Fan Fiction Wonderings

A few weeks ago, I watched the season finale of the X-Files.  As I have mentioned before, I adore the show but I’m not sure about the last episode.  Apparently, I am not alone in being perplexed by the ending as I have seen a number of comments about it on social media.  After the episode, I did what many others did, I sought out fan fiction.  Could fans of the show provide a different, more understandable, more enjoyable ending?  I wondered.  Needless to say, the number of stories that popped up were many.  As I began to read some, I pondered the role of fan fiction in fandom and then specifically in our fandom.

It seems to me that fanfic for TV shows, movies and books serves an important function.  It adds to the story, in some way.  Maybe these stories extend the story beyond what was shown either after it ends or through a potential missing scene.  Of course, some readers prefer the alternate universe in which the characters are placed in a different context.  I can understand all of that and have read my fair share, especially when I was a big Roswell fan.

What about the work of fanfic in a fandom like ours?  We are not fans of made up characters.  No, the subjects of our fandom are real people.  Does that make a difference?  Looking at the purpose of fanfic in those other genres, could they be applied here?  Could authors extend the Duran story by adding to an unknown future or filling in a period or episode that is unknown to us?  I’m sure that writers could.  Could they place the subjects into different contexts?  Again, that seems logical.

What interests me is that while I have enjoyed these fan created stories when thinking about TV shows like Roswell and X-Files, I never grabbed onto fanfic within my Duran fandom.  Why is that?  I wonder if it has to do with the fact that the focus on the fandom is real people.  Yet, I can read historical fiction and enjoy it.  Those works of fiction are often about real people and events.  I’m not sure.    Maybe it feels different because I have seen the band members in person and for me, that makes it feel different for me.  Perhaps, it is because I have spent so many years researching fandom and thinking about this fandom in an academic sense that I have lost any ability to enjoy this aspect.

Don’t get me wrong here.  I’m not criticizing fanfic readers or writers within our fan community.  No, I’m trying to understand myself because it feels like a weird hang up that I have.  So, those of you who read or write Duran related fanfic, why does it work for you?  What makes you like it?  I would love to hear some good reasons to push me to try it again.

-A

Can’t Tell the Real from Reflection

I wonder how many Duran Duran lyrics we have used in blog posts.  We have written a LOT of blog posts so it would be many.  More than many.  Why this lyric?  Why this title?  Simple.  I have started a period of reflection.  I don’t think I would be overstepping to say that Rhonda, too, is reflecting.  This is pretty normal after a big project finishes.

Just to catch people up.  Last weekend, I was at the National Popular Culture Conference, presenting our research on female fandom.  Since then, we have received quite a lot of feedback through Facebook, Twitter, this blog and even our email.  In fact, we have received so much feedback that I haven’t even responded to everyone.  I had hoped to spend time this week doing just that, but it has been an extremely busy one both with work but also plans and appointments.  Needless to say, I’m feeling pretty tired.  Despite being so busy, I have begun to think about next steps and where to go from here.  Rhonda and I have begun some initial conversations as well.  I know that I cannot possible take all weekend to reflect  due to other responsibilities, but I do plan to take at least a couple of concentrated hours for this purpose.

So what exactly will I be thinking about?  First, I want to think about where Rhonda and I should go as far as our book/research projects.  Funny enough, we suffer, in some ways, from having too many possible angles to pursue.  Of course, I will take into consideration all of the responses we got back on the presentation.  Overall, we received lots of positive feedback, including from experts at the conference.  Beyond that, I will think about what we are most interested in and passionate about as well as what might be most important to share in today’s climate and society.

Second, we need to think about how this blog will fit into the picture.  In some ways, the blog has served its initial purpose.  Thus, what is its purpose now?  What should it be?  How do we best fit this with our other projects?  Which one is being prioritized?  I know that there are dedicated readers (which we are extremely grateful for) and I know that new readers find us all the time. For that reason, among others, we plan to continue the blog in some way, shape or form.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, how does all of this fit into our fandom?  This is an area that we have struggled to figure out for years.  Yes, we are fans.  We love Duran.  There is no denying of that. Yet, we are more than that.  We chose to also study fandom as academics, as researchers because we wanted to understand ourselves and other fans.  Some people love us when we are fans and hate us when we are academics and vice versa.  Yet, we recognize that we are both and want to continue being both.  The question then is how to both well at the same time.

