Tag Archives: fandom behavior

Depeche Mode’s Spirits in the Forest: Fans Connect

I know that we are supposed to be on a blogging break but I feel compelled to write. On Thursday, I went to a screening of Depeche Mode’s documentary, Spirits in the Forest, with my friend, Kristin. When I saw this advertised, I knew that I wanted to go even though I didn’t know much about the film. After all, I would list Depeche Mode as one of my favorite bands of all time. They were, in fact, the first concert I ever attended. Anyway, I went into the movie theater with a drink in hand and figured that I would just sit back and enjoy the music. I hadn’t even watched the trailer as I didn’t want any real expectations. Well, I was in for a treat.

Right away, I found myself surprised as I assumed that it would be mostly concert footage with maybe some interviews with the bands or random shots of fans. I did not expect that the film would focus on the personal stories of six fans from around the world. Almost immediately, I thought about other films that focus on fans. I did reviews of the two that popped in my mind instantly, which were Trekkies about Star Trek fans that you can read about here and Something You Should Know about Duran fans with the link to it here. In both cases, I had such high hopes for them. I wanted to see films that celebrate fans and fandom. Instead, I found both of them relying on common stereotypes about the extreme behavior of fans. It wasn’t enough to just shows fans but they needed to show fans who have collected personal items from band members or fans who love it so much that they create offices with their fandom at the center. I felt like if non-fans watched those films, they would assume that fans are all a little obsessed, maybe a little crazy. They wouldn’t be able to relate to them at all. If fans watched it, they might have a similar reaction, differentiating themselves from the images on the screen, thinking about how they are fans but not like that. There is a lot of stigma out there in the world about fans and presenting just the extreme behaviors feed or reinforce those stereotypes. So, when fans appeared on this Depeche Mode documentary, I worried.

As I watched the stories of these fans, I found that this is the exact opposite of those other documentaries. These fans were people I found myself connecting with. They were people that I wanted to meet or be around. I loved hearing about each one of their stories and, more importantly, how their fandom played a role in their lives. Then, as we learned more and more about them and their fandom, the film beautifully interweaves concert footage. These fans were not the ones with the biggest collections or the most concert experiences, although they might have been. No, that information wasn’t important. They were just people who loved Depeche Mode. People might not view them as the biggest or best fans (whatever that means anyway) but they were people who have connected to the music on a personal level and have found or kept personal connections as a result of being fans.

Throughout the film, these fans described how specific songs meant something to them and why. They explained how these songs hit them, emotionally. For example, one fan described how the song, Precious, reminded him about his divorce and his relationship with his kids. Another fan talked about how Enjoy the Silence was so fabulous to him that he tried to remake the video. In some cases, this personal sharing either brought tears to one’s eyes or laughter from the humor of the situation. You found yourself feeling what they are feeling. I know that I personally found myself connecting to the fan who listened to Depeche Mode during treatment for breast cancer as my mom was recently declared cancer free for four years. While she was undergoing chemotherapy for the same kind of breast cancer, we spent a lot of time listening to songs from women with strong, empowering messages. Music matters.

If all that wasn’t enough, the film also described how the music did more than just allow people to connect to songs but brought or kept people together. The fan with the kids created a silly cover band with his kids, bonding them for life. The fan from Romania discussed traveling to go to shows and meeting other fans that he now toured together. The woman with breast cancer educated her children about the music and more.

The film showed the absolute best part of being a fan. Fans fall in love with the music but they join a fan community to share that love with others. Some people might argue that the film should have focused more on a band. It should have had more concert footage or band interviews. Yet, the live shots brought it all together as the viewers could see that the band created this. Their music matters to people and has been the conduit between people. In this way, it celebrates Depeche Mode in a way that just a concert or interviews with the band could not. Fans are the results of producing material that matters.

-A

Here’s the trailer if you are interested. If you get a chance to go, I definitely would.

Seated In the Darkened Room

Do you thrill when the green light starts pulsing

I’m sure that by now, many of us have gotten social media requests from a Nick Rhodes, or a John or Roger…or even Simon They try to act as though they’re the REAL one, but of course, they never are. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve gotten requests like that over the years. Even Dom has had someone spoof him and set up a page.

