I have studied fandom and fans for a very long time now. Yet, there are still some ideas that I run across that really hit me. The other day I found a power point that was shared with me by someone who teaches an Introduction to Popular Culture class. The idea behind the power point was that there are different types of fans. For example, everyone is a fan to some extent as we all buy things or read things or watch things or listen to things. We all consume and our choices of what to read, watch, listen or buy indicates that we are fans of those things. Yet, for some, they go beyond that and become casual fans. Still fewer become what is labeled as interested fans. Even less become committed fans and a very small minority become hardcore fans. How are these different types of fans defined? They are defined through examples. The basic fan goes to a movie and likes it. The casual fan watches a show each week. An interested fan looks for some information about it and buys some products. A committed fan spends a lot of time on it, becomes part of a community of fans. The hardcore fan’s fandom becomes part of his/her identity and s/he begins to produce new material connected to the fandom. There is obviously a bit more to this but this is the general idea.
This, of course, gets me thinking. I feel like I am part of or have been part of a few fandoms. I’ll start with my oldest fandom, Chicago White Sox baseball. I have been a fan since I was born. It is inherited. I would say that I go beyond basic fan in that fandom as I do watch many games. Just casual fan then? I do buy some products and go to games, if I can. Then, I would go with interested fan. About 10 years ago, I fell for the show, Roswell. I began to hang out on message boards, read fanfic, and even attended fan gatherings. Yet, while I felt like a hardcore fan, I definitely didn’t tie my identity to it or produce anything new. I was pretty passive in the community. I was one of many so I would probably say I was a committed fan. Lately, I have been more into Star Trek and X-Files. Like my White Sox fandom, I buy some products and watch new episodes/movies. I don’t do much in terms of a fan community. Thus, I would say I’m an interested fan with those, too. So, what about my Duran Duran fandom? Oh boy…I hesitate to even think about it.
Am I just an interested fan? Well, I do buy products, but I buy a lot more than a few. I also spend time looking for and at information. I bet this description fits a lot of people reading this blog post. Let me check the next type. Am I a committed fan?! Committed fans spend a lot of time on their fandom and are part of a fan community. I think that description works for me. I do talk to other fans on social media and in real life. I also spend a lot of time on Duran Duran. Again, I bet there are a lot of you who are reading this who are nodding as they can relate. Okay, what about that hardcore fan thing? Could I say that I fit that?! Is my Duran Duran fandom part of my identity? Am I productive with it?
Being a Duranie is definitely part of my identity and I might even say that it has been for a long time. Yet, this identity part became more significant in September of 2010 when this blog started. At that moment, I became more than just “Amanda”. I became half of “The Daily Duranie”. People recognized my writing by my standard “-A”. We not only started this blog but also opened social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, etc. I blog EACH AND EVERYDAY. Beyond the blog and social networking, I also helped to organize fan meet-ups and a full-blown fan convention with my partner-in-crime! If those weren’t enough, my research and writing went beyond this blog as we focused our efforts to writing a book on fandom and planning a new book. Therefore, I expanded beyond the Duranie label to writer, researcher, and event planner all surrounding my fandom. Therefore, I would say I have been productive with it. I am a VERY active member of the community in that I write about current events within the fandom AND I try to bring the community together by giving places in which discussion and face-to-face meetings can happen. Yeah, I would say that I’m VERY productive with my fandom.
Of course, before I totally declare myself a “hardcore fan”, which sounds a little scary, I want to refer back to the original powerpoint. I remind myself that there are not very many committed fans and there are EVEN LESS hardcore fans in any given fandom, according to the theory. Am I really comfortable calling myself a hardcore fan? That term doesn’t sound particularly…friendly. It sounds like a nicer term for crazy. Yet, it really is the only description that fits my Duran Duran fandom. Now, in looking back through this powerpoint, I take note that there is no judgement or value placed on any of these levels. Being a committed fan, for example, does not mean you are better than a casual fan. It just means that you are a fan in a DIFFERENT way. I’m okay with being just an interested fan when it comes to the White Sox or the X-Files so I guess I should be okay with being a hardcore fan for Duran Duran. This leads to my next thought. Assuming that I buy into the premise that there are different types of fans like this, do I also buy into the idea that there really are very few hardcore fans? I think I do. I think that what Rhonda and I do is rare, which is probably good for the world. I can’t imagine the world could sustain many fans like us.