Tag Archives: Fan communities

Blog Pick from 2011-2012: More on Friendships

One thing I’ve found as I’ve looked back over our blogs for the past seven years is that there were some years that Amanda and I just WROTE. We did crazy amounts of writing each day. Nothing “dialed-in”, nothing that was just fluff. 2011-2012 was that way for us, and it was very difficult to choose something that summed up the year.  We traveled to the UK in December, we hosted a meet-up In Chicago, and we had big ideas (and wide eyes) for what we wanted to do with Daily Duranie.

The theme for this post was friendship. At the time, we had hosted a couple of meet-ups that went over very well, and I was feeling more and more confident about our “place” in the Duran fan community. At the time, I felt like we were accepted and loved. Our goal quickly became one of inclusion – we wanted EVERYONE to feel included and have a good fan experience.  This post is indicative of that.

The real reason Amanda and I began Daily Duranie is simple: We wanted to be liked and accepted. Writing was our way “in”. I don’t think it ever really worked in the way we’d hoped – our circle of friends is incredibly small – but that’s fine. We’ve learned to rely on one another, and we do. Anything else is a bonus. Back then, I think we felt like we could somehow share that vision of being liked and accepted with other people who never felt like they fit in, and that’s why we had hoped to be something in the fan community that would be known for bringing people together.  That initial glimmer of vision is what is written in the words below. I smile a little bit by how naive I was at the time.

I don’t know if our overall vision has changed that much since 2011, but I think the way in which we conduct ourselves certainly has.  We still agree that our “place” in the fan community is not necessarily to report on the news, but to focus on the fan experience. I would say that writing has become less about other people and more about myself – I can’t speak for Amanda on that, though. Time and experience has changed me. Where at one time I wrote hoping to make other people happy – wanting validation and acceptance, now I write with the goal of making myself happy. It isn’t that I don’t worry about what other people think, it is that I can’t. Even so, it’s nice to take a look back and “hear” my innocent, wide-eyed point of view.  

-R

Originally posted October 26, 2011:

While I didn’t get comments here, I did see quite a few comments regarding yesterday’s blog topic on Facebook.  The overwhelming response is that the friendships we make have all the difference in our experience, and I would agree.  (obviously?!?)

The most interesting part of this fan community, and I would venture to guess it’s the same with every fan community – is the overall intensity of the bonding.  Whether we’re talking about the bonding between fans, or the bond between fan and band (although I have to point out that I’m specifically referring to the FAN…not the band…I have little doubt that for most of us, they have zero recognition, much less feel that same bonding), I’ve always felt that the fan community in general intensifies the experience as a whole.

When I first found dd.com, I was shocked as to just how black and white everything was on the message board.  You were either included or you were not.  You were either well liked, or you were not.  The same holds true today on virtually every message board I’ve visited.  Where I was completely embraced on some boards, there were others where I went completely unnoticed, or in some cases, I was even disliked.  We’ve discussed the anonymity of being online before and how for a lot of people, it somehow gives license to be as rude and cruel as they wish.  Conversely it somehow works to accentuate or emphasize friendships when they form.  Friendships are formed swiftly and strongly, and I suppose enemies are formed in virtually the same way.  The real question, and one I’m not going to try to answer in the blog today – is why that really happens.  I’ve never formed friends or enemies in real life nearly as quickly as I have online on a message board, have you?

The Daily Duranie blog has tried very hard to focus on the fan experience.  Amanda and I have always held that if you’re looking for Duran news – there are plenty of places to find it online, and we never wanted to reinvent the wheel or steal anyone’s thunder.  Our “niche”, so to speak, is the fan.  When we first began to blog, I don’t think Amanda or I really knew where the blog would head – we just wanted to find our special space in the world, for better or worse.  Over time though, we’ve seen one common thread amongst Duran fans – and that is by and large – everyone wants to feel included, find friends, and enjoy talking about this little band we’ve heard some things about.  What has amazed me over the past year is that for all the 30 some odd years the band has been together, there are still tons of people out there amongst us that just haven’t gotten that involved in the community.  I just read a post today from someone who said they never go with friends to a show and that they haven’t met anyone.  I’m here to tell you that going to a show is fantastic in and of itself, but having friends to share that with makes all the difference.  If you loved Duran before, being able to gush over the show with a friend or more is huge.  Enormous!