One thing I know, for sure, my recent presentation has had one very significant affect.  It kick started my brain.  Time is now needed to process it all.

-A

 

Let’s Celebrate the First Gig!

On this date in 1978…I was seven years old.

I like saying that in some ways because while I was seven and didn’t have the foggiest idea who Duran Duran was, or what they’d come to mean to me in the decades ahead, the band members were already grown and playing music.

On the same token, I was seven years old when this roller coaster started. I’m “several decades” older now. Like four.

So I’ll begin again. On this date in 1978, Duran Duran played their first gig at Birmingham Polytechnic University. I don’t suppose there’s anyone reading this who was actually there?? Oh, how I would love to interview someone who had been in the audience that night. Can you imagine that story?!? I mean, you go to see some band because you’re tired of studying and you don’t have anything else to do…and several years later they’re the biggest act on the planet. Four decades later and, well, here we are.

I see constant, spirited exchanges between fans over what should be the observed anniversary date. When should we celebrate the fortieth anniversary?  My answer?  ALL OF THE TIME.  Every single day. Why not?  It has been one hell of a road, hasn’t it?  Each morning, I get up and check our Duran calendar, and rarely is there a box with nothing in it. There might be two days on the entire calendar where the band took time off or nothing happened – but for the most part, each day something happened and they’ve made it through all of it. Sure, people have joined and left over the years, but they’re still together. Still making music. We’re still fans. I think we should celebrate all of that.

I can’t really imagine what it was like in that first audience. I don’t know how the band sounded. I’m not sure if I would recognize the music as Duran Duran, but it was the beginning. Here we are, forty years later, waiting for more. Let’s celebrate THAT.

-R

HMV Signing in Toronto 1995 – Were You There?

April 4th has been a busy day in Duran history. “White Lines” was released in the US and UK on this date in 1995, as was Thank You. VH1 aired Behind the Music in 1999. In 1987, they performed on Soul Train. On this date in Toronto, Duran Duran held a signing at HMV. Were you there?

I have been to Toronto exactly one time, and it wasn’t that long ago.  Amanda and I decided to take the road trip to end all road trips (not really, because if the band announced a tour tomorrow I’m sure we’d be planning another!) to see several dates on the Paper Gods tour. Toronto was one of the cities we visited along the way.

Crossing the American-Canadian border was a new experience. While I’ve actually been through customs with Amanda before, this time we were in a car. (Always something new, I say!) It was a long drive, but when we finally made it into Toronto, it was nothing like I’d imagined. I’d describe it as very busy, with tall buildings on a beautiful waterfront. I can remember it being hot and humid (as were all the shows that summer).

Were you at the HMV signing in Toronto?  Weather for April can be iffy…if you were there, did you have to wait outside?! (Written like a true Californian, right?)

-R

 

 

Why is it necessary? Because studying fans is our passion.

No one really needs to read this blog. In fact, no one ever did. To the best of my knowledge, we’ve never coerced anybody into paying any kind of attention whatsoever. We just decided to write and the rest took its course.  We appreciate that our subject matter resonates with people, and we certainly enjoy writing, otherwise we’d stop.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself of that, particularly when things don’t go well or as I’d planned. Amanda and I decided to write. We also decided to study.  Whether or not people read, or like what we say, is honestly and truly immaterial at this point – although I do get a good chuckle when someone chooses to not only respond, but in doing so also illustrates whatever point we were writing about, with exacting precision. I can’t even bother being outraged. The irony.

This blog and website represent a small part of our lives. The blog is our hobby. Conversely, studying, researching and the real writing – not the musing you find here, but the real writing – is the passion.  Most wouldn’t know that, because it is far easier to assume that Amanda and I have nothing else to do with our lives other than wax poetic about Duran Duran. Stereotypes live long and prosper. I get it, but nothing could be further from the truth. We make the time for this hobby. For Amanda and I, it isn’t even about Duran Duran, although the band was certainly what brought us together and we obviously love the music and them as people even if we don’t always agree.  No, for us it is about fandom. Fan Studies. Fannish practices.

Duran Duran is where we find enjoyment. We go to concerts. We definitely put on meet ups and things of that nature. Those events are for fun. They give us joy. We write about Duran Duran here. We celebrate being fans.

