Category Archives: stalkers

I’m Asking You the Question

Lately, Rhonda and I have been talking and blogging about fan stereotypes like stalking.  On Monday, July 1st, Rhonda wrote a really good blog about stalking.  As usual when it comes to this topic, there weren’t many comments on the blog.  There wasn’t much discussion on twitter either.  Facebook had a bit more of a discussion.  Yet, I was left unsatisfied.  Why?  Simple.  In the comments, in the responses, in the reactions no one was really able to say what the line is between normal fan behavior and behavior that crosses the line.  We might all have a definition of extreme fan behavior in our heads but no one is willing to discuss that definition openly.  This could be because we are afraid of accusing others of outrageous behavior like stalking.  We all get how serious those names are.  No one wants the wrath of other fans, if it perceived that you are accused of labeling someone something like that.  It doesn’t feel good and can affect how others perceive you.  I doubt that many people want that drama.  Plus, the wrath usually comes back in such a way that your behavior is scrutinized.  Insults begin flying your way or behind your back.  I get why no one wants to really define stalking or any other behavior that might be deemed inappropriate, extreme, scary or dangerous on this personal, individual level.  Yet, does it help anyone to have this element of fandom hidden in a dark corner somewhere, lurking over all of us?  One of my missions is to prove that, generally, fans are normal and understand the line between normal fan behavior and abnormal or extreme fan behavior.  How can I or anyone prove that if the line isn’t defined?  How can you show that you are normal if no one really knows what normal is?  Let’s start the conversation now, then.  I don’t have the answers but I’m hoping that, collectively, we might be start coming up with some answers.

Let’s start with locations.  Are there places that are off limits?  Is it okay to go to the band member’s or celebrity’s house?  Do you have to be invited to make it okay?  Is it fine to go past the house?  Is it a problem if you go everyday?  Once a week?  Once a month?  What if you go there and never go up to the door?  Where exactly is the line regarding one’s idol’s home?  Likewise, what about the family?

Next location.  What about where they are working?  Is it okay to go to the studio?  Is it okay to go if you are invited?  Is it okay to drive past it?  Is it normal fan behavior to go once or twice?  Is it fine if you go once a year?  Once a month?  Everyday?  Is it okay depending on where you are?  You can be on the sidewalk but you can’t go up to the studio door?  Is it okay with friends but not on your own?  What about other job locations?  What if they are appearing at a radio station or a TV station?  What if your favorite celebrity is an actor or actress?  Is it okay to go to that studio or filming location?  Are public filming locations okay but ones on studio lots not?  What about concert venues?  Is it okay to wait during sound check or after a show?  What about other public locations like hotels and restaurants?

Are there other behaviors that are extreme?  John Taylor talked in his autobiography about how a fan went through his trash and read his journal in the 1980s.  Is that going too far?  What about getting or taking items at a concert?  Is it okay to want to get guitar picks or drumsticks?  Is it possible that getting 3 or 5 or 10 of them is okay but 20 might be too much?  What about sweaty towels or water bottles?  Is it an extreme behavior to take those?  Is it okay to take them but not okay to drink from the water bottles or put the towels under your pillow?  Where is the line there?  What about non-concert items?  Is it okay to get any many autographs as possible?  Is it okay to get as many pictures with the band or celebrity of choice?  Or is it that 10 are cool but 50 isn’t?  Is it or that 10 are okay during any given year but 50 in a year is too much?  Does extreme behavior depend on how much?  Does it depend on a time frame?  Some behaviors are okay if spread out?

What about social networking?  Is it okay to tweet the celebrity of choice?  Is it okay to tweet everyday?  Is it okay to tweet 5 times a day?  Is it okay to tweet the same thing twice or more?  What about facebook?  Is it extreme to post on celebrity’s wall?  Is it okay to post 5 things a day?  5 things in a month?

What about touching?  If you are lucky enough to be in the same room with your idol, it is okay to touch him/her?  Hug him/her?  Give him/her a kiss?  Is it okay if the idol indicates the contact first?  Is it not extreme if the celebrity is familiar with you?  Then, if so, what equals familiarity?  Similarly, is it normal fan behavior to give gifts?  Are some gifts acceptable but others are not?  If some aren’t, what isn’t “normal”?  Does it depend on where and how the gifts are given?  Does it matter how many gifts are given?  A few gifts are normal?  Ten isn’t?  What about cost?  Does that matter?  Does the type of gift matter?

