Category Archives: media representation

Paper Gods – A Duran Duran Comeback?

There has been quite a bit of press for the band recently, and it has been fantastic seeing their name (and faces) in the news again promoting Paper Gods. As a fan, it is always exciting to see the band in magazines and on covers – although admittedly these days – I see very few “physical” covers, most of it (for me) has been what I’ve seen online. The days of sitting around carefully extracting centerfolds and pin-ups to add to my wallpaper is pretty much over, but I still love reading the articles online and seeing the new band photos, doesn’t everyone?

Since this blog is really an ongoing conversation regarding the “State of Duraniverse”, we comment as fans – which isn’t difficult considering that is exactly what we are. I don’t look at things from a public relations point of view or as an industry insider might, simply because I’m not. That’s the difference in this blog. I’ve never worked at a label or a radio station, and the closest I’ve ever been to management was working with a fledgling band who once opened for Duran Duran. It was like herding cats, I might add…to say the least. I leave planning promotional agendas to the people who are paid to do such things, and I react to things in the same way as any other fan…not as someone who works in the “industry”.  This is a point well-worth making because sometimes, I feel as though it is forgotten. Amanda and I are fans. Much of the time, we’re the lightning rod for the community-at-large, and at other moments, we’re the microphone.

One thing I’ve noticed with the latest round of press is that Paper Gods is a Duran Duran Comeback. The first time I read it, I skipped over the word, because let’s face it – media can be stupid. They assume that just because they haven’t noticed the band as of late, no one else has heard from them either. The second and third times, I wondered if a pattern hadn’t formed. After that I stopped counting, and then this morning I saw the word “comeback” again after another fan pointed it out on Twitter.

I realize that for much of the rest of the world, Duran Duran apparently ceased to exist after what…Ordinary World? The Reunion? I’m really not sure, but it is clear that even though the media has covered Duran Duran without fail (in varying degrees) for each album; and media has used the word “comeback” for more than one album in the past…they’re apparently using that word again to describe the promotion of yet another album release by my favorite band. It’s low-hanging fruit I suppose. Easy words to pin on a band that have not had a bonafide hit in a while, even though to those of us who have been loyal fans for several decades at this point know they’ve never gone away.

Does it really matter? Most likely not. As I continue to be reminded by those who actually DO work in the industry – it’s about the press and I should be thrilled that they’re getting out there on the cover again. Period. It doesn’t really matter WHAT is actually said in the articles about them, it doesn’t apparently matter whether the article is written with a snarky tone or with dignity and respect, it’s about getting their name out there. I did miss my classes on public relations in college, and I’ll be honest: I would have failed MISERABLY at them. My loyalty gets in the way when it comes to this stuff. I couldn’t be that person who sends notes to fans like me reminding them of how amazing it is that they’ve got the cover and that I shouldn’t be disappointed by the words contained within. (apparently no one actually reads the articles these days, which I should probably understand given my experience with this blog at times) I’m still stuck on someone calling Simon out for caring about lighting, or talking about each member of the band’s personal (and ancient) history rather than the music at hand. That’s why I’m a fan blogger and not someone working at a record label, and I’m fine with that, actually. My struggle with the press is real. Cognitively, I get it. Any press is good press. I don’t love the method…but I get it.  Emotionally? I’m loyal and it really bothers me at times. Is that negative? I applaud their covers, I applaud their PRESS. I just don’t care for some of the words used to describe my favorite band. So sue me.

Simply put, I’m a fan and I don’t like seeing my band disrespected.  They’ve worked their asses off to get here; and no, they never left. “Duran Duran Comeback”? Are you kidding? Just because the rest of the world may not have loved All You Need is Now or Red Carpet Massacre doesn’t mean those albums didn’t exist, and many within our community find those albums to be among their best. Comeback for the rest of the world, maybe??

I have no idea what is in the future for Paper Gods, and I’m certainly not going to Monday Morning Quarterback before the game even begins. The Duran Duran comeback the media is talking about could end up being that the new album is a runaway hit, which would be amazing!  I just know that as a fan, the word can be taken in multiple ways – and for those of us loyalists, we know the band has never left, and we’re still right by their sides on this journey. I’m just looking forward to seeing this band get back out on the road again. Let the celebration of #DD14 begin!

-R

Media Representations of Fandom: Groupies (1970 Documentary)

A couple of weeks ago, my friend, Kitty, posted, on Facebook, the youtube to link to the full 1970 documentary on Groupies.  I didn’t have time to watch it at the time, but did save it to watch later.  After all, our book does discuss groupies, to some extent.  I will go so far as to say that this is one term that fans, especially female fans, get labeled.  There are a lot of definitions of the term out there and, for most people, fans and non-fans alike, the term is not necessarily one that is positive.  Often, when non-fans say it to fans it is said as judgement, as criticism, as insult.  Of course, I have also heard it said or written about fans from other fans.  Now, of course, there is a long history behind the term and one that has been written about in a variety of sources from magazines to books to personal memoirs.  So, what does this documentary show?  Is there judgment given?  Who is telling the story, so to speak?  Is it accurate from other research I have completed?  Here is the youtube clip, if you, too, want to watch it for yourself.

It seems very clear to me that the makers of this documentary did not want to have anyone except for the people directly involved to tell the story.  Instead, they wanted to film, often in a real time scenarios, and just see what happened.  There was no storyline or agenda.  It seemed to be a let’s film and see what life was like for the groupies and the men around the groupies.  Now, before I go any further, let me be clear.  These groupies fit the definition of people who have sex with male musicians/rock stars.  They do mention that there are male groupies, especially in San Francisco, but they are not filmed.  So, how did it work to have the camera just on without a script or plan?  On one hand, there was no judgement given by this method.  They simply showed and allowed the people involved to see and do what they would, normally, or so we, as viewers, can assume.  I like that there wasn’t an agenda to either prove that they are terribly immoral people or to prove that they are cool beyond belief.  The viewers could decide that for themselves.  Yet, at the same time, I wonder if there was enough information given for the random viewer.  I know quite a bit as I have done plenty of research so I was able to put what I saw in context and it gave life to many of things I read about.  Would others be able to follow as easily?  For example, the documentary mentions the “Plaster Casters” but truly doesn’t give enough information until the end about what that was.  (It was a group of women who made plaster casts out of the anatomy of male rock stars.)