Studying fandom though – that is our gig. We want to know and learn why we fans do the things we do. The fascinating thing is that in our particularly fandom – we don’t operate or behave in the same ways that other fandoms might. After years of studying and researching, we think we’ve finally hit on why that might be, so we decided to write a paper, and a proposal to present it at the Pop Culture Association International Conference.  We wanted feedback from the academic community, which we received. Suffice to say, we weren’t wrong.

That conference wasn’t a convention of people thrown together for a weekend of drinking and hi jinx. Professors, grad students, independent scholars and authors came together to test out new theories, receive feedback and make connections. It was a time to watch other people present their hard work and hopefully allow that creative juice to flow. This was not a Duran Duran fan convention, y’all.

Yep, to many of you, that might seem incredibly dull or even a waste of time. To Amanda and I? It is what each of us studied in college. My bachelors degree is in American Studies. I spent my time taking full semester courses on subjects like “A Sense of Place”, “The Culture of Los Angeles”,  “1960’s America”, “1960s Youth Counterculture”, “Spaghetti Westerns”, “Disneyland” (Yes, a full course on Disneyland and how it represented our culture in 1955 and beyond), “Beatlemania”….not to mention several survey courses I had to take along the way. Amanda’s class topics were likely similar, but while I studied American culture, she studied the culture of women in society.  We like studying groups of people and learning why they act, react, and interact the way they do—and how all of that is influenced, or influences, society in general.

For us, the conference was right up our alley. Everyone there was just as obsessed with their field of study as we are with ours – there was someone who studied Buffy the Vampire Slayer and was presenting on that subject. She saw other presentations on topics such as the Use of Memes in the 2016 election, Pop Culture in the Classroom, Handmaid’s Tale in Fan Fiction, Beauty Bloggers on YouTube, and Social Media and activism. I can’t remember all of the subjects I saw on the schedule, but the point is that our study of the uniqueness of female fandoms was not at all out-of-place. I would have loved going, that is for sure.

Amanda and I don’t look at our research and study as a waste of time, but we also realize that it is way beyond what most Duran Duran fans are interested in. We share what we’re working on with you because after nearly eight years of blogging, some of you are personal friends and have asked us to keep you posted. She and I also find it kind of funny that a band brought us together, and here we are. So yes, we share that journey with anyone who wants to read—and apparently even some who say they don’t.

As I’ve said before, no one is making anybody read this blog. We don’t have a traffic “requirement” and we’re definitely not making money here, so if you’re offended by what we write – don’t bother. It’s really that simple.  We know we’re not for everyone, and I don’t think either of us really cares anymore.  We have fun with what we want to do. Amanda and I write what we want. We don’t compose blogs with the intention of getting high traffic to the site, and Daily Duranie is never going to be for the fans who ONLY want to fawn all day long over the sights of Simon, John, Roger, Nick and/or Dom. We’ve done a fair share of that over the years, but we also write about why and how it all happens.  Sometimes, those are hard truths to read.

In reference to yesterday’s video posted by Amanda, someone kindly asked why we felt the need to “point those things out”.  First of all, we posted the video because our readers asked us. We have friends here that have followed us from nearly day one and they were interested in hearing the final presentation.  Amanda spoke as she might to the academic audience, for the most part. She wasn’t directing it at the general public, or our regular reading audience. We didn’t expect everyone to like it, but we posted it for those who were interested. Rest assured, sometimes – we just want to go to a show and have fun, too (and we do).

Secondly, is it really such a crime to know that (most, not necessarily all) women seek validation from men? Why does that truth bother anybody? Do you wear makeup and dress nicely? Do you comb your hair in the morning? I do. I do it because it makes me feel human, but I also do it because I like hearing my husband say that I look nice. The same goes true for when I go to shows. I don’t mind looking nice, and hey – if the band looks at me and smiles or Dom holds up a sign saying hi to me (at the urging of a friend), I get as giggly about that as anyone else. It’s harmless. That said, I also realize that society has taught me, both directly and indirectly – to look and need those things. Is that a character flaw? Maybe, if I allow that validation to become more important than other relationships and people in my life.

Lastly, and most importantly – I say this at risk of offending some – we write what WE want to write. We have fun here the way we want. Just as the band writes the music they want, we’re going to do this our own way. Come along if you want, we’ll make room!

-R