Then, of course, I wonder about those fantasies that fans can have.  You know them.  If only so and so would meet me or have a conversation with me, then so and so would fall in love with me or would hire me or would whatever the fantasy entails.  Are those okay?  Is there a line there, too?  What about fan fiction?  Is it okay to write fan fiction?  Is it okay to write fan fiction in which the main character is yourself in the midst of one of those types of fantasies mentioned?   Obviously, I could go on and on.

I already know the response that I will get.  A lot of people won’t say anything.  Some others will say:  I know extreme behavior when I see it.  Okay, then, I ask you to describe the extreme behavior.  Maybe, a better way to ask you to think about this is:  What are you personally comfortable with or what would make you uncomfortable?  What makes you uncomfortable to witness?  What would you do or not do?  In saying this, I also understand that everyone has different comfort levels but it might be a start.  Now, obviously, I don’t think the majority of fans go to extremes.  I believe that the majority generally stay in the normal fan realm.  Yet, maybe, we have all gone extreme once or twice and, yes, maybe there are fans who live in the extreme.  I don’t have the answers.  I just can pose the questions and ask myself to answer them just like the rest of you.  Having this tough conversation, though, will help us all to think about our behavior, what we would like our behavior to be, as individuals and an as fan community.

-A

Paranoia, the only valid point of view

I haven’t mentioned it here, but lately I’ve been doing some reading on stalking, and most specifically – celebrity stalking. I don’t really know what got me started on the subject – and maybe it really wasn’t any one specific thing. I think that at least partially, I’m tired of the same things the rest of you have grown tired: telling people I travel to see the band or that I still follow them (musically speaking), and immediately they start in with the whole “Are you a stalker?” questioning. Talk about extremes!  First of all, if I was a stalker, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t go around mentioning it as though it were my choice of profession. Secondly, would I really even know if indeed I were? Admittedly, I’m curious about what goes on in the mind of a stalker. I want to know what makes someone go over the proverbial edge, and in some cases, what makes someone who at least seemed to be a normal fan at one point, change? I suppose that at least for me, if I fully understand the subject, I’m better able to argue why that label doesn’t apply to 99% of fans. I’m also considering the subject for some future writing projects, which means I have a lot of reading ahead!

I have to say, given what I’ve read so far – it is a sheer miracle that the band (or any celebrity for that matter), doesn’t completely hide away from the world. I know one really cannot live their entire life in fear, but even so – I have much renewed respect for the band with regard to this subject. It would be nice if as a community we were able to come to some sort of agreement as to what is or is not acceptable behavior, but as I’ve seen in recent years – the answer to that question lie far and wide.

I think all of us can agree that attempting to get in the home of a band member is probably crossing a very thick line – but what if you’re invited in? I think we can all agree that attempting to stow away on the plane of a band member is probably case for law enforcement – but what if you’re offered a ride in their car?  The difference in either case is that the “pursuit”, so to speak, is invited. What if you knew what airline the band was traveling on and went to meet the plane?  What about staying at the same hotel as the band?  What about using sources close to the band to find out said information?  Is any of that really stalking? One example from a book I’m reading (noted below) describes some sort of a play here in Los Angeles that a few of the cast members from Star Trek were going to see as a group (because another cast member was in the play). Star Trek fans were present for the play and waited outside the stage door for the cast to leave the theater (sound at all familiar??)  As the cast was leaving, a small group of fans overheard one cast member yell out the location that they were headed for dinner. It was in fact a public restaurant, and the fans decided to also use that information to head there themselves. The fans ate in the restaurant, and did not approach the cast members, also dining – but they simply drank in the experience. Let’s be honest, there are very, very few fans that wouldn’t at least consider using similar information in a similar way if it were Duran Duran in this story, this blogger included. You can bet that I would definitely try to justify using the information because I don’t think I’m a stalker and I don’t want other people thinking that way of me. I don’t think any of us really does. So, where is the line?? What you might also be interested to know is that in this same tale of the Star Trek fans – one of the fans was approached by a cast member, who accused her of following them. The fan replied that they only used the directions that the cast members had yelled out. The book indicates that in replying that way, the fan was trying to frame the directions as though they were freely given (as opposed to being covertly taken) – which is also an attempt to redefine the encounter as mutual. The fan, according to the book, therefore was attempting to distance the behavior from stalking. I’m curious to see how other fans might see this example – so write in.

