Tag Archives: Fan Stigma

“Terrifying and Fascinating”

I made a promise to myself to take a couple of concentrated hours every weekend to work on my fandom projects.  Last weekend, I went to a coffee shop, made myself comfortable and got to work.  I thought that being away from home helped me to stayed focused.  Unfortunately, this weekend, the weather is not cooperating.  It is April 14th.  Spring should have sprung.  Yet, here I am with a winter weather advisory that features freezing rain, ice, wind, and snow (reports vary from 2-5 inches to 6-9 depending on the temperature).  Great.  So, I’m not leaving my house.  Despite that, I’m keeping to my plan.

I decided to focus on fandom research before blogging for two reasons.  One, it is easy enough to put the blog first which often means the rest gets pushed aside.  Two, and more importantly, I had no idea what to write about.  I hoped that working on related projects might spark a topic.  Indeed, it has!

I had been searching YouTube for just the right video to showcase both Duran Duran and their fans.  Sounds easy, right?  Not really.  I still really haven’t found something perfect but I did run across this video here:

I am sure that most of you will recognize these video clips as they are clips from Sing Blue Silver.  Most notably, they are generally clips in which fans, female fans, are screaming.  While that might be interesting enough, the description of the video read, “Fascinating and terrifying. This is a video I edited of various girls going absolutely NUTS for Duran Duran. This footage was filmed between Nov 1983 and April 1984, during their massive world-wide tour. For context, this was all filmed before The Reflex single was even released in April 1984. The video for that song was filmed near the end of the tour in March 1984 at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens. I was barely a toddler at the time but I have clear-as-day memories of girls in my neighborhood having a similar, almost venomous passion for this band.”

Fascinating and terrifying?  What exactly is terrifying about this?  I’m not sure I’m following.  Then, the creator describes the passion for the band as “venomous” passion.  Venomous as in poisonous?  Hm…None of the comments on the video seemed bothered by the description but I have to admit that it doesn’t sit well with me.

Are screaming female fans terrifying?  Is there something scary about that group?  If so, what?  Do they have the capability of biting or stinging as the term venomous assumes?  Now, I admit that I definitely could have been one of those screaming fans in 1984 as my best friend and I at the time did plenty of that so maybe I’m taking it personally.  Yet, is there really something wrong with screaming for a band you like?  What about when you are a kid?  A teenager?  An adult woman?

The fact that the screamers on the clips were mostly (almost all?  All?) women and girls really makes me suspicious about the description.  Is this somehow putting down women and girls or it is really just about putting down the level of excitement?  Based on my research about fans and fandom, I’m well-aware that fans get a bad reputation of being hysterical and crazy but describing a group of fans who are mostly women as “hysterical”, “terrifying” and “venomous” seems like a step beyond that.

What do you all think?

-A

Positive Reactions to Fannish Behavior?!

I am pretty open about my Duran Duran fandom.  Sometimes, I question whether or not this is a good thing or not but most of the time, it just feels right to declare my Duranie-ness.  People I work with know that I’m a Duran Duran fan.  Friends certainly know.  Heck, even my students know.  As a student of fandom and this fandom, in particular, I’m always surprised by the reaction I get when people find this out.  I almost always prepare myself for some negative comment or an assumption that I must be a groupie (not that the person saying that really knows anything about that term).  At times, that preparation comes in handy as I know exactly how to defend against a negative stereotype.  Lately, though, I have had the opposite experience.

Right before I went on winter break, I was struggling to get through. My kids were working on intense projects, adding stress to the usual gig.  One of my assistant principals checked in on me and to ask about a particular student.  At some point during this conversation she turns to me and says, “You know when I first met you, I was pretty intimidated by you.”  This statement surprised me since she is my administrator.  She can evaluate me, not the other way around.  I know that I can be pretty serious and often spend a lot of time observing before I interact, which some may perceive as “intimidating.”  Obviously, I had no idea how to respond to that.  As I tried to figure that out, she follows it up with, “But then you appeared human to me.”  She explained after seeing my puzzled expression, “Yeah, when I found out that you follow your favorite band around, I realized that you weren’t so scary!”  Fascinating.  The only interpretation I had was that she saw that I was passionate about something and someone.  I wasn’t just about work but had other interests.  Weird.

Then, the other day at work, my trip to Vegas came up in conversation.  Did I talk about it with my colleagues?  Friends?  Not really.  No, it came up during the Gender Equity (a student organization that I advise) meeting.  In the beginning of the meeting, we always do a check in.  This time, we focused on what we did over break.  Before I could even share, the other advisor to the club and friend of mine mentioned that I went to Vegas to see Duran Duran.  One student immediately popped up with, “Can they still walk?”  Clearly, she thinks that they are older than dirt.  Smart ass kid.  What was funny is that I did not have to defend them.  Other kids jumped in to say that they weren’t that old and how they had relatives a lot older than them capable of doing a lot.  This quickly led to an apology.  Of course, I was not mad at the comment as I figured that the student just wanted to tease me, to give me a hard time.  I appreciate that as I seek any and all means to give the kids a hard time myself so I figure that I’m fair game in return!  It also makes me feel good that students feel comfortable enough with me to be able to give me a little grief.

