Tag Archives: fan conventions

What does Fandom Really Mean to Me, Eight Years Later

I’ve been pondering a question someone asked on Twitter yesterday.    Many of us have actively participated in this fandom for decades now, and he wanted to know our favorite moment.

My own response was easy: the convention I attended in New Orleans back in 2004. I loved every minute of that weekend. It was the first time I’d ever felt completely included in a group.  The fact that I’d gone to very few shows, or that I’d never shared breathing space with John or Roger didn’t matter.  Even though it was my first convention, or that I wasn’t a huge Warren-fan, no one cared. We celebrated the fact that we were all fans, and that the original lineup was together. So many of us relished that for the first time in our adult lives, we felt like we had “people”.

Cognitively, I recognize that I’m supposed to feel like my husband,  “completes” me. I feel just the tiniest bit guilty because that’s just not how it went for me. It was this fan community that completed me. Not my husband, not the band, but the community. The people I met. Friends. Those who shared in my journey. I felt right, for the very first time. If I could bottle that weekend, or my feelings about that weekend, I would.

Many other people responded with their own favorites, more often than not, they included the band in one way or another. Some cited a specific show, others mentioned a time they met one or more of them. Any fan gets those same gushy-feelings when they think about meeting a band member. I just don’t consider those moments as favorites.  I’m trying to understand what make me so different.

What does “fandom” really mean?

It is a question I think about a lot, probably more than I need, but I’m weird that way. I mean, if I tweeted that question right now, I’m sure I’d get plenty of answers ranging from it meaning the same thing as being a fan, or the “thing” we are a fan of.  None of that would be wrong. But what does “fandom” really mean to me?

I’ve met the band in passing, sure. I care about each of those guys very much, just like any other fan. I was thrilled when I met them, too. But for me, the idea of “fandom” is so much deeper than Simon, John, Roger, Nick…Andy, Warren or even Dom. (Sorry guys) I mean, the music brought me here, sure. But when I think about the word fandom, it goes beyond the music. Fandom, for me, is about the people, or the community. I spent a lot of time thinking about that yesterday, and even this morning.  What does “fandom” really mean to me?

That doesn’t mean everyone else who gleefully responded with tales of their meeting Simon or Nick were wrong, either. There’s no right or wrong. Fandom means different things to different people, nothing about that is wrong.

I’ll go one further: I sometimes wish my feelings about fandom stopped with just the band. My “relationship”, so to speak, with the band is simple. They write and perform the songs. I buy the records and concert tickets. We smile and say “Hi, how are you doing?” every few years. It is remarkably easy, transactional on many levels, and simple.

The relationship I have with the fan community is incredibly complicated. This blog hasn’t made the situation less entangled or messy. Even prior to blogging and upsetting people with my written words. I have never been one of those people that everybody loves. I’ve come to realize and accept that about myself, and while I wish it were different – I’ve also learned just to keep to myself for the most part. Popularity isn’t necessarily something I’ve needed in order to survive. All that in mind, I have a small circle of friends who know exactly who I am, and like me anyway. Those people came into my life because I was a Duran Duran fan, and stay because they are obviously as nuts as I am.

It would be far easier if I only worried about finding the band after the shows, getting photos and not bothering with making friends or being an active participant in the community. I just don’t think I’d be happy that way. I think I’d have already gotten bored with the process, to be honest. There’s something to be said for writing a blog for eight years, even if I have managed to make nearly everyone mad at me for something I’ve said at least once. (Then again, in and of itself, even that is an accomplishment!)

I think I’m using this question as a way to put my thoughts of the past eight years on a slow-simmer as I go about my business. As of September 13, Amanda and I will be entering our ninth year of this gig. This time of year always makes me a little introspective. Even our friendship has changed during the time we’ve written. We used to speak at least weekly if not daily, via text and email. Nowadays, it goes weeks, if not months. We’re both busy and I’m 99% to blame. She called me last, and I have yet to call her back. Not because I haven’t wanted, but because I haven’t had time or been alone long enough to really talk. I long for days when life returns to normal, but what if “normal” has changed? Everything is different and I haven’t even moved yet!

I avoid people when I feel out of sorts. For someone who loves to talk, I’ve kind of stopped.  I’ve held on to some things tightly, like music, memories, and things like that. Duran Duran’s music is a constant, and the fandom has kept me feeling rooted, even when I’ve felt unsettled.

