Just Hanging Out with John Taylor

How many of you had time to catch the Google Hangout with John Taylor yesterday?  I thought it was a pretty unique situation.  John had a conversation (a fairly informal Q & A) with eight pre-determined fans (who sent in questions that were chosen for this Q & A session).  What was unique about this particular gathering was that it was done over the internet, with video, and the rest of the world (meaning you and I) could watch as it unfolded live.  The set-up was indeed something that we really haven’t experienced before, and while I think it is worth commenting that the fans were all from places in the world where the book is being published and that the time was indeed most convenient for Americans to tune in live to see – the fact is – unless you were one of the people chosen to video chat with John, it wouldn’t matter.  The link is still up and available for viewing, and it still feels “live”, primarily because John was only interacting with those fans (all female) on the screen in front of him.  He did not answer questions that were being typed in from those viewing (and to be fair, that was not the function of this “hangout”), and so most of us were merely passive viewers.  That isn’t a complaint – only an observation as I attempt to describe the event in general.

In preparing to write this blog, I sent out a general request on Twitter – if anyone had watched the event and wanted to chime in with their thoughts, they could either DM me on Twitter or send Daily Duranie an email.  Everyone who responded thought the idea in general was a great way to communicate with the band, although it is the type of event that would naturally need to be very limited.  For example, it would not be wise to have 50 fans attempt to video chat with John Taylor at the same time.  I am sure he’d agree.  Wholeheartedly. This is the sort of event that would probably need to either be used on a very limited basis with only a select few fans at a time, or something that is done more often but with few people.  I’m guessing the band would go for the former (if at all) and not the latter.  We fans are an overwhelming lot.

There were fans though who were disappointed by the selection process, as always.  I have to admit that while the idea of having a chat with any band member is appealing, the idea of sending in a question for “judgment” by the powers that be turned me off slightly.  I think the idea was to make sure people didn’t ask silly questions, and for that I’m thankful, but on the other hand, I like the organic nature of a real conversation, and I’m delighted to say that for the most part – that DID happen yesterday.  The one thing I didn’t care for at all though, was the use of a moderator.  I recognized her role and I can’t really fault her for doing her job. I realize that to some degree it was necessary because no fan would have wanted the conversation to end, but it made it feel a little sterile and synthetic.  Less like a conversation. There has to be a better way.

I also made note that there were fans who felt a sense of unease.  I will admit, I squirmed a bit in my chair during some of the questions – they just felt a little personal, as though they were questions you’d ask a close friend. I think that is something I struggle with, both personally as well as someone who writes about fandom. While you and I know the band – we’ve had them on our bedroom walls, on our stereos, lining our bookshelves and in the magazines we read and TV’s; the band still doesn’t really know us as individual fans for the most part. (some of you are luckier than Amanda and I in that regard, but for the overwhelming majority – they don’t know us much beyond our face in the crowd.)  The relationship is not quite reciprocated on the same level. Those boundaries are blurred and muddled. I am not faulting the questions, mainly just noting the discomfort that I along with a few others (including Amanda) felt while watching. I could see some of those questions being asked during an more intimate conversation and setting, but as a viewer – it felt very strange.  Amanda and I traded emails regarding the hangout, and something she noted was that we don’t just ask the band about the music. Granted, this particular scenario was to talk about his book, and as such it covers far more than just his career within Duran Duran, but I do think we feel that after this much time – we are ready to talk about far more than just how they felt about the last album.  While I might squirm with discomfort at times, I see the point.  Many of us have experienced the loss of a parent or loved one by now, and that is something that maybe makes us feel a kinship beyond a mutual love of the music with John.  Still others of us grew up Catholic, or in ANY organized religion for that matter, and are struggling with our own definition of God and spirituality.  Some of the best conversations may very well be the ones that make us the most uncomfortable (at least at first), so I leave this subject hanging in the air for further thought.

One of the most interesting questions for me, particularly due to the writing Amanda and I have been working on – was about social media.  There is an ongoing discussion that comes up each time the band disappears from Twitter for any length of time – and it’s about whether the band is on Twitter because they genuinely enjoy communicating with the fans or whether it’s purely about business.  I think that by now, most fans recognize that for the band – Social Media IS a part of the job.  That doesn’t mean that they would never communicate with anyone if it wasn’t required, but it also doesn’t mean that they want to spend an inordinate amount of time on there.  Again – we fans are an overwhelming lot.  Even I sometimes need to take a step back. It all gets to be a bit much, and I’m not a celebrity.  It’s easy to forget that communicating in person can really be much nicer than just online!  So when John spoke about this topic, he talked about how much more meaningful he thinks fandom has become for the fans as a result of Twitter.  He asked about making friends online through the social networking, and whether that has heightened the excitement we have for shows and things of that nature.  I ask you John Taylor, have you not read our blog??  We are ALL ABOUT the social networking.  Many of us would have never met without it, and when you finally got on board and embraced it – seeing the band on there, willing to even read what we’re saying about you – well, that cinched it just when I think the band was on it’s way out with many of us. None of us (well, most of us) are kids anymore.  We’re grown.  We have kids of our own that are now the age we were when we first found Duran Duran!  It’s made being a fan much more fun again, much more three dimensional.  We hear the music with our ears, we see what you are all up to by reading the news – and whether it’s overhyped in our own minds and hearts or not – we feel the love by the communication with you. (Simon, Roger and Dom…and even Nick for those who are involved on SecondLife)  It’s a good thing we all embraced social networking when we did – because I really am not sure where the band, or any of us, would be without.