Despite not having an organized flow, there were certain aspects of the groupie lifestyle that the viewer could conclude.  First, it showed that “groupies” often hung out with other “groupies”.  It seemed common for them to live together and spend the majority of their time together.  Second, it showed that the lifestyle had both its ups and downs, its positives and negatives.  On one hand, groupies might get with rock stars who have a lot of money and then can stay with them for weeks in super nice hotels and party all the time.  There was a sense of superiority in women in those situations.  They viewed it as a challenge to get the best rock stars and if they made it, then it felt very glamorous.  It was like they were the top of a very exclusive club.  On the other hand, they might also find themselves in tough spots.  They might be in gross hotel rooms or apartments.  It is possible for the men to abuse them or just use them.  This seemed particularly problematic for underage girls, especially under the influence of drugs.  There was plenty of alcohol and drug use shown as well.   Underage girls also faced difficulties with parents who described them as “immoral” and “embarrassments”.

Did the documentary give enough information for the viewer to determine why someone would want to be a groupie?  I’m not sure.  Yes, it presented the competition aspect and even the social scene aspect.  It presented the idea that they wanted to be around their heroes, their idols and they wanted to be surrounded by music.  Yet, what it didn’t explain is why the sexual aspect.  Certainly, there are a lot of fans who want to be around their idols and want to be around music but don’t perform any sort of sexual act.  Why did they?  Is that superior feeling of being in an “exclusive” situation really all that?  Is the social scene and belonging that significant?  I found myself asking more questions after having viewed the documentary.  Perhaps, if there was more of an organized format, I would have had my questions answered.

-A

 

Media Representations of Fandom: Love Wrecked

During my winter break, I had some extra time on my hands.  One night while flipping through channels I came across a movie, obviously aimed at teens, called Love Wrecked.  Now, normally, this wouldn’t have caught my attention except for the fact that the description included how a teen got stranded on an island with her teen idol.  Oh boy.  Then, I had to watch it.  After all, even movies like this can represent fandom.  How will it show this teen fan?  How will it show the rock star?  How would it show the interaction between the teen and the star?  Will they be accurate representations or would they be stereotypes?

The movie started as you would expect by showing this teen and how she is a fan.  How did they show this?  Simple.  They showed notebooks with “I love you” written on them along with some kisses.  Other pieces of merchandise shown included a fan club card, cd covers, concert tickets, posters, pillow cases, etc.  I think anyone who is a fan could relate to this.  Soon enough, those concert tickets are put to use and we see the teen at the show.  She, of course, is screaming, jumping up and down, screaming about how hot the star is, yelling “I love you” and singing along.  While that might not be exactly how I am at a a show, I know that it is how plenty of other people are, especially when they were teens.  What is amusing is that she is at the show with her friend, who happens to be a guy.  His reaction to the whole thing is to ask if she is okay and begging for her to calm down before she injuries herself.  How many people who had parents who asked those same questions as a teen at a show or has a significant other who says similar things now?  Another interesting scene at the show is when someone the teen knows approaches her to point out that she has better seats.  In fact, she states that her seats are SO good that the star, Jason, could sweat on her.  How does the teen, Jenny, respond to this?  She crowd surfs to get closer.  The other teen, Alexis, also joins her crowd surfing solely so that she can push Jenny back.  She doesn’t want to give up her better spot.

Jenny and her guy friend go to the Caribbean to do some summer work program.  Alexis is also there because she had heard that Jason, the rock star, loves this resort.  In fact, he soon shows up in all his stereotypical glory with his large entourage and staff, demanding the best suite in the place.  Jenny tries to approach Jason, the star, but falls in front of him.  Jason makes sure that she is okay and even flirts a little, as rock stars do.  This causes Jenny to conclude that he could fall for her if they could really meet.

Thus, she works where he is, including on a small boat ride.  The ride does not go as planned as there is a storm and the two of them fall overboard with the ship’s raft that takes them to what appears to be an empty island.  Jenny isn’t too concerned.  Instead, she keeps trying to ask him questions.  Meanwhile, the media is freaking out because the star is missing.  Soon enough, though, she figures out that the resort is just on the other side of the island.  She doesn’t tell Jason, though.  She wants them to believe that they are stranded so that he can get to know her and fall in love with her.

Jenny walks back to the resort to get the supplies as Jason had hurt his ankle so he couldn’t walk far and she runs into her guy friend.  She tells him her plan and her friend responds by asking why she couldn’t have just broken into his hotel room like a normal person.  Unfortunately, during this exchange, Alexis saw and followed her back.  She acts as if she, too, is stranded.  Now, Jason, the star, has two fans after him.  The two fans do what we expect them to do.  They compete over his attention and also do things to harm the other.  Eventually, the truth that they were on the island with the resort comes out.  Jason has to decide who he likes out of the two fans while Jenny gets lost during a hurricane and gets rescued by her guy friend.  She then decides this real life guy is better than the star.

Now, ignoring the quality of the film, which was as you would expect, how was it in terms of stereotypes about fans?  I, obviously, expected it to show over the top behavior, which it did.  I don’t think that most fans would pretend to be stranded on an island for days in order to get the star.  I don’t think that most fans would crowd surf just to get better seats or to stop someone from getting better seats.  That said, the competition between fans is something that does happen between fans.  I have seen people brag about their better seats, consciously or unconsciously.  I have also seen and heard of fans who will try anything to get attention of the celebrity of choice.  Jenny’s guy friend’s reaction about not understanding her reaction and fandom is also something that happens on a regular basis.  Likewise, the lesson appears to be that real life is better than the fantasy of fandom, which always makes me uncomfortable because there is nothing wrong with being a fan.  Thus, while the movie was filled with stereotypes and some uncomfortable conclusions, some of these stereotypes and elements are based on true elements of fandom.  Ugh.

-A

Media Representations of Fandom—Careless Memories of Strange Behavior: My Notorious Life as a Duran Duran Fan

I read this short little book, Careless Memories of Strange Behavior, last year while waiting in the airport in Atlanta on tour.  I knew that I should blog about it because I had a lot of reactions while reading it.  Yet, I wanted to give it time and revisit it before I did.  I am putting into my category of blog posts about media representations of fandom because that is what this is.  It is about being a Duran fan.  Seems obvious, then.  This is a short book written by Lyndsey Parker who is a music journalist.  The basic gist of the book is exactly what you would expect.  She describes what life was like as a Duranie back in the 1980s and what life is like as a Duranie now, to some extent.  Sounds like something I would have loved, right?  Not so much.  Perhaps, this is because I’m in the midst of writing my own book and one that is filled with significant research.  Maybe, it is because I feel like a topic like this deserves more than 41 pages and more than 7,000 words.  (In case, people didn’t realize that Rhonda and I have A LOT to say, my blog posts are around 1,000 words and our first chapter of our book is around 10,000.  Our first chapter is longer than this whole book.)  Anyway, there were some things I liked.

