Category Archives: Star Trek

I Won’t Turn You Out if You’ve Got Someone Else

How was everyone’s Duran Duran Appreciation Day?  It looks to me that there were lots of celebrations taking place, if the online presence was any indication.  There were many pictures, videos, and statements of everlasting love posted from fans from all over the world.  The love towards that little band was loud and strong!  Of course, the band acknowledged the day as well.  John Taylor posted a little statement of appreciation on duranduran.com, which you can read for yourself here.  If you are familiar with Mr. Taylor and his writing, it definitely didn’t disappoint and peaked my interest regarding the next album with the idea that the music will make our hair stand up at the same time that we will want to dance and will wonder what the heck.  Sounds beautiful to me!  Roger also posted a statement on his facebook page.  I like how he put this day in some perspective with mentioning Duran’s history and how the current album they are working on will capture this moment in time.  I recommend you checking it out here.

How did I celebrate yesterday’s holiday after I posted the blog appreciating the music?  I guess you could say that I cheated.  I cheated on Duran.  I suppose this is a bit of a confession.  So, what did I do?  I attended the Wizard World Chicago Comic Con.  I wanted to attend for a couple reasons.  First, as a student of fandom, I wanted to see, to witness, to experience one of these comic cons for myself.  While I have never really been a part of any of those fandoms (comic books, sci-fi, superheroes, etc.), I have been around them enough in my life that I feel pretty comfortable.  My brother is a huge comic book fan (He even wrote a few books on the topic!).  If you have been reading this blog for long, you are aware that I grew up with Star Trek in my life and do consider myself a fan.  I have been a fan of a number of other sci-fi shows, too.  While Duran is always my fandom, my central fandom, I do like other things.  It’s okay.  It’s good.  Anyway, I figured that I would be comfortable enough in the environment of the convention to be able to not only learn something about fandom but also have fun.  Second, I won’t lie.  I read that Zachary Quinto was going to be there.  For those of you not in the know.  He plays Mr. Spock in the Star Trek rebooted movie series.  Of course, he has been in other things, most notably, like Heroes and American Horror Story.  I have appreciated his work for sometime and consider myself a fan.  So, attending seemed like a win-win for me.

Once I decided to attend, I had to learn a little bit about how it worked.  I could buy a one day pass or a pass for the entire four days.  This would get me into the convention where I could attend panels of all sorts from celebrity question and answer sessions to writing a sci-fi screenplay to discussion about specific movie projects.  I could also shop at the 80 billion vendors (not an exact number but there were a lot) that were there selling everything from comic books to action figures to sci-fi jewelry.  What this ticket did not get me was any autograph or any picture with any of the celebrities there.  Those opportunities were there for most of the celebrities but did cost extra.  Since I wanted the entire experience and did kind of like that Quinto guy, I figured I would pay for the autograph and picture.  Why not, right?!  You live once and will probably only have the chance once.  Plus, I have to say that I appreciate how clean this is.  You pay and get some access.  There is no waiting back stage after a show.  There is no trying to find someone at a hotel or a bar.  There is no having to hope for that chance encounter on the streets somewhere, all the while, in all of those settings, hoping that it is the right time, right mood to ask.  No, in this circumstance, there is no need to have to ask.  No worry about stepping over someone else.  No worry about upsetting the celebrity of choice.  It is all clean and clear.

Did it go as smoothly as I had hoped?  It absolutely did.  While there was a long line for both, everyone got their chance.  The rules were easy to understand and follow.  Everyone, fan AND celebrity, knew what was going to happen.  I did the picture first as there was more of a set time for that whereas there was more time to get the autograph.  For the picture, there was a line if you were VIP and a line if you were general.  Oh yes, there were VIP tickets for some celebrities.  They cost more (obviously) and included the picture, the four day pass, the autograph, guaranteed prime seating at the question/answer panel, and first in line spots for the pictures.  Then, once everyone was ready, at the set time, the VIP people went first followed by the line of general attendees.  There was a table to put personal belongings on and were told that we couldn’t take any personal pictures and there was to be no hugging or kissing, which made total sense to me.  We were told that it would go fast and that autographs wouldn’t take place then.  The picture could be for just you or a group, if so desired.  If there were more than 2 people per picture, then there was an additional cost.  So what was my experience like?  It did go fast but not as fast as I thought it would.  I wasn’t prepared to say anything because I assumed it would go so fast that words would not be exchanged.  When I walked in, Zach actually directed me to a particular side.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe, he was switching back and forth each time.  Maybe, it was due to height.  Maybe, it was something the photographer requested.  Anyway, he put his arm around me, I did the same to him.  The picture was taken.  Then, he thanked me for coming and wished me a good day.  I muttered a thanks back and moved along.  I noticed that no one tried to stay longer than was necessary to get the picture done.

