Category Archives: stigma

Something You Should Know Review

The other day, as part of our Today in Duran History, we mentioned the fan documentary, Something You Should Know.  We didn’t have many comments on that and I wasn’t sure if that was because people didn’t want to say what they thought about it or because that they hadn’t seen it.  No matter the reason, I thought it might be useful to put my two cents about it out there.  To give some background, this documentary began when the original five reunited and was filmed through that 2003 reunion tour period through the first leg of the Astronaut tour, from what I can tell.  Here’s the trailer that is available on youtube: 

Obviously, the goal was to tell the fans’ story.  So, in my opinion, did it?  Well, I have watched this a few times now (purchased it on Amazon, by the way) and watched it again last night with some friends.  These friends are not Duranies but I did meet them through another fandom so they definitely understand what it is like to be fans.  Did they think this told the story of Duranies?

I had such hopes for this.  I really did.  I wanted something to show people so that they could understand me and my fandom.  Perhaps, that’s why Rhonda and I are writing our book.  Unfortunately, I don’t think this did that.  The film maker attempted to tell the story of Duranies by interviewing a number of different Duranies in the beginning to get a flavor for the fandom.  Okay.  Then, celebrities who are also fans are interviewed to add to this flavor until a few select fans are focused upon.  I understand why he chose to focus on a handful of fans and allowed them to tell their story.  He simply couldn’t include everyone’s story in the course of a short film.  Thus, he had to limit it.  I understand this.  Did he choose a good cross section of fans?  I don’t think so and I am not saying that because I have anything against any of them.  He basically chose two fans who are serious collectors (and I definitely respect and admire their collections), a group of fans who traveled to shows together and a longtime fan with a unique collection of her own, including items that the band had one time touched.  Based on this information, can you relate to any of these fans?  Do these fans represent the fandom?  Yes, I think there are many people who collect things related to Duran.  While I like to think that I have a decent collection, I don’t have nearly what these collectors do and I don’t focus on this element of fandom as much as they do.  I also have to admit that I don’t have anything that the band has touched except for one sharpie that John Taylor used to sign an autograph for me.  I wouldn’t want anything except for things related to the music like a drumstick or a guitar pick.  I wouldn’t need or want a used towel, for example.  Thus, the only people I could relate to were the UK fans who had been traveling together to see the shows.  I get that.  That said, I think that there are a lot of fans who weren’t represented at all by these fans.  What about the fans who spend a lot of time on message boards or social networking sites?  What about the fans who write fanfiction or create avatars and banners to be used online?  What about the fans who just buy the albums and go to shows in their hometowns?  Fandom, to me, isn’t just collecting and going to shows.  On top of that, these fans seemed to be at the most extreme with their elements of fandom.  While some people travel, most people don’t/can’t go to all the shows on a tour.  While a lot of people collect things, most people don’t have storage units full of posters and other memorabilia. 

I’m bothered with leaving out all sorts of fans and I’m bothered with showing only the extremes.  The extremes aren’t easily understood by people outside of fandom and might not be understood by people within the fandom!  My goodness, fans are already not understood by the masses.  Showing only the extremes will make this lack of understanding worse.  It may increase the stigmas that already exist for fans.  People would see this and think that fandom is about obsession.  People wouldn’t see it and understand that fans are really able to balance a “real life” existence with their fandom.  They wouldn’t really even understand why people participate in fandom.  Do they like to participate in fandom just for the chase of the next item in the collection or the next show?  I like to think it is much, much, much more than that.  In fact, Rhonda and I hope that we do a much better job of this in our book.  Of course, someone might say that the audience for the film was supposed to be Duranies.  Okay.  Still, then, I have to wonder why more types of fans weren’t represented then?  Besides, not showing fans who don’t collect or travel to shows, the fans weren’t all that diverse.  The main focus was on these US and UK fans.  Yet, the film is presented as a means of telling the story of a global group of fans.  How is that global?  If it wasn’t going to be global, then, that should have been made clear.  Yes, there were a few people interviewed who weren’t from the UK or the US but not very many at all.  This lack of representation is really strange to me considering that I remember filling out a survey online about my fandom for this project.  I remember that some of the questions were about when I became a fan, how many shows I have gone to and more.  I’m willing to bet that fans all around the world answered that.  What happened to that information?

Another thing that I found strange was how the celebrities were giving more of an explanation about being a fan than the fans were.  I thought it was cool that the film maker was able to talk to so many famous people who liked Duran but do they really tell the story of Duranies?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  Maybe there needed to be a greater connection.  Nonetheless, they seemed to tell more about their experiences at becoming fans and why than the fans really did.  This seemed like such a lost opportunity to me.

