On the Show Room Floor

Duran Duran has been advertising an upcoming sale in their online store on February 11th.  I’ll be honest.  I have no doubt that I’ll check it out.  Will I buy anything?  No idea.  I suspect that I probably won’t as I have quite a bit of merchandise already.  I’m a sap, that way.  That said, I still can’t help but to think that Duran merchandise could use some updating.  I have felt and even blogged about how they could and should come up some new and interesting products.  After all, fans like me would buy them.  In fact, because merch has been on my mind lately, I have been doing a series about it as my daily questions.  For the last few weeks, I have been asking people which kinds of Duran related products they would prefer.  I truly believed that I am not the only one wanting some new kinds of products and this would show that.  Also, I wanted to know which products would be most wanted. 

While some fans have chosen not to participate for whatever reason, other fans have given their opinions daily.  Interestingly enough, though, there are some fans who have chosen to make fun, belittle the questions or try to bring it back to the music.  Of course, some of them might even claim that they weren’t doing this.  They might say that they were trying to be funny instead or might tell us that we need a sense of humor.  I think it is clear that sense of humor is not lacking here.  Neither is intelligence.  What is even more interesting is that those who have chosen this route are all men.  Now, let me be clear.  I’m not saying that ALL men have done this or have been negative but I’m saying that the people who have been also happen to be men.  Why is this? 

Obviously, there are some male fans who don’t like anytime the Duranie universe focuses on anything or any aspect that isn’t about the music.  They don’t like when pictures are posted.  They don’t like when fans discuss touring outfits or haircuts.  They don’t like when there is any *squeeiing* for any reason.  They assume that one cannot be focused on the music and still have appreciation for how the band looks.  Now, part of me gets this.  Duran Duran has truly struggled with getting and keeping respect as serious musicians.  This lack of respect has often rubbed off on the fans as well as the assumption then is that Duranies wouldn’t know real musicians if they were hit over the head with them.  Part of the reason, it can be argued, that Duran struggles with respect is because of appearing on teen magazines or being in videos in which they are drinking champagne or crawling on beaches.  Another reason that they might not have gotten the respect they deserve is because they were marketed like no other in the 1980s.  It seemed like we could buy so many different products.  I, for one, have my original copy of the Arena board game.  I also had Duran Duran pajamas as a kid.  There were batteries, school folders, t-shirts, buttons, jackets, wristbands and more.  They were everywhere and, admittedly, most of those products were marketed to young people. 

I assume then that for these fans who criticize merchandise, all they can see is the silly products of decades ago.  They don’t want the focus to be on products and merch.  They want the focus on the music.  Of course, I am assuming this as those who criticize don’t articulate why they respond the way they do.  Yet, while I understand their argument, to some extent, I have two counter arguments.  First, why shouldn’t people be able to express their fandom however they want?  While I get the need some have for respect or to not be made fun of, I don’t get making fun of others or being critical themselves of other fans.  I like the idea that all fans should be able to show their fandom however they choose to.  I also believe that fans can be in it for the music and still like to buy Duran posters.  Some fans don’t care about merch.  Cool.  Some will buy everything.  Cool, too.  I want people to feel comfortable.  Buying merch or not buying merch does not change one’s intelligence, respectability, or fan status.  It doesn’t make you a better or worse fan.  It doesn’t make you a bigger or smaller fan.  I also don’t think it really will affect Duran’s status, according to music critics. 

The second argument I have is simple.  All fandoms have merchandise.  I can’t think of one fandom that is based on popular culture that does not have products to buy.  Some of these fandoms are more socially acceptable than others.  Let me give some examples.  Does the Harry Potter fandom have products?  Does Star Trek or Star Wars?  What about comics?  What about other bands like U2, who do tend to get respect?  What about Bruce Springsteen?  Stevie Wonder?  Hmmm…then, what about sports?  Was any merch sold before, during or after the Superbowl?  The answer is that they all have merch.  Fans of all of these buy products advertising their fandom.  Therefore, I don’t understand the need to belittle this part of fandom.  

Of course, those who have made critical or demeaning statements might not like the merchandise options we have asked about.  Yes, I realize that bracelets and necklaces tend to be worn by women more than men.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t see men wearing necklaces.  Looking at a baseball game would show that.  Likewise, men can and do wear jewelry on their wrists.  I can’t think of anything that was asked that couldn’t be used by both men and women. 

My point here is simple.  Merchandise is part of fandom.  It just is.  It is okay if you don’t get it or like it but allow for others who do, without judgement or criticism.  If merchandise ceased existing, it wouldn’t bring more respect to fans or to the band.

