Tag Archives: fan studies

Respecting Fan Spaces

As Amanda wrote over the weekend, she is considering where to take this blog. I’d like to share where I’m at in all of this, for those who may be interested.

The band is on some sort of hiatus, at least when it comes to performing. I don’t know what, if anything, they’re working on. They certainly deserve time off, and I’m not questioning that. However, we write about them. We write about being fans. Without the band doing much, it makes blogging a creative challenge. In and of itself, that doesn’t bother me, but it is something I consider. I tend to split my posts evenly between dates in history and fan issues – but sometimes it can all get a bit thin. I mean, there’s only so much one can write about a performance somewhere or a radio interview. On the other hand, topics having to do with fandom are another ball of wax.

I have found, over the course of the past eight years or so, that people either love us or hate us – and many start out loving us until we write something they hate. Not surprising, but definitely has its annoying moments. Not enough to make me stop blogging, but more than enough to convince me to keep my circle of genuine friends incredibly tight. I’ve learned that writing about fandom can be a double-edged sword. In many ways, it is eye-opening, and feels cleansing (for me) to understand why things happen the way they do. On the other hand, I’m examining something that most everyone has a lot of time, money and emotion tied into. There are always a few fans that are instantly offended, likely because they see a bit of themselves in what we describe and they don’t like it.

I’m going to write the explanation again in case it wasn’t understood before. We are really not judgmental of fans, although yes, sometimes I ask and present tough questions. I’m not shy about it, and I’m not sorry. I have my own opinions on things, and yep, sometimes dear reader, you’re not going to agree with me. I can accept that. Once I write something, a reader is going to respond however they feel. I hit ‘publish’, and the words are no longer my own. I feel good about letting go.

That said, Amanda and I are still fans of Duran Duran. We still  function in the community. Much to the dismay of a select few, we haven’t been burnt at the stake yet, and no – the band hasn’t asked us to stop going to shows. We’re not going anywhere. We not only acknowledge our fandom, we celebrate it every single day when we write, and I think this is where it gets sticky because what Amanda and I see as positive exploration, others find offensive. I guess when it comes down to it, Amanda and I are a bit unusual, if not flat-out weird.

We’re even sometimes embarrassed by our own behavior as fans. I’ve written about those moments MANY, MANY times…but somehow, those blogs are easy to ignore. For those who have already dismissed the blog as being a bunch of lies, or that Amanda and I are evil bitches with an ax to grind, I’d imagine that reading something where we admit to being silly or human doesn’t really fit the agenda.

As I told Amanda last week, sometimes I feel as though the blog has run its course. After eight years, it is a good challenge to find something new to write about. I spend a lot of time writing, when I could be researching or writing one of our own projects. While being a fan is absolutely a joy, writing about fandom is my passion. The blog here is just for fun – which I desperately need at times. That is why I want to continue Daily Duranie.

Keeping with that “fun” theme, I must be careful in the future about how topics are presented here, because fans are so emotionally vested, and naturally biased. Like I said, I think Amanda and I are just kind of weird. We enjoy being fans and doing all the “things”, but we also like examining WHY we do all of the things. We’re not afraid to call ourselves (fans, collectively) out in the process. While I don’t have an answer as to why I am able to compartmentalize (and sometimes I can’t – which is another issue for another day), I need to respect YOUR fan space. Point taken.

-R

Why is it necessary? Because studying fans is our passion.

No one really needs to read this blog. In fact, no one ever did. To the best of my knowledge, we’ve never coerced anybody into paying any kind of attention whatsoever. We just decided to write and the rest took its course.  We appreciate that our subject matter resonates with people, and we certainly enjoy writing, otherwise we’d stop.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself of that, particularly when things don’t go well or as I’d planned. Amanda and I decided to write. We also decided to study.  Whether or not people read, or like what we say, is honestly and truly immaterial at this point – although I do get a good chuckle when someone chooses to not only respond, but in doing so also illustrates whatever point we were writing about, with exacting precision. I can’t even bother being outraged. The irony.

This blog and website represent a small part of our lives. The blog is our hobby. Conversely, studying, researching and the real writing – not the musing you find here, but the real writing – is the passion.  Most wouldn’t know that, because it is far easier to assume that Amanda and I have nothing else to do with our lives other than wax poetic about Duran Duran. Stereotypes live long and prosper. I get it, but nothing could be further from the truth. We make the time for this hobby. For Amanda and I, it isn’t even about Duran Duran, although the band was certainly what brought us together and we obviously love the music and them as people even if we don’t always agree.  No, for us it is about fandom. Fan Studies. Fannish practices.