The last situation happened last night.  As I stopped by my parents place, they talked about what they did on New Year’s Day when they went over to a neighbor to play cards.  During that time, my mom mentioned that they had been cat-sitting and why.  The neighbor’s reaction?  According to my mom, it went something like this, “Duran Duran?!  I love them.  They are great!”  Mind you.  This neighbor is probably 65 to 70 years old.  So, clearly, all generations know of Duran Duran and how great they are.  Did this person ask my parents why I would travel to see a band?  Nope.  Did they think it was weird?  Not at all.  Apparently, they were all cool about me expressing my fandom in this way.

These experiences have given me some hope that there is less stigma over being a hardcore fan.  It is either that or the end of the world is near.  In all seriousness, I love that multiple generations seem to have an appreciation for them.  It makes me think that I’m all right in being so open with my Duranie-ness.

-A

I Live for Concerts and Fandom

Sometimes, it is good for me to have a blog topic in my head ahead of actually sitting down to write.  Other times, it is good for me to be flexible, to go with the flow, to be prepared to react.  I think today is definitely more of the go with the flow kind-of-day.  Social media has pointed me in some direction about where to go or what to write about after reading an article about fandom and taking a little quiz about concerts.

Fandom Is Good for You!

That header is not one I usually read.  More likely than not, I read articles, essays and even books talking about how fandom can be problematic.  Even recently I read a book by a fan giving advice to other fans so that they don’t take their fandom too far.  I’m not even sure exactly what that means.  Don’t get obsessed?  Don’t become a stalker or a groupie?  Don’t have fandom totally take over one’s life?  I don’t have a clue.  My point is simple.  Fans and fandom are usually presented as something weird or negative.  If you are a fan, it must mean that you don’t have a life or cannot have relationships or something.  The stereotype usually means that fans spend all day, everyday at their computers or TVs and don’t move from their basements.  After all, they are so obsessed that there is no way for fans to be productive members of society.  Therefore, when I saw an article today, which you can read here, about how fandom is good for you, I had to read it!

As with any article on fandom, there is a definition of the term.  I liked how this one defined it as, “Fandoms bring people across the world together and unite them based on the things they love most — so it makes sense that they’re good for us.”  This emphasizes the community aspect of fandom.  To me, as someone who has been reading and studying fandom for years, that is key.  I could be a fan of a lot of things but I’m only a member of the fandom in which I have reached out to other fans.  For example, I’m a fans of the Killers.  I adore their music and think they put on a fabulous show.  While, yes, I know other people who like the Killers, I met them through my Duran fandom.  I didn’t seek out to find other fans of the Killers.

The article goes on to explain how fandom makes people feel less lonely.  I have always thought that.  My best friend as a kid loved Duran and I loved that we shared a love for a band together.  My best friend now and I also share a love for Duran.  I definitely feel amongst my people when I’m at a show and can recognize at least 75% of the people around me.  I feel like I’m a part of something huge, something much larger than myself.  I try to explain touring and how going to shows is so cool.  While, yes, the shows are fabulous, but it is also about seeing people who I have gotten to know over the years.  We all come together to see Duran, from, sometimes, all different directions or places.  It is an awesome experience and feeling.

My only complaint about the article is that one quote focused on youth.  Fandom, I would argue, is good for all ages!

Concert Enthusiast

If that article wasn’t enough to bring a smile to my face, I saw people sharing a Buzzfeed quiz, “This Checklist Will Determine If You’re Actually A Concert Enthusiast”.  

This little quiz is pretty easy.  All you do is read through the list and check off the ones that apply  to you.  Simple, right?  Some of the questions asked include if you have been to a concert, how many concerts you have been to, whether you have traveled to see a concert, whether or not you have crowd surfed, etc.  My results?  Here’s what it said for me:  “Geez, what haven’t you done? You practically live at concerts. Waiting outside the venue in the heat or cold is no biggie to you. Heck, you’ve probably been the very first person in line. Venue security must know exactly who you are. You have a ton of fun at concerts and can’t get enough of them. You probably have a ton of shows coming up in the near future!”

I cannot disagree with it much.  I would love to live at concerts as they are my happy place.  Yes, I have waited outside venues.  Heck, I did it just a couple of weeks ago in Oakland and San Francisco.  I’m not sure about venue security knowing me but band security… 😉  Do I have a ton of shows coming up?  I have two.  That isn’t a ton but I look forward to them all the same.

