Yesterday, I blogged about how, when and why I became a fan, a Duranie. While this trip down memory lane reminded me about why I became a fan, it also made me think of my current state of fandom, why people stay in fandom, and why I stay. Likewise, it made me think of doing this blog, organizing fan events, including the convention and finishing the book. Thus, one simple little date on the Duran calendar and so many issues are brought up.
I think becoming a fan is like falling in love. At first, all you see are the great qualities that the other person possesses. There is no annoyance of little habits. There are no major faults that one can see. Everything is good and exciting, at first. Yet, those honeymoon periods don’t last forever. Soon enough, little personality quirks come out. Maybe, there is a discovery of a huge difference of opinions or values. Even without some major division, there is still a massive adjustment as the relationship moves from new/fresh to steady/solid. There is acceptance of each other’s faults and imperfections, if the relationship is to last. Fandom feels the same way to me. In the beginning, everything is great and you can’t imagine ever walking away. Every song you hear is the best song ever. Every video is awesome! More importantly, every fan you met is amazing! You wonder where these fabulous people have been your entire life!!!! Then, slowly, you start to see the full picture. While there are great, wonderful elements, you also begin to recognize that it isn’t perfect. In fact, there are parts that are pretty awful. In order to stay, you learn how to deal with those less-than-ideal characteristics or you learn to accept them as part of the deal. After all, roses still have their thorns.
So, what are the thorns, the imperfections involving being a Duranie? I think these imperfections, these thorns fall into two kinds. The first kind of thorn involves the band itself. The second kind absolutely has to do with fans. I’m sure that, by now, some of you are staring in shock at your screen! I bet you are shocked that I would dare criticize the band and/or fans! I am, though. Keep reading. It will be fine. I promise. Back to the band, I think I could characterize their faults in two categories as well. First, they haven’t been perfect with their career. I’m sure that every…that most Duran fans could acknowledge that some moves weren’t the best. The fans might not agree about what those mistakes were but I think we all could say that there have been mistakes. For some fans, these career type mistakes are deal breakers. For example, some walked away after the band split into Power Station and Arcadia. Some left when they released an album like Liberty or Red Carpet Massacre. For fans like me, I have had enough great music and albums to overcome any less than fabulous albums. I didn’t walk away after RCM and I’m glad that I didn’t since AYNIN was amazing! Would I have walked away if the album after RCM was just like it? Maybe. 3 more albums just like RCM? I probably would have walked away. Thus, each fan has to decide how much/how many mistakes are allowed to remain a fan. Second, they haven’t/aren’t always so great when it comes to their fans or so a lot of people feel. Do they acknowledge their fans well enough? Some fans might say that they do and others might not. If you think that they don’t, then again, fans have to consider if they do ENOUGH for them to remain fans. I won’t lie. There are times that I wonder if the band does enough for the fans. I will give you an example. Their paid fan community used to do a lot like setting up Duranie Dorms (hotels with group rates for fans for shows) or even preshow meetups. Now, they don’t do that. I have learned to deal with this frustration by doing my own events. I try to fill the void myself. If I can’t fill the void, then, I try to justify their behavior or decisions. I wonder if there aren’t good reasons for their actions. Maybe, there are good reasons and, maybe, I just excuse their behavior because I don’t want to lose my love for them.
This, of course, brings me to the fans. In 2004/2005, every fan I “met” whether in person or online seemed wonderful. I felt like they understood me in a way that others could not! Yet, after years of being involved in fandom, I know that fans are like any other group out there in that most are great, some are a little less great and some might even bother you. I suspect that if I asked Duranies involved in the fan community for three years or more about experiences with other fans in some anonymous survey, most would agree that they have had some fabulous experiences with some fans, some less then fabulous experiences with others and some that drive them crazy or have had an actual conflict with. Where do these problems or conflicts between fans start? We all share this love for Duran. Shouldn’t that bring us together? Well, I think the problem is that we want as much as we can from Duran Duran and they are limited in number. Then, people differ on their approaches to the band and their access to the band. These differences might cause some inequality and definitely cause judgement. As far as access to the band goes, people who live in certain places have more chances to be around the band than others. That is a fact. If you live in New York City, you have a much better chance than if you lived in Wyoming. Likewise, some people have more of an access because of their financial situation, their personal responsibilities and/or how they prioritize their lives. Again, this is a fact. Now, I’m sure that there are many of us out there who are saying, “We should just be happy for the fans who are lucky in these respects–not be jealous or judgmental about them.” Many times, I do think that fans are happy for fans who are lucky in terms of access. Sometimes, though, the approaches cause fans to pause in their happiness for others. Some people might feel like they should be able to approach the band every time they see them to ask for autographs or pictures. Some people might feel like hotels or bars are public so the band should be approached. Some people feel like they should be able to tweet them as many times as they want. For all of those fans, there are fans who feel the opposite and fans who are in between. Yet, I’m willing to bet that almost every fan has an opinion about when, why and how to approach the band. They also might have opinions about how fandom should or should not fit into people’s live. Opinions probably also exist about how and when to disclose of interactions with the band. I’m sure almost every fan has an opinion about autographs, signings, social media, events, etc. Fans don’t discuss our opinions, publicly much, but I’m willing to bet that many do among close friends. These strong opinions about how to express one’s love of the band, especially when the band members are involved, and the fact that the band is limited definitely can and has created bad blood or bad feelings. Enough or significant bad blood has caused more than one fan to walk away, I’m sure. Obviously, initially, you don’t see this. You don’t feel the tension within the community, at first. Yet, to stay a fan, you have to decide if you can deal and if so, how. For me, personally, sometimes and some days, I do better with this than others. Sometimes, I wish that I didn’t see or know of the dark side to fandom. At times, I’m good at ignoring what I don’t like, personally, and other days, I let me acknowledge my feelings.
This brings me to what Rhonda and I have been doing for the past 3 years. We have tried to combat, in our opinion, the worst elements of Duranland. We wanted to bring people together through events and through discussions. Maybe, for me, this was my way of dealing with the less-than-perfect elements of being a Duranie. Instead of complaining, I wanted to try to find a way to make it better. If it made it better for me, maybe, it would make it better for others. After all, much like a long term relationship, I have never stopped loving Duran Duran. There are definite qualities connected to this fandom that I don’t like that have made me question, at times, my desire to stay. Yet, after 29 years, it wouldn’t really be easy to walk away. Instead, I tried to work at it, to make what was good, great, and to make what wasn’t good, better. So, is this plan working? At times, I think it is. I have had a lot of great experiences with other fans in the last three years. Yet, at times, I still don’t like what I see. Sometimes, I don’t like what I see so much that I forget about the good experiences and the fabulous friends I have made. I try to focus on that. I try to focus on the connections between fans as that is what really in the end keeps me here. I know that if I walked away, I would, obviously, lose this love that I have had for almost 30 years but, more importantly, I would lose incredibly valuable friendships.