The author was able to articulate both the feelings many of us had when we became fans in the 1980s and how we expressed those feelings, how those feelings manifested in how we acted.  She talked about how being a Duranie in the 1980s made her cool and that she attempted to learn everything about them.  Thus, she would pour over facts written in music and teen magazines.  Then, she was able to list everything from the band’s influences to what kinds of foods they liked.  Videos, of course, factored in her interest, specifically Hungry like the Wolf as she and other fans saw the band as glamorous men who cared about their hair and their clothes.  This realization about the band members connected with growing up and puberty.  This, of course, led her to choose a favorite as many of us did.  She liked John.  I could relate.  For her, the fact that she was a Duranie gave her an identity and instant friends with other fans.  This group of friends like many others have experienced had only one John fan, only one Simon fan, etc.  They would spend their time looking over magazines and discussing every detail.  Again, I believe that many of us who became fans during the early 1980s could relate to her story, her experiences.  Truly, in my opinion, this is what the book does well.

One area of the book that I often cringed at, though, is the discussion surrounding male fans.  On page 4 of the book, Parker writes, “Until very recently, few men admitted to liking Duran Duran at all, and most who do now are still just fairweather fans, not full-blown ‘Duranies.'”  She quotes a male friend of hers who states that a Duranie writes things like Me + John on notebooks, meaning that Duranies fantasize about oneself and the band member of choice.  First of all, there is a whole bunch of assumptions going on here.  Has she tried to find male Duranies?  Does she have a pulse on the fan community because I knew quite a few male fans who I would describe as Duranies.  Do they fantasize themselves with the band member of choice?  Not necessarily but do all female Duranies?  No.  Generalizations like this don’t work for me.  At the end of the book, she does acknowledge that men now like Duran but she still follows that up with how back in the day, men only liked Duran to get girls.  Really?  All male fans?  Some might have.  Sure.  That seems possible.  All male fans, though?  Here is where some actual research or real analysis of the fan community would have helped.  Ask male fans.  Talk to them.  Observe them.  Otherwise, it isn’t super respectful of male fans or even female fans.

Another area of the book that I struggled with is how she described feelings surrounding the music itself.  Now, we all know that Duranies have been accused of being fans simply because the band members are good looking and not because of the music.  She acknowledges that and admits that what attracted her, at first, was their looks.  Fair enough.  Honesty is good and worthy of respect.  She discusses how the videos played a huge role, especially the Rio video.  Then, she really started to listen to the music, paying particular attention to the lyrics and to the instrumentation until she developed a connection with it.  I cheer all of this.  I suspect that this is the story for many fans out there.  Yet, she doesn’t stay with this idea long enough.  She moves quickly to how she would record every appearance she could and would even kiss the TV screen.  Now, again, I’m sure that this is what life was like for many Duranies back in the day but don’t emphasize those fangirl elements over the music.  Now, she does bring the music back up in describing her fandom today.  She said that now she listens more critically and that the music has started to get respect, both by critics and by other bands admitting that Duran was an influence.  She, even briefly, mentions that part of the problem is sexism and how it was/is assumed that females can’t possibly know quality music.  Again, though, one or two sentences aren’t enough for me.  Maybe, I feel this way because we dive pretty deep into this topic in our book but still. If she provided more, it would have made it a stronger argument and that argument is worthy of time and energy, in my opinion.

Perhaps, this book was exactly what it was supposed to be.  Maybe, all the author wanted to do was to share how she sees her fandom and the Duran fandom, in general.  It wasn’t in depth and, maybe, this is  okay.  It just isn’t what I like.  I dislike when statements are said as facts like the statements about male Duranies as “fairweather” or when she said that the fans cringe when White Lines is played live.  (Really?  I know MANY fans who love that one live.) I am a fan of research.  I am a researcher myself.  Maybe, I would have been okay with this surface level of fandom if she had told readers that this is what it is in the beginning of the book.  Then, maybe, I could have tolerated the generalizations and remaining on the surface.

-A

Careless Memories of Strange Behavior:  My Notorious Life as a Duran Duran Fan, by Lyndsey Parker.  Rhino Entertainment Company, Burbank, California, 2012.

Media Representations of Fandom: Depeche Mode 101

The other day I was searching through some cabinets in my living room in order to gather all Duran viewing material I could find.  In my search, I ran across an old video tape, Depeche Mode 101.  For those not familiar with this video, it is a documentary of their 1988 US tour which ended in a large show at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  This documentary not only features a lot of footage from their various shows but also has back stage footage, interviews with the band and more.  On top of the footage of the band, it also contains a focus on a group of fans.  These fans won a contest to go on the road in a tour bus following the band for the last 2 weeks of the tour.  These fans were a mix of females and males and ranged in age from late teens to mid-twenties.  The footage with the fans included some shots from their auditions, to getting on the bus, to getting ready for shows and to attending shows.  It showed these fans on the bus as they traveled and it showed their interactions together.

Before I dive into how this documentary shows fans, I have to ask.  Why hasn’t Duran done this?  I know.  I know.  I already hear the very logical responses to my query.  Would that really work?  Could fans really ride on a bus for two weeks together?  Why would Duran want to do it?  Now, obviously, I don’t really think something like this would ever happen and I am not really sure that it really is a good idea, in reality, but it still intrigues me.  In fact, we jokingly talked about this last summer during the shows.  Could you imagine?  It would make a heck of a reality TV show.  Our discussion came about after driving a ridiculous amount of miles and hours in order to get from show to show.  We longed to have transportation that would allow us a few extra hours of relaxation or sleep.  On top of that ease, riding on a bus together for two weeks would be quite fun or we could make it so.  I’m willing to bet that the fans who participate would develop strong relationships, assuming that they didn’t want to kill each other.  An adventure like that would foster connections that would/could be long lasting.  These connections could ensure that people would want to keep participating in the fandom for years to come.  Certainly, assuming it was an amazing experience, I can’t imagine that those participants wouldn’t want to see more shows.  I bet the fans on the bus bought more tickets to more concerts than if they would have if they were traveling independently.  It would mean that for me, most definitely.  Based on this, I have to give Depeche credit for doing something like this.

