Yesterday’s winner: Picture J
A couple of weeks ago, my friend, Kitty, posted, on Facebook, the youtube to link to the full 1970 documentary on Groupies. I didn’t have time to watch it at the time, but did save it to watch later. After all, our book does discuss groupies, to some extent. I will go so far as to say that this is one term that fans, especially female fans, get labeled. There are a lot of definitions of the term out there and, for most people, fans and non-fans alike, the term is not necessarily one that is positive. Often, when non-fans say it to fans it is said as judgement, as criticism, as insult. Of course, I have also heard it said or written about fans from other fans. Now, of course, there is a long history behind the term and one that has been written about in a variety of sources from magazines to books to personal memoirs. So, what does this documentary show? Is there judgment given? Who is telling the story, so to speak? Is it accurate from other research I have completed? Here is the youtube clip, if you, too, want to watch it for yourself.
It seems very clear to me that the makers of this documentary did not want to have anyone except for the people directly involved to tell the story. Instead, they wanted to film, often in a real time scenarios, and just see what happened. There was no storyline or agenda. It seemed to be a let’s film and see what life was like for the groupies and the men around the groupies. Now, before I go any further, let me be clear. These groupies fit the definition of people who have sex with male musicians/rock stars. They do mention that there are male groupies, especially in San Francisco, but they are not filmed. So, how did it work to have the camera just on without a script or plan? On one hand, there was no judgement given by this method. They simply showed and allowed the people involved to see and do what they would, normally, or so we, as viewers, can assume. I like that there wasn’t an agenda to either prove that they are terribly immoral people or to prove that they are cool beyond belief. The viewers could decide that for themselves. Yet, at the same time, I wonder if there was enough information given for the random viewer. I know quite a bit as I have done plenty of research so I was able to put what I saw in context and it gave life to many of things I read about. Would others be able to follow as easily? For example, the documentary mentions the “Plaster Casters” but truly doesn’t give enough information until the end about what that was. (It was a group of women who made plaster casts out of the anatomy of male rock stars.)
Despite not having an organized flow, there were certain aspects of the groupie lifestyle that the viewer could conclude. First, it showed that “groupies” often hung out with other “groupies”. It seemed common for them to live together and spend the majority of their time together. Second, it showed that the lifestyle had both its ups and downs, its positives and negatives. On one hand, groupies might get with rock stars who have a lot of money and then can stay with them for weeks in super nice hotels and party all the time. There was a sense of superiority in women in those situations. They viewed it as a challenge to get the best rock stars and if they made it, then it felt very glamorous. It was like they were the top of a very exclusive club. On the other hand, they might also find themselves in tough spots. They might be in gross hotel rooms or apartments. It is possible for the men to abuse them or just use them. This seemed particularly problematic for underage girls, especially under the influence of drugs. There was plenty of alcohol and drug use shown as well. Underage girls also faced difficulties with parents who described them as “immoral” and “embarrassments”.
Did the documentary give enough information for the viewer to determine why someone would want to be a groupie? I’m not sure. Yes, it presented the competition aspect and even the social scene aspect. It presented the idea that they wanted to be around their heroes, their idols and they wanted to be surrounded by music. Yet, what it didn’t explain is why the sexual aspect. Certainly, there are a lot of fans who want to be around their idols and want to be around music but don’t perform any sort of sexual act. Why did they? Is that superior feeling of being in an “exclusive” situation really all that? Is the social scene and belonging that significant? I found myself asking more questions after having viewed the documentary. Perhaps, if there was more of an organized format, I would have had my questions answered.
Earlier this week, my writing partner dared to say, “Durantime sucks”. She explained that she is impatient and gave reasons why she might be more impatient this time around than previous times. Fair enough. The blog post, which if you didn’t read, you can find here focused on how her fan experience and Durantime. Yet, this post is going to focus not on how Durantime hurts me (and it does) but how it hurts Duran Duran. It seems to me that fans just aren’t talking or thinking about Duran Duran much despite many efforts, including ours to keep the conversation going on a daily basis. It feels to me that apathy is growing. I’ll give you an example from my personal life. Recently, Duran Duran posted a couple pictures of John in front of a computer screen with captions to increase our interest. Now, I don’t think it is any secret that my Duran fandom is a big part of my life. I’m half of a blog that writes EVERY SINGLE DAY. We have written a book on fandom with Duran Duran as the case study. We have planned a convention and meet ups and working on a future convention. Yet, when those pictures were posted, I found myself (ME!!!!) saying, “Yeah, whatever.” Honestly, it didn’t catch my attention or make me excited. Then, what was the result? That John did a video about his perfect album? That’s fine–no criticism there, but it just didn’t excite me or interest me, when in the past, it would have. This led me to start looking around at Duranland. If I’m finding myself apathetic, what is the rest of the fan community like?
