Category Archives: social status

I Know I’m Going Nowhere

Am I the only one who laughed at Rhonda’s blog on Wednesday in which she discussed becoming a “top fan” of Duran Duran on Facebook?  I laughed hard while I read.  I cannot disagree with the sentiment that becoming a top fan does not really change anything or signal success.  Even though I know all that, I couldn’t help but to think, “That will never be me.”  Nope.  I’ll never get top fan status.  It used to be that this would bother me but I think I have accepted more of who I am and how I express my fandom.

So, I don’t really respond to Duran Duran on Facebook or Twitter.  I’m not totally sure why.  I could give a few possible reasons.  First, I have a job that does not really allow me to be on social media when I want to.  I cannot exactly tell my students to teach themselves while I check the latest.  Even when I have planning time (or time to prepare for class without students present), I don’t feel like I can just respond to social media much.  Take yesterday.  Rhonda and I exchanged tweets during my lunch.  This meant that I didn’t get an assignment graded like I had hoped.  I’m cool with responding to friends or family but to tweet  to or in response to my favorite band seems indulgent.  Besides, it isn’t like the work goes away if I don’t get it done during work hours.

Of course, that doesn’t totally explain it.  I could give the argument that I work a lot.  I do.  That is not a lie.  During campaign season, I work 70-80 hours a week.  Not kidding.  So I can certainly use that as a reason or excuse or whatever.  That isn’t the whole deal either, though.  A part of it goes beyond the lack of time or the strictness of my job.  No, it has everything to do with me.  I don’t respond to the band’s social media because it is easier for me that way.  What do I mean by that?  Simple.  I cannot get rejected and that matters more than the alternative.

Here’s a true story.  I have always been an outsider even with my Duranie status.  Some of you might be confused by that.  Even in 1984 when Duran was at the peak of their popularity in the US, it wasn’t cool to be a Duranie where I lived.  At that time, I lived on the south side of Chicago.  In 1984, Michael Jackson was king.  No one could compete against him in my neighborhood and in my school.  Yet, I dared to stick out that way.  Then, a couple of years later, I found myself in a different place and different neighborhood.  Did that help?  Nope.  People in my new hometown did not accept Duran either.  For my old town, it was that they weren’t as cool as Michael.  For my new one, they weren’t manly enough to be embraced.  Did I switch to become a fan of someone else?  Absolutely not.

Soon enough, though, I stopped trying to voice my opinion about music and bands.  I learned that all it would get me is dismissal at best and ridicule at worst.  Fast forward a couple of decades.  I assumed that life might be different.  I posted on message boards and started writing here.  Soon enough, I saw that I could not compete.  I wouldn’t respond in a way that was witty enough or smart enough or worse…I might come across as arrogant or a know-it-all.  None of this would get me accepted by other fans.  Even here, I have always known that I’m not as cool as Rhonda.  People have a harder time to relate to me.  I’m not married.  I don’t have kids.  My priorities are very different.  Outside of fandom, I’m a teacher and an activist and that feels right to me.

I could respond to the band’s social media but I figure that it would just leave me open to criticism or mockery.  I don’t need that in my life.  It would get in the way and make me feel crummy about myself like I couldn’t measure up.  Nope, it is easier and better to simply not play.  This allows me to save my self-esteem and to get my work done, work that matters a LOT.

In the past, I would feel badly about that.  Am I a big enough fan?  I would worry.  Should I be doing something else to prove it?  How will the band and their team know about me?  (How ridiculous that I even thought that.)  Now, I’m giving myself a break.  Yes, I know why I don’t respond.  I accept it but I also have to be okay with not being a well-known fan.  I know how much I love the band.  I don’t need to be out there on the band’s social media to prove it.  I accept my secondary fan status and that I won’t get some badge on social media.  I understand that there are not a lot of other fans who want to friend me or follow me since I don’t talk about the band much.  I am not cool and am okay with that.

-A

We Have More Playtime than Money

One issue that seems to come up a lot in fandom, in one way, shape or form is money.  Let’s face, fandom tends to cost money, no matter what you are a fan of.  If you are a fan of a TV show, you have to make sure you have a TV.  Maybe, you need cable to watch the particular show you are a fan of or you opt to go the way of hulu to watch your favorite program.  If you are a fan of a book series, you need to be able to buy the books unless you borrow from friends or the library, but that might mean that you won’t get the books for awhile.  If you are a fan of a rock band or other musical artist, you have to buy the music and/or something to listen to it on.  If you are a fan of a sport teams, you have to find a means of watching the sport, either on TV or at the game itself.  Movie fans need the money to go see the film.  All of these examples are the very basic viewing, too.  Fans typically want to own the books, the movies, the TV shows, the albums of whatever they are a fan of.  Now, the cost has increased.  What about attending events like those sports games or concerts or conventions?  More money.  Of course, some of those events might not be close to where you live.  Then, you need transportation and all that comes with that.  Many fans like to buy other merchandise related to their fandom as well.  More cash needed.  What happens when you can pay to meet the idol(s)?  What happens when you can pay for that precious autograph or that picture?  Clearly, fandom costs money.  This makes sense, on one hand, since that is sort of the deal.  The idol(s) make or do whatever you are a fan of then you buy the product.  It is a financial exchange.  On the other hand, some fans can afford more than other fans.  This puts a whole other spin to it and a ton of questions.

