I have sent this playlist to them already in order for them to familiarize themselves to the songs. How did they react to this list of songs? Before they looked at the list, my eldest niece asked in all seriousness, “Aunt Mandy, are all these songs Duran Duran songs?” This question wasn’t asked in a super excited voice, either. Oh boy. I explained that there were some Duran songs on there but it wasn’t completely Duran. Clearly, I have work to do. Yet, I’m surprised by this resistance from her since, for example, she has been enjoying bands like The Killers. Officially, one of their influences was a little band known as Duran Duran. Anyway, is this a matter of rebellion, on her part? Does she not like Duran because I DO?! I always assumed that I would be the cool aunt. Is that not the case? I’m obviously hoping that making a playlist with a variety of songs and artists might help her find her way to Duran or some other artist that is cool or decent. What happens, though, if she or my younger niece choose something else, something not that cool, to be a fan of?
This idea makes me think of one of my students this past year. This particular student is a sweet, now 7th grader, who was the only girl in a class of boys. After talking with her some, I not only learned about her very loved doggy but I learned that she was a fan of One Direction. This wasn’t hard to figure out as she started wearing t-shirts and bracelets, openly showing her fandom status. This was a new experience for me as a teacher, believe it or not. I have had students who have been fans of other musical artists but most of them were interested in solo artists like Chris Brown or Justin Bieber. I found that I couldn’t relate to those kids at all. What is it like to be a fan of a single artist? I would get it more if they were fans of an actor because even actors have to have other actors to bounce off in TV shows or movies. They are not islands like solo singers seem to be.
After realizing that this student of mine was a fan of a band, I began to ask questions. Who are they? How many members? Where are they from? Have you seen them in concert? Do you have a favorite member? What are the band members like? As I asked all of these questions over the course of the year, I found myself floating back to my own youth and when I answered similar questions about Duran Duran. As the conversations continued, I began to include some information about Duran. I even showed her some pictures and talked about what being a fan was like for me as a kid. Finally, a few weeks ago, she turned to me and asked, “Why are you encouraging me to be a One Direction fan?” I didn’t have an immediate response. Yet, the answer was obvious. Being a fan is good, in general, or so I think. Fandom is fun or it can be. Plus, if I rejected her experiences with One Direction because I don’t like their music, isn’t that the same as what people did to me about Duran? I won’t do that. I, instead, want her to feel that being a fan is good, fun and NORMAL. I wanted her to see that even adults and responsible adults could be fans.
This is when it hits me about my nieces. I don’t know that it matters what they choose to be fans of. If they do choose to be fans of something, I just know that I want to support that. My sister and brother-in-law aren’t the biggest fans in the family so it may not happen but my brother, sister-in-law and I could influence them to be fans of something. Then, once they are fans, I will back up them up 100%. After all, I know that I could have appreciated more support than what I had as a young Duranie in the 1980s. Long live fandom in all generations.
On a different note, Rhonda and I wish all fathers out there a very Happy Father’s Day!