I really thought that this film had potential and there are moments that seem to work but I don’t think it does what it set out to do.  After we finished watching it, I asked my friends what they thought.  Their response, in a nutshell, “Was the point to show the most extreme fans?”  I asked if they thought it showed Duranies’ story well?  They did not think so.  These people, again, understand fandom and they didn’t think it did a good job.  Clearly, I don’t plan on showing it to non-fans.  I would be too worried that they would think I was every stereotype of a fan out there.  How unfortunate.

-A

Are Fans Really That Like That?!

Does anyone follow “Something You Should Know:  The Duran Duran Fan Documentary” on Facebook?  Anyway, their status the other day got me thinking.  On Friday, they asked fans to describe their best adventure with the guys and then they gave some examples:  have one of Simon’s empty cocktail glasses, have John’s towel or a half eaten hot dogs.  I love the idea of having people share their best adventure in terms of Duran.  It is something that we might do here.  Obviously, for Rhonda and I, hopefully, our best adventure is yet to come as we return to the UK for the second time in a year.  That said, as much as I love the idea of sharing this, I don’t know if I like those examples given.  To me, most fans wouldn’t fit those.  I think most adventures have more to do with being with other fans.  Plus, on top of that, I think it breeds negative stereotypes about fans that does not help anyone. 

I am not going to lie.  I have been to a few more than a few Duran shows.  I have traveled to see them.  I will also admit that I have seen various members in their hotels, in bars and in clubs over the years.  Yet, if I were to answer the question about the best adventure, my answer would have very little to do with the band members themselves but about my life on tour.  Yes, they are the reason I travel to places and see many of my Duranie friends.  They aren’t the main characters in my adventures, though.  I’ll give a couple of examples.  The first time I went to Vegas for Duran, my friends and I partied all night in a club and reached up for the sunrise after enjoying a hearty breakfast at 6 am.  Yes, we were there, in parts, to see Duran and, yes, we did see Roger.  Did I talk to Roger that night?  Nope.  Yet, that night was super fun as I enjoyed a lovely buzz for about 12 hours straight, danced with my friends and had a real good time.  It wasn’t about Roger and it wasn’t about taking his wine glass after he finished.  For me, that idea would never even cross my mind.  Why would I want anyone’s glass after he was finished with it?!  I guess I don’t understand why someone would, really.  I remember someone saying to me that she got Roger’s towel once at a show.  My response was, “Eww.  Is it used?”  To me, that just isn’t the way that I express my fandom.  While I realize that they are my “idols”, I also recognize that they are human and probably don’t want me to want stuff like that.  They want me and others like me to buy albums and concert tickets.  Another example of an adventure I had on tour might be when we went to New York City for the fan show in 2007.  The best part of that “adventure” was going to the Duranie meetup at the Pyramid Club where I met lots of people and had a great time dancing to 80s music.  The band might be the catalyst to the adventure but they aren’t the adventure. 

To me, fandom is only partly about the celebrities of choice.  Fandom is about the community that is created with other fans.  I don’t know that I would care as much as I do about Duran if I didn’t have friends to share that interest, that passion with.  In fact, I would go so far as to say that Rhonda and I keep each other going.  When one person is busy or not focused on Duran, the other is.  Then, when we see each other or talk, that interest is reignited.  If I was just focusing on when I see the band or get some weird object connected to them, I think I would have lost interest a long time ago.  After all, how would fans who live in places that the band doesn’t go to maintain their fandom?  They don’t do it through taking cocktail glasses, that’s for sure. 

More seriously than that, this idea that a typical “adventure” involves taking something that one of the guys had or used negatively impacts all fans and fandom, in general.  I have talked about the stigma involving being a fan all the time.  Non-fans don’t get it.  They don’t understand why would be so interested in something.  They don’t understand why would spend so much time and so much money on something like a band.  Part of what Rhonda and I hope to do with our book is show that it is perfectly normal to be a fan because in the end it comes down to exactly what I mentioned earlier–friendships.  The band might bring people together but it doesn’t keep people together.  Friendship does that.  Unfortunately, these images of stealing towels makes non-fans conclude that being a fan means that do kinda strange things.  Now, I’m not criticizing those who want or have the cocktail glasses and the towels.  Obviously, in some cases, those items might have even been given to you.  It just isn’t my thing.  Also, I don’t think that is super common.  I think more fans are the ones focused on getting the music rather than items that some member touched.  I just think it is hard enough for non-fans to understand why I want to go to as many shows as I can.  If they can’t get that, how in the world would they understand someone who takes a kleenex that John used that he talked about in some interview in 2005?  In fact, I think it could make non-fans think that fans, all fans, aren’t normal.  It feeds stereotypes or reinforces them. 

I’m not obviously saying that people don’t have the right to take a towel, if given it.  I’m not even saying that people shouldn’t even if I wouldn’t.  What I am saying, though, is that this behavior does reflect on fandom in general and Duranies in particular.  I also think it overshadows the real story of fandom and that is friendship and the bonds that are formed between fans. 

