I hated the time surrounding Red Carpet Massacre. Hated it. It wasn’t a fun time to be a fan. As soon there was an announcement that the band was working with Timbaland for RCM, fans immediately began taking sides. On one side was the camp who was excited by the possibility that Timbaland could help bring a more “urban” sound into the Duran catalog and bring possible commercial success with a hit song. On the other side was the group of fans who felt strongly that Timbaland didn’t understand Duran or how a band worked. While songs might be created, they wouldn’t have the heart and soul of Duran. It seemed to me that there were not many fans who fell in between these two sides. Everyone had an opinion and that opinion was strong and firm. No matter how much discussion, I rarely, if ever, saw people move from one camp to another. Instead, the discussions quickly took on the feel of “beating a dead horse”as the conversations were never ending and the same points were being made over and over and over again. These conversations were tough and people quickly became emotional. Duran’s music means that much to people, to fans, to Duranies. The pro-Timbaland side argued that the other side was closed-minded and accused the other side of wanting to trap Duran into the early 1980s with their sound. The anti-Timbaland crowd, in turn, accused the pro side of not understanding who Duran is and what their music is really like as, clearly, Timbaland wouldn’t fit with who they are, musically. These accusations, whether stated or not, whether subtle or not, were harsh and often cut people’s Duranie core. As the debate raged, people dug in their heels. This was the exact opposite of fun. It was hard on the fans who had picked sides and it was hard for those few individuals who truly didn’t take a side. No one was having any fun. In fact, this lack of fun combined with increased tension in the community and a change in direction, musically, resulted in a lot of people walking away. It led many fans to drop out, to leave, to no longer care about Duran, including buying albums or going to shows. I’m sure that there are some of you who think I’m blowing this out of proportion but I saw it. I saw many fans leave. I saw many friends of mine leave. Fandom is supposed to be fun. If it isn’t, people will go.
Some of these fans who left during the RCM era will never return. Duran Duran lost fans then. Some did come back during the last era, however. All You Need Is Now is the perfect contrast to RCM. While musically there is much that could be said about their contrast, I, again, choose to focus on the fan community. There were no sides taken during AYNIN. For the most part, the VAST majority of fans LOVED AYNIN. There was no reason to debate or argue in the same way that there was during RCM. Most, if not almost all, fans agreed that AYNIN was a fabulous album. This allowed some of those fans who left during the RCM battle to come back. They saw that the fans could agree and just be happy over a new album. They were reminded that fandom could be fun again. It doesn’t always have to be combative or negative, which is what it certainly felt like during RCM.
Is Duran planning to work with Timbaland again? I have no idea. None. No clue. Simon’s appearance could be just that…an appearance and nothing more. I hope that is all it is. I, personally, don’t want to go back to the days of nonstop debate. I can’t imagine that ANY fan would want a return to that even if s/he did like RCM and Timbaland. I think those fans who did like RCM and Timbaland have to acknowledge that it was ugly and less fun then so I can’t imagine a desire to return to it. My fear is simple. Fans walked away during RCM due to the disagreement over the music but also over the constant debate in the fan community. They would walk away again. More fans would leave. I also suspect that they would leave a heck of a lot faster this time. Why would anyone want that? Why would anyone want the band to make a move that would result in a fractured fan community, at best, or a smaller fan community, at worse? Let’s hope that my sense of dread was for nothing. Let’s hope this appearance is all there is to it and that we can all go back to looking forward to DD 14.