Something You Should Know Review

The other day, as part of our Today in Duran History, we mentioned the fan documentary, Something You Should Know.  We didn’t have many comments on that and I wasn’t sure if that was because people didn’t want to say what they thought about it or because that they hadn’t seen it.  No matter the reason, I thought it might be useful to put my two cents about it out there.  To give some background, this documentary began when the original five reunited and was filmed through that 2003 reunion tour period through the first leg of the Astronaut tour, from what I can tell.  Here’s the trailer that is available on youtube: 

Obviously, the goal was to tell the fans’ story.  So, in my opinion, did it?  Well, I have watched this a few times now (purchased it on Amazon, by the way) and watched it again last night with some friends.  These friends are not Duranies but I did meet them through another fandom so they definitely understand what it is like to be fans.  Did they think this told the story of Duranies?

I had such hopes for this.  I really did.  I wanted something to show people so that they could understand me and my fandom.  Perhaps, that’s why Rhonda and I are writing our book.  Unfortunately, I don’t think this did that.  The film maker attempted to tell the story of Duranies by interviewing a number of different Duranies in the beginning to get a flavor for the fandom.  Okay.  Then, celebrities who are also fans are interviewed to add to this flavor until a few select fans are focused upon.  I understand why he chose to focus on a handful of fans and allowed them to tell their story.  He simply couldn’t include everyone’s story in the course of a short film.  Thus, he had to limit it.  I understand this.  Did he choose a good cross section of fans?  I don’t think so and I am not saying that because I have anything against any of them.  He basically chose two fans who are serious collectors (and I definitely respect and admire their collections), a group of fans who traveled to shows together and a longtime fan with a unique collection of her own, including items that the band had one time touched.  Based on this information, can you relate to any of these fans?  Do these fans represent the fandom?  Yes, I think there are many people who collect things related to Duran.  While I like to think that I have a decent collection, I don’t have nearly what these collectors do and I don’t focus on this element of fandom as much as they do.  I also have to admit that I don’t have anything that the band has touched except for one sharpie that John Taylor used to sign an autograph for me.  I wouldn’t want anything except for things related to the music like a drumstick or a guitar pick.  I wouldn’t need or want a used towel, for example.  Thus, the only people I could relate to were the UK fans who had been traveling together to see the shows.  I get that.  That said, I think that there are a lot of fans who weren’t represented at all by these fans.  What about the fans who spend a lot of time on message boards or social networking sites?  What about the fans who write fanfiction or create avatars and banners to be used online?  What about the fans who just buy the albums and go to shows in their hometowns?  Fandom, to me, isn’t just collecting and going to shows.  On top of that, these fans seemed to be at the most extreme with their elements of fandom.  While some people travel, most people don’t/can’t go to all the shows on a tour.  While a lot of people collect things, most people don’t have storage units full of posters and other memorabilia. 

I’m bothered with leaving out all sorts of fans and I’m bothered with showing only the extremes.  The extremes aren’t easily understood by people outside of fandom and might not be understood by people within the fandom!  My goodness, fans are already not understood by the masses.  Showing only the extremes will make this lack of understanding worse.  It may increase the stigmas that already exist for fans.  People would see this and think that fandom is about obsession.  People wouldn’t see it and understand that fans are really able to balance a “real life” existence with their fandom.  They wouldn’t really even understand why people participate in fandom.  Do they like to participate in fandom just for the chase of the next item in the collection or the next show?  I like to think it is much, much, much more than that.  In fact, Rhonda and I hope that we do a much better job of this in our book.  Of course, someone might say that the audience for the film was supposed to be Duranies.  Okay.  Still, then, I have to wonder why more types of fans weren’t represented then?  Besides, not showing fans who don’t collect or travel to shows, the fans weren’t all that diverse.  The main focus was on these US and UK fans.  Yet, the film is presented as a means of telling the story of a global group of fans.  How is that global?  If it wasn’t going to be global, then, that should have been made clear.  Yes, there were a few people interviewed who weren’t from the UK or the US but not very many at all.  This lack of representation is really strange to me considering that I remember filling out a survey online about my fandom for this project.  I remember that some of the questions were about when I became a fan, how many shows I have gone to and more.  I’m willing to bet that fans all around the world answered that.  What happened to that information?

