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.