-A

17 thoughts on “On the Show Room Floor”

  1. Very interesting read. With that said, though I'm not mentioned by name, I KNOW I'm one of the men referred to here. Any why …. because I did make comments on merchandise posts. They were of a humorous nature, albeit with a broad touch of sarcasm, but most who know me KNOW that I'm not hateful.

    As for the male perspective on such things as photos of the band being posted. Most every comment I see about such photos from the women are about “LeBeard”, “LeStache”, “oh, that makes me drool”, “I so wish he'd wear those for me”, Rogers “member” comments, Whose Nick attached to now” and so forth. This male fan doesn't see the band in this perspective. I do enjoy the band, as a band, and I am said fan due to the music they created. I am not a fan because of their “pinup posters” or “half-naked beach shots” …. those don't equate anything to me. I also am a very staunch supporter of celebrity privacy and it does irk me when I see countless postings of pics and stories about the band members and their family lives. As a male fan I am not drawn to that aspect at all.

    Now, about the merchandise posts ….. as a male fan I'm more disappointed that the “digital media” section of the bands website sits poorly utilized and dusty. It's been that way for far too long …. another missed opportunity by the band. When I see posts asking about band-related bracelets, coffee mugs, pillows, bumper stickers, and another dozen or so personal items I DO get a bit tired. I personally find these items trivial in the bigger scheme of things that fans of the band could really get behind. Now, if the band went and “fixed” the issues over the Deluxe Remastered Editions of their albums, offered “rare” video and audio for download or affordable sale in a few different popular formats, and contests that didn't require “post or like” counts for people to have hope they could win I'd be down for it all.

    I am a male fan of Duran Duran. I love the music they've made that has captured my soul. I have no interest in their private & personal lives on either a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. I can handle how they balance their fame & influence with worth while causes that support the world community. I also love all my female Duran friends ….. with or without their “strange behavior” or their “obsessive fascination”.

    My advice to the band …. get creative & positive with that “digital media” section of yours. The fans ARE here. We WANT & are WILLING to show monetary support by having the opportunity to have those audio & video treats that aren't just everywhere to buy openly. And lastly, show the male fans a little love by offering affordable & practical items that we could call our own.

    Daily Duranie RULES!!!!

    XO,

    Shawn

  2. I think that to some extent, Shawn – you're missing some of the point here. While YOU might not like some of the topics we ask or talk about, there are hundreds if not thousands of fans who love the questions, the photos, etc…and those fans have every much right to those opinions as you do yours. The things you find trivial others might not, you know? There's one hell of a lot of things that I find trivial about fandom myself, but we take the good along with the bad, don't we? Well, at least I do. I try.

    We try our best to appeal to a large cross section of fans. I talk a LOT about the music, and not just from a fawning “I love every single thing they do” perspective…because quite honestly, I don't love every single thing they do, and I think I make that really clear, with a lot of humor whenever possible. That said, yes – I unapologetically run posts about mustaches and even the rush I feel at a concert every now and then. It's a very broad based blog, and I'm thankful that I can write on a variety of different subjects and be lighthearted as well as serious.

    However, all of that aside – I completely agree with you about the digital media, and I absolutely agree with you regarding the male merchandise. There isn't enough. Here is where we can make a difference though, and you should use the opportunity wisely – TELL US WHAT YOU'D LIKE TO SEE. Especially when we're asking questions about shower curtains verses pillow cases and you want neither one. It's OK to pipe up with “Hey, what about ________ for male fans??” At least then we can come here and blog about it and the word gets out. Our reach these days isn't half bad. We're not Rolling Stone or People Magazine, but you know – we have a decent audience.

    I saw what you'd written on Facebook, that you feel like this is more of a personal complaint (I am not using your exact words here, sorry about that) than an unbiased blog. That might be true – I don't know how Amanda felt when she was writing, but you have to step into our shoes a bit here. We do our best to engage everyone and in doing so we have to write on a variety of different levels. It isn't always helpful to have comments that feel somewhat akin to someone patting us on our heads and smiling as they say “You can't possibly understand the big world out there.” So sure, there's a some minor frustration at times.

    I appreciate your comments…and even the teasing. -R

  3. Rhonda said a lot of what I would have said so I won't say much other than to comment on the idea that the blog was a “personal aggravation”. Sure, there is a little frustration on my part, as Rhonda stated well, but it was more to bring up a larger issue, which is negativity and stereotyping about female fans who do care about merch and about photos. The assumption that is too often made or implied is that people who do care about those things ONLY are fans because of them or ONLY know or care about those things. This, of course, is far from the truth. Many of us can care about the music AND like to look at pictures of the band.

    -A

  4. Thanks girls, I appreciate your candidness on the matter and my response. I have to say, the reason I didn't get the female fan perspective of the article is because the article doesn't mention it as such …. it reads as a generalization of the fan base, not men and women completely separate, and that is why I took it as I did.