Fans are able to recognize how and when their actions may be seen as at least obsessive, if not downright threatening. Let’s face it, many of us have taken our turns waiting outside of hotels, studios, venues, gone to a bar wondering if the band would show up afterward, and so forth. We are all quick to explain ourselves, but we all know (or should know) that celebrities might be uncomfortable with some behavior. None of us want to seem threatening. Many of us have used the words “Don’t be afraid of me!”…not really thinking that those are exactly the same words a stalker might use, as well. None of us want the band to look at us with dread filling their eyes, but it does happen. Often.

I’ll even go this far: there are many, many times when Amanda and I discuss the fact that it would seem (to us) that some really bad behavior ends up being rewarded. Constantly. It’s frustrating at times because the interpretations of what is acceptable fan behavior vary so much. Some end up with nothing, while others, who do a lot of things that maybe you and I might never think about doing, have a lot of encounters. Of course, at the time I’m expressing my frustration, I’m not thinking that a lot of times, the band probably does whatever they need to do in order to move the person (and themselves) swiftly along – if they give ’em what they want, it only takes a second, the fan leaves happy and the band is relatively safe and can move right along. If they fight the situation or openly/loudly express their own frustration or dismay, it’s very possible that someone would end up angry. Anger is never a good thing, especially if you can’t really discern whether or not a situation is a safe one. I’m not suggesting that fans are unsafe, but the problem is – for the band, it’s usually impossible for them to know for sure. We “know” them 1000 times better than they will ever know us. The “relationship” is completely asymmetrical.

So I ask again, what is the difference between the seemingly innocuous fan behavior that nearly all of us have exhibited at one time or another, and the more dangerous behavior? It’s all open to interpretation, isn’t it? Let me offer a personal example here: How is Dom Brown to know that when I send him a tweet or I post something on his FB page that I’m not really some psycho fangirl that thinks because he played his guitar once right in front of me that it really “meant” something. (Well, probably because I’m saying it didn’t right here on this blog, but seriously…how does he know?)  He doesn’t. He has to make certain assumptions about me, or anyone else, and hope he’s right. That’s scary! How does anyone in the band know that even though they might be followed from the airport, to an appearance, to dinner, to the studio, and so forth that they aren’t being “stalked”? They don’t. I know fans who seem to know every move the band makes – regardless of the country. Naturally these are fans that wouldn’t hurt the band, but it’s truly a crap shoot…it’s like playing roulette, because you never know when that ball is going to land on the one “danger” space. No one can live their life in constant fear, but it is certainly enough to make one think.

I’ve written about stalking here on the blog before, and that blog was met with a chorus of crickets. I think there are a few reasons, not least of which is that none of us want to believe that there’s even the remotest possibility that we are stalkers.  No one is really anxious to look into the mirror and say, “Oh wow. I see myself in there.” Yet, we’re ready and willing to use that term however we wish when it comes to others. I’ll see it mentioned casually, tossed around as though it is somehow similar to saying someone is a really intense fan. I’ve heard stories about other fans, and even when the term “stalker” is not applied specifically, the innuendo is indeed the elephant in the room. I think everyone has their own idea of where that proverbial boundary in the sand is located. The line where fandom becomes pursuit, and interest becomes obsession…and truthfully, that line is not concrete or made of brick, or even that visible. Even the definition of stalking varies, but there are three main elements: a pattern of unwanted pursuit, a credible threat, and the induction of fear. I don’t know many fans that meet that description. In fact, I am not sure I know any. That said, I do know fans that “lack the ability to discriminate between their own private fantasies and the figure’s public behavior”. (pg 3 Meloy, Sheridan, Hoffman) The question remains whether or not a risk of violence is ever really present – and thankfully, it is not my job to assess risk. It really isn’t even my job to decide where those appropriate boundaries lie.  Make no mistake, this post is not my attempt to decide proper moral boundaries – it’s about having a discussion on the topic in general. It is not my job to decide if any of us cross a line – but I am definitely interested in what fellow fans think.

A funny story to end a somewhat serious discussion: I was in the bath on Saturday night, reading a book on stalking. I was at a pretty intense section and I look up to see a shadow on the other side of the bathtub door. I jumped and threw the book, only to hit my husband as he opened the door.  😀  I think he learned not to stalk me as I take a hot bath. Good times.