The fact that Depeche Mode offered a contest such as this shows an understanding of the importance of fans.  The story of the fans on the bus was just as important as the story of the band on tour.  I appreciate that.  Were the two groups (fans and band) given the same amount of time on the video?  I didn’t take the time to measure that but it seemed to me that the band was shown about 2/3 of the time.  I suppose this is what most Depeche fans would want.  So, then, out of the footage shown of the fans, how were they represented?  Did they show them to be the typical stereotypes of fans, which can include stalkers, groupies, crazy/irrational people, immature people, or people who have no lives?  No, they didn’t.  The footage of the fans included discussions on art and fashion, trying on clothes and doing hair, dancing in the bus, stopping at restaurants and rest stops and more.  There was nothing to indicate that these fans were stalkers or groupies.  They seemed perfectly content to go to the shows and to have whatever perks that came with this contest.  For example, they were calm, cool and collected during a sound check that they witnessed.  Likewise, they were equally calm when the band toured their bus.  Yet, at the same time, they were excited to hear their music or to meet them.  Beyond that, these fans clearly developed friendships among themselves or maintained the relationships they had with each other beforehand.  My point being that they were fans, obviously, but they were also more concerned with themselves and the people actually around them than they were of the band.  I suppose the logical question here is would Duranies react in the same way or would they be more focused on the band?  Food for thought.

While this documentary doesn’t fixate on stereotypes of fans or extreme behavior, I also wished that it showed more about what it means to be a fan.  I would have loved to see these fans discuss Depeche Mode’s music as they did about art and fashion.  Why didn’t they talk more about the shows and the quality of those shows?  Maybe they did but that footage wasn’t included, which wouldn’t make sense to me since a documentary like this is made with fans in mind.  Fandom is all about discussion, conversation.  I am surprised that they didn’t talk about how they became fans or what drew them to the band in the beginning.  Why weren’t there discussions surrounding past experiences at shows?  I think the key with any representation of fandom is balance.  I am glad that this didn’t emphasize behavior that might be interesting but an exaggeration of typical fan behavior.  The stereotypes of fans were not shown at all.  Yet, it lacked some common elements of fandom that I wanted to see.  We knew that they were fans.  Then, they should have shown them to be fans more.

-A

Media Representations of Fandom: Field of Dreams

It feels like it has been awhile since I analyzed a book, movie, TV show, etc. to determine how it represents fans, fan communities or fandom, in general.  Why did I pick this movie, Field of Dreams?  Simple.  My first fandom, of sorts, is baseball.  I am a lifelong Chicago White Sox fan.  My entire family is.  When I mean my entire family, I mean the fandom goes back a ways as my grandfather used to sneak through the Chicago sewers to get into old Comiskey Park without paying as a kid in the 1920s and 1930s.  I spent many days and nights of my childhood there as well.  Thus, is this fandom of mine genetic or environment?  I don’t know.  What made me think of baseball today of all days?  First, Opening Day of the baseball season is just right around the corner.  The Sox start on Monday.  Second, yesterday, I went to see the Sox play in Milwaukee with my parents, my aunt and uncle, three cousins and their families.  So, then, why this movie?  It is one of my favorite baseball movies.  The main characters live in Iowa and are White Sox fans!

(Spoilers alert):  The movie, Field of Dreams, tells the story of an Iowa farmer, Ray, who starts to hear a voice.  The voice, he thinks, is telling him to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his land.  Once he does, Shoeless Joe Jackson and other players from the Chicago “Black” Sox come to life to play there.  The Chicago White Sox were called the Black Sox when they threw (lost intentionally) the World Series in 1919 in a gambling scandal.  The eight players, including Joe, were banned from baseball after that.  Anyway, after Ray builds his baseball diamond and the players show up, he hears another voice that he believes that is telling him to go see a baseball game in Boston with a famous writer from the 1960s who disappeared from public life.  After watching the game at Fenway in Boston, the two of them travel to back to Iowa together where Ray has to deal with the bank foreclosing on his farm.  Once they arrive, Ray learns that the solution to his financial problems is to sell tickets to people who come to witness the game, despite the fact that not everyone can see the players.  With that, one more ghost appears, his father. 

I’m sure, by now, you are definitely wondering what this movie has to do with fandom other than the fact that there are fans of baseball.  Well, let me explain.  As soon as the movie begins, you learn that Ray’s father was a huge fan of the White Sox and that the gambling scandal of 1919 caused him to “die a little”.  I think that all fans can relate to this feeling.  I think Duranies have related to this feeling for one reason or another.  Some fans might have felt it when Warren left the band and others when Andy left the band.  Some of us felt it when we heard Night Runner for the first time.  We all know what it is like to be disappointed.  As fans, we feel so much towards our idols. They have the power to lift our spirits like no other and can break our hearts in equal measure.  The movie explains this in the very first scene.  Of course, there is more to learn about Ray’s dad and his fandom as the movie continues.  As a single dad, he told stories of baseball.  Thus, Ray, the main character, grew up knowing fandom.  Of course, he, too, became a baseball fan despite the rocky relationship he had with his dad.  About halfway through the movie, we learn that Ray left home after an angry confrontation with his father in which he said the worst thing he could think of.  He said that he could never respect a man whose hero was Shoeless Joe Jackson, a criminal.  Thus, the worst thing he could think of was to insult his hero, his fandom.  This would be like some someone saying something horrible to me about John Taylor just to hurt me.  Again, this shows how emotional fandom is, how personal it is.

Once Ray hears the first voice that he believes is telling him to plow over his corn to build a baseball diamond, he begins to think about his father and about Shoeless Joe.  As he works to make the field, he starts to educate his daughter about him.  Meanwhile, the town looks in on him and declares that he is crazy or a fool.  His wife, while not completely understanding, supports him and his decision.  Truly, I cannot be the only one to see the connection to fandom.  Aren’t we all told we are crazy when do things like go on tour or when we spend hours and hours online talking to other fans?  Many of us are lucky enough to have families like Ray’s wife who might not understand but support us and our decisions with regards to fandom.  For Ray, like some fans, his decisions affect his financial situation since he has less area to grow crops.  This, of course, is what is really deemed crazy to many in the community and even to Ray’s wife’s brother who tells him that he must get rid of the baseball diamond. Again, people who aren’t fans struggle to understand why we would choose to spend money on fandom.  I’m sure there are many who don’t get why all of my vacations and extra cash go to touring.