What about the rest of you?  Did you take the quiz?  What result did you get?

-A

Review: The Fangirl Life

I love summer.  It provides me the opportunity to not only work on projects that have been on my to do list but also the time to really digest them.  This spring I read the book, The Fangirl Life, by Kathleen Smith.  As I read it, I remember thinking that I would like to comment about this or that in a blog post, but never had the time to really dive into the book to do so.  Now, I can.  Before I do that, let me provide you with some background info.  The back of the book describes it as a “witty guide to putting your passions to use in your offline life.”  Basically, the idea is to use one’s fandom and passion to help with real life.  The author is indeed a therapist.

While I appreciate psychology and therapy, I didn’t pick up this book in order to fix things in my life.  It interested me as any and all books on fandom do, especially ones focused on female fans.  I wanted to see how female fans were portrayed and what I could learn about fandom through reading the book.  Not surprisingly, I found some parts of the book to be right on and other parts to be questionable.  Before I dive into the book more specifically, I do want to acknowledge that the fandoms discussed were more likely to be TV, movies, comics, etc.  Music fandom was often left out, per usual.

As the book begins, I found myself nodding in agreement about a lot of it as the author describes the fangirl stereotypes like the screaming 14 year olds at pop concerts but explains that the online communities of fans provide opportunity to form bonds with others. Right on, I thought!  The author dispels the four big myths about fangirls, in fact.  These myths include that fangirls are teenagers, they are trying to escape their boring lives, they can’t develop healthy relationships and that they spend all day on the internet.  By the time I got passed the introduction, I thought maybe this book was written exactly for me!

Chapter one focuses on the fangirl brain and how hearing/seeing what we love actually does various things in our brains to make us happy.  Cool.  She even explains the post-fandom event let down and why we can all get down, emotionally.  More cool.  Then, though, the book takes a turn to assume that many fangirls actually struggle with depression or inability to find balance between real life and fan life, etc.  The goal of the author is to have fangirls remove various dysfunctional behavior in order to be more successful in life and to be happier fans.

Okay.  I get it.  We all have crap to deal with, things to work on.  Every single person, fan or not, would benefit from trying to improve themselves.  I get that.  Yet, as someone who is well aware of the stigma surrounding fandom, I have to wonder if a book like this isn’t reinforcing many of the stereotypes.  Are fans really more mentally ill than the rest of the population?  Do we really struggle with balance?  Again, I appreciate the idea that is woven throughout the book, which is to use one’s fandom to be better, a little self-improvement, but I think the author needed to be cautious not to imply the fans are crazy.

Now, this isn’t to say that everything the author mentions reinforces stereotypes.  Some of what she discusses is how to navigate through one’s fan community, including disagreements, negative comments directed towards you, etc.  While I think that can all be well and good, I wonder that she isn’t missing something beyond the individual.  There is no analysis of sociology of fan communities.  Why do fans go after fans?  This happens all the time, which shows me that it is more than just about the individual fan.  There is something about fandom that causes this.  Fandom too often contains social hierarchies, which we have talked about a lot on this blog.  Why does this happen?  The author wants the individual to be able to deal better.  I want fandom to change so that individual fans don’t have to deal.

Overall, I thought the book was mixed.  I did get some things out of it, such as the brain functioning with things we love and the post event let down.  I recognize that the author is both a fan, which is obvious, and a therapist with the best of intention to help fellow fans be happier.  That said, I think she should have been a bit more cautious not to imply that fans are crazy and I think she needs to acknowledge the community aspect to the dysfunction that can and does happen within fan communities.

Has anyone else read this?  What did you think about it?

-A

Breaking Stigma with a Commercial

I have written about a lot of different topics over the years.  I have written about Duran Duran’s music, their career, band members, rumors, fans, fandom, and so much more.  Yet, I never thought I would write about a commercial.  That’s right.  I’m writing about a commercial, an advertisement, something to sell a product.  In this case, the product is a bank’s credit card.  If you know me at all, you know that commercials, companies, businesses, profit are not normally terms I embrace or even talk about.  Generally, I focus on people, not money.  Stay with me, though.  I promise that it will make sense.

What commercial am I talking about?  The one you can see here:  https://ispot.tv/a/wdOI.  Seriously, go watch it but know that I’m not championing the product as I have no opinion on it.  No, the focus here is the commercial itself and its message.

The focus of the advertisement is two guys who work together.  One pops into the other’s office to confirm a rumor.  This rumor, of course, is that a favorite band is playing a gig that weekend.  Without too much thought, the pair buy plane tickets, hotel rooms and concert tickets.  At the end of the commercial, you see the two enter the club, all smiles.  Of course, the premise is that this particular credit card allows them to do this.  Again, that’s fine and dandy but that’s not why this commercial makes me smile.

