Generational Universality of Fandom

Last weekend, I went to a friend’s birthday party.  This friend is someone I used to work with, which means that there were a lot of colleagues there.  I enjoyed talking to them outside of the school/work setting.  More than that, it was nice to speak to people whom I have very few conversations with at work, simply because our roles don’t interact much.  One of those people is in charge of our tutoring program.  She is many years younger than me and when we started chatting, I doubted that we had anything in common except where we work.  Then, I learned that wasn’t true.  We do have something in common.  No, she isn’t a Duranie, but she is a fan.

I don’t remember exactly how the conversation moved towards the area of fandom, but when it did, my interest level increased dramatically.  I think someone mentioned the Spice Girls and that’s all it took.  This colleague of mine mentioned that she was a huge Spice Girls fans when she was a kid.  I nodded and said that a lot of us  found our favorites as kids.  She went on to say that she was such a big fan that she led a little local fan club.  The group, made up of her friendship group, met weekly.  They wrote agendas that usually focused on discussing any news on the group.  Of course, I felt like I could relate to this.  I explained how I became a huge Duran Duran fan as a kid.  While we didn’t have a fan club of sorts, my best friend and I frequently shared whatever news we had about what the band was up to.  In our case, the news either came on radio or MTV or through magazines.  Then, of course, we dissected each little detail of the news.  (Somehow, as I am typing this, I realize that life isn’t that different now since Rhonda and I do the same thing!)  Anyway, I told her that I’m jealous that they had a whole fan club and that I would have loved something like that.

I went on to ask her a few questions that directly relate to the theory of female fandom that Rhonda and I have been focusing on for awhile.  Was there competition between the members of the fan club?  What did it look like, if so?  Obviously, I haven’t studied the Spice Girls fandom, specifically, so I had no idea what she might say.  Likewise, the fandoms that we have focused on tend to female dominated ones with males being the subjects of their fandoms.  So, will things be very different for a fandom with women as the subjects of the fandom?

I started my investigation by asking, “Did you have a favorite?  How did you pick your favorite?”  Clearly, many/most Duranies developed a favorite quickly and it was often the band member the fan thought was the most attractive.  Indeed, this colleague of mine did have a favorite!  In her case, it was mostly about which band member she hoped she would grow up to be like.  It was about a role model, of sorts, as opposed to attraction.  Interesting.  Then, I followed that up with, “Could the members of the fan club have the same favorite?”  As we know, many Duranies had an unwritten policy that friends couldn’t share favorites.  (Heck, even Rhonda and I don’t share a favorite.  Could we have become best friends if we did?!)  Surprisingly, my colleague said that they did not share favorites.  If one’s choice about a favorite had to do with identity, it makes sense that they couldn’t share.  Who wants to be exactly like one’s best friends?  This allowed them to be similar in terms of interests but gives enough freedom to be unique.  Fascinating.

Before I had a chance to follow up with more questions, we got interrupted, unfortunately.  I still appreciated the conversation and what I learned.  Clearly, there are some universal truths with fandom, no matter the subject or the generation that fans are a part of.  The Spice Girls fandom, at least to my colleague, presented itself in a similar way to the Duran fandom.  A group of friends loved the same band.  They wanted to talk about their fandom.  Besides that, they also chose favorites and couldn’t share them.  Yes, indeed, fandom is universal, at least between my generation and the generation below me.

-A

One thought on “Generational Universality of Fandom”

  1. I read several interesting things here.
    I’d love to know the replies to fans out of music.
    A food for thought also would be the big and sudden success of rap music in this country of mine called Italy, these days.
    On the Top 50, 30 albums are of rappers: I mean, they are all solo artists and rap is born after rebellion .. it is a new fandom to discover.
    I’ll let you know about it.

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