In general, it seems to me that people just aren’t that interested right now. Conversations about Duran have dwindled. Just look at our stats. They have gone down and every time we bring up the question of why–we get the same response. “There is no news right now.” Twitter seems much, much quieter on the Duran front than it did a year ago. Of course, two years ago during the height of All You Need Is Now, twitter was filled with constant activity. I felt like I couldn’t keep up at all. Now, I don’t even feel like I need to check in much to know what is happening. What about Facebook? Well, there are always groups posting pictures and things and some people participate but it seems like a small dedicated group rather than a vast population of fans. Now, of course, you might be saying something like, “As soon as the album comes out, fans will be back.” Will they? Have they always?
Ask anyone who has been around Duranland for a long time about momentum. Long time fans will point out that Duran often doesn’t capitalize on momentum. The examples are many…from doing side projects in 1985 rather than continuing as a five piece, not touring after Liberty was released, doing an album of covers right after a comeback album, etc. The time in between albums has always been a problem since the mid 1980s. I am willing to bet that each and every time Duran has taken a long time between albums or chosen a path that doesn’t capitalize on success, they have lost fans or lost potential fans.
When I look around at the Duran fan community now, in 2014, I’m struck by the fact that the majority of us are adults with some significant responsibilities. Many of us have families that we need to worry about. Careers are screaming for our attention. We have a lot of real life worries to focus on. This makes it even easier for any or all of us to walk away. We have other things that need our time and energy.
Now, of course, people are going to point out to me that they are still on Twitter and still talking about Duran. Yes, I know that there are some. I would point out that many of us who are still around have made CONNECTIONS with other fans. Many of those connections have been made on tour or online, sure, but many of them have been made through attending meet ups and conventions. Having time to meet face-to-face solidifies any connection made online. I know that there are people I feel closer to after having met them in person. For example, there are many people I now call friends after having met during the summer of 2012 during one of our meet ups and having the chance to get to know better at the convention last year. These connections are keeping people in the community during this downtime. I would go so far as to say that they might be keeping many of us…fans. Certainly, we know that excitement is infectious. Thus, if you are around other people who are thrilled about something, it is likely that you will become that way, too. This means that those with significant connections will feed off each other once there is news and something to really be excited about. Those without connections might not even care when news happens. The band have completely slipped from those people’s minds.
Connections matter. They, especially matter, in a fandom in which the idols take a long time between projects and don’t always capitalize immediately on success.
Next week is Valentine’s Day. Normally, that is day that I dread and not for the reason you think. As a middle school teacher, Valentine’s Day is a day filled with heightened emotions and drama. Yet, this year, I have something to look forward to! I get the final results for our fun Duranie homework! That’s right, kids, you have one more week to get your list to me with your Top 25 Duran Duran songs!!!! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can get all of the details and directions on how to participate here. Basically, we will be compiling everyone’s favorite songs into a solid list of 25 based on the position of the songs in people’s lists. We have gotten many, many lists so far but I would love to get lists from every single Duranie! After all, the more lists we get, the more accurate the compiled list will be, statistically speaking!!!!
I have to say that I have found the results so incredibly fascinating. As someone who studies things like groups of people and patterns of behavior, I can’t help but be interested in the patterns I have seen or the lack of patterns. I had some predictions in my mind based on discussions we have had here or observations I have made throughout my tenure in the Duran fan community. Some of my predictions have been proven true and others…not so much! So, with a week to go, I figured it might be fun for all of you to make some predictions yourself about the results. Then, you, too, can compare your ideas with the results and with what is shared about the results.
*How many different songs do you think made it on people’s lists? (Obviously, not everyone is going to have the same songs as favorites, right? So how many different songs were named by, at least, someone?)
*Are all the albums represented?