I relate to the entire commercial.  After all, I’m a fan of a band.  Rhonda and I have had many conversations that sound exactly like that.  We often share rumors about what the band is doing show wise with each other and then give an “official Duranie alert” when there is confirmation.  The line about “we gotta go” that is stated by one guy and repeated by the other is one that Rhonda and myself have said to each other countless times.  Seriously.

Then, the plane, the hotel, the venue all remind me of what life is like on tour.  After all, many/most of our tours feature those.  The excitement that they show from rumor confirmation to entering the venue resembles us, too.  We are that happy on tour as well.

Beyond how similar this advertisement is to my fandom, there is something bigger at work here.  Normally, when fans are shown in advertisements, they are sports fans.  In fact, when I googled to try to find this ad, I came across a lot of ads with sports fans.  Here’s an example:

I have nothing against sports fans.  Heck, I like many sports.  I get tired of the assumption that it is totally normal, or even cool to spend money on sports but not on other fandoms.  This Bank of America commercial shows that music fandom is just as cool.  We need more of that before we are able to really destroy some of the stigma around being a fan of a band.

I applaud Bank of America for this commercial.  It is nice to see an ad I can relate to and one that makes fandom a little more acceptable.  I say that the ad worked well.

-A

Must Read: Duran Duran Article

It is a quiet time in Duranland as it will be months before Duran Duran is set to play in Cancun and even longer before those festivals in South America.  No new music is on the horizon.  Fans often get anxious for any news or talking points on the band.  (Maybe, that’s just me since I want to have something to blog about!)  Luckily, an article about Duran Duran popped up that is worthy of a read and worthy of a response.  That article written by Duran Duran fan, Lyndsey Parker, and can be and should be read here.

As soon as I read it, I knew that I had to blog about it.  The premise of the article is that Duran Duran has always been a fabulous band even when the band was criticized, demeaned, and put down in the 80s.  Before I even started reading the article, I found myself nodding in agreement.  Of course, they were great!  Duh!  That said, I always appreciate anyone willing to take the time to prove that.

The article begins by stating how they had all of the ingredients of being a cool and well-respected band when the band formed.  After all, they had great influences and worked with amazing people.  Then, a John Taylor quote pops up stating that something went “wrong”.  I never heard or read that quote before and it definitely caught my attention.  Then, of course, the author explains what went wrong or why Duran didn’t get the credit they deserved.

The obvious answer has to do with the marketing to teens, especially to teen girls.  Once that happened, it seemed like every other  move the band made fed into this negative image that music journalists and critics had for the band.  Of course, this is something that Rhonda and I have discussed on here many, many times.  Be careful for what you wish for, I guess.  In this case, while looking good, having an attractive image, being willing to appear on teen magazines, etc. helped to sell a ton of albums and got the band thousands of female fans from around the world, it also meant that the band wouldn’t get the credit they deserve.  I appreciated the quote at the end of this section of the article, one in which Simon discussed how the music industry was run by men but how girls liked Duran.

I couldn’t agree more with Simon there.  The problem isn’t really that the band allowed themselves to be marketed to teen girls.  The problem is the disrespect and dismissal of females, especially young females as men assume that girls cannot determine quality music.  It seems to me to be an obvious case of sexism, which sounds weird to say when describing a male band’s career success.  Basically, I believe that if Duran had a male audience, they would have received critical acclaim.  Instead, they got treated like women and girls often are.  Thus, it isn’t that the band made a wrong career move but that society, in this case, sucks.

Then, Ms. Parker’s article explains how wrong the critics were for dismissing the band.  She didn’t dive into my sexism theory but instead proved how amazing Duran’s career has been from the very first album through the most recent.  For Duranies, her arguments weren’t new but always welcomed.  Not only does she describe the quality of their music, including the fabulous skills that each member brings to the table, but she also applauds their career moves that challenged their status quo.  She lists both side projects and even musical changes between albums.  The risks, many unnecessary, should be cheered rather than jeered, according to the article.  I have to agree.

Many long lasting bands find a formula that works for them and repeat it over and over.  Some bands that come to mind include U2 and Depeche Mode.  When a new album of theirs comes out, fans generally know what to expect.  That is not the case with Duran.  Sometimes, they hit and other times they make more of a miss and Ms. Parker isn’t afraid to point that out, either, which I appreciated.  I agree with all of that.  Duran’s risks should be praised.  They refuse to stay in a corner that is comfortable but instead choose to push themselves.  To me, that is the sign of a real artist.  Artists are willing to try something new and fail.

All in all, this article really explained a lot about why people dismissed Duran and why they shouldn’t have.  In my opinion, it is a must read article for any Duran fan but also one that non-Duran fans need to read.

-A

You Are Going to How Many Shows???

