People stare and cross the road from me

What constitutes crossing the line?  Where exactly are your boundaries for what you will or won’t say online?

Mine fluctuate based on the circumstance, I suppose.  Amanda and I have been known to give one another a rough time, even mock-threatening to leave one another stranded on the side of a road somewhere, but that’s because we’re friends. (Makes you think what we might say if we weren’t, I guess!)

Does the band count amongst the people I know?  Sure, I’ve “known” them for many years, but I don’t really think any of them would be able to pick me out of a lineup.  (Then again, given the situation – perhaps that’s best!) I don’t think any of them know me by name. Maybe they do, but I really wouldn’t count on it. The math – thousands of fans, bloggers, fan sites vs. four of them….doesn’t quite make for the best odds. It’s understandable.

I’m a fan of Duran Duran. That does not mean that I am a fan of every single thing that anyone included in that precious inner-circle, such as roadies, friends, management team, wives, children, significant others, life partners, siblings, distant cousins, and so on, chooses to say or do. Just because someone decides to enter into a relationship with a band member doesn’t mean that they’ve decided to stop being human and stop responding to life the same way you or I might. It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t afford them some grace, understanding, and kindness, and privacy, if you ask me.

I know that not everyone agrees with me on this. I’m asking the tough questions today: where is YOUR boundary? When do you realize your internal filter is flagging you down to stop and think?

The answers here are difficult. It is rare that I’m genuinely concerned for Duran Duran or even their friends and family because someone decided to slash and burn them on social media. After all, they pay a team of people to handle that sort of thing for them. They’ve got security, and likely – none of them care what somebody like me or even you thinks of them. Why should they? On the other hand, I do worry about fellow fans – the people who might be doing that slashing and burning – at times.

As I said recently, it’s not the line that is being crossed, it is the escalation of severity.  I know a lot of people who have gotten into arguments with fans. For that matter, I myself have had the occasional run-in with a fan or two. It happens when people are passionate about something. What I don’t see very often though, are those same fans going directly after people in DD’s inner circle.

I worry that sometimes, we are too quick to call someone “batshit crazy”, rather than hold out a hand and be the person to help rather than hurt. And let me be the first to say the obvious: sometimes people cannot be helped. I’m no psychologist, and I’m definitely not perfect. When someone goes from just ranting at fans to ranting directly at a band member, wife, or girlfriend – it’s worrisome. But what do we do? Do we make sure to point out that we’re not friends with that person, that we know of them but don’t like them? Do we message them and ask if they’re OK? Or do we do like most of us would – and just sit back and watch the drama unfold?

Sometimes, I feel like this community thrives on the drama. Rather than offer up support to people on the fringe, we pass out the popcorn and sit back on the sofa to watch. After all, the 24-hour news cycle was created for those who like to watch the train wreck. But at what point do we recognize that there are actual humans involved? This community isn’t so big that we’re all anonymous faces to one another. Many of us at least recognize one another, even if we’ve never formally met. Are we so heartless and so cynical that when someone steps outside of that ever-so-vague boundary that we give them a gentle shove over the edge of the cliff?

I’m no innocent here. I’ve certainly had my own moments of being a couch potato with my bag of popcorn, watching a couple of community members go back and forth on the message board. As I’ve watched, I’ve also ended up feeling awful. I took the easy way out. It is easier to be silent and let the masses do their thing without getting in the way and becoming the new target.

Half of the problem is that the boundaries are more personal suggestions than written in stone. Not everyone abides by the same rules – and let’s face it: the rules for some are different from others. I’m not here to tell anybody where the real boundaries are – your guess is as good as mine.  It is also very difficult to say what someone’s true intentions might be, particularly online.

I just keep thinking that with all of the reading I’ve done about fandom, there are some actions that indicate something far different besides just crossing a boundary or being an overzealous fan. It’s like this – the difference between love and hate is very subtle. Both emotions require a lot of passion. Indifference—that take-it-or-leave-it area—is easy. It requires no effort. There are some people who start out adoring someone, perhaps unreasonably so, and for whatever reason, end up hating them. Or hating their choices with the same amount of passion that they once loved. What happens then?

Food for thought.

-R

 

Ten Years Ago Tomorrow

Ten years ago tomorrow, I saw Duran Duran play in Chicago.  This show was part of the Red Carpet Massacre Tour and the only one of that leg that I saw.  They played at the Rosemont Theater, which I really enjoyed.  The size of the venue was great with an amazing view from any seat or so it seemed.  While that show was weird in some ways, it also sticks out as one I always want to remember.

I didn’t go to the show with Rhonda, which always feels weird.  I went to the show with another friend and tried my best to make the show feel as normal as possible.  A group of us went out to eat before hand, which always works to get people excited.  Then, the show featured a few highlights that I would like to acknowledge here.

First, this show featured the Electro Set.  Does anyone else remember the Electro Set from 2007-2008?  When I first heard about it, I believed that it was going to suck.  I mean…really…the band was going to stand together in the front of the stage all playing electronic instruments?!  It seemed…boring, at least on paper.  Then, I went to one of the Red Carpet Massacre shows on Broadway and I saw the Electro Set in person.  To say that I was wrong would be an understatement.  I was in awe.  It blew my mind.  Seriously.  Needless to say, then, I was super excited to be able to see it again in Chicago.