*Which albums are represented the most? The least?
*Are the majority of songs on people’s lists hits? Were they the singles?
*How many of the songs had videos to go with them? Do the fact that they do or don’t seem to make a difference in people’s preferences?
*Are ballads more popular or are songs you can rock out to more popular?
*How many are cover songs?
*How many are b-sides?
*How many are demos that clearly should have made the album?
*How many were from the height of their popularity? Their 1990s comeback? Post reunion?
*Which songs do you assume with make the final 25? (Which songs do you think are most popular in Duranland?)
*Which songs are played live all the time?
*Which songs should be played live from the list?
Perhaps, these questions don’t interest you. What are you looking forward to finding out the most? What didn’t I think of to analyze? Ponder? Seriously, if you have predictions for any of the questions above, I would love for you to comment here so that we can all compare later. If you are anything like me, you will probably get some right and some…not so right. Either way, it is okay as this is all in fun! I can’t wait for the final results and for the predictions!!! Each time we do something like this, I learn so much about our fan community! I love it!
Speaking of learning about our fan community, if you haven’t already figured out by now, we have moved our “daily” question/poll/vote over here now. There are a number of reasons for this. First, I don’t have to count both on Facebook and twitter anymore and hope that I’m accurate in my counting. Second, it eliminates the possibility of people trying to vote “both” or first one answer and then the other. People have to choose as was intended. Lastly, people can see the current results right after they vote! I will always try to remember people on Facebook and Twitter when a new question/poll is up, but you can always look for it at the top of our home page as it will always be a “featured” blog! No worries, we will still be asking a new question each and every day. Now, if you have been following this series of questions (pictures of the band members!!!), you know that we have just completed Simon and have moved on to Roger. Lots of people sent in Roger pictures so it will take awhile to get through him. Then, we will move on to the rest. If you are interested in the order, you can read the original blog post about it here. Just like the top 25, I hope everyone keeps voting daily as the more people who vote, the more accurate the results!
Now, fellow fans, make sure you are sending us your list of your Top 25 Duran Duran songs (b-sides, covers and demos are okay but no side or solo project songs) numbered in order by next Friday, February 14th!!! You can send them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or through a private message on Facebook! It may not be the easiest of assignments but it is fun!!!
I don’t think it’s going to come as a big surprise to anyone who has read the blog…or knows me personally…that I have a bit of an issue with patience.
I like things to happen on time. I don’t like waiting, and being kept waiting is even worse. My kids know that if I ask them to do something once…they’d better get moving because if I have to ask again, trouble is coming. Nobody wants trouble, trust me.
So, when I say that I hate Durantime, it is from this vein that the emotion arises. (Yes, you probably should feel sorry for my children.) HOWEVER, I also very much believe my impatience, is substantiated in this case. I will reference a brief conversation I had with my dear blogging partner last night. I’m paraphrasing because there was a lot more being discussed than just this one thing…but you’ll get the point:
R: So I argued with someone about Durantime, because I dared to say that I think it sucks.
A: AYNIN WAS shorter. They toured (did a few dates) in Summer of 2009. It wasn’t a full tour, but we did see two dates. (Las Vegas and Costa Mesa, in case you’re wondering as you read this…) Then in December of 2010, they released All You Need is Now (single). That is 16 months from the final show that we saw (Amanda and Rhonda) to single. It has now been 17 months with virtually NO end in sight.
Let’s all take a deep, dejected sigh, shall we? Do it right now.
Go ahead and argue with Amanda about her dates. I know better (and she’s right on this one anyway). So while I would agree that this is all part of the process and they need to take their time to get it done the way they want – I’m really not asking them to rush, I swear I’m not! There IS a reason why I’m beginning to feel antsy. Even better? It’s OK that I’m starting and maybe YOU are starting to feel that way. (Although truth be told I was feeling antsy last May….but even I know when I’m being unreasonable!)
All of that aside, I’ve been thinking to myself as to why it feels so much longer this time, and for me, it really does feel like forever since we last heard great things from them, much less saw them in person at a show or even on TV. I made the comment yesterday that I don’t know how I survived before FB and Twitter… but when I think back to the years between Red Carpet Massacre and All You Need is Now, I recognize a few things:
1. I was not in love with RCM, and so for me personally, I think I was almost dreading the next album, assuming that it would be more of the same. I can remember hearing who was producing AYNIN and getting bits and pieces out of the studio, all the while wondering if I’d dislike it as much as I did RCM. I was interested, but a little worried all the same.