The first question that can pop up is whether or not this is fair.  Is it fair that the fans with more money get more things?  More experiences connected to their fandom?  This, of course, is a dicey topic.  I think it is safe to say that many of us, most of us have to choose what we can and cannot do, what we can and cannot buy.  For some fans, buying things connected to one’s fandom is of a higher priority than others.  I admit that is a true statement for myself.  I have chosen to put my fandom as a higher priority in my own personal budget.  I would love a new dining room table, which is really my family’s old kitchen table from when I was a kid.  Yet, I would rather spend the money on a VIP concert ticket than buy the table.  It is a choice I make.  Therefore, the argument could be made that it is fair in this way.  Everyone can choose where they put their fandom in terms of financial priority.  Yet, we all know that for many fans, they can only put fandom so high due to other more significant costs like paying for shelter or food on the table or items that are needed by their family.  This means that for those fans, they simply miss out on the opportunities or products, which isn’t really fair.  What I do think is important for all of us to recognize and be clear, ourselves, that, for some, it is about making a choice between fandom and other things and, for others, it isn’t a choice at all.  So, if it isn’t fair to those fans who really can’t choose to put fandom higher, what should be done about it, if anything?  I already see the sides lining up.  Those who have the money to choose fandom might argue, “It’s my money.  If I have the money, I should be able to buy what I want.  While I’m sorry not everyone does have that choice, those options shouldn’t be taken away from me.  I like that I am able to buy more stuff and more experiences.”  Those who don’t have the choices might say, “I wish that I had the money to afford the items and experiences but I don’t.  I am just as good of a fan as the next person.  Fandom means just as much to me as those who have more money.  I should be able to experience and get some of it.”  One solution, of course, could be more contests but then again…fans who have more money could and should be allowed to participate, right?  Truly, I have no solution.

The second set of questions that come up with this issue is what the celebrity(s) should or should not do regarding money.  While I think we all recognize that there is a financial transaction that takes place with fandom, it isn’t all there is to it.  Fandom is also emotional.  The celebrity(s) should know that and understand, right?  Perhaps, then, there is the question of whether or not the idol(s) should then, in understanding, make sure that their products and experiences are fairly priced so that a large number of fans could possibly afford it.  Should, for example, Duran Duran lower the prices to VIP seats so that more people could afford them?  Of course, from a business standpoint, if people buy them at the prices they are on, there is no reason for them to lower them.  After all, they want to make the most profit they can and we can’t blame them for that.  Recently, someone pointed out to me, during the big Comic Con convention, that the stars of the X-Files charged $200 to have fans get their pictures taken with them.  Is this price outrageous?  Is it a matter of taken advantage of their fans?  Obviously, we could all decide this ourselves and their fans could decide whether or not that price was reasonable.  If they thought it wasn’t, they could choose not to buy, right?

Like I said, I don’t have good answers for this issue.  I do think it is important to acknowledge that it is an issue within fandom.  I don’t know what the celebrity(s) should do or not do.  I know this.  I feel lucky that I can make some choices with my fandom and I recognize that others can’t as much or at all.  I definitely don’t think that makes me a bigger or better fan than them.  It just makes me fortunate.  Some could argue that if I felt strongly about the costs and how it might exclude some people, then I could choose not to pay myself and that if everyone stopped paying, the costs would lower.  That is very true.  Yet, I hesitate to do that because I do see the idol(s) purpose of making money.  I also recognize that I really don’t know what, in turn, they have to buy themselves in order to do their jobs.  For example, a lot of people work in the Duran machine.  They all need to be paid.  Studio time needs to be paid.  Producers need to be paid.  I don’t know how much money they really take in.  Yes, I’m sure they take in WAY more money than I do.  The other reason I hesitate to stop buying is because I should have that choice to do things that I enjoy.  I like going to concerts.  I like buying music.  I like going on tour.  Clearly, this is one of those issues in fandom that don’t have any good answers, but one that I suspect everyone has an opinion about.

-A

I Break from the Crowd

I became a Duranie in 1984.  This isn’t news.  What people may not realize is that I didn’t join the fan community until 2004.  I had Duranie friends as kids, but we didn’t go out of our way to find out what other fans were doing or not doing, what other fans were saying or not saying.  We were lost in our own worlds and content with that.  We didn’t need or want to reach out to others.  Yet, by 2004, I had discovered why people join fandoms.  They join to be a part of a community.  It makes being a fan WAY more fun!  People in fan communities share stories, opinions, merchandise and more with each other.  The interest becomes stronger through these interactions.  I believe that.  That has been my personal experience as well as what I have found through research.  It was that way for another fandom for me.  I fell in love with the show, Roswell, when it aired from 1999-2002.  Yet, I didn’t really LOVE it until 2001 when I decided to join the community and talk to other fans.  When in 2002, I met other Roswell fans, the love grew even more!  In fact, once the show was canceled, I am certain that my friends and I stayed watching and talking about the show LONG after it stopped being on TV because of interacting with each other and other fans.  Anyway, when I joined the Roswell fandom or the Duran Duran fandom, I entered blindly.  I didn’t know what to expect other than to be able to share my love with others who get it.  I didn’t think about myself in the community and didn’t think of others and their actions either.  Yet, over time, spending a lot of time with other Duranies, both online and in person, I developed a philosophy, a way of being as a fan.  A fan manifesto, so to speak.  