-A

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

Media Representations of Fandom

Before I dive into today’s blog, I want to thank those people who have submitted answers to this week’s video challenge questions.  If you are interested in participating, you can find the rules and the first 10 questions here:  Friday Night Videos Daily Duranie Style Part 1.  I’m hoping that people will enjoy watching some Duran and Duran related videos over their weekend.  Perhaps, for those dealing with Hurricane Irene, it will provide a nice break from reality!  While I’m not dealing with bad weather (for once), I, too, have found a break from reality needed this weekend as it is my last official one before I return to work (teaching).  While part of my weekend has consisted in continuing to plot with my partner-in-crime, it has also been filled with watching silly movies.  This morning, I watched the movie, “Music and Lyrics.”  For those of you who aren’t familiar, it stars Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore.  He is an 80s rocker who continues to perform, but at places like amusement parks and class reunions, and she is a struggling writer.  Together, they team up to write a hit song for a current big time star.  It is a romantic comedy but the love story didn’t interest me as much as the references to the 80s and, more importantly, references to fandom.

Very early on in the movie, we see this 80s star perform at a class reunion.  He has signature moves that get the women squeeing (sound familiar anyone?).  These women know all the words and sing right along with him.  (Again, don’t know where I see that in real life…)  When Drew Barrymore’s character tells her sister about this performance, her sister screams in delight and goes to change.  She returns in a low cut, tight fitting blouse.  When they enter the ballroom for this performance, she barges her way through the crowd to get to the front.  Of course, she isn’t the only fan we meet in the movie.  Another fan tells Hugh Grant’s character that his song helped her get through her parents divorce when she was like 7.  How many of us have made statements like that in reference to a Duran song or album?  Many of us, I’m willing to bet.  I suspect some of us have even had the chance to tell a band member or two as well.

These representations of fans were meant to be silly in this movie as were the references to has-beens and bad 80s hair and fashion.  That said, I wonder why fans are shown as a joke of sorts?  Why is some fan telling her idol about how a song helped her emotionally something to laugh at?  Obviously, I believe that this is due to the stigma fandom already experiences or is it a situation where movies like this make the stigma to begin with.  Which comes first, the chicken or the egg, or, in this case, does stigma or negative representations come first?  Is the art representing life or creating something new?  I don’t know the answer to this.  Yet, it made me think of other films, books and TV shows that show fandom.  One movie, Rhonda reviewed, which is Fever Pitch.  That movie focused more on the fandom than this one did.  What other movies are there that touch on fandom?  Here’s the list I have so far:  Music and Lyrics, Fever Pitch, Trekkies (examines Star Trek fans), Something You Should Know (about Duranies!), and even John Taylor’s Sugar Town.  There must be more.  What am I missing?

What about books?  What books showcase fandom?  Here, I’m not talking about the many books I have read in relation to writing our book.  I’m not looking for non-fiction, but stories in which fandom plays a role.  I just finished “Juliet, Naked” by Nick Hornsby, which focused on fandom.  In fact, I started reading it in England, which assumed me to no end as the characters had gone to America to see their idol’s home country.  (Let me know if you want to hear more about that one).  I also read “How Soon is Never?” by Marc Spitz in which the characters try to get The Smiths to reunite.  There must be a ton, though, that I don’t know about. 

TV shows also show fandom.  When I think of TV shows, I immediately think of the episode of Samantha Who guest starring a Mr. John Taylor.  That episode is probably worth its own review!  What other shows had episodes about fandom?  I’m curious because I think seeing how movies, TV and books show fans and fandom will help me to really understand how and why fans have been given such a negative image.  I believe that if I know why the negative labels began, then I can figure out what and should be done about them.  So help me out here!  What are other books, TV shows and movies that show fans and fandom?  I appreciate the help in advance!!

-A

Do Male Fans Get Negative Reactions?

This week in Duranland saw more ticket purchases, more presales, more excitement about upcoming shows.  It seems to me that the only shows we are waiting for news are New York City and the re-scheduled European dates.  Those people who are lucky enough to have tickets for upcoming shows, I’m sure, are making show plans, which can include transportation and hotel as well as family and work responsibilities.  I’m no different on that front as I am not sure what I will be doing with work that day of my show, but I will have to make a decision in that regard at some point.  I’m sure others have already figured out if they plan on working or are going to try and take the day(s) off.  I always wonder how those conversations at work go once the decision is made to take time off.  Are people’s bosses accepting?  Do people tell their supervisors why they need time off?  What kind of reaction to they get from them?  What about the reactions from colleagues?  Then again, what about reactions from other family members? Do they get your fandom?  Of course, this leads me to think about reactions or questions I have had about going to Duran shows.  One question that seems to come up is, “Are there male Duranies?”  I explain that there are.  Duh.  The follow-up question tends to be, “Are they straight?”  Obviously, here, the assumption is that only gay or bisexual men would listen to Duran.  I’m sure that I could write a whole blog about why that assumption is made, but I’m more curious if these questions are asked of me, what questions are asked of male Duranies?  Do they get the same kind of negative reactions that female fans often get or is it different?