Of course, there are always going to be people who prefer the solo experience.  I can’t find fault with that, and I think it’s probably beyond the scope of the blog to delve too deeply into why that may be.  (my major was American Studies, not Psychology – and I sort of suspect that may have a little something more to do with this than pop culture or sociology!)  I did have one comment from someone who didn’t mind sitting alone at all, primarily because they were in the first row.  I smiled at that – because let me tell you – had I been in the front row on Friday, I think I would have been just fine with that too.  Who here would not have been?!?  Sure, I’d rather be with my friends…in the front row….but solo would work in that case.  I’d have braved it out just fine!  I suppose we all have our limits or standards.  Mine is in the front row!

What about that false sense of friendship?  Let me explain myself a bit – what about those friends who you may be at a show with that disappear after the show without a trace, and you only hear much later that they were at a large gathering where the band happened to show?  What about those friends that are friends online but when it comes to push and shove are nowhere to be seen?  They exist in real life just as well as online or in the fan community…so I don’t think it’s unique to Duran Duran…but how do they play in?  For me, I think it’s been doubly hurtful to see that I’ve been deceived.  I’ve gone from the high of a show, to the low of seeing that I’ve been completely left out, and there’s not much that annoys me more than that. I know I’m not alone.

I think that at the end of the day, everyone wants to be included and they want that fan experience, and that’s where Daily Duranie is headed.  If we can bring fans together to be friends, then that’s what we’ll do.

-R

Caught Up In Our Own Barbed Wire

I get my best ideas from Twitter, and my best thinking is done in the car. (I don’t know what that says about my driving…let’s just not go there.)

This morning I was hemming and hawing over what I was going to write about, when lo and behold our friend Heather alerted Daily Duranie to a new word, “stan”.  At first, I was pretty sure I’d never heard of the word before, but after thinking it over – in my car – I actually think it’s a case where I’ve seen the word many times without really thinking much of it. I did tell Heather that it wasn’t a word I’ve found in academic books on fan studies yet (yes, there are such things – many of them, I might add!), and that’s true, although to be fair, I have a backlog of such books going that I need to read.

So…what does it mean?

To begin with, “stan” is both a noun AND a verb. (I’m already confused, how about you?)  One can “stan” someone, and one can in fact be a “stan”.

Bet you’re still wondering about the definition. Never fear, I’ve got you covered: “stan” is a mashup of two words: stalker and fan.  Get it?

So if you’re someone who has spent time reading negative articles or reviews about Duran Duran, for instance, and you go out of your way to defend and even maybe publicly demoralize or lash out at the writer of such articles – to the extreme –  maybe you’re “stanning” someone.

Or, if you’re someone who shows up at every last appearance of the band, even private events, or whatever someone else might consider to be over the line, perhaps you’ve been called a “stan”.

It isn’t a word I’ve seen used much in Duraniverse, but judging purely from the searches I did today, it would seem that other communities out there fully embrace the term. The Swifties amongst us, for example, use it heavily.

As you might imagine, I have several thoughts on this. The first being that I hate the derogatory labels. Yeah, I know sometimes we all think someone has crossed the gates into Crazyville. It happens. I’ve done stupid things myself, and probably will again, assuming there’s another tour. (Right Amanda??)  I just feel like there’s already enough  in this world bringing us down without another label added the pile.  But then my friend Heather tells me that fans are calling other fans this name – and yet another friend of mine mentions that for some fans, they wear it as a badge of honor.

Ok, so how screwed up is that??

First of all, there are a number of studies and research out there about communities that take titles and labels such as this and turn it back on themselves, calling one another these terms, so that way they are controlling the narrative rather than someone else doing it. It’s similar to when we see women or young girls calling one another “bitch” or “ho”. (or “ho-bag”, as the case may be….) On one hand, some might (and have) said it’s a term of endearment in the same way my mom has always called my sister and I, “brat”.  On the other, if we call one another these names, it doesn’t hurt so bad if someone else does it. If we turn it into something “positive”, then when someone does use it negatively, the sting isn’t quite so sharp. We all do it. I have in fact done this. If I call myself a nerd, or crazy, when someone else says it – I’ve already taken the sting out of it, right?  There’s also the issue of internalizing the negativity, but I won’t even take a stab at that for this blog post.