2. Amanda and I spent many, many hours writing the beginnings of our manuscript during that downtime between albums. We didn’t start Daily Duranie until September of 2010, so our extra time was spent writing. We were living in our own bubble of Duran, so to speak.
3. On a personal note, I had a toddler in my house back then. Duran who??
4. I never even had the smallest hope of seeing the band on Facebook or Twitter, much less tweeting to them and getting a response of any kind – vague or pointed, retweet or “I’ll answer you directly but I won’t use your name so as not to draw unneeded attention”. <insert smile here> So, it didn’t occur to me to miss what I never had.
Of course, it wasn’t long after we started the blog that John Taylor joined Twitter. He made the wait fun, as did Simon – who I’m not intentionally ignoring here, it’s just that he’d already joined Twitter many months prior (even if he didn’t use the account very regularly). Then Roger joined on Facebook and for a while, he even participated. Where IS that drummer these days, anyway?? The more I heard about the album, the more anxious I became..and of course I was excited at the possibility of seeing the band again too. I don’t honestly know when Dom joined Twitter, but I loved seeing all of them tweet. It felt like they actually wanted to talk with all of us, see what made us tick and get an overall feeling for what was going on. It made the wait fun. More importantly, it created a bridge between the fans and the band – something we’d never had before.
Naturally, we all get involved in things and can’t make our way to socialize every day. (Although I usually do… but you know, that’s part of the deal with blogging, and it’s part of my personality at this point. It’s the only way I can actually talk to my true friends, the ones I really care about…so I make the time.) I probably should spend less time on Twitter and updating FB so that I can finish the various pieces to the publishing proposals…. Maybe the band is similar in that they really have to remove themselves from the world in order to get work done…I don’t know. This blog really isn’t a statement of whether they should be on Twitter, or whether they should be engaging fans, or just sending me emails for that matter. HA! However, this post is a simple statement of my impatience, and the fact is – we all miss them, whether it is that we miss shows, new music, promotional appearances, tweets and posts, or all of the above.
If I could talk to any of them – and as is typical I must make the statement that I highly doubt any of them are actually reading my mindless drivel – but I digress. If I could actually speak to them, I’d tell them that while I know among the most asked questions is “When is the album going to be finished?” and that has to be incredibly annoying, I hope they can see that they’re actually MISSED. I know my counterpart never loved having John on Twitter because of any number of reasons that I won’t go into here. I, on the other hand, did. It wasn’t necessarily because I traded messages with the guy – he didn’t respond to me any more than anyone else, and many times I came online well after one of his much beloved “Tweet-fests” anyway and missed them…but the point was I loved just seeing a teensy snippet about THEM as people. I don’t know how to better articulate that. I know their music. I see their videos, read their interviews, etc, etc. But back when John tweeted, and even when he would occasionally post things on Instagram – it was kind of like getting a glimmer of him as a real person. That’s cool.
While my personal favorite band member hardly ever tweets these days (I’m looking directly at you, Dom.) – the one thing I do like about his tweets is that they’re rarely about music or the band. He’ll post what he’s watching on TV (Game of Thrones though? Really?? How about Sherlock?!?) or he’ll just mention that he’s out with his family doing whatever it is that they’re doing at the time. It’s not like I need or want to know when he’s going to go brush his teeth – but in some basic way it is as though we’re (collectively – the fans) communicating with him as though he’s a normal person, not just a guitar player for Duran Duran. It makes him more real.
No, I don’t really need to know when the album is going to be finished and they’ll be back on the road…I guess…but it’s also kind of nice to just be like normal people. Almost like friends, except that we’re not really going to meet for coffee or speak because there’s some weird unspoken “You’re a fan, I’m a rock star” deal. So bizarre.
I’m WAY over my allotted word count for the day (week!), so I’m going to go back to being unsatisfied and impatient, and you all can go back to whatever it is you spend your time doing each day. I’ll catch ya all on Twitter or Facebook….well, everyone ‘cept the band I suppose….hope the studio doesn’t swallow ’em whole!
(Yes Amanda, I really did use words from Come Undone to title this.)