While I couldn’t find a video of the electro set from this particular show, I did find one from another show.  If you haven’t seen it, you should watch it.  If you have seen it, you should watch again and remember how cool the Electro Set was.  I am probably not alone in saying that I would love for the band to bring this back.  Everyone I know who saw it loved it and everyone who didn’t see it in person wants to.

The other highlight is not the fact that Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins appeared to perform The Chauffeur.  While I’m sure that many people loved that, it didn’t excite me all that much.  I had really liked Smashing Pumpkins then I saw them live.  I was unimpressed.  In fact, I was so unimpressed that I left before they finished, which I never, ever do.  So, his appearance didn’t cut for me.  No, the other personal highlight was the fact that John Taylor came out for the encore in an Obama t-shirt.

To refresh people’s memories, the spring of 2008 meant that the United States was deep into presidential primary season.  The political parties were busy trying to figure out who the nominee was going to be.  Not only had I decided whom I would be voting for, but I started volunteering for the Obama campaign a few months prior in February.  By May, I was starting to work pretty seriously for the campaign.  My friends at the show knew this so when John Taylor came on stage in the t-shirt all of them turned towards me, all excited for me.  Clearly, I wasn’t expecting this at all.  I would have been fine if John did not support my favorite or didn’t agree with me, politically.  Yet, it made me feel…proud in my decision to work for the Obama campaign.  I loved having these two very different worlds of politics and fandom come together.

Most of the time I try to keep my worlds separate.  Usually, I say the reason for this is that I don’t want to alienate others, which is true. More than that, though, I worry that I would be rejected.  When I’m with my political people, I avoid the discussion of fandom.  I worry that they wouldn’t get it or that they would think I was weird for loving a band so much.  I definitely try to tone down the politics when I’m focused on fandom because I truly believe that some people that I call my friends in the fan community would hate me because of my activism.  At that moment when John Taylor showed his support of Obama for the first time, I felt safe.  I could be completely me and still be liked and accepted.

I liked that feeling.  I hope that by remembering that show and those memories that I feel that way again, at least for a day or two.

-A

We’re All of the Same Blood

Four weeks from today, I will be traveling to Boston with my parents.  Part of the reason we are going is to see my brother who lives there but another part is to go see a White Sox game.  To be honest, we could have gone anytime over the summer but we chose this specific weekend because the White Sox are playing the Red Sox then.  This mattered to my dad.  In fact, we have seen the White Sox play in lots of different cities, including Minneapolis, St. Louis, Washington D.C., Detroit.  My parents have traveled even more than I have to Cleveland, Toronto, Baltimore and more.  It is a thing in our family.  In fact, my aunt and uncle are venturing to Pittsburgh to see them play there next week.  Despite the fact that the White Sox are having the world’s worst season, we still remain dedicated fans.

What is interesting about this is that no one rarely comments when I tell people about this plan to see the Sox play all over the States.  Generally, people tell me how cool it is that we do this as a family.  Strangely enough, though, when I say that I’m traveling all over the country to see Duran Duran concerts, I get a very different response.  It usually goes something like this, “Why?  Aren’t all the concerts the same?  Do they even play different songs?”  I always struggle to explain my reasoning after this set of questions.  Now, that I’m thinking about this family tradition of traveling to see the Sox play, I’m thinking that I have been approaching my response all wrong.

People can understand sports fans going to see multiple game because each game is different.  The results are unknown.  No one knows what is going to happen.  Heck, right now, if I were to bet, the Sox will lose the game that we are going to see but you never know.  It what keeps us going.  What if the Sox always won?  Would that stop my family from going?  No way.  In fact, that might get people like us to go to more games rather than less.  After all, winning teams generally get more and more people in stadiums because the chance to watch a win is higher.  Isn’t this really what going to concerts is like?

Hear me out.  Yes, sporting events include a competition with someone winning and someone losing.  I get that concerts are not the same.  There are not two team vying for a win.  That said, there still is a chance for a win or a loss (of sorts–not that Duran is ever a loser).  Not every concert is awesome.  At times, people can try hard to put on an awesome show and fail to live up to that expectation.  Those concerts might be considered a loss.  Yet, I would say that Duran shows are wins.  Big wins.  Even ones that fail to live up to the expectations are still victories.  Most Duran shows are like baseball games where your favorite team wins by 10-1. They are like a game in which your team wins easily and everyone has fun.  At times, Duran shows can be even better than that.  Sometimes, there are moments that are so amazing or so profound that you feel lucky to have been there. Those are just like games that end up in the record books where someone hits for the cycle or throws a no-hitters.

This is how I’m going to phrase it from now on when people ask why go to more concerts:  “Do you think that sports fans should stop going to games if they know that their favorite team is going to win?  Should fans avoid the cost of going then?”