I think that most Duranies have experienced some sort of negative reaction about the fact that they are fans of Duran Duran.  I know I have.  Some of the negativity is directed at the band.  “Why would you like them?  They aren’t any good.  They don’t care about the music.  They just care about what they look like?”  Some of it has more to do with my desire to tour.  “What a waste of money!  Aren’t all the shows the same?  Why do you feel it necessary to go to all those shows?  Aren’t you going overboard?  Isn’t that a bit obsessive?”  I could go on and on.  Sometimes, people go a different route with the disdain of my being a Duranie and outright ask, “Are you a groupie?”  They aren’t meaning someone who just follows the band, people.  The assumption that a female who goes to a bunch of shows is going for one thing and one thing only, the ultimate autograph.  I’m willing to bet that most male Duran fans aren’t questioned about being groupies, but maybe there are other questions that they have to deal with.

How are male Duranies treated?  Do they have to deal with the general anti-Duran statements?  Do they have to put up with negative statements about going to shows or buying albums?  What specific negatives do they hear that female fans don’t have to put up with?  Of course, some of you might be saying that guys don’t have to deal with much of this because they don’t show their fandom as much and don’t do as much touring.  First of all, I don’t know that if that is true or not.  I’m willing to bet that there are a lot of male Duranies who show that they are fans and many also go to a bunch of shows.  However, if guys don’t show that they are fans as much or don’t go to as many shows, I would ask why.  Do they feel like they have to hide the fact that they are Duranies?  If so, what do they think will happen?  If they don’t go to as many shows as they want, why not?  What’s stopping then?  Then, I wonder how they are treated by the female fans?  Do they get negative reactions from female fans?  Are they dismissed as unimportant?  Ignored? 

I’m hoping that some male Duranies will chime in here and answer some of these questions for me.  I would like some education about what it is like to be a male Duranie and to see if they experience some of the stigma I know I have dealt with!

-A

Disrespect of Duran

Before I dive into the blog of the day, I wanted to give an update on the Daily Duranie 30 Day Challenge!  I’m completely thrilled with how many people participated yesterday and loved seeing the challenge on other people’s facebook and twitter accounts.  Yesterday’s question was:  Your favorite Duran song.  34 different songs were chosen, from what I could see.  These songs spanned the whole catalog from the first album to AYNIN and included b-sides and demos.  The most popular song on this informal poll was Save a Prayer followed closely by the Chauffeur, New Religion and Ordinary World.  Today’s challenge is:  Your favorite DD video! 

Now back to the regularly scheduled blog! 

When I became a Duranie, I was very young, during the height of their popularity when their songs were always on the radio, their videos were always on MTV and their faces were on many magazine covers.  Yet, as a kid, I remember listening to the radio and hearing the DJs just make fun of them.  I also can recall the kids at school doing this as well.  I didn’t really understand how they could be so popular, on one hand, and completely bashed, on the other.  As years went by, it continued to be obvious that rock critics and the media treated Duran badly and disrespectfully.  Now, that I’m MUCH older, I have really started to wonder why.  Yes, of course, some people might argue that it doesn’t matter and that I shouldn’t care.  Yeah, yeah.  That’s not the point of this blog post.  It isn’t about why respect matters; it is about how and why this disrespect came to be.  After doing some thinking, making some observations, reading both older and current articles on Duran, and listening to other people, I have some possible reasons.

First, Duran demonstrated a lifestyle that didn’t fit the reality of the times.  What images come to mind when the general public is asked about Duran Duran?  I suspect that the first one might be that image of them on the yacht in Rio, wearing those lovely Anthony Price suits.  Maybe then they will think of them on the beaches in Sri Lanka, which appeared to be an exotic beach vacation filled with beautiful images and champagne.  These images and more show a young group of guys with a lot of money, living what seems like a carefree, jet set lifestyle filled with travel, beautiful women and expensive suits.  Obviously, we know that there is way more to them than this but if people just wanted to look at the surface, this is what they would see in 1982/1983.  Unfortunately, this isn’t what the rest of the world was like as many parts of the world were struggling, economically and socially.  Neither the US nor the UK was free from problems.  Could it be that to some people Duran was being disrespectful to the struggles that people were going through?  Would they have gotten respect if they hadn’t shown these images in which they appeared to be made of money and didn’t have a lot of responsibilities?  I don’t know, but it certainly seems possible.  Of course, what some might not have understood is that people liked the fantasy, liked the escape that Duran seemed to show.