Another thing that I found strange was how the celebrities were giving more of an explanation about being a fan than the fans were.  I thought it was cool that the film maker was able to talk to so many famous people who liked Duran but do they really tell the story of Duranies?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  Maybe there needed to be a greater connection.  Nonetheless, they seemed to tell more about their experiences at becoming fans and why than the fans really did.  This seemed like such a lost opportunity to me.

I really thought that this film had potential and there are moments that seem to work but I don’t think it does what it set out to do.  After we finished watching it, I asked my friends what they thought.  Their response, in a nutshell, “Was the point to show the most extreme fans?”  I asked if they thought it showed Duranies’ story well?  They did not think so.  These people, again, understand fandom and they didn’t think it did a good job.  Clearly, I don’t plan on showing it to non-fans.  I would be too worried that they would think I was every stereotype of a fan out there.  How unfortunate.

-A

9 thoughts on “Something You Should Know Review”

  1. I was disappointed too when i saw it. I loaned it to a non-fan coworker of mine, and she didnt get it. I was trying t let her see that i'm not even that crazy of a fan in the scope of things. Its too bad they didnt have a better cross section, like you said. Oh well! Maybe someone else will come out with something at some point. Look forward to you book!!

  2. Totally agree. I was very disappointed by the film. It was cool seeing Durandy's collection and the girls who go to all the shows they can together, but I think in the end that it does a disservice to the vast majority of fans. We are not all that intense. Nothing wrong with it for those who are – more power to them – but I think it failed in telling the whole story. It was more like the first (though perhaps it should be the last) chapter of a fan story.

    I'm looking forward to yours and Rhonda's book; if it's as well-rounded as your blog it's going to show all the different levels and tell as many stories as possible… and that's so important to our collective story. ~Betsi

  3. I am Pat-Ric of the band Vader Vader and I was featured in this movie: I was the lad with the collection of shirts. I was so lucky and so thankful that I was chosen to be a part of this great movie! It was a wonderrful experience and I will forever be thanful to M and Duran Duran for letting me be a part of this documentary.
    Also, if you would like to hear some of my band's muzik, visit myspace.com/vadervader. Have A Day :l

  4. I'm not surprised that your co-worker didn't get it, Lori. I don't think that a lot of non-fans would get it.

    Aww…Betsi, you are so sweet. We try to be well-rounded. The goal of our book is to really explain fandom–why people join, the good and bad with it and why people stay. Fans should relate and non-fans should get it, we hope!

    -A

  5. Hi Pat-Ric! You had an awesome collection of t-shirts! I would love to have some of them!!! At the end of the documentary, it indicated that you were now a consultant on t-shirts. Is that still the case? If so, what is it like? We will definitely check out the music!

    -A

  6. I just wanted to add that our problems with the film weren't that one person was included while someone else was not. No, we weren't angry that WE weren't included. (in fact, Daily Duranie wasn't even around at that point.) The problem is simply that the angle that the director chose to take was to focus on a few “extreme” fans – and they might not have been presented as positively as I think they could have been in order to “tell our story”.

    For the record, I don't have any problem with “extreme” fans. I don't really care that someone has a hot dog that Andy Taylor took a bite out of in their freezer at home, for example. I won't lie – it's not something that I would do or have done, but whatever. I don't judge. I also don't collect posters to NEAR the degree that Durandy does. I think it's pretty extraordinary that he has learned so much about being an archivist in order to properly preserve and care for those posters. It's more than I do for my posters, that is for sure – but I don't judge him negatively. Of course not! I write a BLOG. Every. Single. Day. So yes, we're extreme as well. That isn't the point. The point is that the film is billed (or was billed I should say) as being our story, and I just don't think that is what came across. The vast majority of Duran Duran fans are only “extreme” because they've been fans for 30 years – and most of us aren't celebrities like Kelly Ripa. We're normal everyday people with a real story to tell. It's a shame that wasn't the focus, because I think that story was not only worth telling – it would have actually sold more DVD's in the long run.

    Also, I want to make clear that our book really isn't the story of being a Duranie. (although that would be a fantastic book I'm sure!) Our book is about fandom in general, but we use the Duran Duran fan community as a bit of a case study. We are hoping the book will be of interest to fans because it does talk about our own fan community, but also to students that study fandoms, and other people in general. We do have future book ideas though that we hope to start as this one finishes though, including a sort of oral history project. – R

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We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

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