I’ve been working on the slideshow for Durandemonium. My original idea was to throw some photos onto a DVD with some music and put it up on a screen at the banquet we’re planning. I thought it would be a nice way to start the evening and be a fun way to include fans – both those in attendance and those celebrating with us from afar. I asked for photos a few times, and then suddenly the floodgates opened and I found myself with about 15 minutes worth of material. Not bad for a little fan blog nobody knows about, huh?
Interestingly enough, the project has been enlightening for me on many fronts, and it is times like these where I wish the band DID care enough to read our blog. Now, I realize how that sounds – so let me explain before darts are thrown in my general direction. This blog is really for the fans. It was designed that way, not as a love note to the band, not as a way to express undying devotion, but as a way to just talk about being a fan – in whatever way the particular day lends itself. I just don’t think the band has the time, or the interest much of the time, to read what we might think. I can’t blame them for that – I think it’s part of the engine that makes fandom and celebrity run. It isn’t that I don’t think Duran Duran cares about its fans – I can’t say that because I am not in their heads – its that I don’t think there is a want or a need for the band to understand US as much as we need to understand THEM. Is that fair? Probably not to some of you, and I expect to read as much in my mail sometime “super soon”. Fair enough.
In any case, to get back to my original point and topic – I have learned much about our fanbase by simply doing the slideshow. So many of you out there truly count the band as your friends. I don’t mean to be facetious when I write that – I really believe that for a lot of fans, they believe it to be so. People count the band as part of the extended family, and I suppose to a certain extent, this might be fair. I say our fan community as a whole (paid, unpaid, etc, etc.) is very much like a large, extended family. Slightly dysfunctional, with an awful lot going on “under the carpet” that no one really sees until they’ve lived in the “house” for quite some time. In other words, you have to look beneath the surface to see much of what is going on. However, just like a family – in times of trouble and in times of joy – we come together, and when that happens, the sheer energy and power that results is tremendous. There is a lot of love to be felt and shared in this fandom.
It is very, very easy to become jaded and stilted about being a fan sometimes. Let’s be honest about it. We all know how tough it is to hear the band is touring and you can’t get to a show – whether it’s due to time, money or distance. It isn’t as though the band tours all year every year with clockwork regularity. I think it is especially tough to love your fellow fan sometimes. The competitive nature that seems to exist, the selfishness that we’ve all witnessed from time to time, and just the downright mean behavior that flows are all things that can dull even the most vibrant fan. Writing the blog has been a bit of an exercise against becoming jaded for me, and it isn’t a challenge I always meet and conquer.
So, while my initial plan was to somehow robotically put the pictures to some music we all know and love, something quite different happened along the way. I started looking at all of these photos (and believe me – there are a LOT of them now), and I started remembering exactly why I’m here. Not that I ever truly forget, but in the day to day of writing the blog, working on the manuscript and planning the convention, the mechanics of getting everything up and running tend to get in the way of actually enjoying the ride if I don’t take a moment to stop and look around. Putting the slideshow together has reminded me of some of the finer points, and I don’t mean just the “going to the shows and seeing the band” part, albeit that is very fun. The most gratifying points for me have been seeing a group of friends in Finland that apparently have known one another since the mid 80s – many of them still get together today; seeing pictures of people meeting one another in person for the first time, yet “knowing” one another from online places such as Facebook and Twitter; seeing the pure joy on peoples faces as they just wait in line together; getting pictures from Australia, again from groups of people who have known one another since they were teenagers in the 80s; seeing people that are so proud of their fandom that even if they didn’t have a single photo of themselves with other fans that they took one of themselves in a DD shirt to send; and most poignantly – seeing memories that have truly lasted beyond the lifetimes of some of those fans included within them. Friendships that were created in this fandom and the memories that still bring smiles, and sometimes tears, to those who carry on.
I know that our fandom is not terribly unique when it comes to the friendships that have been created, although I think that something that has lasted for over thirty years in this “throw-away” world of ours is pretty incredible these days. I just think that sometimes it is worth reminding ourselves of why we are fans. Why have we stuck together for so long? The easy, unthinking response to this question is “the band”. That’s just not the only reason we’ve survived though, and I challenge you to see beyond the obvious here. Sometimes, it is easy to forget, especially when we get down on each other, and when albums take much longer than we want and our private lives get in the way. We can’t live in the fan moment every second of every day – even though (at times) it’s much easier and therefore much more attractive to live in the escapist world of the fan community. All points considered, I still believe that our connections to one another are what get us through. I don’t mean to lessen the impact that the band has made on each of our lives, but if the music is the binding ingredient – it’s the friendship and connections that gives our community its flavor.
Looking forward to sharing this special slideshow with all of you – first at Durandemonium in October, then it will be uploaded for all to experience. I hope it reminds each of you of the very best that fandom has had to offer.