Duran Duran is where we find enjoyment. We go to concerts. We definitely put on meet ups and things of that nature. Those events are for fun. They give us joy. We write about Duran Duran here. We celebrate being fans.

Studying fandom though – that is our gig. We want to know and learn why we fans do the things we do. The fascinating thing is that in our particularly fandom – we don’t operate or behave in the same ways that other fandoms might. After years of studying and researching, we think we’ve finally hit on why that might be, so we decided to write a paper, and a proposal to present it at the Pop Culture Association International Conference.  We wanted feedback from the academic community, which we received. Suffice to say, we weren’t wrong.

That conference wasn’t a convention of people thrown together for a weekend of drinking and hi jinx. Professors, grad students, independent scholars and authors came together to test out new theories, receive feedback and make connections. It was a time to watch other people present their hard work and hopefully allow that creative juice to flow. This was not a Duran Duran fan convention, y’all.

Yep, to many of you, that might seem incredibly dull or even a waste of time. To Amanda and I? It is what each of us studied in college. My bachelors degree is in American Studies. I spent my time taking full semester courses on subjects like “A Sense of Place”, “The Culture of Los Angeles”,  “1960’s America”, “1960s Youth Counterculture”, “Spaghetti Westerns”, “Disneyland” (Yes, a full course on Disneyland and how it represented our culture in 1955 and beyond), “Beatlemania”….not to mention several survey courses I had to take along the way. Amanda’s class topics were likely similar, but while I studied American culture, she studied the culture of women in society.  We like studying groups of people and learning why they act, react, and interact the way they do—and how all of that is influenced, or influences, society in general.

For us, the conference was right up our alley. Everyone there was just as obsessed with their field of study as we are with ours – there was someone who studied Buffy the Vampire Slayer and was presenting on that subject. She saw other presentations on topics such as the Use of Memes in the 2016 election, Pop Culture in the Classroom, Handmaid’s Tale in Fan Fiction, Beauty Bloggers on YouTube, and Social Media and activism. I can’t remember all of the subjects I saw on the schedule, but the point is that our study of the uniqueness of female fandoms was not at all out-of-place. I would have loved going, that is for sure.

Amanda and I don’t look at our research and study as a waste of time, but we also realize that it is way beyond what most Duran Duran fans are interested in. We share what we’re working on with you because after nearly eight years of blogging, some of you are personal friends and have asked us to keep you posted. She and I also find it kind of funny that a band brought us together, and here we are. So yes, we share that journey with anyone who wants to read—and apparently even some who say they don’t.

As I’ve said before, no one is making anybody read this blog. We don’t have a traffic “requirement” and we’re definitely not making money here, so if you’re offended by what we write – don’t bother. It’s really that simple.  We know we’re not for everyone, and I don’t think either of us really cares anymore.  We have fun with what we want to do. Amanda and I write what we want. We don’t compose blogs with the intention of getting high traffic to the site, and Daily Duranie is never going to be for the fans who ONLY want to fawn all day long over the sights of Simon, John, Roger, Nick and/or Dom. We’ve done a fair share of that over the years, but we also write about why and how it all happens.  Sometimes, those are hard truths to read.

In reference to yesterday’s video posted by Amanda, someone kindly asked why we felt the need to “point those things out”.  First of all, we posted the video because our readers asked us. We have friends here that have followed us from nearly day one and they were interested in hearing the final presentation.  Amanda spoke as she might to the academic audience, for the most part. She wasn’t directing it at the general public, or our regular reading audience. We didn’t expect everyone to like it, but we posted it for those who were interested. Rest assured, sometimes – we just want to go to a show and have fun, too (and we do).

Secondly, is it really such a crime to know that (most, not necessarily all) women seek validation from men? Why does that truth bother anybody? Do you wear makeup and dress nicely? Do you comb your hair in the morning? I do. I do it because it makes me feel human, but I also do it because I like hearing my husband say that I look nice. The same goes true for when I go to shows. I don’t mind looking nice, and hey – if the band looks at me and smiles or Dom holds up a sign saying hi to me (at the urging of a friend), I get as giggly about that as anyone else. It’s harmless. That said, I also realize that society has taught me, both directly and indirectly – to look and need those things. Is that a character flaw? Maybe, if I allow that validation to become more important than other relationships and people in my life.

Lastly, and most importantly – I say this at risk of offending some – we write what WE want to write. We have fun here the way we want. Just as the band writes the music they want, we’re going to do this our own way. Come along if you want, we’ll make room!

-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