After that, I walked around for awhile before heading back to the photo opps area to pick up my picture.  I was pleased and walked over to the autograph area to get it signed.  This again was a smooth process.  There was a convention volunteer there either handing out a headshot picture to get signed, if people didn’t have anything, and to write people’s names on a post it note.  The post it note was used at John’s book signing and I can imagine how helpful it is for the signer.  The autograph can be personalized but no worries about spelling someone’s name.  The whole interaction is more than the celebrity asking and spelling your name.  After that, my picture with the post it was passed to another guy, who I assume is either Zach’s manager or someone else who works for him.  We briefly discussed how tiring days like this must be with the nonstop activity and being “on” for so long.  It was a nice conversation that was allowed to happen since Zach was taking his time with the person in front of me.  When it was my turn, he greeted me by name.  I thanked him for volunteering for the Obama campaign, which lead us to discuss my work for the campaign, the results of the election, and the alternative.  It was a nice interaction.  I thanked him and he thanked me.  He shook my hand, wished me a good day and I, him.  It didn’t feel rushed at all.  Yes, there were people behind me but no one was pushing.  After looking at my picture, I put it in my purse and walked around to watch other autograph stations as I wanted to see if Zach was unique in his warm, welcoming nature and the time he took as well as to see how other fans responded to other celebrities.

Here is what I found.  Every celebrity seemed to take their time with the autographs.  Every single one. Some, obviously, had longer lines than others but no one seemed to be rushed.  In front of every station, there was a sign to indicate what times the celebrity would be there to sign.  Some also had signs telling people if they could take pictures or not.  I didn’t see or hear anyone complain about this or violate this rule with those celebrities.  I was curious to see how it would be when the celebrities were done and were leaving.  Would people let them leave?  Would there be a rush of fans asking for autographs or pictures or simply a moment of time?  Nope.  It was calm.  While there were convention volunteers around, the celebrities all seem to leave on their own with the people that they came with.  They left without any fanfare and I watched most of the big names to see.  What does this tell me, show me?  It reminds me of some of the lessons I learned when I met President Obama last October.  First, rules are helpful.  Fans need to know what is allowed, what isn’t allowed and what it is going to be like.  It also helps the celebrities to know that those rules will be followed and that they are safe.  Second, access helps.  If everyone has a chance for a picture or an autograph, if s/he has money, then there is no fighting over the celebrities.  It probably also helps that there were many celebrities there and much to do.  People couldn’t wait around and didn’t want to because they didn’t want to miss something else.  How could this help celebrities like Duran?  I would start with really clear expectations and rules about the meet and greets.  Also, they might benefit to open up meet and greets to more fans.  I realize, though, that this is very difficult on show nights.  Then, I go back to the rules and expectations.  If everyone was on the same page, that can’t hurt.

Overall, yesterday was a very positive experience for me.  I learned a lot about fandom from watching and talking to other fans.  I saw examples of great meet and greets.  I also feel like my appreciation for Zachary Quinto has increased from this.  He was so nice that I can’t help but to want to support him and his projects more.  I can imagine that people who have had positive interactions with any celebrity feels that way.  Something for all celebrities to think about.  On that note, here’s my picture.

I think it turned out pretty great.  I’m hoping that my field trip outside of my fandom won’t be frowned upon too much from the Duran universe as I think it was definitely worth it on many levels.