    I have spoken often and VERY openly about the “digital media” area of the band site. It SUCKS!!!! They've got a section that ALL fans and the band could benefit from but they leave it wasting away. Having different audio (.mp3, Lossless, .shn) & video (mpeg2, h.264, mp4) formats @ fair prices to compliment the quality purchased. Website exclusive CD singles or live shows with artwork would be cool too. And my personal PEEVE …. FIX the damn Remastered Deluxe sets too. The audio is so dynamically compressed on them that they red line, the skips (like on a record) for digital audio files, pictures in the sets that don't match the timeline of the albums (the DVD's in them were fine) ….. it was sad, sloppy work that ONLY benefits the pockets of those who created them. It is a shame not to Duran's benefit.

    As for Men's merchandise, T-shirts, Framed mini-posters of the band in ALL era's, maybe album cover themed throws (7 & The Ragged Tiger art would be awesome for this as would SRTR), jogging socks with a DD (era variations) logo on them, boxers with album cover art related designs (no band member faces PLZ). There is an assortment of ideas that they could use to promote the “brand” if they really wanted to do it. I personally believe that my ideas will go unheard or laughed at like some of yours but I'm contributing them out of respect for you girls and this blog.

    In the end, fans of the band are fans, boy or girl. I'm not down with Nick Rhodes shower curtains as I'd never take a shower again due to the mental anguish him staring at me would cause but the brand merchandise needs to be taken seriously by the band if they have any interest in staying relevant and capturing fans old and new.

    Love ya Ladies!!!

    🙂 🙂

    Shawn

  5. Yeah, the “Nick” shower curtain thing was an obvious embellishment. The DD-related shower curtain idea in general gives me the willies …… LMAO

    Sorry if that bothered you Amanda. Guys don't see it the same as the girls and that remark probably proves it.

    🙂

    Shawn

  6. I'm sorry that you've been shown how awful some people can be. Some people have never learned the adage, “if you can't say something nice, just shut the F-up!”

    I'll agree that the merch needs some updating (my favorite tank from the Astronaut tour needs a replacement).

    I'm impressed at the pajamas you had as a kid – I don't remember ever seeing those! Awesome!

  7. You know what I find fascinating? I think I posted some good ideas Amanda but you focused on the “Nick” shower curtain comment.

    Women are from Venus and Men are from Mars …. this isn't a new concept by any means. It is what it is. I know I teased on some of my comments and I finally stopped posting answers on your DD related items query but it goes both ways when it comes to how people feel. I am sorry if you were disappointed by my comments but I am no less disappointed that this boils down to male vs. female. If you don't want or like opposing opinions or comments in your queries then you should say so. The majority of comments do come from women but not even all of them are interested in the merchandise choices presented for vote so it's not just us guys …. it's probably that some of us tend to toss a little giggle and sarcasm in just so we feel included, NOT because we are trying to be hurtful or aggravating. I know I belong in that group as I love what it is you ladies do and the wide berth you give to your subjects, opinions, and the space you offer for all responses.

    All my respect and admiration unconditionally ….

    Shawn

  8. My fave merchandising is useful things like bags….but they need to be quality and not cheap crap. I am not much into printed matters, apart from calendars (useful!). Yeah a little eye candy on the wall does no harm. I am not blind to their eye candy qualities. But the eye candy I prefer is a shot from a live performance. Overall though prefer stuff with logos and not their faces etc. DD logos and style are always beautiful.

    I love Patty Palazzo's tee shirts – they are unique, cool, fun and personal.

    I'd like merch that was useful for sporty activities (I do competetitive duathlons and cycling, and hike). It's a shame that the sailing world hasn't hooked up with Simon on merch and sponsorship. Caps, lightweight jackets, socks, towels etc. Some of the fans are outdoorsy.

    It's sad that a small group of (unfortunately) male fans make negative comments about merchandising and people's responses and preferences. However, this shite always happens. It reminds me of a small group of people who pop up in various social media now and then referring to female DD fans as 'overweight soccer moms' and posting insulting images.

  9. I really don't want to see this be blown out of proportion to sound as a declaration of war on male fans, because I certainly don't feel that way. I would like to see merchandise suggested and talked about that would interest all fans, and while I recognize that we are just a blog…you never know who is reading or paying attention. This is slightly different than a message board or a Facebook page.

  10. It is my hope that we can all…myself and Amanda included…learn to be a little more understanding of the community as a whole. I wouldn't want anyone to feel as though they couldn't post their feelings about something here on the blog, even if it is contrary to what Amanda or I have written. We welcome constructive and thoughtful discussion. -R

  11. Merch for the lads…let's see.
    Le Bon stick-on mustache, Roger Taylor drumstick shaped workout dumbells and JT designed yoga mats, grooming product line – nose hair trimmers, propecia…

    no?