All in all, I found the hangout to be successful, if not short (and the cut-off was ridiculously abrupt).  I hope John is brave enough to try it again at some point, if not some of the others as well.

I noted in my attempts to set up a Google+ account for Daily Duranie (by the way Amanda, we have one now – only after I had to make an appeal to Google because they weren’t letting me use our name – Daily Duranie – and I’m not even joking.) that ANYONE can set up a Google Hangout.  This is something that I would love to look into more for the use of Daily Duranie!  Sure, we have to wait for shows or other meet ups in order to get together, but in the meantime – maybe we can set up some hangouts for fans.  Drinks, video chatting…seems like a fun thing!

Happy weekend, everyone!!
-R

6 thoughts on “Just Hanging Out with John Taylor”

  1. It was great, though I did cringe about the questions on therapy and religion. Though JT must have been ok about them. I feel that John is becoming a bit too defined by that now.
    I wish they'd explored the discussion on the old days of TTP compared to social media now.

    It's amazing how much effort John makes with the fans and how open he is.

    I noticed that two or three of the participants
    had also been to recent book signings. I'd love to have seen people chosen from places where there had not been signings or as much media coverage and getting peoples thoughts and ideas from that angle. It felt a little bit too well blended having the group that they did. And no men??? I know it was open to anyone to submit questions – but the time zone thing of course meant it was (again) inconvenient for a number of regions to get involved. I find that a wee bit sad. I love hearing input from all over the place – it gets a bit too 'samey' if it's the usual demographic and it tends to lose the excitement a bit (for participants and observers) if book singing attendandee get to also ask questions.

    That's my observation – I do think it went well and the participants were very well behaved. 🙂

  2. I wasn't around for TTP – I mean, I was a fan of Duran Duran, but I didn't know much about what John was doing at the time. I felt (at the time) as though he'd vanished off of the face of the planet. It wasn't until later that I discovered what I'd been missing. (Typical of me)

    I think John makes an amazing amount of effort these days, and much of it goes unappreciated in some respects – with people calling for more and more without any regard for just how much he's really done. It's my loudly stated opinion that John has gone above and beyond. He seems to really WANT a connection with the fans. I love that.

    Totally agree with your assessments. Thanks for commenting! -R

  3. Seven, I could not agree with you more. In fact, you have said exactly how I felt yesterday. It's nice to know someone else see's what I see and feels similar. I feel validated now.
    Julianne
    P.S. Great blog entry, R. as always!!

  4. What disappointed me was that didn't give fans who hadn't seen him anywhere a chance. I for one live in Macedonian, in the Balkans and it's highly unlikely that he will come here to do a book signing or that the band will come to my country again. There are fans from all over the globe who can't really interact with him that way. And this would have been a chance.

    I just saw that seven had also commented on that. And I agree. No men and (no offence) almost all were grown women. No younger fan, like myself, was given the chance.

    My question was about visting new countries and what he's excited to see there. I didn't have to be who's chosen. Just fans that don't have the same opportunites as British and American fans.

  5. That seemed to be a common complaint – and it's a fair assessment as well. Even John commented that he was the only “male in the room”. I can't imagine that his book was purchased or only has the potential to be purchased by female fans. The internet makes our country more of a global neighborhood than just individual countries that never co-mingle. You have very good points, and I'm thrilled that you felt comfortable to mention them here, thanks!

    -R

  6. I would love to watch an interview or something like this google thing that involved fans from places that get less exposure. I would love to hear Maca's stories (above) for instance. There's something invigorating and refreshing about hearing touring stories and fan experiences from Eastern Europe, SE Asia, South America, Australia.

    I wish the TPTB would organise such things to be more inclusive, but alas the default is for preference to where the more apparantly visible fanbase is. I say 'apparantly' – anyone that's been to a show outside the North American and UK markets knows these guys play to substantial and enthusiastic crowds elsewhere too.

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

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