A second possible reason for the disrespect towards Duran is their fans.  Let’s face it.  In the early to mid-80s, most of their fans were young and female.  I think that anything that kids like gets dismissed by critics as being cheesy, unworthy.  Then, if a lot of kids like it, it must be really bad.  Why?  I guess the assumption here is that kids don’t know enough to judge what is good or bad, right?  They don’t know enough music or have enough knowledge to know, as least is the theory.  On top of being young, most of us were also female.  Could the “critics” be making the assumption that these young girls weren’t really interested in the music at all but instead were interested in Simon LeBon taking his shirt off?  Did the fans seem more interested in John raising his eyebrow in a flirty manner?  If so, I’m sure it didn’t help that the concerts were so loud that it was hard to actually hear the instruments.  I suspect that it didn’t help that Duran was splashed across every teen magazine out there and were featured on many random items from a board game to pajamas (I had both!).  Of course, we realize that these products sold and that they helped to sell albums, but, to the critics, was it enough to dismiss them without a second thought?  Would it have been different if there seemed to be more males as fans?  I remember seeing a clip in Behind the Music where Nick says something about the rock critics didn’t like them because they were for girls.  This implies that other bands that seem to be more for boys got more respect.

Speaking of that, I wonder how much of it is because Duran wasn’t more…er..uh..masculine.  They wore makeup and cared about what they looked like.  I don’t know about the rest of the world but this was a big deal in the Midwest.  I heard many comments about how they must be gay then, which, of course, meant that they weren’t worthy as blatant homophobia was alive and well.  I remember reading somewhere about how John had some anti-gay slur said to him when he first arrived in America.  No, where I am from, it was much more respectful to be someone like Bruce Springsteen, wearing jeans and looking like you work with your hands.  I’m obviously not saying that either one “style” is better than the other, just commenting that one was given respect and the other wasn’t.  Of course, even when they attempted to seem more tough in videos like Wild Boys, they didn’t.  Nick’s makeup was very pretty in that one!  I have even heard the band refer to that clip as the “Mad Max Factor” video.  Besides, a respectable band shouldn’t be worried about what they look like, right?  They should only be worried about their music or so say some people.

Their music didn’t help either.  I don’t think.  When I think back to those artists who were getting a lot of positive attention from the critics, I don’t remember a lot of them using keyboards or poetic type lyrics.  There was more focus on guitars and reality inspired lyrics, for those artists.  This situation for Duran wasn’t helped by their attention to videos.  Many established acts refused to do them, initially, and most were doing live clips, which I suppose seemed to emphasize the music.  Duran didn’t do that as they went on to make little movie like clips.  They gave images to their music.  Many of them fell in love with that but I don’t think the rock critics did. 

Many of the elements of Duran that we know and love are the exact same things that caused them to lose favor with the rock establishment, it seems.  We appreciated their style, their videos and the mysterious lyrics.  We wanted the escape from reality that they promised us when watching their videos.  The rock critics didn’t appreciate these things from what I could see.  Whether or not that matters is the topic of a different blog…

-A

Don’t forgot to participate in today’s challenge!!

Are All Fandoms Treated Equal?

In about an hour, I will drive to Milwaukee to pick up my parents at the airport there.  They have spent the last week in the Denver area.  Why Denver?  The answer is simple.  They went there to see the Sox play the Rockies.  (BTW, they saw a great come-from-behind extra inning win!)  Strangely enough, I never hear negative comments or see funny looks when my parents tell people that they picked a vacation spot to see a Sox game.  (Last year, they went to DC to see them play the Nationals, for example.)  Yet, when I tell people that I’m going to insert-random-city-here to see Duran, I almost always get a funny look or some veiled statements, like these, “Really?  You are still following them?  How can you afford this?  Work lets you do this?  Why do you need to see so many shows?”  This leads me to wonder if all fandoms are treated equally and I have to admit that I don’t think so.

Obviously, there are many fandoms out there.  There are movie fandoms, TV show fandoms, book fandoms, specific actor/actress fandoms, music fandoms, sports fandom and more.  It seems to me that the only really acceptable fandom in American culture is sports.  No one thinks it is weird for football fans to set aside their Sundays to watch the games.  I doubt if those who are getting ready to travel to the All-Star game gets questioned like I do.  In fact, major media supports the sports fandom by not only showing the results of the games or events on the news but also by showing featured “big” games on primetime TV.  The Superbowl, itself, is a crazy, big deal with a significant viewership and big time dollars being spent to have an advertisement during it.  Can you imagine if the news covered things like Sci-fi conventions?  How would it be if they showed big concerts live in primetime?  Is the lack of media attention the cause of the unequal treatment between sports and every other fandom?  Perhaps.  Maybe the media coverage just reinforces what was already in existence.  *shrugs*

In analyzing fandom, I have thought a great deal about the differences between fandoms as well as the similarities.  When I think about what makes sports different from the rest, I’m forced to acknowledge the demographic difference.  Who were the majority of fans when most of the major American sports came to be?  Men.  Who are the majority of fans for things like Duran or movies like Twilight?  Women.  Are there female sports fans?  Obviously.  I’m a Sox fan and so is my mother, my sister, and my nieces.  I know many women who are into football or basketball.  Are there male fans of things like Duran or Harry Potter?  Of course.  Do they make up the majority or are they in the minority?  I think it is pretty clear that they are in the minority.  What about fandoms like Star Trek?  Those fandoms have a decent number of guys from what I can tell.  How come they aren’t treated like sports are?  Could it be that the guys involved in sci-fi or comic fandom aren’t like the guys into sports?  Perhaps.  Obviously, this assumption could be based solely on stereotypes of both types of fans.  Nonetheless, it does make me wonder if sexism isn’t playing a role.