Normally, I wouldn’t draw attention to this, mainly because it’s silly – but I just have to wonder why people do it. Take this website, for example. It takes a lot of time to keep this up and running. I know I try to play it off as though it’s only a half-hour of my time each day, but that’s really just the writing portion. If I want to update the site, do any kind of maintenance, or God forbid there’s a problem, those things can take hours to figure out. Who has the time for more than that?

I realize that perhaps I’m missing the point. Maybe it is really fun to pretend you’re a band member and con several people (if not hundreds) into actually believing that Nick is chatting someone up on Twitter, or that Simon really cares who his fans are on Instagram. I’ll gladly admit that I’m totally missing the “fun” part of this. All I’m thinking about is that it takes a gawd awful amount of time to set up an account and then act believable enough to make people think they’re conversing with the real deal. Why would anyone bother?

Someone always watching what we do

Then there’s the whole “why on earth would you believe that Simon has the time and inclination to chat you up, anyway?” Seriously. As much as I’d love to believe that any one band member has time in their day to hear me wax poetic about them, the fact remains that they’re rock stars, and I’m a stay-at-home mom. My laundry and cleaning can pile up around me, and while my family might start giving me the sideways glare, it isn’t likely they’re going to fire me. (actually, I dare them to try it!) The band though? I don’t know, I kind of think when they’re in the studio or working to get something related, they’ve go better things to do than tell me all about how hard they’re working to make fans happy. Don’t you think?

I can understand wanting to insert yourself into the narrative. After all, I run a fan site. I get it. Where I end up lost is at the point someone decides that talking about the band isn’t enough – they want to be the band, or at least pretend. This sort of behavior is far more emotionally motivated than say, hacking into someone’s account. The perpetrator apparently wants the average fan to believe they’re the band member or celebrity, and I don’t understand why.

In the shadows

While I’m really not sure it’s completely in the same vein as Single White Female, or even stalking, it is in that general direction. Pretending to be someone you aren’t is bizarre, particularly when it seems to be done merely to gain attention, and it happens far too often to ignore and chalk up to just your typical “fan” sort of thing.

I’ve been a fan for a long time. Some might even say too long! Never once have I thought about starting a Roger Taylor account. I mean, it’s one thing to have a page about Roger Taylor (which I do not), it’s another to say you ARE Roger Taylor, you know? It’s way over on the other side of creepy as far as I’m concerned, but I’d love to know what anyone else might think is the motivation here. Chime in below!

-R

In My Fantasy Fire

I love summer break. Extra time is giving me the chance to catch up on some movies I missed. For example, a couple of weeks ago I watched Crazy Rich Asians. I had read the series (I like escapism when I’m reading for fun, obviously) and was very curious as to how the movies would turn out. It was cute and I enjoyed it. This past weekend, I was able to catch A Star is Born.

Now, I know the rest of America has already seen the movie. Like many, I sat entranced watching Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper sing “Shallow” at the Oscars. The song didn’t thrill me, but their chemistry was undeniable. (I think that might be called “acting”. Apparently they’re both good at it!) I was channel surfing this weekend, I decided to give the movie a try.

Looking for a token

One teeny little scene keeps replaying itself in my head. For those who may not know, Bradley Cooper plays a rock star in the movie by the name of Jackson Maine. Gaga plays a singer named Ally who is nearly giving up on her dreams of being on stage. They meet by chance at a drag club. Jackson is entranced by her. At one point, they’re sitting down on a curb in a parking lot, talking. (as one does with a rock star, you know?) She mentions to him that people seem to treat him as though being a rock star or a celebrity means he’s not a real person. Maine deflects and changes the subject almost immediately.

The scene reminded me of a conversations I’ve had. Both with other fans, as well as with people who have worked with the band. The way people react to, or treat the band, is a real thing that we’ve written about here before. I suppose to some extent, some of the circus-like atmosphere that ensues is part of the deal when you’re a celebrity. Admittedly, this is the area I most enjoy studying when it comes to fandom, and seeing the topic barely being scratched at on screen immediately piqued my interest.

There are at least two issues here: putting a celebrity on a pedestal, and, possibly as a secondary response – not seeing that star as a real person. What it is about the relationship of fan to rock star that creates this dynamic?

