Category Archives: Fandom

Sometimes, the fangirl in me takes over…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-R

Looks or Music?

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

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

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

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

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

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

-A

Lacking Meets and Greets, Shows and More…

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

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

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

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

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

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

-A

Stereotypes about Female Fans

It isn’t easy to be a female fan of a band.  I certainly have experienced some rather unpleasant looks and statements when people find out that I’m a fan of Duran Duran.  Of course, some of those negative reactions are specific to Duran Duran.  In those cases, the people just don’t like Duran so they think I’m dumb to be a fan of theirs.  Yet, beyond those Duran haters, I still get negative reactions for just being a female fan of a band.  Some people assume that this means that I haven’t grown up, at best, and others assume that I’m either a stalker or a groupie.

It seems to me that it is generally socially acceptable for girls to be fans of a musical artist in the US.  No one thinks twice if a kid says that she likes Justin Bieber, for example.  They may even find it cute that a kid would have posters of him and other merchandise advertising him.  Yet, an adult female doing something similar is thought to be weird.  While people don’t openly say that this must mean I’m immature, I have gotten statements like, “You haven’t grown out of that?”  Of course, it isn’t helped that new young artists are always advertised specifically to young people.  The assumption there is that the only market for this type of artist is young people and that young people will buy and buy and buy some more.  Heck, Duran did this themselves or allowed this to happen to them.  They were interviewed by teen magazines and allowed their image to be placed on everything from kid pajamas to a board game.  While this type of merchandise is welcome both then and now, I realize that it doesn’t help to give respect to adult female fans of theirs.  It reinforces the stereotype that female fans are stuck in some sort of perpetual childhood.  Of course, there are way worse stereotypes.

One of the most common stereotypes I think female fans experience is the assumption that one is a stalker.  Rhonda talked about the definition of a stalker in this blog post here.  The negative assumption is that female fans will do anything and everything to get to the band.  Of course, the negative assumption may not think through the action to answer the question:  Why?  What purpose would fans have to get to the band?  Do those who criticize fans as stalkers think that they are doing it because they are groupies, which I will get to in this post, or do they think they are out to get the celebrity(s) of choice?  Of course, it is possible that they just don’t understand why anyone would go out of their way to be near a celebrity.  What I find interesting about this stereotype is that I rarely if ever hear it used towards male fans?  Why is that?  Why aren’t male fans criticized for being stalkers?  Certainly, there are male fans who might show up at the band’s hotel or at their studio?  Why aren’t they stereotyped in the same way?  I also find it interesting that fans will call other fans stalkers.  Why use this stereotype?  Of course, as Rhonda pointed out in her post, the definition of stalking isn’t really clear.  So, if the definition even within fandom or Duranland, in particular, isn’t clear, why use it?  Obviously, it seems like people use it because they think it will hurt those who are being called stalkers.  Perhaps, they are using it because it is a way to show that they ARE NOT stalkers.  It is a way to show that they are different from those other fans.  Of course, the same thing happens with the other really horrible stereotype–that female fans are groupies.

A groupie is another term that has multiple definitions.  Is a groupie simply a female fan who follows a band or is it a female fan seeking the ultimate autograph?  Got me.  Obviously, well-known and proud groupie, Pamela Des Barres, wrote about being a groupie in her books.  In her situation, it was more of the later definition.  Books like hers, I’m sure, does not help the outside world understand that not all female fans are groupies.  Obviously, if people believe that all female fans are groupies, they must think that we are in it for sex as opposed to actually enjoying the music.  Again, then, I wonder why fans use this insult on each other.  Is it just to hurt the other fans?  Is it just to show how one fan is different from the other?

It seems to me that when you really begin to analyze these common stereotypes about female fans, they are all really about demeaning women as we are immature, have no life or are just seeking a sexual experience.  It can’t be that we are have a valid opinion, in which we believe that someone or something is valuable.  It can’t be that we find this band, or any other band, talented.  It can’t be that we want to just express our thoughts and opinions.  No, the stereotypes say that something has to be not quite right with us.  This leads me again to wonder why female fans use these stereotypes on each other.  What purpose does it serve?  Does it help to destroy these stereotypes or perpetuate them? 