During the past week, Duran Duran’s official Twitter tweeted the following:  “ N.American Tour 2nd leg kicks off NEXT week – what show are YOU going to???”  Many people responded to the question as they did on Facebook for the same question.  As I looked through the responses, most people seemed genuinely excited to share what show(s) they are going to.  Sometimes, fans responded to each other either to share their excitement over the same show or to ask questions of each other.  I always like seeing fan excitement and I definitely like fans interacting with each other positively.

I, too, answered the question from the Daily Duranie’s Twitter and I mentioned something about my upcoming shows on my personal Facebook.  I was honest on the Daily Duranie Twitter that we are going to quite a few (Both Chicago shows, Detroit, Toronto, Paso Robles, Vegas, Irvine and Chula Vista).  I got a few reactions that made me pause.  Some of the responses included things like “8 shows!” or “I am so jealous!  I wish I could go to that many” or even, “my wallet is more realistic”.

While none of the reactions were overtly negative or mean, it did make me wonder if I should have posted anything at all.  First of all, I don’t know how to respond to someone who says that they wish they could go to as many shows.  I truly don’t.  Do I say, “I wish you could too?” or “I’m lucky that I can.”??  I wondered that people thought I was bragging, but I didn’t post my response to compare myself to anyone else.  I simply answered the question.  I wasn’t trying to make anyone feel badly.  That is the last thing I would want.  Of course, I understand the feeling that people would have about being able to do as much as we do.  Many times I have felt the same way.  There are many fans that I see do more than I do.  For example, last weekend I posted an interview with a couple of my European friends who have been able to do more than I have.  I also know plenty of UK people who are able to go to each and every show on the UK Tours.  Heck, I see plenty of people who have had official meet and greets when I never have.  Am I jealous?  I think the word that trips me up is the word ‘jealous’.  It means feeling or showing envy, which is a discontented feeling of longing.  Am I discontented or unhappy for them?  No.  I wouldn’t say that I’m unhappy for them.  Do I, at times, wish that I could do more?  That goes without saying.  I didn’t go to any shows during the spring tour here in the States.  I couldn’t.  Simple enough, but I was happy for those who did.

What is my point with this?  I think there is a wide spectrum of what fans can do when it comes to things like going to shows.  Some fans can’t or don’t want to go to as many shows as I might, for example, but there are fans who do a lot more than I do.  Does that make them bigger or better fans than me?  Absolutely not.  Am I a bigger or better fan than someone who goes to less shows?  No way.  We are all just different in terms of how we can and have expressed our fandom.  That said, I don’t want to worry about what to say when it comes to my fandom and I don’t want anyone else to worry about what to express about theirs.  Instead I chose to be excited for other people and what they can do and I will walk away from anyone who puts me or anyone else down for their expression of fandom.

As for the money aspect of touring, I have a few things to say to stop any judgement there.  Yes, we have paid for all of our tickets ourselves,  Yes, the tickets are very expensive.  Does that mean that I’m being ridiculous or irresponsible?  Absolutely not.  I work hard for my money and I have chosen to spend it on touring.  This means that I sacrifice other things.  For example, my house desperately needs new carpet and my kitchen appliances need a major overhaul. I would really like a new iPad since mine is over five years old.  Yet, all of those purchases have to wait.  Beyond how I prioritize, which everyone does, I also have not and never will use money I don’t have to go to a concert.  I pay my bills, including my monthly credit card bill completely.  Thank you very much.  Now, at some point, will I chose those household needs over touring?  That is very possible.  Others might choose to focus their money on their house or have more family obligations, which is fine.  Everyone must decide for themselves.

This all comes down to the same thing.  I don’t want to keep my fandom “secret”.  I want to be able to share how many shows I’m going to both publicly and with my friends without judgement.  I suspect that others feel the same way.  I recognize that it isn’t easy to hold back judgment.  I’m not good at it myself but I’m really trying to work on it.  It would be nice if we all work on it when it comes to something like fandom, something that is supposed to be fun.

-A

Hard-Core Fans: Give it all that we got left

Something has been catching my attention since Paper Gods was released but I kept putting those words, and the feelings that went with them, on the back burner for later.

One thing I’ve noticed in my “adulthood”, particularly when it comes to Duran Duran and their press—specifically during interviews—is that they have talking points. I’m sure most everyone reading knows what I mean: they’re these discussion points that they want to get across.

One of those talking points I’ve heard quite frequently since Paper Gods was released is specifically about their audience at shows.  At first, I noticed John mention that they’re starting to see guys in their audience, but I didn’t think much of it. Then I started hearing some of the other members mention it as well, along with the vast age range that comes to see them.  Now, I hear both of those things in every single interview they do.  Clearly, this is something they want to drive home.