-R

But It’s Much Harder to Stay

Today marked the end of a quiet, relaxing weekend with some of my favorite people.  I “met” these friends who came out for the weekend in 2002.  Yet, we had talked for years before meeting face to face.  Fandom brought us together as we all loved the show, Roswell, and found ourselves chatting on various message boards before arranging to meet in person.  Those first meet-ups were both a little scary but also a ton of fun.  We found ourselves watching and re-watching favorite scenes and discussing all aspects of the show.  The show, unfortunately, didn’t last beyond the three years.  Despite that, we still have plenty to talk about, including fandom in general.

While a TV show fandom brought us together, all of us have participated in other fandoms.  My friend, Kate, for instance, loves the band, Hanson.  Robyn loves to go see live music but also traveled for other TV show conventions.  Therefore, it is pretty common that our discussions lead us back to talking about current and former fandoms.  Through the discussion, I began to wonder if certain fandoms are easier to belong to than others or easier to stay in, especially in light of some recent blogs that Rhonda wrote about various fan conventions.

Fandoms surrounding TV shows, movies, books, etc. definitely seem easier to belong to for a variety of reasons.  First, anyone can join the fandom and participate in a big chunk of fan activities.  Everyone can turn in to watch the latest episode on TV, right?  Money doesn’t factor much unless the show is on cable or through some other subscription service like Netflix.  Second, after an episode, fans can and do rush to the internet to discuss all aspects of what they saw.  Fans can all participate in the same time unlike some music fan activities like going to a concert in which only some fans can attend.  Third, fandoms surrounding a fictional story easily allows for fan fiction.  Fan writers can take what they read or watch and expand the story in some way.  Again, money does not matter.  It does not separate fans from other fans.

Music fandom is different.  While there are some shared experiences like hearing an album on release day or watching a brand new video, most of the rest of fan activities are not ones that all fans can and do attend.  Concerts only featured a small percentage of fans at any given time.  The ability to go to fan events like concerts are often dependent on one’s financial ability.  While, yes, all fans of a certain band can tune in when that band is featured on TV, not all fans can afford all concerts and certainly not all in the front row.  Likewise, fan fiction is much less likely in music fandom as there is no fictional story to expand.  There is just the history of the band and real people as opposed to characters who have been created.

All that being said, there are some other factors.  TV shows, movies and books often have a smaller life cycle.  It is a big deal when a TV show, for example, lasts ten years.  For Duran Duran fans, the band has been going for almost 4 decades.  The limited time of existence could make those kind of fandoms tough.  How do fans keep the passion alive when there is nothing new to talk about or get excited about?

At the same time, there is additional factor of the celebrities.  The chance to meet a rock star, for example, is limited.  Sometimes, fans can meet the rock star of choice through concert meet and greets or through CD signings.  Perhaps, one can have a brief encounter at the stage door after a show.  If music fans want a picture or an autograph, they either have to hope for some magical luck at finding the celebrity of choice before or after a show or they have to hope for an official signing.  Music fandoms generally don’t have fan conventions like TV shows, movies and books have.  Rock stars are not appearing at some weekend convention where fans can buy autographs or buy a photo with the star.

Music fans must rely more on money and luck in order to have any chance for interaction with their celebrities of choice.  TV show/Movie/Book fans have a greater chance at being able to have access at fan conventions.  Often times, those conventions happen in between projects, too, for actors and actresses.  This could help to keep fandom alive, too, as there might be less down time.

What I now wonder if there isn’t a way to combine elements of both types of fantoms in order to keep fans happy and to keep fandom alive.  As more of a music fan, for example, I would really like more chances to meet my favorite band members without having to have luck or a chance to meet them after a show.  Perhaps, if more fans had that opportunity then there would be less competition, making fandom a happier place.

-A

The Lasting First Impression

In the last few weeks, I have been analyzing why fans want to go to conventions.  I have talked about everything from the escape from reality that they provide to providing the chance to meet and connect with other fans.  Last week, I focused on how having celebrities attending can also increase people’s interest and attendance at conventions.  After all, we all know why fans would want to meet their idols or celebrities that they like and admire.  It is no secret that most fans covet pictures with their idols and autographs of them.  Also, I think we all know what having positive experiences mean for fans and for their fandom.  In my experience, meeting someone you look up to and having a positive interaction is super special.  Since fandom is about something and/or someone you are passionate about, that passion can be reinforced and increased if meeting an idol or idols is positive.  It is a high like no other resulting often in *squeeing* internally and/or externally, smiling for days and non-stop talking about it!  Thus, we all know why fans want to meet to celebrities and how it makes them (us) feel!  Yet, how does it benefit celebrities to meet fans?  After all, many of us don’t get to meet Duran Duran and we still remain fans.  I know that I won’t get a chance to meet all of the celebrities I admire and that won’t cause me to stop admiring them.  So, really, why should celebrities show up at conventions or do meet and greets?  They won’t lose fans if they don’t, so why should they bother?