Once the next season rolls around, Shoeless Joe and other players who have lived long ago show up to play on Ray’s field.  Interestingly enough, Ray’s brother-in-law and mother-in-law can’t see the players.  They missed out on everything because they weren’t believers.  I loved this.  I think this is exactly like it is when it comes to fandom.  Non-fans don’t see what we see.  In the movie, when one of the players, one of the ghosts, come to the aid of Ray’s daughter, the brother-in-law suddenly can see the players.  Isn’t this how it works?  There is one moment when the non-fan sees the light and becomes a fan.  Of course, at this point, they all decide that people will want to come visit and pay money to do so.  They will do it because it is magical.  Isn’t that how we feel about Duran shows?  Here’s a scene from the movie, which really works to explain fandom minus some of the details pertinent to baseball alone. 

The movie also shows two other elements of fandom.  First, it shows the ugly competitive side of fandom.  The famous writer from the 1960s is asked to join the ballplayers, wherever it is that they go after they play.  Ray’s response is much like any fan’s would be.  He thinks he deserves the invitation more.  He has done more to prove that he is a good fan, so to speak.  He built the baseball diamond and brought both the writer and another baseball player with him.  This is a natural feeling that many fans feel or can feel.  One might feel that s/he deserves more attention, more whatever.  Ray, like most fans, realizes that the fact that he doesn’t get to go is okay and that he can be happy for his new friend, the writer.  Second, the movie shows that fandom really is or can be about relationships.  At the end of the movie, Ray’s father comes back to life so that Ray can make things right with him.  What did this fandom of baseball bring Ray?  It brought him new friends like the writer and it brought him back to his dad.  It is what they shared in common and helped to fix their relationship.  Isn’t that what fandom is all about?  Isn’t it really all about relationships that share a common interest, a common passion?  I sure think so.

-A

Media Representation of Fandom: Bull Durham

It has been awhile since I wrote a post about media representation of fans so I figured it was time.  Plus, in my usual rebellious fashion, I figured it would be good to watch, write and talk about a movie on baseball on Superbowl Sunday.  You can guess that I won’t be tuned in to that tonight.  Football isn’t high on my list and it is even lower if the team I root for isn’t in it.  Back to the topic at hand, Bull Durham is a movie starring Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.  The title comes from a minor league baseball team, the Durham Bulls, located in Durham, North Carolina.  The movie follows 2 minor league baseball players.  One player is at the beginning of his career with enough talent to be able to make it to the major leagues.  The other player is at the end of his career but can offer wisdom to the upcoming player.  Of course, these two also have to contend with Annie, a very knowledgeable woman and baseball fan, who chooses one player per season to hook up with.  Now, of course, you might all wonder how in the world this connects to fandom.  While it seems obvious to me that Annie represents the “groupie” as does another character, “Millie” whom Annie seems to be training/mentoring.  Annie loves the sport (she is a fan) and will go after one star player as does Millie.  They, generally, match the typical assumptions about groupies.

We have talked about groupies before on this blog.  Typically, groupies get defined as fans who offer sexual favors to their idols.  We have also talked about how it is often assumed that any female fan who follows her idol(s) is a groupie or wants to be groupie going after the ultimate autograph.  On top of these stereotypes, there are stereotypes about groupies, themselves.  Some of these stereotypes or assumptions include that these women (and they are almost always assumed to be women) are only there to have sex with the famous men and aren’t there because of the fandom.  They, in fact, don’t know or care about the fandom or anything really related to the fandom.  They aren’t there because they are fans.  Then, of course, is the assumption about what the ultimate goal is for groupies.  Some think groupies want to marry one of the subjects of their affection.  Others think that they just want the status of having sex with a long list of celebrities, as in the more celebrities, the better and the more famous the celebrities, the even better.  So, how does this movie show the fans/groupies in the movie?  Do they match the typical definition of groupies?  If so, then, how do they compare to the assumptions about groupies?

Do the female characters in the movie, Bull Durham, match the assumed definition of groupies?  They sure do.  Annie is very honest that she chooses one ball player a season to “hook up with”.  She points out that her role is to make them “feel confident”.  She is attracted to both the rising star and the experienced veteran.  The choice is made in the beginning of the season after she watches the players both on the field and off the field at a local restaurant/bar.  During this movie, she brings both the rising star, Nuke, and the veteran, Crash, back to her house to do an interview of sorts.  In this case, Crash leaves and says that he has been around too long to audition.  Thus, Annie chooses Nuke.  Meanwhile, Millie, the younger “groupie”, seems to be interviewing candidates as well.  In some cases, she tries them out like she did with Nuke before he got with Annie.  In other cases, she talks to the baseball players while they are sitting on the bench.  Eventually, she, too, settles on a religious ballplayer by the name of Jimmy.  These women do seem like groupies as they are focused on hooking up with a player or more.  Their worlds seem to be focused on this goal as we know nothing more about them. 

While these characters definitely seem to fit the idea of groupies, do they match the other assumptions about groupies?  In some ways, they do and, in other ways, they do not.  The first assumption about groupies is that they really don’t care about their fandom.  They know nothing and don’t need to know anything.  They only focus on getting the guys into bed.  Annie and Millie do not match this assumption at all.  First of all, Annie is definitely a fan.  We know this right away when she starts talking about how the only church she goes to is the church of baseball.  She mentions that baseball feeds her soul.  Later in the movie, Nuke decides to refrain from having sex to keep his winning streak.  Annie’s reaction to this is mixed as she loves that the team is playing well but the other part of her misses having a man in her bed.  The second assumption is that “groupies” don’t know anything about whatever their fandom is.  Thus, if they are music groupies, they know nothing about music.  In this case, the groupies wouldn’t know anything baseball.  This is definitely not the case as Annie often gives lessons to the players about what they need to do or what they need to do differently and when the players listen to the advice, they do better.  Both Millie and Annie watch the games, intensely, and even take down statistics while there. 

What is the goal for these female characters?  It doesn’t seem obvious.  Annie, in particular, seems very content to live her life as she always has.  The only reason that might change is because this particular season does not go according to plan as the one player she chose resists her half way through the season and the other player still interests her.  Millie, on the other hand, does seem happy to follow in Annie’s footsteps but is pretty happy to marry one of the players.  This assumption that groupies are after a commitment from the idol matches as Millie marries her hookup. 