Let me share the interview posted yesterday. It was done with a San Antonio, Texas news station. If you listen, you’ll hear John working the audience into one of his comments.  Gotta give the band credit, they are pros at interviewing after having done it for nearly 40 years.  They’re old hat at this by now, but of course, they should be, shouldn’t they? Here’s the link:

http://news4sanantonio.com/sa-living/duran-duran-joins-us-for-a-live-interview

Duran Duran made a point of tweeting this interview out yesterday, which is why I watched it. Truth be told, in the past several weeks,  Amanda and I have caught precious little of the news.  It’s been hit or miss for us catching the media (mostly miss), and so had they not tweeted this, I probably wouldn’t have ever seen the interview.  Once I watched though, I tweeted back to Duran Duran. I’m not one to censor my feelings,  but I’ve gotten pretty good at thinly veiled sarcasm.  My tweet to them was no exception:

“They really do put a lot of value on their broadened audience of younger people and males in these interviews. Wow.”

To my surprise, @DuranDuran liked my tweet, because of course, that’s the point they’re trying to drive like a nail into wood.  The thing is, I know I’m not the only hard-core fan out there to notice the  value they place on this newly found younger and far more male audience of theirs. Rest assured, I’m not finding fault that they want a broad audience.  That’s the name of the game.

To Duran Duran, that audience of males and of younger people, is an untapped market.  Let’s start with the men though.  They obviously want men to feel like they can come see Duran Duran and that they won’t be alone.  That’s pretty obvious in their interviews by the way they keep commenting on how many men they see coming to see them. Funny thing, my husband came with me to see Duran Duran at the Belasco last month, and he took note that he was one of very few males in line for most of the day.  When we got in the theater, while he noticed there were plenty of men (with wives in most cases, a point that I think is pretty key going forward here) standing behind him, there were relatively none in front of him in the first and second rows.

Then there’s younger people. This point is a little stickier for me.  First of all, I WAS one of those young people once.  So were many of you reading this post.  I can remember sticking up for this band to my classmates. While they were all over U2, Prince and The Police, or all over The Cure, Depeche Mode and The Smiths, there I was, telling them how they were completely missing the point with Duran Duran. I can remember taking real heat about Nick’s makeup or their frilly shirts, or how they were “way too pretty” to be taken seriously.  As I grew up, those arguments morphed into, “Aren’t you too old to still have their posters up?” and “Duran Duran? Are they even still together?”  Or even better, “You go to so many shows. Are you a groupie?” or,  “You couldn’t possibly know anything about music. You’re a GIRL.  You’re just hoping you’ve got a chance with one of them after the show.”  Ouch.

Through it all, I stuck by them.  I still stick by them.  To this very day, I put up with an enormous amount of backlash from people who don’t even KNOW me because they think that the only reason I go to see Duran Duran is because I’m hoping that one of them will somehow notice me from the stage and invite me backstage and beyond for the night.  That judgment comes from others outside the fandom, and sadly, men within the fandom.  This post isn’t about blatant sexism though—that’s another blog for another day.  My point is simply that many of those “old soccer moms” in the audience, you know, the ones who have been married to Herman the accountant for twenty years, have stuck by the band since nearly day one, and that deserves some recognition, respect, and/or value.

That doesn’t mean a grand gesture. Nobody, least of all me, is saying the band should get down on their hands and knees and thank the fans for supporting them for all these years.  That’s not the point, so anyone who is planning to send me a love note can just stop.  But, it wouldn’t kill the band to follow-up those beautiful talking points about their broadening fan base with a simple sentence about how they really value their hard-core fan base and that it’s great to see that audience continuing to grow beyond these fans who have stuck by them all these years. That’s called “providing balance”, because right now—that original fan base is not really ever mentioned.    All it takes is a little bit, a well-placed comment or two here and there to keep people happy and believing that we’re still of some value.  As much as I’ve been holed up in my writing cave for the past couple of months, I’ve been out and about enough to know that the natives are growing unhappy.

I’m sure people will happily point out to me that the band isn’t trying to cast us aside, and that this is part of the business.  100% correct. Growing your audience is part of the business. This though, is something different.  This is about seeking balance so that one doesn’t lose the audience they already have.  The idea is to build upon the foundation, not demolish the entire community and start over.  While many might say that they don’t notice or that they don’t care, I gotta say—I see it, read it and hear it enough online, in person and otherwise to know it’s an issue.

Newsflash: some people are actually afraid to post their feelings online for fear that they’re publicly flogged for saying something negative.  They just hope WE do it for them.  Because you know, Amanda and I rather enjoy being ripped to shreds.  It’s been a while….

Remember Sing Blue Silver?  I remember the days when the audiences were made up nearly entirely of girls like me.  Yes, we were loud. We were enthusiastic, and we loved the band. Somehow, that spark stuck with US for the span of the band’s career thus far, and here we all are together.  Sometimes, I forget that one of those young girls watching Sing Blue Silver at home, nearly in tears because I felt the same thing these girls felt, was me.