I have been thinking about this question a lot lately.  What benefits do meeting fans give bands and other celebrities?  I already know a number of you are thinking things like, “They should want to meet their fans.  Fans are who put them where they are today.  They should do it to show their appreciation.”  While that may be true, that is still answering the question from a FAN’S point of view.  I am asking the question from a BAND’S point of view.  How does it really benefit THEM to meet fans?  How?  I guess one reason is because it could feel good to show that appreciation.  Sure.  I could see that.  Yes, I’m sure it is also a huge ego stroke after meeting people who think you are wonderful.  Obviously, events like conventions, pay celebrities to be there.  Yet, I can’t imagine that the money is THAT good that it would be worth having to sign autographs all day or smile in pictures with people who are strangers without there being more to it.

I ask again.  How does meeting fans benefit celebrities?  Here is what I came up with but still feel like I’m missing some big, important ideas that I’m hoping others can help fill in.

*Feels good to give back to fans

*Ego stroke

*Payment if it an appearance at an event

*Possibility for good press with the media

*Solidified fanbase who are more dedicated as evidenced by them buying more products, spreading good word to other fans and to non-fans which can even increase fan base.

*Increased loyalty with fans.  Fans who have had a good experience with someone are more likely, I believe, to be forgiving if the celebrity does something “wrong” or something that fans don’t like.  They are not as quick to leave the fandom.

What else am I missing?  It seems to me that the real focus is solidifying the fan base that is already there for a celebrity.  While I believe it has the potential to increase fans, it doesn’t do that in a super big way.  Does it really just benefit those stars who have seen better days and are just hoping to stay where they are?  Does it benefit the up and coming stars who need those positive stories out in the media?  Does it benefit celebrities much at all?  If so, how??  What do you think????

-A

It’s Loaded with Fame: Conventions and Celebrities

People go to conventions to connect with other fans, to participate in activities not readily available in daily lives and to escape reality.  Another very significant reason that people go to conventions is for the celebrities.  Many conventions, most conventions, have celebrity or “special” guests.  Some conventions might have just one or two special guests and others have many.  Typically, these celebrities interact with the fans in a variety of ways, including participating in panels or question and answer sessions in which fans can ask questions, holding autographs sessions in which fans can get an autograph and/or holding a photo opps session in which fans can get pictures with the celebrity(s) of choice.

In my experience, people do seem to like going to conventions to meet and see celebrities.  At the Wizard World convention I went to in Chicago, in August, a lot of people I talk with came to meet one or two of the celebrity guests.  Some people came back year after year to see the same celebrity.  Sometimes, the bigger name celebrities had very long lines to get autographs and pictures.  The lesser known celebrities still had people who were interested in getting pictures or even just an opportunity to exchange a few words.  Yet, it did seem that anyone interested in a particular celebrity could get to that celebrity eventually, especially if the fan had the time and the money for one of these extras.  Of course, many of these celebrity focused activities have specific times.  For example, if you wanted a picture of person X, you had to get it done between 1 and 2 pm.  Thus, people scheduled their convention activities even around the celebrities.

I wonder how important these celebrity appearances are to the fans attending a convention.  Do they get people in the door?  Do they get people to pay the money for a ticket?  Would people go if there is just one celebrity or one celebrity who people really cared about?  Is it the fact that there might be many celebrities at a convention that you like?  Does it matter which type of fan activity is possible–meaning that getting an autograph might be more important to some than a question and answer session or vice versa?  In many cases, autographs and photos are extras.  They do not come with the ticket.  You pay for each autograph and each picture.  In some cases, you might pay to attend a panel.  Would those additional costs matter?  Would it matter how MUCH those extras were?

Seriously, I would love to know.  Would you be more likely to go to a convention if there was a celebrity you liked?  What about many celebrities?  Would you want panels/Q&A sessions, autograph sessions and/or photo sessions with the celebrities?  Would you be willing to pay extra for those sessions?  How much for a celebrity you love, love, love (like a member of Duran Duran!)?  How much for a celebrity you like a lot?  Would you go to a convention if there weren’t celebrities there?

-A