The first few points in my personal fan philosophy are not controversial.  They are ones that I suspect that many share.  First, I will listen to everything created by the band or any side project with an open mind.  Now, I will openly admit that I do not include Warren in this.  I realize that many will say that I’m closed minded on him and I will own up to that.  I am not a Warren fan.  I tried.  That said, I will listen to everything else.  I will try everything else.  Second, even though, I will listen to everything.  I will not like everything I hear.  To me, this doesn’t make me less than a fan.  It makes me someone who still has opinions and preferences.  Third, I will attempt to find out as much as I can about the band, career wise.  I will try to keep up with the happenings of the band.  This isn’t hard.  I’m interested.  Obviously, if I stop being interested, I wouldn’t be part of a fandom.  For me, though, I like to know what is happening.  Along the same lines, I will buy as many products that I can and that I like.  It is part of how I express my interest.  I am also open with my fandom by having posters (sue me!) and wearing t-shirts.  I wore one yesterday.  It was John Taylor’s birthday.  It seemed appropriate.  Yes, I went out in public.  I did educate the check out guy in Target that Duran was still making music and that there were still fans.  I am fine with doing a little educating.  Overall, though, I’m willing to bet that so far my philosophy isn’t going to cause anyone to get upset with me or think that I’m being critical.  For the record, before I dive into the other parts of my philosophy, I want to point out that the key word here is MY.  It may not be yours.  That’s okay.  This is my philosophy.
The first parts of my fandom philosophy dealt with fandom on a personal, by oneself sort of level.  What is my fandom philosophy when it comes to the band, itself?  Let me start by saying that I have been very lucky to get the members of Duran Duran’s autograph.  I have been able to go to a cd signing and get autographs from Simon, Nick, John and Roger.  John even personalized it.  I was able to get Dom’s signature with his most recent solo cd as he was selling the first ones with his autograph along with his dad’s.  I even have a copy of All You Need Is Now with signatures from doing VIP during the tour.  Ideally, I would love for AYNIN to include Dom’s signature as well as Mark Ronson’s as they were big factors on that album.  I was also lucky to be able to go to one of John’s book signings so he could autograph a copy of his autobiography.  Anyway, my point is that I’m well-aware that I’m fortunate to have their signatures.  I feel so lucky, in fact, that I would never try to get their signatures again unless it was an some official signing.  If I happen to be in a place in which one or more band members were signing items for fans, I would gladly step back for those who do not have any autographs.  Does that make me crazy?  Perhaps.  To me, though, it is only fair.  We all know that the band can’t sign everything wanted by everyone.  Thus, if they were, say behind the stage after a show, they are only going to sign a few things, for a few minutes.  Let’s say that Nick is going to sign 10 things from 10 people.  If I jump in and get an autograph, that means that the 11th person won’t get a signature and maybe that person has never had the chance.  I would add to my collection and she gets nothing.  That wouldn’t feel right to me.  
The same thing would apply to getting things like drumsticks or guitar picks.  If I was lucky enough to say get a pair of drumsticks, I would be thrilled, of course.  Who wouldn’t?  If I was beyond lucky to have a second pair, it is obvious what I would do.  I would give the second pair to Rhonda or to someone else who doesn’t have a pair.  Why not share?  What does it do for me to have many pairs of drumsticks?  Yes, I’m sure that someone could make the point that the drumsticks represent the specific show, which is why it is okay to have more than one pair.  While I get that, I still think that those kind of items are so few that it would be good to spread the wealth.  Again, this probably makes me unusual.  Of course, I’m sure that there are people out there who will say, “But, Amanda, you don’t really know what you would do if you had the chance for a lot of guitar picks.”  True, but I would hope that the people around me would remind me of my philosophy.  I would feel better in the long run if I followed this plan of mine.  I have done this for autographs and felt good about it.  
Now, of course, this leads me to pictures.  I have not been fortunate with this at all.  I have had one picture taken with Nick with another friend.  It wasn’t a solo picture.  I will openly admit that I would love to get pictures of me and the band members.  I won’t lie.  Ideally, I would love a great picture with me and John Taylor.  It isn’t a secret.  This, to me, though, is just like those autographs or those special band given items.  Once I would have my pictures, I would definitely stand to the side to allow others to get theirs.  To me, that would just feel right.  Now, of course, I already hear the questions.  What if you don’t like the picture?  What if the picture is old?  Obviously, this is just what I would do and what I feel comfortable with.  If the picture isn’t great, I would hope that I had another chance but still would wait until others have gotten theirs at that time.  The same would be true for me if the picture was old.  This part of my philosophy sounds like a hard and fast rule and it really isn’t.  My point is simple.  For me, I would want to share.  This is what would make me happy–to know that as many Duranies around me have been as lucky as I have.  Yes, I realize that this probably makes me very weird.  I’m okay with that even if it means that I get/have less than other fans.  
-A 

Duran Anniversary Part 2

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.

-A

There Is No Such Thing as Enough!