Second, the self-policing we do as fans can get very out of hand. There isn’t a tour that goes by, including this last show in Zagreb, where I don’t see one fan calling out other fans for going over the line. The trouble is – where IS that line?  What does that mean? What do the boundaries look like?  It would seem we all have a different impression of what it means to behave.  While I might not be willing to run down a city block in order to catch up with Simon (or John, or Roger, or Nick…or even Dom or Simon W….or MY HUSBAND for that matter….), someone else sees no issue. While I know for sure I wouldn’t stare into a restaurant to catch a glimpse of a band member at dinner, someone else thinks it’s fine.  What about waiting in a hotel lobby? At a studio?  In the airport? In a parking garage after a show?  We are all (including myself) very good at judging, and we’re pretty harsh about the self-policing within our community.  Why do we do that?  Because if we are able to call out one another for being crazy, then maybe no one else on the outside will do it.

If I had a dime for the things I’m judged for doing on a daily basis…. I’d be writing full-time. 😀

The real deal is this: because of the fact that we’re fans, and have been so for a majority of our lives, it is very difficult to get away from that fact. I could delve a bit farther into the truths that many of us are women, and that we continue to look for validation from men.  We internalize much of the negativity that surrounds the label of “fan”, and we work far too hard to “police” our own community .  We apply scathing judgement to other people for doing things that we regard as being “over the line”. Those traits do little to help the situation. But the simple truth is that we’re all fans, and to many in this world, that immediately marks us. Permanently.

I’ve learned that once someone knows I’m a Duranie, there is precious little I can do to make them see beyond that, particularly if that person is at all connected with Duran Duran, and god help me if they discover I write Daily Duranie. That paints me with indelible “crazy fan” ink in a way that not even having it tattooed down my arm would accomplish.  Never mind that 95% of my life is spent outside of fandom, or that I’ve successfully raised children or any of the other things I know and am capable.  I am a FAN, which in turn (at least for some people) makes me a “stan”, even if only by association.

Don’t get me wrong, here. Writing Daily Duranie is a joy for me. I wouldn’t do it otherwise.  I do not, and will never, regret writing this blog. I have deep regret, however,  for the people who marginalize me and other friends I know (many of whom are far more talented or intelligent than I could ever hope to be myself), simply because it comes out that we’re Duranies, or that we have favorite band members – or favorite people altogether. That sucks, to be blunt.

What’s worse than that, in my opinion, is that we’ve somehow trained a younger generation to wear such labels as “stan” with pride. Own your fandom, but let’s stop internalizing the marginalization that goes along with it.

-R

We’re the Ripples: Friendship in Duranland

Sometimes, without any warning whatsoever, this community will make me have a good case of the “feels”.  Those of you who have teenagers will probably know what I mean. The rest of you, well…just keep reading and you’ll catch on.

A couple of days ago, I was catching up on Facebook by reading my news feed. I noticed that I’d gotten some sort of video thing posted by Facebook notifying me that Amanda and I have been friends for 9 years.  In actuality, it’s been a bit longer than that – I’ve known her since September of 2003 when I met her in person at the Friends of Mine convention in New Orleans – but the sentiment was nice, all the same. It looked like quite a few of my friends had gotten similar notifications with other people on that same day. One of them caught my eye because the other person (not my friend, but the person she was friends with) had passed away quite a few years ago.

It’s become sort of common for family members to decide to leave Facebook accounts up for people who have passed on. My friend Laurie’s family has done that, and while I make it a point NOT to visit her page (Though I’ve tried over the years, I just can’t yet. The pain is far too great.), many of my sorority sisters still visit and I know the page provides comfort to Laurie’s mom, in particular. This person’s family must have decided to do something similar. Out of curiosity, I clicked on her page because my friend had noted she met her because of Duran Duran. I found something remarkable and wonderful as a result.