-R

Edited to add the two books that I cite from:

Stalking, Threatening and Attacking Public Figures: A Psychological and Behavioral Analysis, by J. Reid Meloy, Lorraine Sheridan and Jens Hoffman.  Oxford Press, New York, 2008.

Stargazing: Celebrity, Fame and Social Interaction. By Kerry O. Ferris and Scott R. Harris. Routledge Publishing, New York, 2011.

You Know There’s No Escape from Me

I had many reasons for wanting to write our book analyzing fandom.  For the most part, I wanted to understand fans and fandom and I wanted others to understand it, too.  I get so tired of trying to explain myself and what it means to be a fan, what it means to be part of a fan community.  Sometimes, this misunderstanding is exactly that—a simple misunderstanding.  At other times, this misunderstanding leads to judgment and negative conclusions about fans.  These negative conclusions often form into stereotypes about fans.  These stereotypes include ones that I’m sure many/most/all of us have heard at one point or another when we reveal that we are fans.  There are less significant ones like “fans have no lives” or “fans haven’t grown up yet”.  Then, there are the more significant ones like “stalker” or “groupie”.  Part of me, a big part of me, wanted to write the book to stop these horrible stereotypes.  I wanted non-fans to see that we were normal and that being part of a fan community didn’t make us weird, stupid or scary.  Yet, I have to wonder.  Are any of these stereotypes true or somewhat true?  How did they come into existence?  Why?  If they are there, then, we are all suffer.  
Are any of the stereotypes true about fans?  Let’s look at them one at a time, but before we do, I openly admit that this post is as much about me trying to figure this out as much as anything I have written.  I absolutely realize that what is extreme to one person might not be to another.  I also admit that some of my behaviors might be seen as over-the-top by some fans but not by others.  It seems to me that stereotypes are based on one’s perception and are truly relative.  Yet, are there some behaviors that go too far, that go beyond common fan behavior?  That’s is probably a discussion in itself.  Yet, I bet that most of us would say that do go too far.  These non-common fan behaviors, it seems to me, are the ones that form the real significant stereotypes.  
So, are there fans that have “no life”?  All of these stereotypes are based on one’s perception and truly is relative.  That said, this negative assumption obviously says that a fan spends all of his/her time on whatever s/he is a fan of.  This is not only about the time spent but also the lack of time spent in reality with elements of life like family, friends and career.  I’m willing to bet that there are some fans who spend very little time a week with their fandoms.  Maybe there is no time spent on fandom unless something special comes up—a TV appearance or a new album.  Of course, there are some of us who spend a lot of time on our fandom.  How much is spent?  I don’t know.  Are there some people who spend HOURS each day on their fandom?  I’m sure that they are.  Are there people who will choose to do something related to their fandom over spending time with friends or family in real life?  I am sure that there are.  Does this stereotype seem accurate then?  Like many stereotypes, there is an element of truth to it.  There are people who spend a LOT of time on their fandom.  I know that I do.  Of course, the way I could combat this stereotype, though, is to point out that many of us are able to have real life relationships, keep jobs, fulfill responsibilities, and more.  Does every fan, though?  Probably not.  There are probably some that don’t maintain a balance.
On top of the frequently thought of stereotype of having no life, fans are accused all the time about being immature, not grown up.  I think Duranies probably hear this one a lot since many of us became fans when we were kids.  The assumption here is that we should have “grown out” of being a fan.  For people who think this, they often think it is fine to be a fan as a kid but an adult should have better, more important things to worry about.  Again, I have to wonder if there are fans who meet these negative assumptions.  If so, how would we tell?  Would it be because they live in their parents’ houses still?  Could it be stated when people don’t have jobs or don’t have the jobs to sustain themselves?  I don’t know.  Would it be that people still live that teenage fantasy that one of the band members might become the love of one’s life?  If these truly are the signs of fans that haven’t grown up, are there fans like this?  I suppose there probably are. 
