Fandom Status: It’s Complicated

Jason’s blog yesterday, which you can read here, has kept me thinking. In it, he brings up the lyrics to “Hungry Like the Wolf”, and wonders about their context in today’s world.

I too, have thought about some of the lyrical content over the years, and not just of this band, but many others. I’ve admitted to listening to my fair share of hair bands over the years, and just one look at their lyrics or videos will tell you that women were often objectified across that particular genre. Yet, I managed to somehow ignore all of that in order to enjoy the music.

I think that brings up a subject worthy of discussion. So many people I know these days take stands and speak out on many issues. Politics, social (in)justices, and even religion. Often, I wonder how they are able to put that aside, or even if they put their feelings aside for music.

For example, what if you’re atheist and a band you’ve heard on the radio and have casually taken an interest in turns out to be Christian? Is that enough to drive you away? How about vice-versa – you’re Christian and the band has atheist members – as I know that to be the case with Duran Duran. What then?

What about if that band has political stances that do not align with yours, and they are comfortable speaking out? Would that make you uncomfortable, as I know has happened with some Duran Duran fans in the past. Is it really enough to force someone to turn away?

Then there are the gender issues. Duran Duran has their Girls on Film, Electric Barbarella, and yes – Hungry Like the Wolf – among others. How do fans reconcile those songs, lyrics, and videos, without compromising their own ideals? Obviously it must be able to be done, but how?

I’ve always felt that for the most part, music isn’t an area where *I* am willing to apply purity tests. My life and my belief system just isn’t quite that black and white. For example, I’m Christian, although I am pretty darn open-minded about it, and very respectful that my beliefs aren’t the answer for everyone. My best friend happens to be atheist, yet that’s never, ever been an issue for me. I respect her thinking. Very much so, in fact. We all find our own way, and in my case, I admit that I make it up as I go along! Don’t we all? I am similar about most social issues in that respect, and as I type, I’m not exactly sure where my own “do-not-cross-this-line” boundaries sit, with regard to music, that is.

Even so, other people do complain about the band’s past lyrics, or even their offstage behavior. I’ve seen many folks comment on past antics, getting so angry, and so offended, yet they’re still fans and show up religiously at every show. You can only scream and yell so loudly about your mistreatment when you turn right around and show up again, and again, and again, you know? It starts to seem strange after that. There is so much out there that could potentially affront, if not totally offend. Yet this band, and many others, have millions of fans, plenty of whom apparently see past the glaring, wild, and flagrant offenses, to still love Duran Duran.

Maybe we all should just mark the “Are you in a fandom” box with “It’s complicated”. We’re all human, and we all say and do things. Shit happens…Sex, drugs and rock and roll…Love is Love… and my favorite that I’ve only made up in this very moment, “I don’t know where my boundaries are until I run into them.” Fandom isn’t only complicated, it is downright messy.

This, by the way, is not a direct reflection on Jason’s blog post from yesterday. I am not finding fault with him in pointing out that lyrical context has somehow changed between 1980-something and today. He is absolutely right. Different things were seen as “okay” then. I appreciate his effort in pointing it out. (I also appreciate Lyrica Hall’s response that the lyrics directly say “Woman you want me, give me a sign”. Good point!! With that thinking, I have to ask, whom is really hunting whom?)

Not all lyrics stand up to the test of time, nor do all videos. Does that mean we should go back and not-quite-literally “burn” everything that doesn’t meet the social standards of today? How do you feel?

-R

2 thoughts on “Fandom Status: It’s Complicated”

  1. To cringe every now and then because of a DD-lyric, -antic or -video is just part of my experience of being a DD-fan. Nevertheless (or maybe because ot that) I think DD has made me a more open-minded and more tolerant person than I would have been without them. Let’s not “burn” the past “mistakes”. When we do we can’t discuss them anymore (like Jason so interestingly did) and maybe learn from them.

  2. Arjan, yes.The worst thing, I think, would be to refuse to listed, or watch something that you disagree with is losing an opportunity to understand where someone else is coming from. Smart people do not agree on everything as they have different world experiences.Perhaps we are all a little more ‘woke’ to use the latest buzzword.But to rake Duran or other bands over the coals because they had an enthusiastic appreciation for women and wrote about it seems pointless.They never set out to be our role models, that’s why we have parents. I’ll admit of all musical types. Christian music really makes me uncomfortable.But my niece loves it and I once spent time in a car with her and fair being fair, (she actually paid for and attended my first Duran concert with me despite not being a fan, and even better, enjoyed herself and decided she liked Simon best) I actually listened to the lyrics and tried to let myself relax.and it was a good experience.I guess in my overly wordy way I’m just trying to say that Duran are living their best life, and have enjoyed the perks and privilages (sp?) that finding fame in the 80’s provided. They aren’t bad men.

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