    😉

  12. First of all, this was never about men vs. women. As I mentioned in the blog, there are a lot of people who have chosen not to participate in this series of questions, which is cool. There are men and women who choose to participate and some that do not. All cool. Yes, I acknowledged that some of the comments we have received from some men have been less slightly belittling and they haven't always been on the specific facebook threads themselves, btw. Second, the point was really to tie into the larger issue of stigma. All Duranies feel it and I acknowledged where some of that stigma comes from and, yes, it bothers me when Duranies continue the stigma by telling those fans who like pictures that they are less…something.

    As for the shower curtain comment, I zoned in on that because I find the reaction to this merchandise choice fascinating, as a whole, as it seems to me that most comments about it, including here, facebook and twitter, all assume that the shower curtain would have a picture. I said nothing of the sort. It seemed that people just assumed that. Nope, I just said it would be related. Thus, it could be a logo or a symbol.

    Now, all of that said, Rhonda is right. We welcome constructive, thoughtful and respectful discussion.

    -A

  13. I’m going to join the highly anticipated week of big sale of the DDM store: I’ve already got my cart and funds ready. My thoughts on merchandise sales are few and read as the following ones.
    I think that selling products featuring their name of their faces definitely is a source of money to carry on for every artist, even in the future when they’ll be gone: The Police still has a Store, Queen still has a store, Star Trek has a store, as well;
    I’m not generally an avid merchandise fan, as I feel I’m no longer a kid, I don’t have kids and in my family the Duranies’ kids are adults too, so I try to buy music.
    I think that the DDM gold level membership isn’t a very good idea, because gold level offers you only that package of items: fans should be free to choose the things they love and when they want to. That’s why I’m not a Gold level member.

  14. Amanda,

    I believe we are missing each other on some points and it's probably due to the internet being such a cold tool for communication. I think the stigma is there because the numbers are there (not that it's right or cool). Most fans posting, looking, commenting on pictures are the female fans. Most of the responses on the merch posts are the female fans. They out number the male fans by quite a large margin. Now, I DO think that that there is an unfair picture of those female fans but it usually created by the minority of females that ARE somewhat more “fanatical” about their approach to the fandom process in all aspects.

    As a male fan myself it is sad to see this. I, personally, like to kid and tease because it helps me relate and fit in better with those female fans who do NOT treat their idea of fandom in such a way and those ladies like to kid & tease back. It also helps me understand the barrage of photo postings & comments I get on my FB news page. If I decided not to follow all those people I'd be free of all that craziness but I'd also lose the fun & camaraderie I share with those fans …. so I chose to stay & “squee” in my own way with them. I've never had any one of them tell me that my awkward participation was in any demeaning or unwanted. If I have made some fans feel that way it is always my preference that they come to me and let me know. I respect them all enough to listen to and address any reasonable concern they have with me or because of me. I am approachable and not above making simple mistakes without seeing them before I make them.

    As a male fan, the stigma I am attached to most is that I must be gay, even though I am not, because I like Duran Duran. It is a tough one to get by for some guys but surrounding myself with the lady fans has more than a friendship benefit as they can be quite persuasive when someone attacks one of their own personally.

    I LOVE the ladies ….. 🙂 🙂

    With the merchandise, I agree that the band need a huge update in what they offer. The band and fans could benefit greatly if they took the time to poll all the facets of their fan base to get a realistic view of what sells and what falls.

    As always, much respect to you ladies for ALL that you do.

    Sincerely,

    Shawn

  15. I guess I will be in the minority of female fans that don't really care for more merchandise. The calendar says it's 2013 and not 1984. I am over 40 years old and I stuffed Duran's pockets with cash 25+ years ago with the merch they sold back in the heyday (which I admit – was really cool merch). I also plunked down a considerable amount of bank when the reunion happened – only to find most of the stuff offered wasn't as good of quality made stuff as it had been 20 years ago. If I were to show up to bed in Duran pajamas, my husband would be calling the men in the white coats to take me away. LOL

    I would rather see the focus be put on remastering the catalogue and offering the fans rare & unreleased music/videos, or photos of Simon's lyric book to get a peek of what goes on in his mind while composing lyrics. How about releasing official bootlegs of the AYNIN era tour (quality recordings from the soundboard)? Other bands do it and make a profit off of it.

    I will say that when I saw Duran's “sale” promo on FB, I laughed. Is there merchandise really not selling as they had wanted it to? Is it time to hire a new merch vendor?

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!