Media Representations of Fandom–How Soon Is Ever (Part 2)

Last Sunday, I dived into the book, How Soon Is Never? by Marc Spitz.  This book followed Joe, a huge fan of The Smiths, as he discovered the band as a teen growing up in Long Island to his adulthood where, as a music journalist, he developed a plan with his co-worker to get them to reunite.  Last week, I focused on the first half of the book when Joe discovered the band and became a huge fan.  In my opinion, the book expressed what fandom feels like and the emotional investment that happens for those hard-core fans.  Thus, the book was realistic in how it portrayed fans.  The question, now, is whether that same realism would continue as we follow Joe’s plan in reuniting his favorite band of all time.  Will the adult fan be shown without the stereotypes?  The typical stereotypes for adult fans include not having a life or being stuck in perpetual immaturity.  Will this be how Joe is represented?

After The Smiths break up, the book skims past the rest of Joe’s high school experience.  College is also skimmed over.  We do learn that Joe spent his college years writing and taking a lot of drugs.  After college, he got a job in a book store where his colleague, Don, got him back into music.  Don, in fact, had been interning at a local music magazine and asked if Joe would be interested in writing some reviews.  (How lucky is that?!  Can I get paid to blog?!)  Soon enough, Joe discovered that having people read your writing is awesome.  In fact, he stated that it was addictive.  (Hmm…can’t relate to that.  Nope.  Not at all.)  Meanwhile, he got a letter from his ex-girlfriend from high school who gave him his first album from The Smiths.  This led him to open his box of vinyl, including Smiths albums.  The next day, he wore his original Smiths shirt to work where his new colleague, Miki, complimented him on it.  This led Joe to get interested in her immediately and the couple began hanging out together.  During their first time hanging out, they talked about the band and how everything would be better if they got back together.  (How many Duranies out there thought that before the Fab 5 reunited?!)  They decided that their mission must be to reunite them!!!  Their method would be to approach each individual band member.  At this point, they actually had a feeling that this could work!!!

Of course, they had some hope because they were feeding off of each other!  They viewed this as a cause!  Now, I have to admit that this feels very, very familiar to me.  Isn’t that what fandom is, at least when it comes to feeding off of other fans?  I never feel more like a Duranie than when I am with other Duranies!  Isn’t that what happens when fans even communicate online?  I think it does.  In terms of a cause, I know many Duranies who do things to try and get Duran commercial success, for example.  What about the fans who have the cause that sound like this, “This tour, I’m going to get front row.”  (We would never say that.  Nope.)  Again, this totally feels like a realistic portrayal of fandom without making the characters just fan stereotypes.

Now, that they have their cause as fans, as journalists, they began researching online.  Many quotes from band members seemed to fit the idea that they would be open to reuniting, or was that just how it seemed to their fan minds?  Of course, I think many fans do read into what is said to match what they want.  Let’s admit this.  When you are a fan, you aren’t always objective.  From there, they decide to post on every website related to The Smiths.  They felt that they needed to win the support of the fans and to have them join in on their cause.  Again, I can think of examples in our fandom.  What about the petition to get Duran into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame?  Isn’t this the same kind of idea?  Finally, after a week when they contacted managers, they heard back from the drummer’s manager and were able to schedule an interview. 

Of course, both Joe and Mike were very nervous about meeting a band member despite being rock music journalists.  It isn’t the same, if you are fans.  During the interview, they talked about being an 80s band.  The drummer, Mike, responded that 80s bands were Spandau Ballet and Duran Duran.  (Am I the only one who gets really excited at the mention of Duran in any book?!  One of the chapter titles of this book is a Duran lyric, too!)  They asked him what it would feel like to play again with the rest of the band and he agreed that it would be “magic”.  Clearly, then, he would be interested in reuniting!  From there, they moved to get the bass player, Andy.  For this, they traveled to Manchester, the band’s hometown.  How did Joe and Miki respond to being there?  They wanted to walk the streets to see where the “magic” happened.  Perhaps, they would get a new understanding.  Again, I found myself relating as this is how I felt the first time I walked around Birmingham.  The realism continued.  The interview with the bass player was also productive as he said he could see reuniting for the right amount of money.  Before they left Manchester, they were also able to meet with the guitarist, Johnny Marr.  Johnny indicated that he felt most reunions were about showbiz and that the only way he would do that was if it was away from the spotlight.  Thus, 3 members would reunite if the right circumstance existed!

From there, they moved to the last member, the singer, Morrissey who was living in LA.  For this band member, they didn’t have an interview set up.  They were going to just show up, which led Joe to complain that they were stalkers despite having journalist credentials.  Of course, they weren’t just fans either because they wrote about them.  They were in a strange sort of limbo.  Another Duran reference occurred as Joe began singing Is There Something I Should Know while waiting for Morrissey to answer the door.  He didn’t answer.  At this point, Joe decided that he was done.  He needed to move on and that nothing would really change if the band reunited.  Yet, at the end of the book, Joe concluded that the music still made him happy and that as long as he had that he would never be lost. 

Now, of course, there was way more to the book than what I discussed here.  Like the last book, I focused solely on how fans or fandom were shown.  I found the representation of fans, including their feelings and experiences surrounding fandom to be completely realistic.  It showed how fans become fans and how those strong feelings can and do last well into adulthood.  I find it interesting that both books that I discussed as part of this series seemed to have an accurate representation.  Yet, the movies and tv shows didn’t, really.  Is this an example of the limits of movies and tv shows over books?  Can books show more because they are lengthy?  Some food for thought.  Next week, I’ll continue with the series but I will be looking at Duran songs that discuss fans.  How do they represent us in their music?


Spitz, Marc.  How Soon Is Never?  New York:  Three Rivers Press, 2003.

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!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.