This person was a Duranie and she was apparently well-known and loved, even though I myself have no recollection of her (I’m a west coast Duranie who had mostly kept to herself until this blog came about!) Over the years since her passing, many of her friends continue to visit her page, leaving photos commemorating their memories of her. It turns out that my friend had known this person for 30 years, as a result of being Duranies. The notes were sometimes poignant, sad, and yet there was definitely a silver lining to all of it.

This one band brought these people together, and to this day, this one person had given all of her friends and the people she had touched with her life a remarkable gift of something to remember her by.  Everywhere on the page there were pictures of hearts posted by her friends. Naturally occurring hearts, made from the shapes of leaves, clouds, shadows, light, and love. I had never seen friendship look quite so beautiful. Friendship that began (in many cases) over the bonding that happens when you’re fans of the same band.

I hear about that sort of thing every once in a while, but it still makes me take pause every single time. There are people, very VERY lucky people I might add, who have met people in this fandom and have been friends with them since childhood. Here we are, now in the throes of whatever “middle-age” might be, and some can still say they have childhood friends that continue to love this band and go to shows with them. It blows my mind.  I mean that. Days later and I’m still thinking about how lucky this woman was to have these kinds of friends. It’s funny because in some ways these friendships go against everything I tend to see in this community: the in-fighting, the envy, and the insipid bickering and arguing.

I don’t really know if Duran Duran really understands their impact, and I’m not just talking about musically. They brought so many of us together. I have a difficult time wrapping my head around that, much less writing words about it. These friendships go beyond what the critics said, or whether or not as kids we knew anything about music. One band brought an entire community of kids together from all across the planet, many of us are still here, and a lot of us know one another and count each other as friends and family.  That’s the real gift for fans. Sure, the music is great and will last forever, but nothing will last longer than my memories of the friendships I’ve made along the way. Not everybody gets that. Some people only have the music – and while that’s a huge, enormous thing on its own, those of us who are really entrenched in the fan community have so much more. We have friendship.  For me, those relationships are kind of the bonus silver lining in all of this, and I hope those of you reading can say the same.

I don’t really think about my own mortality much – it’s a pretty depressing thought.  I will say this though: I will consider mine a life well-lived if one day I have the kinds of friends that this Duranie had, who continue to have her memory so readily available in their minds – and their love for her so palatable that they continue to spread that love well after her passing.

It would have been easy for me to have scrolled right past that little note in my news feed that day. After all, it was none of my business – even though my friend had shared it (which is why I saw it) and in some ways I did feel like I was eavesdropping when I looked at this person’s page. That said, it touched me, and I’m glad I did. I’m still thinking about the love I saw that day. Duranies aren’t an easy bunch. We can be petty, jealous, vindictive and WAY competitive.  But sometimes, the friendships and love speak louder than anything else, and take my breath away.

-R

 

It’s a Different Storyline–Types of Fans

I have studied fandom and fans for a very long time now.  Yet, there are still some ideas that I run across that really hit me.  The other day I found a power point that was shared with me by someone who teaches an Introduction to Popular Culture class.  The idea behind the power point was that there are different types of fans.  For example, everyone is a fan to some extent as we all buy things or read things or watch things or listen to things.  We all consume and our choices of what to read, watch, listen or buy indicates that we are fans of those things.  Yet, for some, they go beyond that and become casual fans.  Still fewer become what is labeled as interested fans.  Even less become committed fans and a very small minority become hardcore fans.  How are these different types of fans defined?  They are defined through examples.  The basic fan goes to a movie and likes it.  The casual fan watches a show each week.  An interested fan looks for some information about it and buys some products.  A committed fan spends a lot of time on it, becomes part of a community of fans.  The hardcore fan’s fandom becomes part of his/her identity and s/he begins to produce new material connected to the fandom.  There is obviously a bit more to this but this is the general idea.