Something to prove

For my part, I know I’ve done some of this. When I was a kid, I couldn’t imagine any member of Duran Duran as a real person. To me, they were enigmatic “beings”…purely existing on a stage, on my TV, on the radio, and of course, in my daydreams. It never occurred to me that one day I might actually occupy breathing space any closer than say, me in nosebleed seats while they were on stage. My brain couldn’t get past the idea that they were rock stars – pure fantasy.

As an adult, particularly back during the time of the reunion shows and even the Astronaut tour, I still didn’t quite equate them with being “real”. I mean, of course I knew they were real people – but those thoughts didn’t run through my head as I pranced down hotel corridors with friends gleefully yelling “Le Bon”! (Oh yes. Yes we did. Those of you with me here know who you are.) I didn’t think about how they might react to seeing signs and posters at shows that said “Roger, can I twirl your stick?!?” (I wince ever so slightly while typing that). Cognitively, yes I knew Roger might see it, and possibly even react…but my feeling at the time was “He doesn’t know me, he’ll never recognize me after this, so who cares?!?”

I actually do care, funny how that changes….

More than a flame

But when did that really all change? I suppose that if I had to nail it down to a moment, there were two. The first was when I went to the UK with Amanda in 2011, and the second was when I was in the front row in Biloxi, 2012.

Going to the UK permanently changed me, and as result, my fandom too. There is something about walking the same streets as the band once did, seeing entire tours canceled, and then actually seeing Simon standing directly in front of me, explaining what had happened to his voice. (without anybody else screaming, or begging for pictures, or autographs in the process) I’ll never, ever forget it.

I really think it was that day when I realized that yes, these are real people. They have problems like anyone else. They LIVE like anyone else. That day, Simon was just a normal man – standing in front of us wearing a flannel shirt and denim jeans. He mentioned that a few of us had come a long way to see them, which was true. I can remember being surprised he even noticed, given the situation at hand. Despite not actually seeing them perform, I don’t regret the trip. The best way to describe my feelings is that I saw Simon as a person for the first time. I continue to have trouble rationalizing that the man who seems to recognize me, and has waved to me on more than one occasion, is in fact the same person who is in all the videos. Yet, he really is the same guy, and my life has taken an incredibly odd turn.

Even if I wait a lifetime

Later, even after we’d returned to the UK in December of that same year – something else happened to change my thinking. Amanda and I had thrown caution to the wind and traveled to Biloxi, Mississippi in 2012. We were determined to do the one thing we hadn’t experienced yet, and that was front row. We waited in that GA line, and yes, we did get those front row spots. Standing there waiting at the rail was surreal, but I felt something else stir deep in my belly. Apprehension? Concern? Nerves? Probably all of the above. The only way I can really describe this, and even then many of you may not relate to my feelings that night – was that I knew with certainty that the band would see me, and in turn, I would see them. No trickery needed. It was happening.

I could no longer pretend that they were just these figures up on a stage. For whatever weird reason, being at the rail broke some sort of bizarre boundary for me. I went from thinking of Duran Duran as these fantasy-figures to seeing them as real people… who could in turn see me, too.

It took me months after that trip to come to grips with being so close to the stage. Think about when you’ve seen the band yourselves. It is easy to trick yourself into believing they looked right at you while you were singing the words to “Ordinary World” or when you were smiling along with Nick during “Pressure Off”, regardless of how far back you are. If they look in your general direction, it is obviously meant for you – am I right?? It is another thing entirely when you are directly in front of them – no one else in front of you – and you KNOW they’re looking at you. They see you. As a real person.

Ease the lost cause

I think those moments when a band member and I saw one another as actual people, are what changed the way I viewed them. Not only were they totally knocked off of the stories-high pedestal they’d been living on since 1981 or so, but I saw them as people like me. No better, no worse. I tend to respond to them in that way on social media. It makes no difference whether or not they truly read anything or not. I “converse” with them the same way I might any one else I’ve known for over half my life. Weird? Maybe.