This, of course, brings me to the dicey topics of “stalkers” and “groupies”.  Both of those stereotypes are well-known and documented to exist in the world.  After all, there have been “stalkers” who have been so obsessed about the celebrity of choice that violence has resulted even, but those are obviously the truly, truly, truly, truly extreme cases.  Even though, those are rare cases, are there behaviors that would fit into this category that aren’t necessarily done by violent people?  For example, John tells how in the 80s there were fans outside his house, in his autobiography.  He describes most of these fans as good, well-meaning kids but he was bothered by the fan that went through his trash and found some journaling he did.  Then, of course, there is the song, Be My Icon, which describes similar situations.  Clearly, some of the behaviors that would be considered by many as stalking, including being at someone’s personal house, going through belongings, etc. have existed in the past.  I’m willing to bet that there is some now.  Of course, and this is where it gets dicey or hard to discuss, but there seems to be a fine line between say walking past a celebrity’s house and hanging out there in order to see the idol of choice.  What about hanging out in public places?  What about showing up where they work?  Is it stalkerish or not to show up at say a lot where a TV show or a movie is being filmed, a rehearsal studio, or a hotel?  Does that make it less stalkerish?  Is it stalkerish if the behavior is only done a few times or does it have to be a constant, repeat behavior?   Like the other stereotypes, my guess is that there are fans in any given fandom that might fit the stereotype of stalking, at least to some extent, especially depending how someone defines the term of stalking.
Likewise, I am guessing that there are fans out there that might fit the “groupie” label.  Of course, this one, being that most people define groupie based on sexual behavior, might be the most difficult to determine its existence within fandom.  We know that there have been people who have openly admitted to having sexual relations with celebrities, including rock stars.  Heck, Pamela Des Barres has written many books on the topic.  Yet, does it still exist?  I have no idea.  What I do know is that the accusation still exists.  I know that people are accused of it when they do things like always have front row or other perks connected with seeing one’s idol(s).  Maybe it is stated when the fans seems to hang out with the celebrity of choice or someone who works for the celebrity.  Does that mean that they are actually participating in that assumed sexual behavior?  Again, I have no idea but people have and do make the assumption about fans.  It isn’t uncommon for non-fans to ask fans if they are groupies if they have traveled a lot to see their favorite celebrities.  I’m willing to bet a lot of Duranies have been asked that, if they travel to shows.  Do those groupie-assumed behaviors exist?  Probably. 
So what if some element or elements of these negative stereotypes are true about fans?  Who cares?  I do.  I think we all should because those stereotypes affect ALL fans.  How many times have you had to explain that being a fan doesn’t mean that you stalk the celebrity of your choice?  How many times have you had to clarify that going on “tour” or traveling to see shows doesn’t mean that you are a “groupie” and all that goes with that label?  I have been asked those questions many times.  I have seen others asked that many times.  I have seen the little flicker of judgment that passes over people’s faces when you say that you are a fan.  I have felt the disrespect increase from others.  So, how do we combat this?  One way to fight this is to do what I have attempted to do in our book, which is to point that MOST fans are normal.  They love their idols but they are able to maintain a balance between fandom and real life.  They understand that fandom should be one part of their lives but not the biggest part of their lives.  They are able to do many other things besides be focused on the celebrity of choice.  Yet, this effort of mine only goes so far if there are other fans who do demonstrate some of the over-the-top behaviors.  Non-fans won’t listen to my argument if it seems false, if fans seem to fit the stereotypes.  I suffer and every fan suffers when fans chose to demonstrate behavior that could be construed as being stereotypical.  I know what many of you are thinking.  Who cares what people think?  While I won’t disagree with that on some level, I still think it would be nice for it to be considered “normal”, acceptable, and RESPECTABLE to be a fan.  I would love for people to just think of fans as passionate, dedicated and loyal.  As someone who feels like she is doing her best to have fans viewed in the most positive of lights, fans who demonstrate behavior that might be stereotypical or extreme makes it all the harder.  Thus, it seems to me that we fans have to work hard to ensure that our behavior does not become too extreme.  Be enthusiastic but maintain that line of balance and help your fellow fans do the same.
-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

