious feeling of the community.  I worried that many or most of these people would leave and never return and it was clear to me that the fandom couldn’t afford to lose people.  Thus, I had really hoped that this fan show would prove to me and to the rest of the community that all was right with Duran and that we can and get should behind them.  Unfortunately, it didn’t.

The fan show, I must admit, was one of the most disappointing moments of my long history of being a Duranie.  I expected so much from the show.  Yes, I had hoped to hear new material.  Yes, I longed to see the band excited and PROUD of their work and where they were as a band.  I thought that the fans would notice this excitement and return it ten fold in what would be the best Duran concert ever.  As many of you know, either from reading about the show or from being there in person, the exact opposite happened.  I saw a band nervous about where they were, musically.  They seemed uncomfortable on stage, both when introducing the cd, which for the record, I thought was a bad move, and when playing Nite Runner for the first time.  Then, sound problems and Simon’s forgetting of lyrics added to the lackluster show.  I will never forget the look of shock and disappointment etched on everyone’s faces that night.  Many people responded with anger.  Others responded by being hurt.  Some stayed in shock for a long time.  I remember truly wondering for one of the only times in my life if this marked the beginning of the end for Duran, as I wondered if the whole album was going to be marked with problems and with a lack of enthusiasm.  I pondered if those upset fans would be able to work through all of the negative emotions to stay fans. 

Yet, we all know that Duran was able to overcome this horrible show and an album that divided the fans.  They were able to put on solid performances for the Broadway shows done in November of that year, to promote the album.  Many fans enjoyed the shows that they attended during the 2008 tour.  While some fans did leave, many stayed.  Most stayed or came back.  I suspect that they those who stayed, did so because they, knew that Duran could and would be better again and that they could make an album to unite the fanbase and put excitement back in all of our lives.  In my opinion, they did just that with All You Need is Now.

This current album of theirs is one that most fans seem to be enjoying.  Yes, there still is debate about the quality of music found on there.  Sure.  We are all still fans and part of that means that we are going to seek meaning through discussions of that nature.  Absolutely.  Yet, I rarely, if ever, people say really HORRIBLE things about it, which is something I heard about on a daily basis during those RCM days.  I don’t feel like there is an even split between those fans who love it and those fans who hate it.  I think most fans like the album to varying degrees.  There is definitely more harmony in the fan community now (at least on that front).  On top of that and, perhaps, more importantly, I saw a band excited and PROUD of their new album.  I saw it in their interviews, in their tweets and in their live performances.  They no longer seemed uncomfortable like they did on the night of June 17th, 2007.  My band had returned and I was proud that I stayed through the not-so-fun RCM era. 

Perhaps, this is why the loss of Simon’s voice and the postponement or cancellation of shows is so upsetting to me.  They deserved to be able to share this new music with people.  They deserved to celebrate an accomplishment.  We, as fans, deserved to celebrate and be proud with them.  They didn’t deserve this.  Simon didn’t deserve this.  Now, of course, I’m hoping that they will soon be back up and running to be able to share this gift with the world.  Then, we will have even more to celebrate.


A Duran Thank You

When I eat breakfast each day, I try to check into the Duran world and see if there is anything new.  Part of this, of course, is to figure out what I want to blog about, if I don’t already know.  I thought I might talk about the fact that Duran is finally going to be on Second Life or one of the Katy Kafe’s from recent months that we haven’t talked about.  I still might blog about those things or Rhonda might because I noticed that Duran had a new post on their official website.  In this post, which you can read here, Duran thanks their fans and once again explains again the situation with Simon and the postponed shows.  They also included some live tracks from a recent performance in Rome. 

Now, I wasn’t sure how to react to this thank you.  Obviously, I appreciate communication from the band to us.  Then, I decided to see what the rest of the fanbase had to say about this.  Many people seem to feel like I do–that communication is always nice.  Others discussed the fact that the there was both information and an “apology”.  A lot of people seemed to like the fact that there were live tracks included.  These reactions made me think a little deeper about what I thought about this thank you. 