(quick, before it’s removed! check out 15:40 or so and just remember what we were like once.)

http://http://my.mail.ru/inbox/boiko.valentin/video/2640/4404.html

-R

It Means So Much to Me

When we started this blog, I didn’t really know what would happen or how it would fit into my life.  I guess I figured that it would be a tiny piece of my life for a little while and then it would be done.  Well, obviously, that isn’t true.  Yet, beyond that, there have been other unforeseen consequences to blogging.  One of those things is how often I have found writing necessary to deal with the good, the bad and the ugly of my life.  Writing has become a big piece to my processing. In many cases, I publish these thoughts here on the blog but there are other times that I don’t.

So, what has been on my mind?  My mother has been, actually.  I know what a lot of you are thinking.  Mother’s Day isn’t for another week in the U.S.  That’s true.  Yet, I want to take the time to celebrate her now.  Here’s the deal.  I haven’t been lucky in the financial department.  I certainly haven’t always been lucky in the social or romantic part of life but I was EXTREMELY lucky when it came to mothers.  Truly, I don’t even know where to start when it comes to my mother.  First, she has always been there for everyone she knows and cares about.  This past week, Rhonda wrote about a blog for my birthday (which meant the world to me!) in which she mentioned how I sacrifice myself to help others.  I learned this from my mother.  She would do anything for me, my siblings or my dad.  She would even do anything for the people I care about.  If Rhonda needed someone, for example, my mom would be there, without question and without any hesitation.  What does this look like?  It means hours on the phone, if that is what I needed.  It means trying to help me with any problem I might have from big ones involving my job to helping me pick out an outfit for a particular function.  When I jumped into political campaigns, she jumped with me, asking how she could help.  Her help was never-ending and definitely worked to help make ME look good.  I felt very lucky when I could take her to the White House Holiday Party in December of 2011.  It was the least I could do.  No, my mom has always been super supportive of me, all that I do and all that I am into.

Rhonda and I have often talked about the stigma surrounding fandom, about how others who aren’t fans judge and criticize fans’ interests and activities.  We have talked about how many people experience this negativity within their own families and with people closest to them.  Again, I lucked out.  My mom has always been supportive of my fandom.  Always.  I remember once when I was really sick with some stomach virus as a kid watching MTV for hours in the middle of the night.  Did my mom complain?  Nope.  She enjoyed the 3 am airing of Save a Prayer as much as I did.  When I started putting up posters on my bedroom walls, she didn’t tell me to take them down.  She gave me pointers on how to put them up to make them look the best they could.  This is probably why she has been known to sing along to Notorious or Hungry Like the Wolf when those songs play in my car.  It is also probably why when my dad asks who my favorite is again for the literally the 25,000th time, my mom points out John Taylor.  When I declare that I’m going on tour to the southeast or to the UK, my mom just asks when I need to be driven and picked up at the airport and when I will be bringing my cat over for them to cat-sit.  I was encouraged to start our manuscript on the nature of fandom for her and was helped with some of the little details of Durandemonium, the convention we planned in 2013.  She was with me every step of the way.

I want her to be with me every step of the way for the rest of 2015 and the rest of the decade and a few decades after that.  She means the absolute world to me, which is why hearing last week that she has breast cancer has been like someone reached into my heart and began to shred it slowly and painfully.  I literally ache with worry and I have cried more in the last week than I have in the last 10 years.  Right now, thankfully, the prognosis is good with surgery and treatment.  I’m holding on to that, for dear life.  It is what is keeping me sane, what is keeping me together.  I am trying to do everything that people say to do in this situation.  I’m trying to take it one day at a time.  I’m trying to be positive and take care of myself so that I can better be there for her.  Some days and some times, I am more successful in that than others.

Interestingly enough, I have already found myself changing in terms of what I’m focusing on and what my priorities are.   My job is such that I could literally spend 12-14 hours a day doing work and still not get it all done.  I’m done with being stressed about getting my work done.  I’ll get things done when they get done but the work isn’t my focus.  It isn’t what is most important to me.  Thus, if I want to spend time with my parents or with other loved one, I’m going to do that and not feel guilty that I am not getting grading done.  Do I feel the same way about this blog or working on the book?  Interestingly enough, no.  I don’t.  I’m MORE determined than ever to get that book of ours done and out for the public to read.  I am looking forward to seeing my mom not only read the dedication I will include to her but the book itself.  I know that she wants me to get this done for me, for Rhonda.  It means something to me, which means that it means something to her.  What about touring?  Obviously, if she needs me to be here for her, I’ll be here.  (Note:  My mother would totally push me to go.  While she sacrifices so much for me, she never wants me to sacrifice for her.  Of course, it really wouldn’t be a sacrifice to me.)  That said, I know now that life really is precious and really is short.  What does this mean?  It means that if I want to try to get back to the UK to tour, I will do what I can to do that.  I can’t wait for tomorrow or the next tour.  I really have to embrace the “All You Need Is Now” philosophy.  Will my participation with the blog change?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Just know that if I’m not doing the birthday messages, the daily poll or very many posts, it isn’t because I don’t want to.  I am just needed somewhere else.