The movie, Bull Durham, definitely shows baseball “groupies”.  On one hand, it is nice to see fandom, of sorts, shown in sports.  On the other hand, the focus is on “groupies”.  These fans are focused on having sex with the subjects of their fandom.  While they are true fans of baseball and know a lot about it, their focus isn’t on cheering the team.  These female fans couldn’t be just fans of the game.  Nope, they had to be groupies.  Now, of course, I realize that there is supposed to be a sort of love story within the movie, but that love story could have taken place without having Annie be a “groupie”.  She could have just been a knowledgeable, dedicated fan.  Obviously, some may argue that Annie’s character is one of a strong woman who goes after what/who she wants and that she isn’t following society’s expectations of womanhood.  I won’t argue against that.  I will also point out that the assumptions about “groupies” absolutely are tied to women’s rights and society’s expectations of women.  Yet, my goal here isn’t to focus on the larger issue of sexism but to examine how the fans are shown.  In this case, the fans probably had to be groupies in order to make the storyline work.  I get that, but I do wish that they could have just been fans.  Annie could have been a strong woman and baseball fans without being a “groupie”.

-A

Media Representations of Fandom–Duran Songs!

What does Duran Duran say about fans?  More specifically, what do they say in their songs about fans?  I ask as part of my continuing series of blog posts regarding media representations of fans.  In previous weeks, I have looked at movies, TV shows and books.  Now, I ask about music.  I ask about what the subject of our fandom has to say about fans.  Do they show fans to be normal but passionate people?  Do they show one or more of the common stereotypes like being obsessive or demonstrating behaviors common with “stalking” or being a “groupie”?  Do they show fans as unthinking or immature?  Do the fans in Duran’s music have lives or they just focused on fandom? 

What songs discuss fans or fandom?  It seems to me that there are a couple of songs in which fans or fandom is the obvious subject matter.  Still there are other songs which could be metaphors for fans or fandom.  Likewise, Duran has quite a few songs that deal with being famous, which I will not discuss at this time.  Thus, I’ll focus on the obvious songs and leave those songs for another blog.  To me, the obvious songs are Be My Icon and All You Need is Now.  Let’s discuss in chronological order.

Be My Icon:
This is a song featured on Duran’s Medazzaland album.  As many of you might know, this song’s lyrics started out dramatically different.  John Taylor was on vocals and the title was “Butt Naked”.  The focus of those lyrics, from what I have heard and believe, is John’s ex-wife.  Obviously, after he left the band, the lyrics and title changed to what we have now.  Here are the lyrics:

I follow you, I wait for you
You know there’s no escape from me
You’re more than wallpaper in my room

I write you letters and bring you gifts
I’m going through all your trash
I love you so much,
I keep your cigarette butts

Now is the time to come out
Come out of the shadows

No need to be scared
You’re gonna be so happy
I built you a shrine
Now you can Be My Icon

I’m out on the edge
There’s no way back inside
All my friends are gone
They didn’t understand me

It makes so much sense
It’s no coincidence
Just you and I alone here
And I need you
Oh

How many hours have I stared at my face in the mirror
I get worried sometimes that the image will shatter

No need to be scared
You’re gonna be so happy
I built you a shrine
Now you can be my icon
No need to be
Scared
Now you can
Be My Icon

I know this is real
Believe it
We belong together
What ever happens
You’re gonna be with me
Forever

Be my icon
You will be my icon
Be my icon
You will be my icon

How does this Duran song represent fans and fandom?  Not good.  Not good at all.  Let’s assume that this is about one fan.  Clearly, this person has become obsessed and stalker like.  The very first line after all is about following the celebrity and that the celebrity cannot get away from this fan.  Then, of course, this person searches through the celebrity’s trash and keeps some of it, including cigarette butts.  In fact, this person is so obsessed that s/he has lost all of her/his friends because they don’t understand the obsession and the behavior that goes with.  What is the ultimate goal?  The goal is to have a relationship with the celebrity with lines like, “We belong together.”  The celebrity, in turn, is freaked out.  What will this fan do?  What will this obsession lead to?  Of course, not everything that this fan does is unusual or out of the norm of fan behavior, including having posters, buying gifts or writing letters.  The key is moderation and it is clear from the rest of the song that there was no moderation.  At all.  Now, are their fans like this?  Certainly.  Are there fans like this in Duranland?  Definitely. 

All You Need Is Now:
Duran has been introducing this one by saying it is a message to the fans.  Let’s look at the lyrics and see what that message is and how they show fans and fandom.

It’s all up to you now
Find yourself in the moment
Go directly to the voodoo
Now the channel is open
Lose your head
Lose control
You come on delicate and fine
Like a diamond in the mind
Oh whoa oooo, yeaaaa

When you move into the light
You’re the greatest thing alive
Oh whoa oooo

And you sway in the moon
The way you did when you were younger
When we told everybody
All you need is now

Stay with the music let it
Play a little longer
You don’t need anybody
All you need is now

Everybody’s gunning
For the VIP section
But you’re better up and running
In another direction
With your bones in the flow
Cold shadow on the vine
But your lashes let it shine
Oh whoa oooo, yeaaaa

Every moment that arrives
You’re the greatest thing alive
Oh whoa oooo

And you sway in the moon
The way you did when you were younger
And we told everybody
All you need is now

Stay with the music let it
Play a little longer
We don’t need anybody
All you need is now

All you need all you need is now
All you need all you need is now
All you need all you need is now

And we will sway in the moon
The way we did when we were younger
(When we were younger)
When we told everybody
All you need is now

Stay with the music let it
Play a little longer
(A little longer)
We don’t need anybody
All you need is now

Oh whoa oooo
All you need all you need is now
Oh whoa oooo
All you need all you need is now
Oh whoa oooo
All you need all you need is now
Oh whoa oooo
All you need all you need is now

The very first line that catches my attention in relationship to fans is, “you come on delicate and fine
like a diamond in the mind”.  This time the fan isn’t coming on strong.  The person is like a gem, something to be treasured.  A few lines later, the fan is the “greatest thing alive”.  From there, of course, Duran encourages the fan to “stay with the music”.  Obviously, they want the fan to continue to be a fan and to embrace the now.  In fact, the fan could “lose your head, lose control”.  This is the exact opposite of Be My Icon.  In this song, the fans are absolutely welcomed.  Interestingly enough, the fan is also encouraged to not try to be in the VIP section.  Could this mean that while the fan should stay with the music, the fan shouldn’t worry about being the biggest and best fan?  Maybe.

In the two songs that Duran really focused on the fans, they really show two very different pictures.  On one hand, the fan seemed obsessed and demonstrated stalking behavior, for sure.  It painted a picture of the extreme fan.  It also feels like they are just talking about one fan, an individual.  All You Need Is Now, on the other hand, feels like they are talking to a group, more than one fan.  In this case, the fans are welcomed. They are more than welcomed.  They are treasured and admired.  What is the take away then?  How does Duran show fans and fandom?  It seems that their depiction of fans is balanced, from the celebrity’s point of view.  Some fans can be nightmares but most fans are dreams.  That makes perfect sense to me.