It seems to me that fandom is a thirst for one’s idol(s) that can never be quenched.  We always want more and more and more.  Perhaps, we give ourselves limits like, “I’ll be good as soon as I see them in concert” or “I just need to meet them once.”  Yet, I see people reach those milestones and go back for more!  While I certainly understand the urge, I wonder if that is something that we SHOULD do.  Much of Duranland focuses on going to concerts, getting front row, catching items like drumsticks or guitar picks, meeting the band, getting autographs, and getting pictures taken with band members.  These seem to be the most coveted items/experiences.  While many/most fans express happiness for the fan(s) receiving these coveted treasures, there seems to also be underlying tension there.  Perhaps, the tension comes in because not everyone has received those wanted memories/objects.  Maybe the subtle tension happens because some fans think that other fans violate unwritten rules regarding such things. 

I think we all can agree that Duranies want to go to shows, to get front row, to get drumsticks and/or picks, to meet the band, to get autographs, and to get pictures taken with the band members.  Yes, obviously, someone might point out that they don’t care about all of those things.  I’m willing to bet that most want to go to shows, at the very least, and that most fans want the whole list I mentioned here.  Assuming that I’m right, let’s then acknowledge that there are fans who don’t get those things.  I’ll be honest here.  I have been very lucky to have gotten to many shows.  That’s true.  I have also been lucky enough to have a CD signing near me that I was able to attend.  Thus, I have autographs.  However, I’m still hoping that someday I might get front row, John Taylor’s guitar pick and a picture with the band.  Yet, I will also acknowledge that there are many fans who haven’t been able to get to a show ever, which means that they have very little hope of getting anything off of the list.  There are other fans, though, who have gotten everything on that list.  Some of them have even gotten everything on that list more than once. 

It seems to me that the fandom struggles with this issue about some fans getting a lot and other fans getting very little or none.  Again, I would argue that this is one of those issues that isn’t talked about but should be since it does often create bad blood and bad feelings among fans.  Before I go any further, I will acknowledge that there are some fans who have greater access to the band for whatever reason and others that will never have access for whatever reason.  People can’t help where they live, for example.  Taking out some of those uncontrollable factors, I ask you, dear readers, should fans get as much as they can no matter what?  Should they get as much as they can as long as it isn’t blocking other fans from getting some?  Should there be a limit?  Let’s put this in concrete terms.  If I’m a fan who has a drumstick from Roger, should I go after another one no matter what?  Should I wait to go after another one until all of my friends have one?  Should I just be satisfied with one?  Obviously, you can insert autographs, guitar picks and pictures in place of the drumstick in my example.  Then, how does one’s decision in this example to go after more drumsticks affect the fandom?  Does it affect the fandom?

It seems to me that people in Duranland get pissed when it seems like the same people got front row over and over again.  I have seen people be upset after hearing other fans talk about winning meet and greets for the 5th or 6th time.  Obviously, people have the right to go after front row or meet and greets or pictures but should they?  That’s the question I’m asking.  I’m willing to bet that the people upset at the repeated winners of meet and greets just want to have that same experience.  Yes, some people might call that jealously and maybe it is but I don’t think it is wrong for people to want their turn.  Sure, non-winners can and should be happy for the winners but what if those winners are the same ones over and over and over again?  Is that okay?

This week, a friend of ours was able to get one of Dom’s guitar picks for Rhonda, who happens to be a big Dom Brown fan.  Now, this friend of ours could have kept it.  Rhonda would have been thrilled for her!  Yet, instead of keeping it for herself, she is choosing to give it to Rhonda.  I know that there are many stories like this.  I know that there are plenty of fans who would step aside to allow others to have their moments with their idols.  I’m grateful for them.  Those people, like our friend, help make Duranland a nicer place to be. It isn’t about getting more and more and more for ME but about sharing the love of Duran, including those meet and greets and autographs and pictures.  Wouldn’t it be a better place if we all had drumsticks and guitar picks instead of just having a few people have many of them?  Wouldn’t it be better if everyone had the chance for at least one picture with the band rather than a few people having a ton of pictures?  Maybe, I don’t really have the desire for more and more and more.  Perhaps, I just don’t get why someone would want or need 20 drumsticks or 100 pictures with the band…

What do you all think?  What are the unwritten rules when it comes to this issue?  How should fans act when faced with opportunities to get some of the coveted items/experiences over and over again?  

-A

Taboo Subjects and Other Observations

A large part of fandom is talking about one’s idols, one’s interest.  In Duranland, the conversations should surround Duran Duran’s music, their videos, their DVDs, their live performances, their interviews, their merchandise, and other things directly related to the band and what projects they are involved in.  Of course, in a fandom as long-lasting as ours, sometimes, our discussions have moved beyond things directly connected to the band is doing.  Some of the discussions that I put into that not-so-directly related category include those surrounding the fan club, presales, band members’ politics, promotion, commercial success, band members’ personal lives, awards and other forms of recognition, and more.  Of course, we also talk about our fan community as well.  Over the years, I have come to discover that there are certain trends to these discussions.  I wanted to acknowledge what I have observed and also wanted to ask why some trends exist because it seems to me that there are subjects that we, as a fandom, don’t really tackle or don’t tackle head on.