The lesson to be learned is the point of no return

I don’t think I’ll ever get too old to learn a lesson, and yesterday was no exception.

To begin with, there was the little matter of a presale. I snuck onto Twitter to see how the presales were going, only to see that tickets appeared to have sold out rather quickly. I hadn’t heard from Amanda, so I figured she checked presale availability to find that the tickets did not meet our parameters. . After figuring out that I’d somehow logged myself out of my email and missed Amanda’s first four emails of the day, I saw that while many of our friends on Twitter had gotten their seats for the Durham show, Amanda had come up empty.  Sure, she might have had third row seats in her cart for a moment and thrown them back in a fit of greed for more – but the presale had somehow sold out. Or had it?

I really wasn’t angry or even disappointed by the lack of tickets. I knew we had several options available to us, including coming to our senses, realizing that this show was clear across the country, and deciding to wait for better (and closer) shows. I decided to go ahead and blog for the day. I no sooner finished the final sentence of the blog when my phone rang. It was Amanda, and she was calling to tell me she’d gotten tickets after all.

After I picked myself up off of the floor, I realized that she was telling me that she’d gotten tickets and that I’d be flying across the country. I also discerned that I would need to get my husband very, very drunk at some point during the summer and only then would I tell him about this upcoming adventure!

She decided to keep checking Artist Arena, and realized that if she waited, tickets that might have been placed in someone’s cart weren’t always bought, and those would get thrown back into the mix of available seats. She just waited until she found tickets that interested her enough to buy. The trouble was, where were our seats?  Due to a difference in the seating charts that Artist Arena had verses what the venue had – it has been very difficult to understand where our seats are located. I’ll save you all the agony here and just say that after careful thought, our seats are in the second row of orchestra. Or maybe the fourth row.  Either way, we’re sitting on Dom’s side. Yes, again. We didn’t intend for that to be the case, but you know – Things Happen! With all of our talk about being calm, not buying any seats as a typical “knee jerk reaction”, and trying to be methodical about planning what shows we’d attend and how we’d get from place to place – when it came time to go through the sale, all of our sanity went right out the window. Amanda did a great job with the tickets.  She didn’t give up (I SO would have), she waited (I’m horrible about waiting), and she even inspected the seating chart before buying (my typical M.O. would have been “There was a seating chart?!?”). She really thought she knew where we were buying, but because she was in a classroom and couldn’t exactly block out her students – and because she couldn’t really call and converse directly with me, it made buying the tickets much more difficult, and perhaps we bought tickets that we might not have purchased under normal circumstances.  Not sure that anything we might have done would have changed what we ended up with, but we did learn that being greedy isn’t good!  So now we’re destined to be Dom’s super special stalkers once again…

Which brings me to lesson #2 for the day.

In my excitement over our ticket purchase, I posted a note on Dom’s wall.  I really don’t know what I was thinking – only that I thought it’d give him a chuckle. I’m just a fan like anybody else. Naturally though, other people, whether they are also fans or personal friends of his, don’t know me. They don’t care that I’m a fan. They just see that I’ve posted on his wall before, and that I’m posting again. They don’t realize that I’m happily married, extremely well-educated, that I know my husband is lucky to have me (no really, he is!), and that quite honestly (and not at all humble of me) – I’m a catch. (Of course after I tell my husband about this North Carolina show this may all very well change and I may find myself very much available and not nearly so much of a catch!!) People don’t know that I sat across from Dom on a plane many years back and that I am likely to be one of the first “fans” he made from his tenure with Duran Duran. Amanda and I held up his very first sign at a show. (you can see this in our slide show at the right side of the page)  Most importantly or unfortunately for this particular person – he had no idea that I’m a blogger. He had no idea that I’ve written articles for other websites besides my own, that I’m in the process of finishing a book, or that he was going to end up being the “star” of my next blog on Daily Duranie. (Hey, “name- whom-I’m-choosing-not-to-make-public-out-of-complete-KINDNESS-because-other Duranies-would-tear-you-limb-from-limb-for-being-a-jerk” Congratulations and enjoy your 30 seconds of infamy!!)

**Note to readers: I really don’t intend on continuing to wield the blog as a weapon – this particular instance just happened to provide a teachable moment, I promise!!**

None of that matters on Facebook to people who don’t know you. They see you post regularly or try to interact and come to the obvious conclusion that you *must* be a stalker.  That said, I don’t deny my obsession with Duran Duran.