-A

Media Representations of Fandom–How Soon Is Ever (Part 2)

Last Sunday, I dived into the book, How Soon Is Never? by Marc Spitz.  This book followed Joe, a huge fan of The Smiths, as he discovered the band as a teen growing up in Long Island to his adulthood where, as a music journalist, he developed a plan with his co-worker to get them to reunite.  Last week, I focused on the first half of the book when Joe discovered the band and became a huge fan.  In my opinion, the book expressed what fandom feels like and the emotional investment that happens for those hard-core fans.  Thus, the book was realistic in how it portrayed fans.  The question, now, is whether that same realism would continue as we follow Joe’s plan in reuniting his favorite band of all time.  Will the adult fan be shown without the stereotypes?  The typical stereotypes for adult fans include not having a life or being stuck in perpetual immaturity.  Will this be how Joe is represented?

After The Smiths break up, the book skims past the rest of Joe’s high school experience.  College is also skimmed over.  We do learn that Joe spent his college years writing and taking a lot of drugs.  After college, he got a job in a book store where his colleague, Don, got him back into music.  Don, in fact, had been interning at a local music magazine and asked if Joe would be interested in writing some reviews.  (How lucky is that?!  Can I get paid to blog?!)  Soon enough, Joe discovered that having people read your writing is awesome.  In fact, he stated that it was addictive.  (Hmm…can’t relate to that.  Nope.  Not at all.)  Meanwhile, he got a letter from his ex-girlfriend from high school who gave him his first album from The Smiths.  This led him to open his box of vinyl, including Smiths albums.  The next day, he wore his original Smiths shirt to work where his new colleague, Miki, complimented him on it.  This led Joe to get interested in her immediately and the couple began hanging out together.  During their first time hanging out, they talked about the band and how everything would be better if they got back together.  (How many Duranies out there thought that before the Fab 5 reunited?!)  They decided that their mission must be to reunite them!!!  Their method would be to approach each individual band member.  At this point, they actually had a feeling that this could work!!!

Of course, they had some hope because they were feeding off of each other!  They viewed this as a cause!  Now, I have to admit that this feels very, very familiar to me.  Isn’t that what fandom is, at least when it comes to feeding off of other fans?  I never feel more like a Duranie than when I am with other Duranies!  Isn’t that what happens when fans even communicate online?  I think it does.  In terms of a cause, I know many Duranies who do things to try and get Duran commercial success, for example.  What about the fans who have the cause that sound like this, “This tour, I’m going to get front row.”  (We would never say that.  Nope.)  Again, this totally feels like a realistic portrayal of fandom without making the characters just fan stereotypes.

Now, that they have their cause as fans, as journalists, they began researching online.  Many quotes from band members seemed to fit the idea that they would be open to reuniting, or was that just how it seemed to their fan minds?  Of course, I think many fans do read into what is said to match what they want.  Let’s admit this.  When you are a fan, you aren’t always objective.  From there, they decide to post on every website related to The Smiths.  They felt that they needed to win the support of the fans and to have them join in on their cause.  Again, I can think of examples in our fandom.  What about the petition to get Duran into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame?  Isn’t this the same kind of idea?  Finally, after a week when they contacted managers, they heard back from the drummer’s manager and were able to schedule an interview. 

Of course, both Joe and Mike were very nervous about meeting a band member despite being rock music journalists.  It isn’t the same, if you are fans.  During the interview, they talked about being an 80s band.  The drummer, Mike, responded that 80s bands were Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran.  (Am I the only one who gets really excited at the mention of Duran in any book?!  One of the chapter titles of this book is a Duran lyric, too!)  They asked him what it would feel like to play again with the rest of the band and he agreed that it would be “magic”.  Clearly, then, he would be interested in reuniting!  From there, they moved to get the bass player, Andy.  For this, they traveled to Manchester, the band’s hometown.  How did Joe and Miki respond to being there?  They wanted to walk the streets to see where the “magic” happened.  Perhaps, they would get a new understanding.  Again, I found myself relating as this is how I felt the first time I walked around Birmingham.  The realism continued.  The interview with the bass player was also productive as he said he could see reuniting for the right amount of money.  Before they left Manchester, they were also able to meet with the guitarist, Johnny Marr.  Johnny indicated that he felt most reunions were about showbiz and that the only way he would do that was if it was away from the spotlight.  Thus, 3 members would reunite if the right circumstance existed!

From there, they moved to the last member, the singer, Morrissey who was living in LA.  For this band member, they didn’t have an interview set up.  They were going to just show up, which led Joe to complain that they were stalkers despite having journalist credentials.  Of course, they weren’t just fans either because they wrote about them.  They were in a strange sort of limbo.  Another Duran reference occurred as Joe began singing Is There Something I Should Know while waiting for Morrissey to answer the door.  He didn’t answer.  At this point, Joe decided that he was done.  He needed to move on and that nothing would really change if the band reunited.  Yet, at the end of the book, Joe concluded that the music still made him happy and that as long as he had that he would never be lost. 

Now, of course, there was way more to the book than what I discussed here.  Like the last book, I focused solely on how fans or fandom were shown.  I found the representation of fans, including their feelings and experiences surrounding fandom to be completely realistic.  It showed how fans become fans and how those strong feelings can and do last well into adulthood.  I find it interesting that both books that I discussed as part of this series seemed to have an accurate representation.  Yet, the movies and tv shows didn’t, really.  Is this an example of the limits of movies and tv shows over books?  Can books show more because they are lengthy?  Some food for thought.  Next week, I’ll continue with the series but I will be looking at Duran songs that discuss fans.  How do they represent us in their music?

-A

Spitz, Marc.  How Soon Is Never?  New York:  Three Rivers Press, 2003.

Media Representations of Fandom–How Soon Is Never?