If sexism is playing a role, could it be that some fandoms, like ours, won’t be accepted in general American society because the majority of fans are women?  Could it be that other fandoms aren’t treated equally because the majority of fans for those fandoms are made up of men who are deemed as cool as sports fans?  I don’t know.  What about fandoms like Phish or the Grateful Dead?  How are they treated?  They certainly aren’t put in the spotlight like sports but they aren’t as made fun of as Twilight fans?  What makes those fandoms different?  Could the age of the fans also play a role in determining how acceptable fandoms are?  Thus, younger fans equal less respect?  Could it be that Duranies experience far less acceptance because it is made up mostly of women, because many of us started when we were young and because the men that are involved aren’t as cool as sports fans? 

If this is the case, then, it seems like being a Duranie will never be accepted.  I wonder if there is anything we, as fans, can do to try and change this unequal treatment of fandom.  Of course, some will argue that it shouldn’t matter to me or to anyone else.  While I agree with that and will certainly deal with that, I have to admit that I would prefer the rest of the world to treat my fandom as it does sports as I believe that both can have value.

-A

To Be a Duranie or Not To Be?

I have observed something interesting in the Duran Duran fandom in the last few months. Some Duran fans do not like the term “Duranie” and would never refer to themselves in this way. This is fascinating to me. I have always called myself a Duranie and never thought much about it. To me, the term equals any other term used to identify fans. For example, my brother and sister-in-law are Trekkies. (I realize that some Star Trek fans prefer the term, Trekker, but the idea is the same.) So why wouldn’t someone want to be called a Duranie?

I am not sure where the term came from or when it started. I did listen to Top 40 Chicago radio as a kid and remember hearing the term then (early to mid 1980s). Even as a young age, I remember understanding that the term was not always used in a complimentary fashion. I knew that some of the DJs were making fun of Duran Duran fans even as they played Hungry Like the Wolf. Could this be part of the reason that some fans don’t like the term? They don’t like it because it was/is used by people to make fun of the fans? I can understand not wanting to be made fun of. Then, there is another part of me that says that I don’t care what people think of me. If they want to make fun of me because I’m a Duranie, go ahead. It won’t change how I feel or that I’m a Duran Duran fan.

I heard rumors that the term started in America. (Is that true? Does anyone know that for sure?) Perhaps, if this is true, that could cause negative feelings toward the term. If the term is connected to American fans, I can understand the rest of the world being annoyed. After all, Duran Duran fans are everywhere and the band themselves are from England. They aren’t an American band so why should the fans there get a nickname to identify them, right?! If the term just reminds people of American fans then that isn’t good. Yet, I wonder and worry if the dislike towards the term has more to do with the stigma involved with being a Duranie or a fan, in general.

It seems to me that fans get a bad reputation. Fans are often seen as slightly crazy, slightly obsessed. People, sometimes, think of fans as people who haven’t grown up. They worry that people who identify themselves as fans might be stalkers who follow the band or celebrity. Maybe they would do something harmful to the famous person/people. Now, obviously, there are fans who cross the line. While it is rare that fans actually want or do harm the subject of their affection, there are people who seem to take it a bit too far. Thus, is it possible that normal fans don’t want to be associated with these fans who have gone too far? Yet, I believe that normal fans have nothing to be ashamed of because we know where the line is and would never think of crossing it. We shouldn’t let those who are unstable ruin something that we enjoy or make us ashamed. I, instead, embrace the fan in me.

Of course, another possibility here is that our fan community has forced this anti-Duranie feeling. Perhaps, people have seen or been in the line of fire with other Duranies. Our fan community is not always one of love and inclusiveness (as much as we like to think otherwise). Duranies can and have had arguments. They do not always get along and have talked about each other, both in public and in private. Thus, is it possible that some fans reject the term because they want to reject this negativity? I think that is possible and is understandable. Yet, again, I refuse to let that type of activity influence me. I realize that this type of behavior happens within the community. While I hate it, I’m still going to do what I want to do and be proud of who I am.

I am a Duranie. While I realize that there are negative connotations to the term, I don’t let that control me. To me, the term means that I’m a Duran Duran fan, nothing more and nothing less.

-A

Embarrassed to be a Fan?