The next few months won’t be the easiest of my life but I know that supporting my mom and the rest of the family will be worth it.  After all, she deserve all of that and more from me since she has given so much to so many.

-A

Media Representations of Fandom: Love Wrecked

During my winter break, I had some extra time on my hands.  One night while flipping through channels I came across a movie, obviously aimed at teens, called Love Wrecked.  Now, normally, this wouldn’t have caught my attention except for the fact that the description included how a teen got stranded on an island with her teen idol.  Oh boy.  Then, I had to watch it.  After all, even movies like this can represent fandom.  How will it show this teen fan?  How will it show the rock star?  How would it show the interaction between the teen and the star?  Will they be accurate representations or would they be stereotypes?

The movie started as you would expect by showing this teen and how she is a fan.  How did they show this?  Simple.  They showed notebooks with “I love you” written on them along with some kisses.  Other pieces of merchandise shown included a fan club card, cd covers, concert tickets, posters, pillow cases, etc.  I think anyone who is a fan could relate to this.  Soon enough, those concert tickets are put to use and we see the teen at the show.  She, of course, is screaming, jumping up and down, screaming about how hot the star is, yelling “I love you” and singing along.  While that might not be exactly how I am at a a show, I know that it is how plenty of other people are, especially when they were teens.  What is amusing is that she is at the show with her friend, who happens to be a guy.  His reaction to the whole thing is to ask if she is okay and begging for her to calm down before she injuries herself.  How many people who had parents who asked those same questions as a teen at a show or has a significant other who says similar things now?  Another interesting scene at the show is when someone the teen knows approaches her to point out that she has better seats.  In fact, she states that her seats are SO good that the star, Jason, could sweat on her.  How does the teen, Jenny, respond to this?  She crowd surfs to get closer.  The other teen, Alexis, also joins her crowd surfing solely so that she can push Jenny back.  She doesn’t want to give up her better spot.

Jenny and her guy friend go to the Caribbean to do some summer work program.  Alexis is also there because she had heard that Jason, the rock star, loves this resort.  In fact, he soon shows up in all his stereotypical glory with his large entourage and staff, demanding the best suite in the place.  Jenny tries to approach Jason, the star, but falls in front of him.  Jason makes sure that she is okay and even flirts a little, as rock stars do.  This causes Jenny to conclude that he could fall for her if they could really meet.

Thus, she works where he is, including on a small boat ride.  The ride does not go as planned as there is a storm and the two of them fall overboard with the ship’s raft that takes them to what appears to be an empty island.  Jenny isn’t too concerned.  Instead, she keeps trying to ask him questions.  Meanwhile, the media is freaking out because the star is missing.  Soon enough, though, she figures out that the resort is just on the other side of the island.  She doesn’t tell Jason, though.  She wants them to believe that they are stranded so that he can get to know her and fall in love with her.

Jenny walks back to the resort to get the supplies as Jason had hurt his ankle so he couldn’t walk far and she runs into her guy friend.  She tells him her plan and her friend responds by asking why she couldn’t have just broken into his hotel room like a normal person.  Unfortunately, during this exchange, Alexis saw and followed her back.  She acts as if she, too, is stranded.  Now, Jason, the star, has two fans after him.  The two fans do what we expect them to do.  They compete over his attention and also do things to harm the other.  Eventually, the truth that they were on the island with the resort comes out.  Jason has to decide who he likes out of the two fans while Jenny gets lost during a hurricane and gets rescued by her guy friend.  She then decides this real life guy is better than the star.

Now, ignoring the quality of the film, which was as you would expect, how was it in terms of stereotypes about fans?  I, obviously, expected it to show over the top behavior, which it did.  I don’t think that most fans would pretend to be stranded on an island for days in order to get the star.  I don’t think that most fans would crowd surf just to get better seats or to stop someone from getting better seats.  That said, the competition between fans is something that does happen between fans.  I have seen people brag about their better seats, consciously or unconsciously.  I have also seen and heard of fans who will try anything to get attention of the celebrity of choice.  Jenny’s guy friend’s reaction about not understanding her reaction and fandom is also something that happens on a regular basis.  Likewise, the lesson appears to be that real life is better than the fantasy of fandom, which always makes me uncomfortable because there is nothing wrong with being a fan.  Thus, while the movie was filled with stereotypes and some uncomfortable conclusions, some of these stereotypes and elements are based on true elements of fandom.  Ugh.

-A