It’s Sunday!  Well, it will be when you read this.  I’m actually writing this on Saturday from a local coffee shop.  I have to write it earlier because I’ll be traveling to the Chicago area tomorrow for a family function.  I am continuing in my series on media representations of fans and fandom.  This week, I’m going to discuss the first half of the book, “How Soon Is Never?” by Marc Spitz.  This book tells the story of Joe Green, a rock journalist who grew up in Long Island, New York in 1980s where he experienced life as a misfit until he discovered a band that changed his world, the Smiths.  He fell in love with the band who went on to break his heart when they broke up.  Now, his adult life is a complete mess but thinks that maybe, just maybe, things will be all right again if he can just get the Smiths back together.  Obviously, this book is something that I think most Duranies will be able to relate to.  Many of us fell in love with Duran Duran when we were kids and were devastated when the Fab Five ceased to exist.  Likewise, we experienced extreme joy when they reunited in the early 2000s.  On a personal level, I can’t imagine writing a daily blog or a book on fandom if they had not gotten back together.  While I was still a fan, my fandom wasn’t nearly the same in the 90s.  Thus, this book could be one that I could relate to, at least on paper.  Will that actually be true?  How will the author present the main character’s fandom?  Will it be true to life or filled with horrible stereotypes?

This book begins with a quote by Oscar Wilde that I immediately connected with, “To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.”  Truly.  Writing about fandom doesn’t equal exercise, doesn’t require an early start to my day and definitely doesn’t/hasn’t brought any respect.  😀  Right away in the book, we meet the main character, Joe Green, who is a rock journalist who struggles with alcohol and drug addiction.  In the first half of the book, we learn about how he fell in love with rock music, more specifically, the band that changed his life, The Smiths.  He described his love for the band in this way on page 19, “Just picture your mother or father or your husband or your wife or your child.  Think about how you love them.  My love for this band is as strong.  It’s the only real love I’ve ever know.”  That’s how we feel for Duran Duran.  I’m sure that many of you feel this way as well.  From there, the book takes us back in time to Joe’s youth to show when/why/how he became a fan.

Joe grew up with divorced parents in Long Island.  His dad moved out of the house and Joe would go visit him in the summer where his dad shared an apartment with his friend, Nick, who played Joe his first rock albums, including a legendary album from the Clash.  From there, Joe discovered a local record shop and developed a crush on the clerk, Jane.  The two of them began to hang out, use drugs and drink.  During this process, Joe began to change his look to a straight up punk look with spiked hair, holes in clothes and more.  His mother and stepfather were less than thrilled when he returned back home for the school year.  In fact, they then enrolled Joe into a private school where Joe meets other misfits like himself who introduces him to local alternative radio and other new bands like R.E.M.  Joe and his new best friend, John, would go to record stores together.  During one shopping trip, they spot a t-shirt for the Smiths and decide that they must have it even though they hadn’t actually heard the band.  From there, he and his friends were glued to the radio in the hopes of being the first to actually hear the Smiths.  The idea here is that the first to hear it and record it would be the hero of the group of friends.  The same thing happens in our fandom today.  The first person to hear and post a new snippet, song, video, whatever definitely gains some status within the fandom.

Joe meets a new girl, Jennifer, who told him that she had heard the Smiths and would record it for him.  It was love at first sight for him.  Of course, it was also love of first sight for the band as well as the girl.  Joe decided then that he must look like Morrissey and be like him, too.  In fact, on page 129, the character said, “Morrissey just seemed perfect.  I wasn’t attracted to him physically.  I wanted to be him.”  How many male Duranies did the same thing?  Heck, I love that story that Mark Ronson tells about how he brought a picture of John Taylor with him to the hairdresser as a kid.  Unfortunately, for Mark, he ended up looking more like Nick Rhodes than John Taylor!  LOL!   Of course, Joe loved the music as well as the look.  To him, it felt like that first album had been “timeless” and that it fit the soundtrack of his life.  Again, I have to say that I could completely relate to this.  To me, that is what musical fandom feels like!  Joe, the main character, summed it up well on page 137, “I had been forever changed.”  Yep, fandom does that.  Once you discover the object of the fandom, you aren’t the same.

From there, Joe decided that he was going to investigate everything that Morrissey liked.  He started reading Oscar Wilde and became a vegetarian just like Morrissey.  I had to laugh at this.  I think I saw James Bond movies for the first time because I knew that John Taylor liked James Bond.  Joe also started writing letters to Morrissey that he never sent and joined the unofficial fan club.  Any and all information on the band was welcomed and every fact possible was memorized, including how the band formed, their birthdays, etc.  All of this seems very, very, very familiar to me!!  Finally, the little group of friends had the chance to see the band live.  On the way to the show, they spot other fans who told them that they had already seen the band the previous night and on previous tours.  Joe’s friend, John, reacted with anger as he thought this other fans wanted to seem cool.  Again, this makes sense to me as status, attempts at status or concern with status is alive and well in fandom.  Yet, this annoyance was forgotten as the group had the “wired anticipation” of seeing the band in person.  As the show began, they found themselves “overwhelmed with emotion”.  Joe described seeing them like this on page 154, “The Smiths were the most perfect idea I’d ever heard.  Or seen.”  He continued to say, “…like everyone else in the audience, I allowed myself to indulge guiltlessly in that delusion that Morrissey was singing to me alone.”  I could have written all of this myself.  I, too, feel that “wired anticipation” before a show.  I think we all feel during a show that the band is performing just for us.

Of course, Joe’s life continued and he experienced some normal teen angst, including with the girl he had fallen for.  For Joe, it forced him to conclude that the Smiths were the only thing that he could count on and that he could relate to the songs.  In fact, he stated on page 180, “These songs understood me.  I understood them.”  *sigh*  I get this.  I bet we all do.  For the next tour, he got tickets again.  This time, though, the shows got canceled as the band broke up.  Joe was devastated.  Absolutely devastated.  The fact that he was so upset also added to his upset as he said on page 188 that he was “…ashamed that a band had this much power over my emotions, how, like a drug, they could make me happy or sad on a whim.  They had more influence than a best friend.” Oh boy.  Reading this, I was instantly transported back to London in May of 2011 when I had traveled over to the UK for shows that didn’t happen.  I can admit now that I felt certain that they would never play again.  Thankfully, and obviously, I was wrong but I could certainly remember how horrible that was.  I felt just like this character did.  For Joe, this led to him to never listen to them again until adulthood, which is where I will pick up the book next week.

So, how do I take this book so far, in terms of how they represent fans?  I think it is completely realistic.  Joe could be me and the Smiths could be Duran Duran.  I found myself nodding to so much of it.  It probably helped that I, too, grew up in the 80s and felt as alienated as this character did.  Am I the only one who could relate to this?  Will the realism continue as Joe moves into adulthood?  Will this portrayal continue to be accurate?  Will fandom be presented just as a teen thing or an acceptable teen thing but a ridiculous thing as an adult?  I will discuss all of this and more next week!

-A

Spitz, Marc.  How Soon Is Never?  New York:  Three Rivers Press, 2003.