This, of course, gets me thinking.  I feel like I am part of or have been part of a few fandoms.  I’ll start with my oldest fandom, Chicago White Sox baseball.  I have been a fan since I was born.  It is inherited.  I would say that I go beyond basic fan in that fandom as I do watch many games.  Just casual fan then?  I do buy some products and go to games, if I can.  Then, I would go with interested fan.  About 10 years ago, I fell for the show, Roswell.  I began to hang out on message boards, read fanfic, and even attended fan gatherings.  Yet, while I felt like a hardcore fan, I definitely didn’t tie my identity to it or produce anything new.  I was pretty passive in the community.  I was one of many so I would probably say I was a committed fan.  Lately, I have been more into Star Trek and X-Files.  Like my White Sox fandom, I buy some products and watch new episodes/movies.  I don’t do much in terms of a fan community.  Thus, I would say I’m an interested fan with those, too.  So, what about my Duran Duran fandom?  Oh boy…I hesitate to even think about it.

Am I just an interested fan?  Well, I do buy products, but I buy a lot more than a few.  I also spend time looking for and at information.  I bet this description fits a lot of people reading this blog post.  Let me check the next type.  Am I a committed fan?!  Committed fans spend a lot of time on their fandom and are part of a fan community.  I think that description works for me.  I do talk to other fans on social media and in real life.  I also spend a lot of time on Duran Duran.  Again, I bet there are a lot of you who are reading this who are nodding as they can relate.  Okay, what about that hardcore fan thing?  Could I say that I fit that?!  Is my Duran Duran fandom part of my identity?  Am I productive with it?

Being a Duranie is definitely part of my identity and I might even say that it has been for a long time.  Yet, this identity part became more significant in September of 2010 when this blog started.  At that moment, I became more than just “Amanda”.  I became half of “The Daily Duranie”.  People recognized my writing by my standard “-A”.  We not only started this blog but also opened social media profiles on Facebook, Twitter, etc.  I blog EACH AND EVERYDAY.  Beyond the blog and social networking, I also helped to organize fan meet-ups and a full-blown fan convention with my partner-in-crime!  If those weren’t enough, my research and writing went beyond this blog as we focused our efforts to writing a book on fandom and planning a new book.  Therefore, I expanded beyond the Duranie label to writer, researcher, and event planner all surrounding my fandom.  Therefore, I would say I have been productive with it.  I am a VERY active member of the community in that I write about current events within the fandom AND I try to bring the community together by giving places in which discussion and face-to-face meetings can happen.  Yeah, I would say that I’m VERY productive with my fandom.

Of course, before I totally declare myself a “hardcore fan”, which sounds a little scary, I want to refer back to the original powerpoint.  I remind myself that there are not very many committed fans and there are EVEN LESS hardcore fans in any given fandom, according to the theory.  Am I really comfortable calling myself a hardcore fan?  That term doesn’t sound particularly…friendly.  It sounds like a nicer term for crazy.  Yet, it really is the only description that fits my Duran Duran fandom.  Now, in looking back through this powerpoint, I take note that there is no judgement or value placed on any of these levels.  Being a committed fan, for example, does not mean you are better than a casual fan.  It just means that you are a fan in a DIFFERENT way.  I’m okay with being just an interested fan when it comes to the White Sox or the X-Files so I guess I should be okay with being a hardcore fan for Duran Duran.  This leads to my next thought.  Assuming that I buy into the premise that there are different types of fans like this, do I also buy into the idea that there really are very few hardcore fans?  I think I do.  I think that what Rhonda and I do is rare, which is probably good for the world.  I can’t imagine the world could sustain many fans like us.

-A

We Could Change the World

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by what can be accomplished by a group of like-minded people.  As a kid, my two big likes were Duran Duran and the Chicago White Sox.  While I liked individual musical artists as a kid, there was something special with bands.  I know that I could not really analyze that as a kid beyond the fact that different band members appealed to different fans.  I now know and understand that it is WAY more than that.  As for the White Sox, I watched how the team came together to win.  I liked the camaraderie.  When there was a lot of it on the field, the games were more fun and there was a greater chance of a win.  This fascination with the power of groups did not stay behind in my childhood.  No, in fact, during my undergraduate years, the focus became social movements.  This interest combined my study of history, political science, sociology and women’s studies to give me a focus, an academic area of interest.  Now, as an adult, this strong interest remains and found a new example.  Fandom.