-A

Falling Into Space

Yesterday, I went to go see the new Star Trek film.  It was technically the opening night of the movie in the US, even though there were some sneak peeks earlier in the week.  When I heard about this movie, I knew that I would actually take the time out of my schedule to go see it.  I also had no problem paying for this movie, unlike a lot/most movies out there.  Why is this?  Am I a Trekkie/Trekker?  What a loaded question!  I will answer by saying that I’m a definite fan of Star Trek.  Really, I had no choice as I grew up with Star Trek.  Ah, yes, I grew up around fandom.  It’s true.  I have already mentioned that my family are die-hard White Sox fans.  We also like Star Trek with some of us liking it more than others.  In my family, my brother was the serious Trek fan.  While growing up, we often watched the reruns of the original series.  My memories of these viewings and there were definitely more than one for each episode included a Star Trek book that my brother kept, in which he wrote down details from the episodes, including all of the stardates mentioned.  I suppose it is no wonder, then, that when my family got a dog that my brother pushed for the name, Mr. Spock, and won.  So, yep, I did, indeed, have a dog named Spock.  The name fit as the doggy had pointed ears!  It is also no wonder that my brother would grow up to write books on comic books and superheroes and teach popular culture classes.  He also met his wife at a social event in which Star Trek was a topic of discussion.  Is she a Trek fan, too?  Sure is.  Did they go see the movie as well?  Not only did they see it but they called me late last night to discuss it.  Yes, fandom runs deep in my family.

I love going to see Star Trek on opening night.  Tickets were purchased ahead of time, in fact, to ensure  that I would be able to go to this particular night.  I wanted to be there with other Trek fans.  Serious Trek fans.  Will the movie theaters be filled in a couple of weeks with people who like Star Trek but aren’t serious fans?  Sure.  Is that the same as the fans who have seen every episode and every movie?  Is that the same as being with fans who have spent serious money on merchandise or other items?  I don’t think so.  As my sister-in-law put it on the phone last night, she wanted to be with “her people”.  I got it.  I did, too.  This is no different than wanting to be with real, serious Duranies when I listen to a song for the very first time or watch a brand new video.  I want to be with my people.  Certainly, when I go to a concert, I definitely want to be with FANS.  My parents and I got to the theater early last night as I wanted to ensure a prime viewing spot.  I loved watching the people shuffle in groups or in families.  The families, in particular, made me smile as I knew that the parents were passing on their fandom to the next generation or were, at least, attempting to do so.  The energy in the room was great. Everyone was excited.  I was excited.

How was the movie?  It was awesome.  Beyond awesome.  I’m already pondering about when to go again.  That says a lot since I saw like two movies in the theater all of last year.  I wonder if it would be the same experience as I had last night.  Because the crowd was clearly filled with Trek fans, everyone knew and understood little things.  We all knew when there was a funny line given in the movie because we understood the franchise, the history, the reference.  This isn’t that different than when the crowd at a Duran show yells, “Switch it off,” during Planet Earth.  Likewise, the film was filled with references, both small and large, to other Trek material.  Characters were mentioned from the original show.  Organizations were talked about that had only been talked about one of the TV series.  For Trek fans, I would like to believe, that these references felt good.  They did for me.  I loved being able to make those connections and loved having the knowledge to be able to do so.  It enhanced the experience for me.  Again, this can and does connect to Duran.  Many Duranies were thrilled with hearing AYNIN because so much of it felt connected to past Duran greatness.  Just this week, Rhonda and I reviewed Rio and talked about how the lyrics could seem to be about a woman and in other ways that she could be a metaphor for something else.  The same is true with a current song like Leopard.  There is a connection.  Fans love those.  Now, of course, with this Star Trek movie like AYNIN, you wouldn’t need to know all of those references or connections in order to enjoy it.  Beyond the references and humor, people openly showed emotion during the film.  I saw fists pumped in the air when certain characters showed up.  I heard sobbing at emotional moments.  I definitely heard clapping at the end, which I adore.  This movie meant something more to the fans than just two plus hours of their lives.  They have a passion, a feeling for the cultural institution that is Star Trek.

This experience made me think about fandom, for sure, and this went beyond watching the audience and other fans.  The storyline also made me think.  While there are parallels as normal to political and societal issues, there were also elements that made me ponder how people act or react to other each other within our fandom.  Are we always straightforward with each other?  Are we willing to use each other to gain something?  Do people often feel betrayed by each other?  Do we do these things because we have to?  I won’t say too much here so as to not discuss significant elements of the film but I would recommend watching it and pondering what it says about human behavior and how it can be applied to fandom and our fan community, in particular.