I am in my forties and write a DAILY blog about being a Duran Duran fan.  That “stalker” thing? That ship sailed a long, long time ago. It’s funny, and I know it. I embrace the funny! However, I do deny the term “Frumpy”..and don’t even get me started on the whole “Old” comment. In fact, had the less-than-wonderful person who wrote that comment been standing in person right in front of me, I can’t honestly guarantee that he would have remained standing for long. Not only am I not frumpy, I’m not afraid to stand up for myself however needed. Regardless, I was completely and utterly mortified. Sure, maybe I should laugh the episode off and pretend it meant nothing, but the fact is – I am completely embarrassed, even this morning. This didn’t take place on MY Facebook page, or MY blog or MY message board, but on Dom’s. His Facebook page isn’t the place for those kinds of comments, and the idea that a post I’d written caused such a thing completely floors me. I can’t even begin to apologize enough for that. I’m a big fan of Dom and the last thing I want to do is cause him trouble. Don’t like me? Jealous of me? Want to make fun of me? Post on my page. Send me an email. Message me on Twitter or Facebook, but don’t be rude on someone else’s wall.

So I learned a valuable lesson yesterday. While I can laugh ruefully at the idea of being called a frumpy old stalker, the truth is – that’s not how I wish to be viewed. It’s funny how you can befriend people that you’ve met maybe one time (if at all!) from all over the world, post on their page and it’s seen as just being friendly. Do the same on a celebrity’s page and it’s taken completely differently – even though they are all just people like you and I. I post on Dom’s page the way I would any other friend, for the most part. I just never thought it was that big of a deal and I certainly wasn’t posting anything that could be construed as my making myself “available” to him. It wasn’t ever like that. The lesson here is that if you post on a celebrity’s page, regardless of whether they recognize you and are friendly with you or not, it’s seen as a desperate attempt for attention. You’re seen as a deranged fan. A stalker.  

After thinking the entire situation over, I really think there are more lessons to be learned here. I might have mentioned that those comments didn’t come from a fellow female fan.  I think I might have expected that, actually. Women can be horrible to one another, and in our particular fandom, there’s a certain competitive nature that takes right over at times.  It’s not classy or pretty, but it exists. This person who called me out was actually male. I have no idea if he’s a fan or not, but he made it very clear that he was sick of seeing women post on Dom’s wall. Never mind that the guy also posted on Dom’s page. Never mind that he also must have been reading his page somewhat regularly to even know I’d posted, because that’s somehow different. Why – because he automatically assumed that because I’m female I’m “after” Dom as opposed to just being a fan of his music? In and of itself that’s pretty fascinating because it doesn’t seem as though he quite understands the whole “celebrity thing”. I’ve ran into my share of male fans though (of Duran Duran and otherwise), and while they are typically kind people for the most part, I’m always a little surprised to see how differently they view things. Men tend to believe that the only reason to be a fan is for the music, and to a large degree – they don’t seem to think that women can grasp the concept.  While it might very well be “cool” for a guy to like bands and things – women can’t possibly like bands for the same reasons. We’re much too “silly” for that. We can’t possibly understand the technical nature behind the music because we’re too busy having fantasies of John Taylor to even begin to understand the intricacies of music. There’s a definite stigma to being a female fan, and in the situation I encountered yesterday – that particular fan made his point very clear.

How will I do things differently? Well, I’ll think twice before posting again, sadly – and maybe I needed to learn that lesson. I suppose I was very naive. As I explained to some friends yesterday, and this is a feeling I’ve read over and over again from other female writers, bloggers and journalists in the music industry: I want to be taken seriously. Sure, I’m a fan, but that doesn’t mean I’m ready to hop into bed with any musician or roadie I can find. (Sorry boys) I have a great time at shows. I have fun when I’m out with my friends, but never does that mean making a play for a member of any band.  When I’m home, the blog (for me) is as much a part of my fandom as it is a part of my burgeoning career as a writer. The last thing I want is to be summed up as a groupie, a stalker or be taken less than completely seriously about my writing. Respect is key. Most of the female fans I know feel very similar. Having fun at a show, or going out with friends before and afterward does not equate to being a groupie, nor does it mean we would even invite the opportunity.

Especially from jealous male “fans”.  

-R

Stereotypes about Female Fans

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

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

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

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

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

-A

What qualifies as a stalker, anyway??

One of my favorite websites, dictionary.com, defines stalk (verb): to pursue persistently and, sometimes, attack (a person with whom one is obsessed, often a celebrity).  There are varying forms of the word – but this definition suits the needs of this particular blog.  A stalker is someone who basically participates in the act of stalking.  