The beginning of the note thanks the fans for all the love and support after the band had to postpone the UK tour and the first dates in Europe.  While I have seen a ton of love and support directed at the band, including and especially Simon, I have also seen reactions that I wouldn’t necessarily define as “support”.  For example, I have seen people do nothing much beyond complaining about the loss of their shows.  It seems that some people have been focused on the loss of their money, their vacation time, etc.  While I definitely understand people’s disappointment and frustration, I believe that the issue is much bigger than one’s personal, individual loss.  I feel pretty confident in saying this, too, since I was one of those people who lost money and time from work.  In fact, I lost a pretty significant amount of money with both the sheer expense of the trip AND the loss of pay from work.  Yet, it doesn’t seem right to me to complain.  My finances are small in the grand scheme of things.  The loss of shows is also really small in the great history of Duran.  Right now, the focus should be on Simon’s health.  Where we ALLl go from here, depends on that.  Anyway, I am sure that the band does appreciate the love and support they have received but I just wish that they only had to deal with support but suspect that they have to deal with non-support as well.   

The next paragraph is packed full.  First, they talked about how disappointed they were with having to cancel these shows, especially since they had planned something “special”.  Boy, do I hope that I one day will be able to attend 1 or 4 of these special shows.  I would love to see what they had planned!  Second, they acknowledge the hardship on the fans, especially those of us who had traveled far, spent money, took vacation time, etc.  I appreciate the sentiment but feel like they have offered so many apologies all ready.  I don’t need anymore and feel sorry that there clearly must be people that do.  I realize that they didn’t postpone the shows for fun or for some other reason other than what has been said.  What does it say about the fanbase that they feel it necessary to keep apologizing?  Are people really so stuck on that?  I can understand if they postponed the shows for a silly reason but they didn’t.  They didn’t want to do it.  Lastly, they once again explained how they often couldn’t give advanced notice for the postponements due to all of the people involved, including insurance agents and medical professionals.  Here is where my patience gets a little thin.  They have explained this MANY times.  John did it, personally, in his blog.  Why can’t some of the fans get this?!  Is this so hard to understand?  I can’t imagine how horrible it must be for them knowing that the more painful it will be for fans the later the announcement is but having no choice when they have had to postpone these shows.  Talk about being between a rock and a hard place. 

The ending of the thank you consists of a positive message of “Duran Duran fully expects to be back in tip top form this summer” and discussion about re-scheduling.  I’m not sure how I feel about this statement.  I obviously want to believe it to be true.  What Duranie doesn’t?!  I’m hoping that they are exactly right with this statement!!!  Of course!  I would also LOVE to know when my shows will be re-scheduled for so that I can plot…I mean plan for them (hopefully!) but I, like many fans, don’t want them to rush on this.  I think it would be best for all involved to really know that Simon is okay and that they can continue.  I just don’t want to be disappointed and I don’t want others disappointed either.  Thus, while I love the optimism and faith, it makes me nervous.  I want desperately to believe nothing but that but I also know that no one really knows that.  Yet.

The band then leaves a peace offering of sorts with the songs from the recent Rome performance.  That’s a sweet gesture, but I am left wondering if they felt like they had to offer something.  In my opinion, they didn’t have to give this thank you.  We have received many thanks of support already and have definitely heard many apologies for something that it is not really in their control.  It makes me sad that they feel like they have to keep doing this.  It makes me wonder how much grief they are getting that I don’t even know about.  It makes me think they aren’t getting total support.  Maybe I’m just reading into it.  Maybe I have seen a couple of statements from fans that I think are a little less than supportive so I’m assuming that there must be more where that came from.  I can definitely hope that they are getting nothing but support as I truly believe that is what they deserve.


Why Do You Love Duran?: The Mad Libs Edition

 The other day I was out with some colleagues and one of them asked me a question that I hadn’t really been asked for probably ten years or so.  Why do you love this band so much?  I found myself too overwhelmed to answer as I wanted to say about twenty things all at the same time.  This led me to wonder if my reasons are the same as all the other Duranies in the world.  I could just write my reasons for you all to read, but I thought I could and should do something more fun as I know that I could use a little amusement.  I also suspect that Duranies around the world could benefit with a lighter piece today.  🙂

Have you ever played Mad Libs as a kid?  For those of you who didn’t or don’t remember, it was a game of sorts with the idea to practice parts of speech.  How it worked was that there would be a story with some words missing.  The person leading the game would ask the other players to give words fitting specific parts of speech without giving away the story.  Once all of the words were given, the leader would read the whole story with those words included.  Typically, the results would be completely silly.  Thus, what I will do here is to list the parts of speech then you can write down your word choices.  When you are finished, you can use the words to see why you love Duran Duran, hopefully in a fun, silly way!  Then, please, post your finished story!  I suspect they will provide a much needed laugh!  I promise that I will eventually post my complete story as well!