The discussions surrounding topics directly related to what the band produces tend to get some discussion but not as much as one would think.  For example, here on the blog, our reviews of different songs or videos gets some views and some comments but they are not the most popular, not even when we were discussing the latest album.  On message boards, the discussions related to direct production of the band seem to involve more men than other topics and seem to include more people with a musical background or more musical knowledge.  I can understand why people with more musical knowledge would contribute more to discussions than those people without that same background.  Obviously, people will contribute more to discussions when they feel comfortable and confident with the topic.  Why does there seem to be more men who discuss Duran’s music?  Plus, these types of discussions seem to occur more often on message boards rather than on twitter.  Is this just the nature of the format?  Do these discussions happen less on twitter due to the 140 character limit?  Or does it have more to do with the fans who frequent message boards over twitter and vice versa? 

As far as discussions connected to the band, from my observations, the amount of discussion and the people participating really does seem to vary based on topic.  Topics like recognition and commercial success tend to be ones that people who discuss the music a lot are interested in.  Yet, discussions relating to the fan club and presales tend to include more women and more people on twitter and facebook.  When I go to message boards outside of the DDM one, it seems like presales aren’t happening at all or that people aren’t even going to shows.  It seems like there are completely different worlds between the message boards and the social networking sites.  Why?  I do understand that many people were on message boards and have left.  When asked, most will say that they didn’t like the drama.  What was that drama like?  What was it focused on?  Was it focused on disagreements about the music or disagreements about commercial success?  Was it simply that the two groups of people focused on different discussions and got sick of seeing the other group focus on the topics that they were uninterested in.  Let me give you an example.  It seems to me that there are posters (people who post) on message boards who constantly ask about album sales.  That is very important to them.  If you don’t care about that, I suppose it could be annoying.  Of course, the person focused on commercial success might get sick of threads about the fan club. 

Beyond the topics directly related the band and the ones indirectly to the band are the topics about us, about the fandom itself.  In this blog, we have brought up subjects that we assume would get a lot of people talking and they don’t or the responses are ones that appear to agree with us.  Why?  Again, I provide an example.  The other day, Rhonda posted a blog in reference to a blog from Nick Rhodes’s ex-wife.  In Julie Anne’s blog, she talked about how fans demanded constant attention from Nick that directly impacted time that they had as a family and pondered why people needed so many autographs and photos with/from the band.  The responses that we got on our blog all agreed with Rhonda’s points as well as Julie Anne’s.  Yet, I know that there are fans who think that it would be okay to approach a band member out in public when he isn’t working.  I also know that there are fans who have a ton of pictures and autographs.  Why didn’t those people defend their views and/or actions in our blog?  Why don’t they explain why they think that the band should be approachable at all times or why they do need so many pictures or autographs?  I’m asking without judgement, by the way.  I’m truly curious.

Then, of course, there are all of the discussions surrounding how we, fans, treat other fans.  The reaction, usually, to any discussion about fan drama or social status is to declare that people are immature, or jealous.  Then, they suggest that the fans grow up.  The questions that tend to pop up are, “Why does this exist in this fandom?  Does it happen in all fandoms?”  Everyone is quick to blame and no one seems willing to take ownership of his/her behavior.  Why is that?  It seems to me that the “drama” that seems to happen in fandom takes at least 2 people.  I will openly admit that I have had people in the fandom who I, at one point, called a “friend” and no longer do.  I’m not innocent here either.  In the situations I have been involved in, for me, most of them were directly related to some of the topics I mentioned here in this blog.  The truth is that we all have a philosophy of sorts when it comes to fandom whether we know it or not.  We all have opinions about meeting the band.  We all have opinions about how many shows people should or should not go to.  We all have opinions about what people should know the band and we have thoughts about what people should own or not own.  Yet, instead of having very difficult discussion about what we think a fan should be like, we keep it to ourselves and then judge other fans when they don’t do what you would do.  So, why don’t we have that discussion?  Why is so hard to talk about this?  I’m sure that we don’t because we are worried about being judged.  Maybe, for some, there is concern that they can’t really defend their positions or philosophy.  I fear, though, that until these topics become less taboo, drama and hurt feelings will continue and our fan community will not be as united as it could be.

-A

Anti-Fan Fans

I have a confession to make.  I like being a fan.  I even like being a Duranie.  I like Duran Duran.  I like the members of Duran Duran.  I like their music and their videos.  I like to see them live.  On top of all of that, I do many things that show this.  I am part of a writing partnership that writes daily here at the Daily Duranie.  This partnership is also writing a book about fandom.  I wear Duran Duran t-shirts and I buy Duran Duran products.  Heck, just this afternoon, I used my Duran Duran tote bag to bring my groceries home.  Yet, sometimes, I’m cautious about showing my fandom or showing the extent of my fandom.  Yes, obviously, there are many non-fans who don’t understand what it means to be a fan and why I am a fan.  Beyond that, though, at times, I feel like I can’t show my fandom around other fans, other Duranies.  There is pressure to be a “cool” Duranie.  Last weekend, I blogged about the typical fan, which I based off the video “Sh*t Duran Duran Fans Say”.  In this blog, I listed all of the different characteristics or traits Duranies have, according to that video.  My point in that blog was to show that there are contradictions and that no Duran fan exhibits all of those traits.  That said, I found it fascinating that the majority of comments about that particular blog post was from people who said that they only fit a few of those characteristics.  I don’t doubt those people.  Yet, I found myself wondering if I was the only fan who did relate to a lot of them.  While I didn’t want people to worry if they didn’t fit certain behaviors in order to be a Duranie, I don’t want others to worry if they do.  Unfortunately, I see this pressure to appear “cool”, or non-fan like within the fandom all the time.  Many of the characteristics I mentioned last week even show this pressure.