My curiosity about other fans and their reactions remain, though. When I mention here about what fans do to be near them or have their time – I’m not doing so in judgment. I have been with people who have no issue – they run down hallways, jump over furniture, cut in line, interrupt private meals or conversations just to have their moment. In fairness, these are all things that the band expects, and they have reacted by putting up their own personal boundaries as to what they will or will not do for fans at any given time, and rightly so. On the other hand, I know of people who are more likely to give them wide berth, even if there are no other fans around. Maybe it is due to circumstance, or because these fans can see more value in allowing the band to decide for themselves whether or not to engage.

Leave a light on

I don’t know that there is truly a “right way”. The socially accepted behavior of fandom always seems to be up for debate, and perhaps that’s the core of the issue. What is remarkable though, is how differently each of us perceive the band, and the roles they occupy for ourselves. My fascination lies not only with how we see and/or perceive our idols, but the reasons behind our behavior. I need John, Simon, Nick and Roger to be real, and in turn see me not as a crazy fan. Someone else might need for them to be on a pedestal. They need them to occupy that space seen as “perfection”. I don’t know why that is, but I like theorizing possibilities!

How do you see Duran Duran? Are they meant to be the epitome of perfection? Do you find yourself forgetting that they’re human? Are you more of the type that wouldn’t approach? How do you feel about those front row spots? Join the conversation – tell me what you’re thinking!

-R

Where is the line crossed from Fandom to Standom?

Hi everyone! Welcome to Wednesday afternoon!  I know I’ve missed a couple of blogging days, so I apologize. I am happy to say though that the “For Sale” sign is out in front of our house, and we have a big open house weekend coming up. Anybody want a house in a nice neighborhood in Orange County, CA?

Meanwhile, there is this blog, which has sadly been neglected this week. I’ve missed writing, and I must warn you that there could be a few more days of that ahead, depending upon how it all works when we actually move. Just recently, I saw a tweet from DDHQ declaring that there would be no live dates until February 2019, and that seems like a good goal for me. Get moved and unpacked by February!  I can only hope…

As I sat down to the computer today, I didn’t have anything in my head ready to write about. Someone must have read my mind and sent me an article about Stans. (Read it here)

A “Stan” is an overly obsessive fan. Funny thing about the words “overly” and “obsessive” – they require interpretation. Where is that line, and how do I not cross it?  This is a question we have continued asking since the blog was in its infancy. It would seem that there is no hard and fast answer, even when many of us would be far more comfortable if there were.

The article isn’t about asking what or who is a stan, but instead talks about the destructive culture itself. What does that mean? Well, in the case of the article, they use a recent incident involving Nicky Minaj and a critic, who dared wonder in print if Nicky could get past the “silly” stuff and write lyric with more substance. Nicky lashed out in return, sending the critic a rather violent and crude response over DM. Not to be deterred, the critic took a screen shot and posted it for all to see. Nicky’s fans went on the extreme defensive, harassing the critic on every known form of social media. They went as far as finding her cell phone number, texting her death threats, and even locating photos of her daughter and circulating them online. In my personal opinion, it was completely unwarranted, unnecessary, and over the top.

The internet allow a shroud of anonymity to hide behind, and some are not afraid of spewing vitriol whenever they disagree with something that they read. In my own experience, it has gotten to the point that I am far more careful about what I say, or even what I write about. For a select few – it in’t enough to disagree, they feel like they need to ruin someone’s reputation, and even harass family members. All for the sake of proving a point?

Disagreeing from time to time with something that is written is normal. I expect people to take issue with things I write, for example. In fact, sometimes I write with that intention in my mind. I would expect that other writers, bloggers, and social media managers are the same. What no one truly expects though, is to have their private lives ripped to shreds because a fan base, or “stan” base.

I can cite numerous examples of this within our own fan community. Attacks on critics who aren’t as positive about the band (that’s putting it mildly – as is the word “attacks”), and even the way we go after one another when someone says or writes something we don’t agree with. But where or when should it be enough? Do we need to “expose” the person on every form of social media? Going after family members and death threats were activities that were at one time left to the most obsessed. They were called stalkers, not fans.  However,  they are commonplace now, to the point where we have an entire category of fan named for them, Stans.

It is my hope that everyone reading this blog will click on the link for the article, and that doing so springboards discussion. The question I  want to now pass on to each of you reading, is simple. Where is the line? At what point do we begin to realize that not every online disagreement needs to end with a threat of questioning someone’s character, or at worst – suggesting death?

-R