Words to fill in:

1.        Verb (action word)

2.       Year

3.       Adjective (describes a thing)

4.       Adjective

5.       Song

6.       Verb (action)

7.       Verb

8.       Instrument

9.       Instrument

10.   Adjective

11.   Adjective

12.   Plural Noun

13.   Video

14.   Region or place

15.   Adjective

16.   –ing Verb

17.   –ing Verb

18.   Band member

19.   Video

20.   Physical feature

21.   Fashion piece

22.   Fashion piece

23.   Band member

24.   Physical feature

25.   Physical feature

26.   Physical feature

27.   Personality characteristic

28.   Personality characteristic

29.   Personality characteristic

30.   Adjective

31.   Band member

32.   Combination of two band members

33.   Band member

34.   Band member

There are many reasons that I (1) _____  Duran Duran.  I became a fan in (2) _____ initially because of their music and videos.  Then, the band members themselves helped to reinforce this love as is meeting and getting to know other fans.  Their music was always (3) ____ and (4)_____.  For example, I will always remember getting the chorus to (5) __________ stuck in my head for days and drove my family and friends nuts with singing it out loud!  Their songs always made me want to (6) _____ and (7) _____ (whatever that meant to my ten year old self!).  I loved that I could hear different instruments and appreciated how they seemed to both fight each other and complement each other.  I also appreciated that it was a good combination between different genres.  It wasn’t just loud (8) _____ but it also wasn’t just (9) _____.  How many times have I heard the band discuss their influences?  I can hear elements of their influences, including artists like David Bowie, Chic, Sex Pistols, Kraftwerk and more.  Simon’s voice is (10) _____ and one to be thankful for.  Then, of course, there are his (11) ____ lyrics.  They are like a strange sort of poetry, which aren’t clear but definitely thought-provoking.  I liked that I didn’t always know what they were about.  I could make a guess after having long discussions with my (12) _____.  The lyrics and the music have been easy to adapt to visual images and videos as well.

 Then, of course, there were memorable videos.  Probably the first video I saw of Duran was (13) _________.  I was fascinated by the apparent storyline combined with the exotic location.  It showed an experience that so far removed from my (14)____ existence.  Then, it seemed like every new video provided a new story.  It reminded me of good books where I didn’t know what would happen but couldn’t put them down because I had to find out how they ended!!  Plus, of course, there were some (15)____ British boys featured as well.  Who didn’t want to be the girl (16)____ with Simon in Save a Prayer or the girl (17)____ Roger or John in Hungry like the Wolf?  Who didn’t think that Nick was adorable in Is There Something I Should Know?  Many of us formed attachments to one band member based on seeing our favorite in a certain video.  For me, I became a (18) _____ girl as soon as I saw him during (19) _________.  He had the (20)____, (21)_____, and (22)____.  He was simply adorable.

Speaking of band members, they are a big reason that I became and stayed a Duranie.  I love their general style and the fact that they cared about what they looked like.  Yet, like many fans, I had a favorite.  In my case, that favorite is (23) ____.  To me, he has/had such an appeal.  Physically, I like that he is a (24) ____, (25)____, (26)____ male without seeming too “macho”.  Of course, I am also fond of his chiseled good looks and solid smile.  I also appreciate his style in interviews back in the day and in his tweets now.  He always seems (27)____, (28)____ and (29) _____.  I also enjoy him with his band members as well.  Group interviews are probably my favorite because I find their interactions entertaining.  They have a great sense of humor and make me laugh.  They aren’t afraid of giving each other a hard time, which I adore.  I like that they demonstrate a balance between being silly and being serious and seem to know when each is appropriate.  On top and even more important, they are seriously a (30)____ group of guys.  They are able to think on their feet, use incredible vocabulary, and are able to make connections that I couldn’t even come close to!  Lastly, I also appreciate how patient they are with having the same questions over and over again and with interviewers that clearly do not have a clue.  Every interview is enjoyable to me for one or all of these reasons!