The characteristics in that video that show what I’m talking about includes the following:  “Can’t believe that others would camp out for a signing even if the person has in the past,” “Claims that they don’t do that hotel thing anymore, ” and “Claims not to be hardcore anymore because she had to grow up and move on.”  First off, am I the only one to have heard these?  I can’t be, can I?  Second, am I the first one to point out the hypocrisy in these statements?  Seriously.  It was okay to camp out in the past but not now?  Why?  What would have changed?  The only thing I can figure is that now the person thinks it is no longer cool to do that and that, somehow, she is cooler than a fan who would.  The same thing could be true for going to the hotel or being a “hardcore” fan.  I get that not everyone wants to camp out, go to the band’s hotel to wait for them, or even be as into Duran as others.  That’s fine.  What doesn’t seem fine, to me, are those who make statements which imply that others who do aren’t cool.  Obviously, a Duranie could say, “I would prefer not to go to the band’s hotel.  It makes me uncomfortable (or whatever the reason).”  Why make someone feel badly for wanting to, which is what I bet happens when someone says that they “don’t do that anymore”?  I have been in situations when people I have been with have known where the band is, but wouldn’t tell.  What is worse is that they implied that it wouldn’t be cool of me to even WANT to ask, never mind actually asking and then going. 

So why do people do this?  Why do they want to seem like non-fans even though they still like the music and the videos, etc.?  Is it because they are jerks?  Maybe some are, but I don’t think it is as simple as that.  I think it has everything to do with social status and stigma.  While we would all like to think that there is no such thing as social status within our fandom (and all fandoms), there is.  Many of us fight it but we know it exists.  For some reason, to be “cool”, to be “non-fan” like within the fandom is considered by some to be a characteristic of those with higher social status, at least on some subconscious level.  Why is that?  This is where stigma comes in.  Society, generally, looks down on fans, especially fans like Duranies.  Fans are thought to be obsessed, illogical people who are stuck in a state of childhood.  Could this attempt to appear non-fan like be to escape the stigma of being a fan, again on some subconscious level?  Is it better for people to say, “Yes, I’m a fan but I’m not like that kind of fan?”  I don’t know.  It is my theory, anyway. 

No matter the cause for what I call “Anti-Fan Fan” behavior, I want to fight it.  I want to be free to express my fandom within my fandom and I want others to do the same.  Now, that said, I’m not saying that people have the right to break into Simon LeBon’s house and wait for him.  To me, that isn’t fandom, that’s creepy and illegal.  Within the bonds of respect and the law, I think that people should be able to say that I like to wear Duran t-shirts or that I would love to see them at their hotel.  I refuse to give let society’s negative idea about fandom win.  I won’t hide who I am.  Thus, for now on, I will avoid people who make me feel badly about myself because I’m a proud Duranie and I will create as much space as I can for others to be themselves as well.

-A

What About the Fans?

This week my writing partner began really examining Duran’s fan club and even the band itself in their ability to enhance, sustain, encourage a Duran Duran fan community.  She asked the questions:  Is the fan club doing the best job it can?  Is the band?  Many people argued that the fan club is not doing everything it can to please the fans and many said that the band should be involved in helping sustain the fan community.  Now, it’s my turn to ask the same question of the fans.  Do the fans do a good job in making the fan community sustainable?  Do we, collectively, help make Duranland the place we all want to be?  While I would love for the answer to be a simple yes, I think, in reality, it is much more complex than that. 

Let me start at the beginning.  People become fans of Duran Duran because of their music, their videos, their style, their personalities, or because of a combination of those qualities or all of those qualities.  From there, fans seek out other fans.  In some cases, these fans just want to know what other fans are thinking.  In still other cases, they seek out discussion about Duran.  Some want to go as far as becoming friends with other fans.  Some of these friends will, in turn, go to shows or other fan events together.  The real strange ones will write a book together or start a blog…oh wait, that’s just Rhonda and I!  All of these fans make up the fan community.  Obviously, some of you might be thinking that you are not part of the community because you don’t post on message boards or because you aren’t on twitter or don’t update your status on facebook in order for other Duranies to see.  Yet, if you are reading this blog and do so on a consistent basis, you are a member of the community.  You might be a quiet member but a member, nonetheless.  This community couldn’t help but be formed.  It happened naturally as fans will seek out other fans.  That said, is our community one that we are proud of?  Is it one that we actually like?

As Rhonda began her little series of blog posts on the fan community, I began to think about those people who leave the community.  Why?  Do they stop being fans or do they stop wanting to know what other fans think about?  In my opinion, these are two very different reasons.  In the case of the fans who stop being fans, it is most likely that these people did not like the music that was being made.  Perhaps, their fandom was short-lived or not, but, the music got them into the fandom and later made them want to leave.  In that case, the interest ran out.  There would be no hard feelings towards other fans.  They just didn’t want to spend their time on Duran anymore.  I get this.  I have participated in a fandom like that.  I enjoyed it when I was interested in it and even made life long friends from it but eventually my interest left.  Now, I don’t talk about it or think about it.  It is done and over.  For those fans, the rest of the community has very little impact on them.  For the second group of people who leave, it is a different story.