-A

Media Representations of Fandom

Before I dive into today’s blog, I want to thank those people who have submitted answers to this week’s video challenge questions.  If you are interested in participating, you can find the rules and the first 10 questions here:  Friday Night Videos Daily Duranie Style Part 1.  I’m hoping that people will enjoy watching some Duran and Duran related videos over their weekend.  Perhaps, for those dealing with Hurricane Irene, it will provide a nice break from reality!  While I’m not dealing with bad weather (for once), I, too, have found a break from reality needed this weekend as it is my last official one before I return to work (teaching).  While part of my weekend has consisted in continuing to plot with my partner-in-crime, it has also been filled with watching silly movies.  This morning, I watched the movie, “Music and Lyrics.”  For those of you who aren’t familiar, it stars Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore.  He is an 80s rocker who continues to perform, but at places like amusement parks and class reunions, and she is a struggling writer.  Together, they team up to write a hit song for a current big time star.  It is a romantic comedy but the love story didn’t interest me as much as the references to the 80s and, more importantly, references to fandom.

Very early on in the movie, we see this 80s star perform at a class reunion.  He has signature moves that get the women squeeing (sound familiar anyone?).  These women know all the words and sing right along with him.  (Again, don’t know where I see that in real life…)  When Drew Barrymore’s character tells her sister about this performance, her sister screams in delight and goes to change.  She returns in a low cut, tight fitting blouse.  When they enter the ballroom for this performance, she barges her way through the crowd to get to the front.  Of course, she isn’t the only fan we meet in the movie.  Another fan tells Hugh Grant’s character that his song helped her get through her parents divorce when she was like 7.  How many of us have made statements like that in reference to a Duran song or album?  Many of us, I’m willing to bet.  I suspect some of us have even had the chance to tell a band member or two as well.

These representations of fans were meant to be silly in this movie as were the references to has-beens and bad 80s hair and fashion.  That said, I wonder why fans are shown as a joke of sorts?  Why is some fan telling her idol about how a song helped her emotionally something to laugh at?  Obviously, I believe that this is due to the stigma fandom already experiences or is it a situation where movies like this make the stigma to begin with.  Which comes first, the chicken or the egg, or, in this case, does stigma or negative representations come first?  Is the art representing life or creating something new?  I don’t know the answer to this.  Yet, it made me think of other films, books and TV shows that show fandom.  One movie, Rhonda reviewed, which is Fever Pitch.  That movie focused more on the fandom than this one did.  What other movies are there that touch on fandom?  Here’s the list I have so far:  Music and Lyrics, Fever Pitch, Trekkies (examines Star Trek fans), Something You Should Know (about Duranies!), and even John Taylor’s Sugar Town.  There must be more.  What am I missing?

What about books?  What books showcase fandom?  Here, I’m not talking about the many books I have read in relation to writing our book.  I’m not looking for non-fiction, but stories in which fandom plays a role.  I just finished “Juliet, Naked” by Nick Hornsby, which focused on fandom.  In fact, I started reading it in England, which assumed me to no end as the characters had gone to America to see their idol’s home country.  (Let me know if you want to hear more about that one).  I also read “How Soon is Never?” by Marc Spitz in which the characters try to get The Smiths to reunite.  There must be a ton, though, that I don’t know about. 

TV shows also show fandom.  When I think of TV shows, I immediately think of the episode of Samantha Who guest starring a Mr. John Taylor.  That episode is probably worth its own review!  What other shows had episodes about fandom?  I’m curious because I think seeing how movies, TV and books show fans and fandom will help me to really understand how and why fans have been given such a negative image.  I believe that if I know why the negative labels began, then I can figure out what and should be done about them.  So help me out here!  What are other books, TV shows and movies that show fans and fandom?  I appreciate the help in advance!!

-A

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