Tag Archives: fan studies

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