There are fans who seem to walk away because of everything surrounding the music.  It isn’t the music itself that makes them leave, but all of the extras.  Perhaps, for those people, they do get frustrated at the fan club or the perceived lack of effort on the band’s part.  A bigger issue seems to me is the other fans.  Just the other day a couple of friends of mine said that they thought about jumping into the discussion on the blog but decided against it because they don’t like Duranies.  This was quite a statement to me as they grouped a large, diverse group into a single entity.  I know of other people who completely left the fandom despite still liking Duran’s music because of the “culture” surrounding Duranies.  So, what’s the deal?  What is it about Duranies that can and has turned people off?  Then, is it possible to change the overall climate of Duranland?

One thing about Duranies that we have talked about before on this blog is the jealously and/or downright mean behavior that can and has happened in Duranland.  We have also mentioned the invisible or not-so-invisible world of social status in the community that is perceived by some (many?  all?).  We have even talked about possible reasons why this happens in our fandom.  Is this what makes other fans leave?  I think it can for some, definitely.  Some people don’t want to deal with anything remotely like this social status/hierarchy game that seems to get played at every turn.  I can’t blame them, really.  Yet, is that the only reason that some people who could be fans remove themselves from the community?  I think there could be other reasons.  Some people I know get frustrated with fans who won’t be critical with their fandom meaning that everything Duran does is great while other people get frustrated with the opposite.  They get frustrated that other people always seem so negative.  Maybe, still, others don’t like how fans do or do not deal with their fandom.  This could be that they don’t like the people who tweet all the time about Simon or John to people who act like know-it-alls with Duran knowledge and everything in between. 

No matter the reason that people might leave, I have to wonder if those of us still in the community should work to change it.  If we agree that we should, how?  In my opinion, I think that as much as the fan club and the band work to create a certain culture within the community, intentionally or not, I think we do, too.  I think we should take some ownership over our community.  I know that Rhonda and I are trying to do just that by writing about our fandom, by attempting to create a safe place where everyone is free to comment, and by trying to bring fans together.  What are other ways that we could all work to make Duranland a good, happy  community?   

-A

The Bigger/Better Fan

In response to yesterday’s blog, I had some interesting conversations.  The conversations started from comments about how Duran doesn’t seem to really care about the hardcore fans.  For some people, this was determined by the fact that they play the same setlist over and over again and that setlist isn’t one to deviate much from the hits that “casual” fans would recognize.  For other fans, this comment stems from how Duran always tours the same places over and over again.  I can’t obviously disagree with either of those statements.  The setlists don’t vary much and they do seem to tour the same places over and over again.  Anyway, from there, the conversations became about how the fan community expects people who consider themselves to be big fans to be willing to travel and willing to pay the money to go VIP.  Obviously, then, this is problematic for those fans who cannot travel.  At the same token, I have also seen fans be made to feel bad because they can and have traveled and/or gone VIP.

First, is there this assumption that big fans would travel and would go VIP?  Obviously, I can’t be everywhere in the fandom at all times.  From what I have observed, though, I wouldn’t say that it is an assumption.  I think people who travel become more involved in the fandom, whether they want to or not.  They can’t help but to meet more people, have more experiences surrounding the band, and have more knowledge of certain elements of Duranland.  Would it make sense that people who have more first hand knowledge and have more friends in the community be considered bigger fans?  In some ways, it does, and I’m not saying that to put anyone down.  Hear me out.  I look at it this way.  In a real life community, a city council member might be considered a more significant member of the community.  Why?  Well, that person might know more people in the community from campaigning, from communicating with different people to make decisions about the city, etc.  At the same token, the rest of the community would probably know that person as well even if that city council member hasn’t met them personally.  It just happens.  Now, does that mean that the city council member is a more important member of the community?   Absolutely not but that person can’t help but to have more influence in terms of what happens in the city, both directly and indirectly.  Thus, I think that it is possible that fans who travel be look at differently than the fans that don’t.  In many cases, I’m sure that it isn’t that these fans want to be seen as bigger/better.  For many fans, I’m sure they don’t want other people to view them as conceited, arrogant or whatever insult they could be called.  Now, are there fans that do think that fans should be willing to travel and/or buy VIP?  I’m sure that there are.  I think it is hard for people to put themselves in other people’s shoes.  Thus, if they can do, others must be able to, or so it is thought.  I’m sure that there are many fans who do save and sacrifice in order to be able to travel and/or go VIP and some of them might not be able to understand how other people can’t do that.  Perhaps, the assumption is that if going to a show was that important to fans, then they would sacrifice many other things in order to go.  Personally, I save all the time for shows.  I have to, if I want to be able to go.  For me, this means that I sacrifice other things. 

In these conversations, I was told that this assumption that traveling equals bigger/better fan is both stated outright and is implied.  Lately, though, I have also seen the opposite.  I have seen people avoid talking about traveling to go to shows, about how many shows they can get to, about having good seats, about going VIP, etc.  These fans don’t want to talk about their experiences because they don’t want to be thought of as boasting or rubbing it in others’ faces.  Thus, they don’t get to enjoy their experiences like they could because of this.  While fans who can’t travel should be made to feel badly about this, fans who can shouldn’t feel badly either.  I know that Rhonda and I are constantly being told how lucky we are that Duran tours here so often.  In some ways, this is true.  We are lucky.  We admit it.  Yet, I sometimes want to point out to people that Duran hasn’t played in my city since 1984 and hasn’t played my state since 2005.  Of course, what is the point of saying this, really?  There are other fans who have it much, much worse than I do.  I know this.  That said, I bet that we can always find fans who have it worse than someone else.  That’s the nature of all things in life.