Last night was a total blast for me.  I got to see a great Trek film.  I also got to see, up close, about how all fandoms have similar behaviors and react in much the same way to something new related to their fandom.  We all feel passionate for whatever we are a fan of.  We all react strongly.  We all develop knowledge about the subject of our fandom and use that to increase our enjoyment of it.  We seek out others to discuss it.  Also, for some of us, we use our fandom to make us think as well as feel.  As a fan, I’m forever grateful for that.  Now, who wants to go see it with me again???  😀

-A

The Power of Fans

I am a bit of a news junkie.  More specifically, I’m a bit of a political news junkie.  Therefore, it isn’t unusual for me to have the news on in my house, playing in the background.  I don’t play close attention to every story aired, especially when a lot of the stories are repeated over and over again.  Yet, last weekend, I heard the word, “fan”, and immediately stopped what I was doing to pay attention.  What was the big story?  It was related to the show, Veronica Mars.  This show aired for three seasons on one of the smaller networks.  It focused on a teenage girl who focused on solving mysteries in her town.  I didn’t watch the show myself but do have a friend who was really into the show.  In fact, she attended a couple of convention related to the show.  So, why would a show that only aired for three years, that ended in 2007, be on the news?  Well, apparently, an official kickstarter campaign started to raise money to make a Veronica Mars movie.  For your information, kickstarter is an online place to make pledges to fund creative projects.  So, how did this kickstarter campaign go for the Veronica Mars movie project?  Well, they raised over $2 million dollars in less than 10 hours, according to this article here.  They accomplished their goal.

Now, of course, this isn’t the first time that fans were able to work towards a common goal.  I used to be in the Roswell fandom (another show that aired for 3 years on a small network).  This show was on the verge of cancellation after the first season.  Fans decided to send a message to the network by sending thousands of bottles of Tabasco sauce.  Why Tabasco sauce?  Simple.  It was the aliens’ favorite condiment on the TV show.  After receiving all of these bottles, the network opted to continue the series for another season as they had evidence about the show’s popularity that wasn’t seen in their ratings.  As someone who participated in this, I remember thinking about how cool it was that the fans could work together like this to accomplish something.  Another classic example, of course, is Star Trek.  It is hard to imagine now in 2013 that Star Trek was on the verge of being just another show that aired on TV for a few seasons before sinking into obscurity as the original series aired from 1966-1969.  Yet, Trek fans kept the franchise alive by holding conventions, writing fan fiction, collecting toys and more.  Yes, it helped that reruns of the shows were frequent.  Paramount Pictures saw the large following and decided to make a movie based on the original series in 1979.  Since then, of course, there have been many movies, including one that is coming out in a couple months.  Likewise, there have other TV series based in the Star Trek universe.

So, what about the Duran fandom?  Have we accomplished anything like this?  Can/have Duranies gathered together for a cause like this?  I think we have, in some obvious ways and in some subtle ways.  I remember back in 2006 when a group of people focused on a unique gift for John Taylor’s birthday.  The group spent their online time on DDM.  More specifically, they posted most frequently in the Church of the Bass God thread in the John Taylor area of the board.  These fans noticed that John was wearing some silly socks during the end of the 2005 tour.  These socks were often bright green or bright pink.  From there, an idea to send him socks was born.  Each fan who wanted to participate would send a card and a pair of socks to a central location in the US or a central location in the UK.  From there, the socks would be gathered and sent to John in LA along with a camera, in the hopes that he might take pictures with the socks.  Indeed, the socks were sent and pictures were taken.  As the person who sent him the James Bond socks, I couldn’t be more thrilled when I saw this picture of him. 

Yet, I think that there are other subtle ways in which Duranies have accomplished some goals.  The most obvious one is that we got a reunion of the original, Fab Five.  I am absolutely sure that the remaining band members heard the question, “When is the original band getting back together?” often enough back in the late 1990s or early 2000s.  The band must have known that there were still many, many, many Duranies who wanted the original band back together.  They had to have known that many fans would return to the fold if they did.  Even now, the fans are able to offer support to the band.  Just recently, John blogged about how he felt like he had an army of support behind him as he traveled on his book tour.  I do believe that we can and do make a difference.  The band certainly can’t ignore us (despite probably wanting to, at times!) and I know that the public can’t either.  Duran might have been just a band of the 80s if it wasn’t for our continued presence.  Then, the real question becomes…should we do more?  If so, what?

-A