Yesterday, I went door-to-door talking to voters about Wisconsin’s election on Tuesday.  Normally, the conversations would focus on candidates, political ads on TV, polling places and other political like topics.  This canvass was a little different as this political world of mine crossed into the fandom world and it offered me a mirror of sorts. 

At one house that we stopped at, the woman who lived there started telling us about an event coming up with various musical artists to support working rights in the state.  Normally, these local events bring artists only well-known within the community, the state or maybe the region.  No one really famous.  The guy I was canvassing with mentioned about how he would like to see Pete Seeger come to town.  (Pete Seeger is pretty famous when it comes to the worker rights movement, by the way.)  The voter we were talking to said that she would prefer Bruce Springsteen.  I found myself tuning out a bit.  I can’t say that I’m a Bruce fan despite him having political ideas that I generally agree with.  Musically, he doesn’t do much for me.  Did I think her idea of having him come to town was out of the range of possibility?  I don’t know.  I can’t see him coming for a small event held at one of the local theaters but I saw him when he was playing at Kerry/Edwards rallies during the 2004 political campaign season.  Anyway, that really isn’t the point of sharing this story.  Let me continue.  My canvass partner agreed that he would be great to get.  Then, the next thing I knew the two of them started comparing how many times they had seen him in concert, including when and where.  When she said that she had seen him in New York City, clearly, she wanted the fan prize of being bigger and better than the other guy.  This competition of sorts continued as he said that he saw some special acoustic show.  She responded with how her son works at a venue in Milwaukee and that she tried to get a note to Bruce through her son.  The note was going to be about how much she absolutely loved him and that she would still be willing to marry him.  I was not contributing to the conversation at all.  Instead, I stood silently, blinking furiously.  Should I laugh or cry?  Is this what I seem like when I am talking about Duran?

Obviously, there was so much to that conversation that I could relate to.  I, too, have found myself talking about how many concerts I have been to, which usually does include when and where.  Goodness knows that I want to tell everyone and anyone who will listen about how excited I am to be seeing them in their hometown, in their home country!!  I might have said once or twice in my lifetime, too, about how much I love John Taylor.  I might have even said that I would be willing to marry him.  I’m also sure that I would use a connection like she had with her son.  I can’t say that I would tell John how much I loved him in a note like that as I would probably be more likely to give him setlist recommendations.  (Have I mentioned how much Rhonda and I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to hear Late Bar?!)  Despite all that I could relate to, I still found myself having mixed feelings.  I was slightly embarrassed for this woman.  I’m not sure why.  Obviously, I think going to shows is great.  I think it is wonderful to travel to see shows as I do it all the time.  Was it that she was expressing her inner fangirl to us, people who were random strangers?  Was it because she didn’t seem embarrassed about it that caught my attention as it isn’t typical for adults to talk about being an intense fan of something? 

After we left that woman’s house, my canvass partner continued to talk about how great Bruce is live.  Okay.  I had the chance to jump in and tell him either about seeing Bruce at the Kerry rally in 2004 or tell him that I could relate because I feel the exact same way about Duran.  I didn’t, though.  I still don’t know why really.  I have been in many situations where I have blabbed about my love for Duran.  In many of these situations, the people are new people to me.  I wonder if it had to do with the fact that when I am going on and on about that British band we love, it is usually with a crowd of women.  I have shared things about Duran with men that I know before, though, so that can’t be it.  I admit that I don’t know my canvass partner well.  I had only met him a couple of weeks earlier but he has volunteered a lot for my team and I suspect that he will stay involved.  Is it because these two worlds of politics and fandom are usually so separated that I didn’t know how to respond?  I wondered if it could be the stigma of fandom that I was worried about?  Let’s be honest here.  Most people think that fans are crazy.  Maybe they don’t think we are mental hospital type of crazy but they might think that there are so many more important things that we should be doing with our time.  Perhaps, they think that we haven’t grown up quite yet.  I think being a Duranie usually gives that stigma and more since Duran isn’t so respected, especially here in the States.  Was I too busy worrying about being respected by this new canvasser that I didn’t want to risk having myself labeled with the fandom stigma?  After all, I want this guy to join my team and when I mean my team, it literally is my team.  I’m the leader. I am the one who communicates with the actual campaigns and provides direction, organization and more to the team.  I do think that my members need to see me as a leader and that might not happen if all they can see is that I’m a Duranie.  I don’t know.  I don’t have any answers.

I doubt that I’m the only one out there who has held back the fact about being a Duranie, about being a fan.  While I don’t know for sure why I held back, I do know that I believe the stigma of being a fan, of being a Duranie is real.  I’m not sure what to do about it exactly, but I know that acknowledging it is the first step in ending it.  Then, I believe that I need to be prepared to actually say it no matter the people around, myself obviously included.  It shouldn’t be something to be embarrassed about.  Frankly, it should be something to be proud of.  After all, I believe that the band is good, really good.  I should be proud to be their fan.  I should be proud to write this blog and to write the book.  Maybe if all of us came out of the fandom closet, the stigma would lessen.