Fandom is all about a group of people with a shared interest who come together.  It is about a lot of people who are passionate about the same thing, whether that is a band, a sports team, an actor, a TV show, a movie, a book series, etc.  This passion creates a desire for  people to want to share their thoughts and feelings with each other.  That in and of itself is pretty super cool to me.  I think about the Duranies I know.  There are countless Duranies who live all over the world who all love the same band so much that they talk about them and participate in activities and events connected to this love.  It is amazing, really.  Yet, at times, fandom goes beyond that.  It is when members of a fandom accomplish more than just creating, maintaining or growing a community surrounding their mutual interest.  Then, fandom is able to garner attention beyond fellow fans.  The members do more.  Just recently, I have seen two very good examples of this.

First, I saw such an outpouring of grief and love about David Bowie from bands, artists, celebrities and individuals.  Yet, I also saw people who came together to not only grieve but also to celebrate him as well as seen by this video posted on Facebook.  If you read through the comments below the video, you can see how the people there felt that this was an awesome way to deal with the loss of David Bowie.  Others who weren’t there felt the same.  I know that I would have a similar desire to be with Duranies if something were to happen to one of the guys in the band.  I could not deal with the loss alone.  I would NEED to be with Rhonda, at the very least.  I would want to be around others who understand.  I would also want the rest of the world to see how much the band member was loved.  This is what fans of David Bowie did.  In case the world didn’t really get the love for Bowie by his fans, after seeing that video, it would have been crystal clear.

Sometimes, fandoms are so strong that fans are able to affect the object of the fandom’s future.  Probably, the most well-known and significant example of this is Star Trek.  The fans of Star Trek were not satisfied with the few short years that the original series was on television.  They kept the show “alive” by having conventions, writing fan fiction, and more.  Eventually, Hollywood took note and resurrected the show with movies beginning in the 1980s and more Star Trek TV shows following that.   A TV show that I am a big fan is going through something similar, which is the X-Files.  The show ran for 9 seasons and even had 2 movies get made from the show.  Yet, the franchise saw the end after the second movie in 2008, or so it was assumed.  Now, the show is coming back!  In fact, new episodes begin in a week!  Many say that this would not have happened if there weren’t fans still interested!  In fact, I would say that there are many fans still around who are VERY excited.  Some lucky ones were able to see the first episode already as seen by the video below:

These fans remind me of how many of us felt after seeing Duran Duran reunited after so long.  Would Duran Duran have reunited if there weren’t fans who were still interested in seeing the Fab Five back together?  I suspect not.

These recent examples prove to me, once again, that united groups of people can be truly amazing.  They can express emotion in a much bigger, much more significant way.  They can accomplish so much more than any one individual can.  This is the power of fandom.  It should also be the pride of fandom.

-A

“After” Fan Fiction: Once a Fan, Now Celebrity

I love reading. In fact, my other “hobby”, positioned right next to writing blog posts for this very blog, is running a street team for my friend Karen Booth, who is an author. I enjoy running the street team, although I am definitely in the learning curve of finding what works and what does not, but it’s a good challenge, and I’m also learning a lot about the world of publication. What does it really take to sell a book? How do books end up on the New York Times Bestseller List?  Like anything in life, it’s complicated…but this blog isn’t about me, so keep reading.

Time and time again here on the blog I’ve attempted to skip lightly across the waters of fan fiction. It is not an area that I’ve spent a ton of time examining, particularly because just as in other fandoms, our fan fiction seems to have gone underground. Just as some see writing a blog about a particular band to be something that I should have grown out of by now; others see fan fiction as something that psycho people do. There’s the whole “You’re writing about an actual person!” thing, coupled with the whole “You’re writing about your own fantasies, aren’t you?” question.  The funny thing is that fan fiction is  huge business in fandom these days. Pick a subject, TV show, band, video game, book series, etc…and there are entire websites devoted to such delights. To many people in the academic world, fan fiction IS fandom. Any literary agent with half a brain would likely be staking out such places to find the “next best thing”.  My point? Many will scoff at fan fiction, point and call names; but you can’t really deny the marketability if you’ve spent any time at all looking into the subject.