Speaking of enjoyable, I have had the extreme pleasure of seeing the band live and meeting lots of other fans while on tour.  In my opinion, there is nothing better than singing along with (31)____ and thousands of other fans.  There is nothing better than squeeing during a (32)____ moment.  The best is when you share a moment with the band member of choice during a show.  I like singing with (33)____  and screaming for (34)____.  I like it all.  Through the various shows and tours, I have met many, many others who feel like I do.  Many of these friends have become incredibly important to me as well!

If I had to summarize, I love Duran Duran for their music, their videos, their style, their looks and their personalities.  I also love them for the pleasure I get from seeing them live and hanging with other fans.

Fan Gatherings

I have been thinking about fan gatherings for a couple of months, since the Chicago show in April, in fact.  At that show, I ran into a number of Midwest Duranies who I first met at a fan gathering or another.  I started to wonder if such events were dead in the community. If so, why?  Could they be restarted?

What do I mean by fan gatherings?  In my mind, these are one day/night or one weekend get togethers lead by Duranies, for Duranies.  Would this include conventions?  Absolutely.  Would it include a showing of Sing Blue Silver?  Sure.  A weekend in a city?  Yes.  In my head, these types of get togethers are usually open to everyone or to anyone who is a Duranie.  Are there get togethers between friends who are also fans?  I’m sure but that isn’t what I’m thinking of here.  I’m thinking of events that are planned in advance, filled with activities and are discussed on social networking sites or message boards.  These events are, typically, not surrounding a show and are usually held in between shows or tours to help all of us deal with Duran downtime!

I have been to plenty of fan gatherings over the course of the years.  Some of these have been rather formal and some have been informal, but most of them have been a blast!  In fact, one of the most memorable fan gathering in my life was the Duran Duran Fans Convention held in New Orleans in 2004.  I met so many great people there that weekend, including my partner-in-crime, and had my love for the band renewed and expanded.  I also attended a weekend in Chicago in March of 2006 entitled Midwest MaDDness.  It was there that I met many fans both in Chicago and in nearby states.  Beyond that, I have also attended smaller more localized gatherings that just take place over one night.  I loved going to all of these because I enjoy meeting other people with the same interest that I do.  Duran was featured in most, if not all, of these events.  For example, Duran was featured throughout the convention with the dinner/dance, to the scavenger hunt for Duran related locations, to trivia games and more.  For the Midwest MaDDness weekend, we enjoyed watching Live from London together.  For the smaller meet ups, it is common to watch Duran videos or DVDs.  Of course, people also get a chance to share their stories, including the shows they went to, if they were lucky enough to meet the band, how they became a Duranie and more.  I believe that all of this works to enhance one’s fandom and does help to pass the time in between tours and/or albums.

Interestingly enough, I have felt that these type of events were dying off.  Personally, I hadn’t been to one in long time, but I also hadn’t seen or heard of ones taking place far away from where I live either.  This led me to wonder why this is the case, which leads me back to a discussion I had in Chicago in April.  In talking to these other fans, I realized that they do take place but they are typically done within groups of friends and are not open to the general public of Duranies.  I can understand that as I have done that myself.  For example, a number of us flew to Rhonda’s in California last November for her birthday.  We didn’t include the whole Duranie community.  Likewise, in the previous year, we got together in Chicago and didn’t invite others.  I suspect that this isn’t because any of these get togethers want to exclude people but because a lot of us have established friendship groups and no longer need the large fan gatherings to see each other.  The band was just the common interest to develop friendship.  Yet, does this hurt the fan community?  I have mixed feelings about that.  On one hand, I’m not interested in opening up all of my get togethers to the whole fandom even if my friends and I are all “Duranies”.  On the other hand, I think that gatherings should take place in order to keep the fandom alive.  It feels good to be around other fans who think and feel like you do.  Plus, I’m sure that there are many fans out there who don’t personally know other fans.  They should have the opportunity to have fellow fans in their lives.

