That brings me to an awkward subject. Lately, I’ve had some discussions with friends about fandom. I might be wrong, or even overgeneralizing, but it seems to me that fandom is constantly evolving. For example, the things I loved doing as a fan at the age of twelve are at least slightly different than the things I love now. I mean, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I did stop trying to kiss my posters a couple decades back or so. If you haven’t, that’s OK. No judgment here. I’m just talking about myself, anyway. It used to be that I would stop and take extreme notice at every single thing the band did – and a lot of times, the message of whatever they were saying at the time was completely lost because I was too busy staring at them. I can remember times when I would see an appearance of theirs on TV, never once noticing that maybe Simon sang out of tune or maybe one of them seemed a little…well…under the influence. I’m not sure if that was naivety, ignorance or just the plain fact that I was too busy being excited to see them on my TV screen to notice anything else, but in my head, everything they did was wonderful and all for me. I am pretty sure all of us were that way to some extent. It was normal behavior as a young teenage fan, and it was fun.
Amanda has written about the ebb and flow of fandom here on the blog before, and I think many fans experience that as well. I know that in my mid-to-late-twenties I did as well. I was busy learning how to be a parent, and at some point during that decade of my life, I stopped being that fawning teenage fan. Now, I did regain a bit of that around the time of the reunion, but lately – and by lately I mean the past several years – I’ve seen my fandom change again. It’s not that I don’t still love the music – I do, and it’s not that I don’t like being a fan – I very much do. It’s something a lot less easy to put my finger on, but I’ll try. Keep in mind, I can really only speak of my own experience here – so what I’m sharing are my own feelings. I can’t account for those of you who feel differently, and I’m certainly not trying to tell anybody how they should feel.
There was a time when I think the entire fan base would take any and everything the band had to offer, with exuberance. Unapologetic alliance, loyalty, love and joy. The band grew very used to the fact we’d take whatever they gave us – and that “relationship” worked for a very long time. In some ways I think the band saw themselves as commodity. A product. Certainly not as people. That probably played with their heads in a major way, especially as I consider that they were barely in their 20s at the time. It seems that the band could have easily lost themselves, their own personalities, in that whole scene. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t…I really don’t know because I don’t know them on any level other than as the people I see onstage. What I do know is that transactional relationship: they provide, we take; we’re the dollar signs to their bank accounts, is a very, very odd one. Let’s face it, the trained response here is that the band knows we will take anything and everything they have to give (and still want more). It’s not as though we really know Simon or John, or Nick, or Roger…or Andy, Warren or Dom…beyond who they are or what they bring to the table as Duran Duran. (Yes, I know some of you do, but you are the rarities amongst us.) I don’t know that the band actually wants or needs to know us as much as we want or need that from them…and an important point here is that not all of us fans really do want or need to know them. Many are just satisfied with the music, and find the rest hilariously funny for wanting anything else.
Over the years though, I think that for many people, including myself, that sort of fandom changes. It was really fun at 13 to believe that everything the band did was wonderful. I would gladly lap up whatever the band threw my way, and immediately want more. Sometimes, I’m still that way…particularly when the band tours. I had a bit of a childhood resurgence over the past 13 years as I saw the band reunite, then split again. It felt good to go to shows and forget that I’m a middle-aged mom of three. The thing is, I don’t know that fandom can just stay that way permanently. At least, not for me. I can’t just sit on Twitter for an hour, tweeting questions to John Taylor every second or so, pray he answers, and when he does feel validated as a person or a fan, for example. It feels weird, as though that’s something I really should be OVER by now. I don’t know that I’m really any different from anybody else in that I would much rather have a real conversation with any one of them than deal with Twitter. I am fairly certain I’m not the only fan out there that feels that way…not by a long shot. Of course, I don’t actually expect that to ever happen, either. I’m just saying that for me, Twitter seems ridiculous and yet the absolute opposite is impossible. The thing is, I don’t know that any of them, the band that is, really want that sort of friendship with a fan. They certainly aren’t seeking that out, and they’re not wrong. The very idea that any of us as fans would hope for that as a possibility is weird, if you think about it. The boundaries are there for a reason. Once you’re a friend, you really can’t be a fan, and I would even argue that if you’re a fan that has become a friend, it probably makes it really weird to befriend other fans. The complexities are real.
I am really not sure where I sit in all this mess. It was just something that occurred to me a week back or so… that I just don’t know if I really want to spend my time chasing something or someone that doesn’t truly want to be caught. I have friends in real life who actually do want to talk with me, that value my opinion, my hard work and my friendship… and they don’t automatically assume (by decades of field training) that I want to completely consume every last portion of their being.
Let’s just consider the fact that much of the time when you tweet any last one of them in the band, it’s essentially the same response as talking to the wall at home. Think about that a bit. I think the novelty of tweeting, hoping that they’ll respond, is kind of over for me, and that is written as someone who has gotten more than one response from John Taylor. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to him, or any of them for that matter. It’s that I’m starting to feel just a little bizarre leaving comments or tweeting when it’s very clear (to me) they’re not that interested in having a two-way communication. I can’t help but think that here I am…I’m almost 43 years old, I’ve got one child ready to go off to college and another that will be following behind relatively soon…and I’m still trying to communicate with the band I followed and loved at 12. When am I going to get over it and realize that to them – I’m pretty much just a dollar sign? When I write that, I am very much aware of the fact that it’s not necessarily the band’s fault that message has been received (by me) loud and clear. It’s the nature of the beast, and I acknowledge that this fandom thing can be very strange. For all of us, fan and celeb alike. Sometimes it’s better not to think about it for too long because it can really feel creepy. Each of us decides for ourselves what works and what doesn’t, and I don’t fault anybody for liking Twitter, or even Instagram or Facebook for that matter. I did too, and in plenty of ways, I still do. I just think that generally speaking, my feelings about being a fan, or HOW I’m a fan, are changing.
As I said a week or two ago to a friend, it’s not that I don’t like the band or that I’ve stopped loving their music…or even that I’ll stop going to shows, or stop screaming for them when they come on stage. It’s finding a proper place for it all in my head and heart that makes sense for me.