Do I think it sucks that Duran doesn’t tour everywhere?  Of course, I do!  I, seriously, want all fans to be able to experience shows.  Even better, I wish that all fans could have great seats at shows!  I do.  How would it help me if I didn’t want that?  Yet, I can’t control where they go.  No fan can.  I can’t control who can travel and who can’t and I can’t control how other fans react to this. I can only control what I CAN do.  I can only control how I react to other fans.  Yes, I offer and will continue to offer sympathy for those fans who haven’t had shows anywhere near them (by that the city, state, country, continent or hemisphere!).  I will continue to wish that Duran gets everywhere to make all fans happy and I will be thrilled for those fans who get a show who haven’t ever or haven’t in a very long time!  That said, I don’t want to see the fan community to be such that fans are made to feel bad if they haven’t be able to travel or go VIP but I also don’t want to see the community treat those who have traveled or can travel to be made to feel badly for being able to.  Yes, I’m sure that I’m responding to this is a very naive, let’s all get along way.  Yet, I think we can all do things in order to make sure that all fans feel like part of the community and an important part of the community.  What can you do or not do to help with this?

-A 

The Real Fan

Have you ever taken one of those fan purity tests?  You can find one on John Taylor here.  The basic idea behind these type of tests is to prove how big of a fan you are.  This determination is made based on the answers to the questions.  Some of the questions on John’s include ones on owning all of his solo albums, knowing family information and following in his fashion footsteps.  Obviously, tests like this are made for fun.  I doubt if fans would really take something like this and use it to prove who is the biggest fan, the second biggest fan, etc.  Yet, I suppose that it could be since you get a score at the end and defines the amount of “Johnner” in you. 

Part of me wishes that fandom really is this easy. If a fandom test did existence, a person could take a test to determine whether or not s/he was a fan and how big of a fan.  Yet, I think that most of us agree that this is truly silly.  Who is to say if someone is a fan?  Who is to say if someone is a big fan?  The obvious, clear cut answer here is no one, except for the individual person.  I’m a fan because I say I am.  I’m a really big fan, I could admit.  Yet, it seems to me that people who identify themselves as fans, including me, constantly try to determine this for other people.   I saw this in a couple of ways this past week as part of our “Would you rather” game.  This week, we asked people which album they prefer between two choices.  Most people just gave their preference and moved on.  Some people engaged in healthy discussion with other people about their opinions and reasons.  It was cool.  Then, I noticed that some people made the comment that basically said that fans should like all of Duran’s albums.  I also spotted a number of responders who had not heard the albums listed, which also bothered people. 

Now, I understand these shocked like reactions as I, too, have had them.  I have this type of reaction or something similar when I hear or read about a fan who expresses his/her fandom in a very different way than I do or sees being a fan in a way opposite of what I see being a fan is.  Yet, if I think about these reactions, logically, they seem a bit…harsh.  Do Duranies have to like EVERYTHING that the band has done?  I don’t really think so.  I doubt that the band likes everything they have done.  Maybe they liked it at the time and change their minds.  Perhaps, they never really liked something but their record label or manager(s) did.  I don’t know.  It is possible that one member likes something and another member doesn’t.  To me, being a fan means that you love the band.  I don’t love every song or album they have ever made.  Yes, I have given everything a chance but while I love Planet Earth, I hate Zoom In.  That’s me.  Perhaps, some people wonder how I can be a Duranie or a big Duranie if I don’t love everything.  It is simple.  I love Duran as a whole, as a package.  I love them unconditionally like I do a family member.  That said, like a family member, I don’t love every little detail or aspect.  Now, this doesn’t mean that someone who does love everything the band does is wrong.  S/he is just different than I am.  That’s okay.  Both should be allowed to express their opinions.

It is also okay if a fan hasn’t heard every song.  This does not make him/her any less of a fan.  Nor does it make me a bigger fan because I think I have heard every released song.  It means that we express our fandom differently.  While I get obsessive and want to consume every single thing connected to the band, others are either content with what music they have or need to be more compelled to check some things out.  Neither fan is right or wrong, just different. 

To me, I guess, a fan is someone who says that s/he is a fan.  If someone declares him/herself as a Duranie, isn’t that good enough?  Then, does it matter who is the bigger fan?  Does it even matter if someone is a big fan?  I don’t mind too much, if someone says that I am a big fan.  In fact, I will even admit that I feel proud about that, especially if it is connected to our blog and comes from someone outside of the fandom.  Yet, I don’t really say it about other fans and don’t feel comfortable if that comes from other fans.  Why?  I don’t think I’m qualified to make that judgement and don’t really want people to feel pressured to make that statement about me.  Plus, I know that those words carry weight within a fan community and can lead to hurt feelings.  I don’t want that.  Can’t we all just agree that we are all fans, perhaps, even big fans?  Isn’t that enough?

-A