I’m happy to report that I’m starting to see some movement to planning fan gatherings.  There is a group with a facebook page entitled Duran Duran Fan Fest Convention 2012.  You can find the link here.  They are just in the beginning stages in terms of trying to figure out a location for a convention.  I know that I have mentioned to other Midwest Duranies that we are due for another weekend.  Will it be like ones in the past?  Probably not.  Some people’s interest in Duran is less than it used to be.  Other people won’t want to get together with some other fans, which happens, unfortunately, as people get to know each other.  Not everyone is meant to be friends with everyone.  That’s okay.  It is okay if things change or that these fan gatherings change.  That’s life.  I think the important thing is that they still exist because they are a part of any healthy, current fandom. 


Leaving a Light On…

Time is funny.  I have been back home since Sunday and haven’t really blogged since then.  I have been watching, reading and reacting to Rhonda’s posts.  In many ways, my feelings since I returned from the UK haven’t changed and, in other ways, they have changed.  During the course of this week, nothing much has changed with the band.  Yes, they postponed the rest of the UK tour but I knew that was coming.  They are still scheduled to play in Berlin next Wednesday.  I’m sure I am not the only one anxiously awaiting that day.  Obviously, I hope that Simon is able to sing and that the show will go on as planned.  Yet, I live in fear that it won’t.  I’m probably not the only one feeling that, either.

Over the course of the 9 days in the UK, Rhonda and I had many conversations about many topics.  One of those discussions came at the end of the trip, after we knew that the show in London had been postponed.  In that discussion, we acknowledged Duran’s role in our lives.  In fact, we couldn’t think of anything we had loved as long in our lives beyond our immediate family and that which might be connected to it.  Duran was the first thing we loved independently of our family and it is a love that has lasted for decades for us, personally.  The truth is that we are all scared.  We are all scared to death that Simon won’t improve and that Duran won’t be able to continue, at least not in the way we have come to expect.  I hate even typing those words but that is our fear.  Interestingly enough, after we admitted to each other and to ourselves that we have loved for Duran for that long, we also acknowledged that we wouldn’t know what to do if there was no more Duran.  Would Rhonda and I still talk?  Would we still get together?  Would we still travel together?  The answer to all of those questions is yes.  Easy.  Yet, we both could acknowledge that something would be missing from our lives.  Something huge.  Something monumental.  Something essential. 

Like most fans out there, Rhonda and I have full lives.  We are both extremely busy people.  We could definitely survive without Duran but…we wouldn’t be happy.  Duran is an escape of sorts.  The band pushes us out of our normal everyday existence.  Would we be able to do our daily tasks as well without that escape?  I actually doubt it.  I am about to end another school year, which always causes my emotions to run high.  Yet, I know, deep in my heart, that I have been able to teach for as long as I have due in part to them.  They have provided me with something intangible but real that allows me to get up every morning and do what must be done.  Who knows what I would be like every morning, every day without that.  Then, Duran has pushed me out of my shell in many ways.  The most obvious example here is that I did not travel much before going on “tour”.  Now, I have been to many, many cities and some of them more than once because of Duran.  I’m forever grateful for that.  Of course, I have met many people because of them as well.  Some of those people, like Rhonda, have become lifelong friends.  Again, I’m forever grateful.

Obviously, I’m still hoping that everything is okay, that Simon will be able to sing next week and that the rest of the tour goes on as planned.  This, then, would just be a blip on the radar of Duran’s history–a little something but nothing super significant.  I’m also trying to prepare myself that this might take longer than that.  It did in 1993.  Will it take longer than the four months it did then?  Maybe.  Here is what I do know.  I’ll still be here in a week or in a few months or in a few years.  I’m always going to leave a light on for Duran.  They mean too much to me to just let them go that easily. 


Should Duran be a Support Act for Take That?

A couple of days ago, an interview with John Taylor appeared on the site.  Normally, this is not such a big deal but there was one question on there which seemed to stir the pot among Duranies.  (You can read the article here:  John interview)  Now, since the title of the article was how John is lucky to be alive, you would think that the controversy was over his past lifestyle of alcohol and drugs.  Nope.  No, what caught people’s attention was the question about whether or not the band, Take That, asked Duran to support them on tour.  As an American who is unfamiliar with that band, I didn’t think much of it.  In fact, I should have noticed that it would have Duran SUPPORTING another band and not the other way around, but I didn’t.  Too self-absorbed with my list of what I get to get done for our UK trip, I guess.  Then, I started noticing discussion on twitter and on message boards about it.

