Somehow we’ll find the love we can share

Tonight I’m going to a college night at my oldest daughter’s high school. She is nearly seventeen and in her junior year. College has been a hot topic in our house now for a while…and this year, my son joins in on that subject as a freshman. So, tonight going to be a big one for both of them. Our high school is hosting 151 colleges and universities for a 3 hour “fair”…and my mission is to figure out how to see as many of those colleges as possible. My daughter already has a working list of schools that she is interested in, so it’s a matter of my matching her list to the list of colleges in attendance. Many of which are not in the state, so it would be helpful to have her go and see their representatives, if for no other reason than to do some weeding out before we make plans to go on a “College Visit Tour” next summer.  My son, on the other hand, has no idea what he really wants. I take that back, he knows that if the school offers video game programming, he’s at least interested. I spend moments marveling over the excitement ahead for both of them, and conversely trying to ascertain how the years flew by so fast. In a matter of just four years, two out of my three will likely be away at school, their childhood memories left behind for safekeeping by mom. How did this happen?! I still feel like a kid myself. I mean, I still go to concerts!

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.

-R

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6 thoughts on “Somehow we’ll find the love we can share”

  1. It's kind of weird for me because I'm used to celebrities on Twitter that want that two-way communication. Many are actually looking for it. And generally, those are the only ones I want to follow. For guys like Duran Duran, though, they came to fame in a time when that wasn't expected and I think it's still a habit of old habits dying hard. They're not used to reaching out to fans, but we live in a day and age when the new Twitter celebrities are all about doing that. I don't know, I get the feeling that they still feel uncomfortable doing that – they prefer the marketing machine of one-way communication because it's all they've known for so long.

    I still consider myself a fan, but my expectations have changed, along with the way I express that fandom. My fandom evolved to suck up a variety of other fandoms, but I cut my teeth on Duran Duran.

  2. I really don't know any celebrities that want that kind of two-way thing going…I really don't, and I think it's because of exactly what you're mentioning here, Robin, because I know you get plenty of response back and forth from the folks you follow. I can imagine that helps you keep YOUR excitement as well. The people I follow are generally around my age or older, and as for the rock stars or music people – NONE of them ever respond. It's not just Duran, none of them do. They want that boundary kept as high as possible, and it has to be because it's what they're used to. They aren't used to reaching out, and they certainly aren't used to grasping onto the hands of other fans.

    I agree with you, I think Duran is very uncomfortable with the two-way street thing in many, many regards, and a lot of that is our own fault as fans because many times we act like complete savages. I've seen the reactions from other fans when people DO get a response, and it's maddening.

    I am still a fan. I'm just trying to figure out where it all goes in my head. -R

  3. Just a few thoughts… although I have been a crazy fan since the early 80's, my fandom definitely waned after Notorious. Chalk it up to a lot of things which are way to numerous to go into here. Bottom line is I wasn't too much into their current music until Astronaut. Since then I traveled a lot to see them, was lucky enough to win a Meet & Greet (back when DDM still offered them) and have basically felt just as obsessed as I did back in the 80's.

    During the last leg of the AYNIN tour I was in Pittsburgh, and first in line for the early entry when we got the cancellation notice for that show. It was a long drive back home 🙁 Then of course the rest of the tour (and my final show) was also cancelled. Funny thing, I bought tickets to the Tucson show (long story) and at the time it seemed a little overboard. In light of the cancelled shows, it turned out to be a great idea, cause it was the only time I saw them on that final leg 🙁

    Anyhow I can't even begin to describe the funk I was in after those shows were cancelled. It got me thinking such morbid thoughts… like if I can't handle a few cancelled concerts, what on earth will I do when the inevitable happens and one of the band members…. (Jeez, I can't even type it :/ But you know what I am going to say, right? Each one of us will one day meet our end )

    Anyway, JT's signing (sort of) saved the day. I travelled to NYC and did the Barnes & Noble signing. Practiced what I wanted to say to him, but it still came out as, “ErmagawdItotallyLurveDuranDuran!!!” or something like that. Not my finest moment, lol. But I also had tickets to the reading and signing later on that evening in Tribeca. This time I managed to look JT in the eye and calmly say, “Thank you John” when he signed my book. Success! Haha

    Anyway, after the Tribeca signing I went out onto the street… JT was sitting with his back to a huge picture window, signing away. He was so close. I could totally hang out and watch him and maybe catch him on his way out but… but….why? The man already signed two books for me. And for many, many other fans. I got to meet him, twice. I got to speak to him (albeit briefly) So why hang around like a crazy stalker? Yet… it was so difficult to simply see JT there, making himself available to the fans, and …. walk away. That was another down moment.

    Since then I have been thinking a lot about my fandom as well. Can I love the band from afar? Do I really need all of the concerts? Must I listen to all of the Katy Kafe's, read as many interviews as I can find, pour over Youtube for newly posted older footage or live shows? As a kid, of course we had those fantasies of one day being friends (or girlfriends!) of the band. As adults we know it ain't happening. And yet…something drives this crazy behavior, doesn't it? So I guess I've been thinking are a great concert and two hours of fun really worth all of the time and expense invested in travel? My hubby says he is okay with it but, what if he isn't, deep down? Is pursuing a childhood dream worth possibly putting stress on my marriage? Is my “real life” what I am living every day, or can concert going be considered “real life” too? Are we just chasing a fantasy? Hubby says he is okay with me going to the concerts I do attend, but the fact is if it weren't for him, I would go to SO many more, haha. But what am I searching for?

    Anyway… these are just a few thoughts I have had about my own fandom lately. Like you, I'm still a fan. Can't imagine that ever changing. But I have been thinking about… I don't even know how to put it into words. I guess the expression of fandom? And the right balance between being a fan and everyday life. And what, if anything, I expect from being a fan.

    Of course, as soon as the next tour is announced these questions will probably be thrown out the window as I plan exactly when and where I will be going :/

  4. Hugs to you because this is exactly where I'm standing. And yes, I'll be planning when the next tour comes up as well – but I do struggle with where it all should really fit in my heart, head and life….as well as whether or not I should really care if John Taylor is on Twitter again or if Roger is posting on Facebook. -R

  5. Good luck figuring it all out! It is a struggle. I can't help but wonder how many of the mixed emotions are due to my true feelings vs societal expectations. Not that I care what anyone thinks about my fandom or how I choose to go about it. But at the same time, people are encouraged to develop hobbies. Gardening, cycling, painting, etc… these are seen as personally enriching and can positively define a person. When it comes to fandoms though… well, we all know that is a different story, right? lol Even the fans who don't fit the crazy groupie profile are neither understood or widely supported outside of the fan community.

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