-A   

The Line

Fandom is a funny thing.  It can suck you in very quickly, and one can go from just enjoying a new album to wanting to know every last thing about the lead singer…or keyboardist, bass player and/or drummer in a matter of moments.  I know this because it happened to me, a very long time ago!

I asked a question on Twitter yesterday. It was really a question meant to spur discussion, and it really did!  I simply asked if anyone thought that Duran Duran is tired of their fans.  
Granted, the question was posed almost as a challenge, although at the time I wrote it I really didn’t MEAN for it to be – it was only later that I realized it would be a lightening rod for someone to tar and feather me.   Briefly I considered changing my name and running for the hills, but I digress.
I had several people point out to me that we support the band, and without us they’d be nothing. (I hope they’re enjoying their mansions then…)  A few more thought I was joking (nope.  not me!), and a couple more seemed rather shocked I’d suggest such a thing.  I would just like to send out a public “thank you” to our twitter followers for not sending out a twitter “contract” to have my head placed on a platter.  Thank you for your kindness, and thank you for being willing to participate!!  
The reality is, the word “fan” is simply short of “fanatical”.  I believe that Duranies tend to cross that line pretty regularly.  Not ALL Duranies, but enough of them over the years to where I think we’ve garnered quite a reputation, generally speaking.  I’ve seen the way fans will quite literally throw themselves AT the band both during the show and after.  I’ve watched in horror as other female fans will go to just about any length (and any wardrobe faux pas) to make sure Simon, John, Roger, Nick, etc. knows they want his attention.  I’ve also seen him/them roll his/their eyes and have to be almost rude to those fans in return so that they understand he just is not interested.  Then I’ve watched those same fans rip him/them apart on the message boards, calling them every name in the book.  I’ve been nearby when fans have gone up to the band members while they have been with their wives, and make suggestions for things that I wouldn’t have vocalized even if the band member was alone – and I’ve seen those same fans call the wives all kinds of things.  Gee, I wonder why the wife wasn’t very happy, and the band member even less?
What makes someone go from being a fan – even a fan like me who blogs and writes about them – to someone who feels like they have the right to intrude upon their personal life?  I have no problem admitting I might be obsessed, (…addicted, what-have-you!)  but I do recognize the fact that the band members are not mine.  I would never think to invite Simon to find something between my breasts (don’t even think of asking how I came up with that one…), nor would I ever think to go up and be anything but kind and gracious to their girlfriends, wives, etc – and that goes regardless of how I might really feel about any of them.  It’s just not me.  That said, I have no problem being excited when one of them throws me a grin from the stage or even across the bar.  I’m a fan!  
This blog isn’t about being higher and mightier than thou, it’s just about examining what makes a fan fanatical, and where the dividing line is drawn.  For me, it’s pretty boldly drawn.  I go to the shows, and enjoy them.  I will gladly smile at them on stage, and I love it when one of them smiles back.  Duh.  After the show, if I am lucky enough to somehow end up at the same place, I let them have their space.  If they talk to me, great – if not, that’s OK because it’s their personal time. That’s just me.  The subject has come up in conversation amongst my friends many, many times over the years – all of us wish that the band would be more interactive, more willing to come out after shows, more open with the fans, etc….but do any of us really stop to recognize what might happen if they did?  There seems to be quite a problem with recognizing where the line really is.  Some believe that as long as you’re not stalking, you’re good.  A few people feel that it’s just part the territory that goes along with being a celebrity.  Others think there’s a difference between obsessive and possessive.  So, I invite all of you to post where the line is for yourself, recognizing that you can only be responsible for your own behavior, not anyone else’s.
To answer my own posed question earlier – I do believe the band gets tired of us.  I can’t honestly blame them either.  I’m not talking about just going up and asking for a photograph or an autograph, I’m talking about cornering them in a bar, or following them where ever they happen to be going after a show.  I think that from their point of view – unless they’ve met you personally, they have no way of knowing if you’re going to just let it go with a wink and a smile – or if you’re going to pursue them and back them in a corner to talk for hours.  They have no idea if you’re “normal”…or if you’re a normal obsessed fan that has loved them for 30 years now…or if you’re a fanatic.  I don’t think it’s part of their “job” to allow us complete access to them, nor do I think it’s OK for us to expect that out of them.  I think sometimes they all probably wish that after a show, we’d just do our own thing, or we’d allow them to hang out at a bar and not be bothered.  If they wanted to talk to us, then they would do so, rather than a group of 50-100 Duranies descending upon them like vultures.  I’m not saying it’s ever OK for the band to be rude, but on the same token – aren’t we doing the same to them by intruding on their personal time?  I know if it were me, I’d take it to a point, and then suddenly I’d be unleashing it on some poor unsuspecting fan who just wanted a picture or an autograph.  
Hmm.

-R