More likely than not, the other person will say no.  S/he might say something like, “That would be dumb to stop going to games then.”

I might follow up with, “I agree.  Going to games in which you know your team has a great chance to win is awesome.  This is how it feels for me.  I feel like going to a Duran show is like going to a game where your team has a really awesome chance at winning.  In fact, there is always the possibility of going and seeing something so amazing that it will go down in Duran’s history just like going to a game might mean you get to see a grand slam in person!”

If that still doesn’t convince people then I could point out that attending a game in person means that community feeling of being surrounded by others who love what you do, cheering for the same team.  At games, you have the chance of catching a ball like concert goers can get drumsticks or guitar picks.  Both of them feature a chance to see someone you admire up close and in the flesh.

I could keep going with this metaphor but I think you all get the idea.  I really think that there isn’t that much of a difference between these fandoms anymore.  On that note, I’m off to go watch the Sox game!

-A

You’re Going to Find Out

On Monday, Rhonda wrote a blog highlighting her biggest personal moment with Duran Duran.  (If you didn’t read it, go here.)  Since then, I, too, took time to think about mine.  Is mine like Rhonda’s in that my moment is a return to the fandom?  Is it the time that I met Rhonda and other fans?  Maybe it was something like one of the trips to the UK.  Like Rhonda, I think that I could choose any of those and would be right on in doing so.  Yet, I tend to think of my fandom journey to be in parts and each part has a big moment.  Thus, I have to decide which part matters most to me.

Part one of my fandom definitely has to be fandom as a kid.  This is when I fell in love with the band in the first place.  In thinking about that time, the big moment has to be when I fell in love with the Reflex.  It pushed me from casual fan to Duranie.  If that hadn’t happened, I doubt I would have still been a fan today.  Therefore, that is definitely a worthy moment.  Biggest personal one, though?  I’m not sure.

The next part of my fandom surrounds the reunion and returning to being a loud and proud Duranie.  I know that I have talked about this a lot on here but it is worth sharing a little again.  Around the time of the reunion, I found myself overwhelmed with the beginning of my teaching career with grad school on top of that.  To say that I didn’t have a lot of extra time would be an understatement of epic proportions.  I heard rumblings of a reunion but put blinders on as I kept telling myself that I didn’t care.  Interestingly enough, as I finished grad school, I found myself watching the silly TV show, Roswell, religiously.  I appreciated the escape with it and the outsider as hero theme.  My lonely self sought out others who were as into the show as I was.  This lead me to message boards and eventually to meeting other Midwestern fans.

One of these fellow fans mentioned Duran Duran in passing one day.  That is all it took.  I had free time by then as I had finally gotten that Master’s Degree and needed something to obsess over.  My Roswell internet searches turned to Duran Duran ones and to Duranies, which eventually led me here.  That moment, that one mention certainly was a big moment in terms of my Duran fandom.  The biggest?  I am sure that I could make the case for that, for sure.  While that one comment got me back to Duran, I’m not sure I would vote for it as the biggest.  Stick with me here because my biggest moment, I think, will explain why this one didn’t matter as much.

After that reminder, I found Duran message boards and made the decision to attend that Duran fans convention in 2004 in New Orleans.  This, of course, is the event in which I met Rhonda and so many other fans whom I’m lucky enough to call my friends.  From there, this led to going on tour, seeing a bunch of concerts and so much more as part three of my fandom.  I might even say that this led to so much fun that I’m still getting over it.  Yet, despite all that, I’m still not sure that I would pick the convention as the biggest.

In 2008, my fandom took a turn for the fourth segment of my fandom journey.  It ceased being nothing but fun.  I noticed fans behaving in ways that made me curious.  Heck, I found myself doing things and thinking things that normally I wouldn’t.  At first, I tried to ignore observation of myself and others and just have fun, which wasn’t always easy for a variety of reasons (Red Carpet Massacre division, anyone?).  At the end of 2008, Rhonda and I decided to go to a few shows in the Northeast.  During that tour, I lost a friendship as this person made some decisions that felt like she  placed fandom over friendship.  I was hurt.  Friendships mean the world to me.  As someone who struggled (and struggles) to make friends, I appreciate each friend.  When I have strong, loyal friendships, I feel stronger and more confident in everything I do.  When it feels like I don’t matter or don’t matter much to a friend, it feels like being stabbed in the gut.

I had a choice then.  One option could have been to walk away from fandom.  After all, a lot of the fun had left with the Astronaut era.  If I had chosen that, then, I think the biggest moment with Duran would have been attending that convention.  Yet, I chose something different.  I sought out understanding.  I wanted to “get” or comprehend this former friend of mine.  I needed to understand myself, too.  The idea was simple.  If I could understand fans better, then I could figure out how to make it fun again.  This decision, of course, has led Rhonda and myself to research fandom for years.  We have written about our experiences and our research with the goal of one day getting something out there.  The moment that Rhonda and I came up with the idea of researching and writing about fandom took my fandom to a new level.  It led to this blog, much research and more.  Frankly, it increased whatever commitment I had to Duran.  I cannot see just walking away now or ever.

-A