The subject came up recently on a message board.  I believe the original thread topic was whether or not there are still DD stalkers.  It was an interesting question not just because of the topic, but because there are apparently many, many different definitions of “stalker” in the fan community.  Prior to reading this thread, I don’t know that I would have thought that to be the case.  I suppose in part, it is due to my own assumption that everyone knows the definition of ‘stalker’.  Naturally, this is not the case.  


Some believe that stalking is a matter of simply pursuing the band at all costs.  I suppose that does fit the definition, but is that really all there is to stalking?  I think that my own personal definition of stalking feels a bit more sinister than just pursuing an interest.  I’ve always maintained that fan is short for  fanatic – in fact it’s one of my favorite sayings on the message boards – and in my opinion, stalking is a bit more to the evil side of fanatic.  


Others feel that stalking has everything to do with obsession.  I would agree.  Rebecca Schaeffer was an American actress, best known for her role in My Sister Sam, which was a sitcom on TV back in the 80’s.  Her case is widely recognized as a crime of obsession and stalking, and her murder is the case that was used to develop anti-stalking laws to be passed in my state of California.  In California, stalking has a much more qualified and succinct definition than what dictionary.com uses, and rightly so.  


What is downright fascinating to me, someone who studies fandom from all conceivable sides, is that even legally – the attempt to define stalking has presented major difficulties.  It’s not just our fan community that has trouble defining the term, it’s everyone.  Part of the difficulty with defining stalking is that while stalking is indeed a criminal act – the actions that contribute to stalking are legal, and most fans do these things every single day. (for example: gathering information, calling someone on the phone, emailing, tweeting, sending gifts…etc.)  It’s a bit of a grey, fuzzy area as to when and where being a fan crosses the line – and clearly – each of us has our own point of view as to when that line has been crossed.  For example, I’ve personally never sent any of the band members (present, prior, auxiliary, or otherwise) gifts.  I don’t think I’ve ever sent them an email, and I’ve certainly never called them on the phone…but I know people who have done all of the above (Collectively.  Not that one single person has done all of the above).  I don’t consider those people to be stalkers, but I might if they were participating in those actions on a continual basis.  I also think that along with the basic definition of a stalker, there has to be some sort of intent that seems “off”…and additionally, the actions need to be unwanted in order to truly be breaking a law.  (yes, it really says that the actions have to be unwanted in the legal definition – and in order to qualify as such, the object of the obsession must communicate that to the stalker)  


Still other fans qualify stalkers to be people who will do absolutely anything to get to the band.  The word anything isn’t really defined…but I suppose that means….anything!  Is that really stalking though?  I’m not sure, mainly because I don’t know the intent in any one given situation.  We all know people who have gone to some extremes to see the band, whether that’s by lining up a day or two in advance to get tickets to a concert, or to get a spot at a GA show; or whether they’ve waited outside a hotel all day, in the rain, in order to touch John Taylor as he walked by.  Again…I’m not sure that’s really stalking in the sense that might require a restraining order.  


Lastly, there are the fans that seem to have an ax to grind in one way or another.  One poster in particular believes that “99% of all female fans are stalkers or wanna-be stalkers” simply because they tend to go to extremes to defend the band, even when it’s been apparent that the band has no interest in their fan base.  Given the definitions I’ve seen for the word “stalker”, I’m pretty sure that this definition is really for the word(s)  ” passionate fan”…. but that’s just me, and yes, I’m female.  🙂 


It’s been mentioned on more than one message board over the years that if you hang out on video shoots, wait for the band outside of their rehearsal space or dare to say hello to a relative of one of the band members – you’re a stalker.  Really?  What makes any of that any different from say, hanging out at a hotel bar in tight, revealing clothes, waiting for the band to make an entrance?  I’ll let you answer that on your own.


Let’s face it, we’re all fans.  The idea of being called a stalker, or thinking that perhaps you’ve crossed a line into “stalkerhood”, isn’t a very comforting thought.  None of us wants to believe we’re THAT person.  Of course not, and I’m not suggesting it…even for you crazy people who still try to grab the band, run your fingers through their hair, and to be blunt, forget that they’re humans who deserve a little space.  Unless the band themselves tell you to back off and you don’t listen, it’s still not stalking, even if it’s a bit rude…and I’m not suggesting that we all run out and start acting out on our impulses whenever we see them, either.  My only food for thought here is the same phrase I’ve used for years:  Fan is short for fanatic.  Sometimes it’s difficult to navigate the difference, but it’s there.  


-R