A friend of mine tagged an article for me that ran on Billboard.com about Anna Todd. She is a One Direction fan who has written fan fiction in a series called After. It’s gotten a staggering amount views and follows (something like a billion reads??), and earned Todd both book and screenplay deals. The fiction is based on Harry Styles (whose name has obviously now been changed in the books. Legalities, you know.) and a few of his buddies.  They are marketed as New Adult fiction, with plenty of sex scenes (in fact Simon and Schuster asked Todd to include more for publication), and are large books at about 550 pages. Todd went from fan to published author in the blink of an eye, so it may seem.

To hear Anna’s story, it might sound remarkably familiar, if we erase the part about being offered a $500,000 book deal and screenplay, of course.  She liked reading, found that she enjoyed One Direction, stumbled onto a fan fiction website (iPhone app Wattpad) where she spent her time reading (amongst sending out resumes and looking for a job). One day nothing was being updated and she decided to write her own story. Something about that story resonated with someone, who told her friends, and so on and so on. A billion reads later and she’s got her OWN fandom. She spends her time writing, responding to her own fans, creating her own community.  Her participation in 1D fandom has really become participating in her own fandom at this point.  And result? A very vocal (and not quite so small “minority) of fans hate her.

Here’s the thing, not all fans want to see great things happen to other fans. It’s a fact of life. Jealousy easily flows and divides. 1D fans who originally liked her story now swear they hated it from day one. As Anna Todd has evolved from fan to celebrity, a certain faction within the One Direction community that once supported has turned against her. They don’t believe she was ever truly a fan and argue that she’s simply using the band’s success in order to cash in.

Todd herself claims that she was never, “psychotic obsessed with One Direction”. As someone who studies fandom, I find this particular characterization and description interesting. There’s always this need to equate the sort of passion that fans exhibit with crazy behavior; as though since 1D fans question the validity of her fandom, they are crazy.  It is a mechanism designed to dismiss their concerns, whether valid or otherwise, one we see used in fandom debates over and over again.

Fans particularly do not appreciate the “bad boy” characterization Todd has given to Styles, even though at this point Harry was simply the beginning “muse”. The character in the book is now named “Hardin”, and all other band member names and/or likenesses have been changed.  This is something that I’ve seen mentioned across all fandoms with regard to fan fiction. Fellow writers and readers forget that this is fan fiction. The band, the subject of interest, etc, are used purely as muses. They are starting “platforms” and those characters are typically expanded to be something quite different than how they began. Besides, who is to really know what Styles or any other band member is really like? This type of argument, over what is or is not “canon”, is common. I can only imagine what Twilight fans must have said regarding 50 Shades…

Jealousy flows readily within even our own fan community when stories of success are told. Rumors fly. Some may be valid, others couldn’t be farther from the truth. The bottom line is that it’s all fine and good until somebody gets an extra hug from LeBon and Co…and we’re in our forties at this point. The demographic of One Direction fans is decidedly younger, in more of the teen-range. Oh, the drama!

I have no way of determining whether Anna Todd is in fact a real fan or someone with enough marketing genius to see that if she could get her stories read, followed and supported by the legion of 1D fans out there, she’d have half a shot of getting a book deal. In the end, I really doubt it matters much. Someone commented to me earlier on Facebook, “Too bad the subject of our fanfic probably wouldn’t garner quite that many readers!“, and that’s really the truth, as much as I dislike admitting it. That’s really more than half of the equation here. It might not even be that her writing or the story is that compelling – it’s that she got it read by a billion people before it ever became a printed publication. In the short time that I’ve dabbled amongst street teams and have witnessed the victories and defeats of fiction authors, talent rarely has anything to do with getting published. It’s who you know, who saw your work, and in the case of Anna Todd…building a community of people willing to support you.  Billboard characterizes Todd as a lifelong fan. Perhaps a fan of many things, although we all know that One Direction has not been around quite that long. Anna Todd has gotten a billion people to read her work. How many of us can say that?

Fan or marketing genius….we may never really know.

-R