Apparently, Take That is a pretty popular band in the UK when it comes to commercial success and tour sell outs.  Okay.  According to many, they are also your standard manufactured boy band (I’m guessing that they are similar to Backstreet Boys here).  Anyway, the debate is about whether or not Duran should have supported this band when asked or not.  The people who think that they should have believe that Duran would have had a great deal of exposure to a new audience because Take That has large, sell out crowds, most of who have never heard of Duran.  It would mean a great deal of exposure and a chance at new fans and more copies of All You Need Is Now sold.  Okay.  The other side says that Duran deserves to be the headliner.  They have been around for 30 years and have proven their worth.  They should not be working for anyone.  They also feel strongly that Take That isn’t worthy of Duran because they are a commercial, manufactured band.  The idea here, I guess, is that Take That isn’t really in it for art but to make a profit and Duran, while enjoys making a profit, also believes that they are in for art sake.  John, by the way, in the interview said that they turned them down.  He did not elaborate as to the reason they did.

I’m completely fascinated by this debate.  It really shows, in my opinion, the two camps in Duranland between those who need/want Duran to be a commercial success no matter what and those who need/want Duran to be more of an art form.  For the first group, it seems to be about quantity and the other group seems to focus on quality, to simplify it.  Of course, the first group might say that the commercial part is needed for the art part to exist, which is fair enough.  The other side, of course, would argue that having integrity and dignity is worth more than any paycheck.  I wonder if other fanbases struggle with this issue.  Do bands like the Cure face this debate?  While the Cure sold albums and had big tours, they were never the commercial success that Duran Duran was.  Likewise, do Madonna fans have this need for her to demonstrate a level of integrity or are they fine with her always pursuing the largest sum of money possible?  Does this happen in Duranland more because they were SO huge at one point and are not anymore?  Is it so unacceptable to some fans because this drop from the top of the charts seems to mean that the band is a failure?  Others seems to believe that Duran’s commercial success was more of luck and that Duran must not have “sold their souls” to be commercially successful in the 1980s.  Another possibility is that they were concerned about it at first but as they have gotten older, they are more concerned with the art. 

I think that the reality is somewhere in between.  Yes, I do believe that Duran actually considers what they do an art form.  Yet, I also believe that they want to be commercially successful.  I think this is similar to artists like Andy Warhol who definitely created works of art but ones that were meant to be popular.  That said, does Duran have a limit to what they would do to be successful in this arena?  That seems to be the case now.  Debates like this have me thinking back to the days before and after Red Carpet Massacre came out.  Some fans loved it and loved that they took a risk working with Timbaland and Justin Timberlake in order to reach the charts again.  Others were completely horrified by this.  Many thought that they had sold their souls a little bit, especially when reading statements about how Timbaland didn’t know what a bass was.  To many, it felt disrespectful to John, in particular, to the band as a whole and, frankly, to a fanbase that liked the formula of strong instrumentation. 

So, how do I feel about this controversy?  I would probably be more passionate about it if I knew more about Take That and their music.  Based on what I have read, I’m glad that they made this decision.  To me, it does seem like Duran aren’t willing to do anything to sell their music, which I do believe is a good thing.  I have a lot more respect for them if they demonstrate their need for self-respect.  I don’t think that Duran should be supporting anyone after their long career unless it was someone at the same level.  This band clearly isn’t at their same level, both longevity or quality music wise.  Yes, this might mean that they won’t pick up new fans and won’t sell as many albums.  I think that is okay.  I don’t know that these people would have been willing to give Duran a fair chance, anyway.  If they did, would they stick around?  Probably not if they aren’t played on the radio 50,000 times a day.  These new fans would not be worth the loss of dignity.  They also wouldn’t worth the loss of diehard fans as I believe that many Duranies would be so ashamed of this decision that they might walk away.  It happened with RCM, after all.  More money, more album sales and different fans are not worth being a support act for Take That.