Tag Archives: fandom practices

The Fandom Utopia

Last night, after exhausting the options available on regular TV (as in, there were none of interest), I decided to watch a couple of episodes of a show on Prime called Upload. About a month ago I watched a few episodes when all of the kids were here. (note to any parents out there – it’s not kid friendly and I think my youngest is still scarred from my clapping my hand over her eyes a few times that first evening!) The show is set in the not-so-distant future year of 2033, a time where cars operate autonomously and people can choose to “upload” themselves digitally after death.

Essentially, your personality and spirit are downloaded from your dying body and then uploaded to the mainframe of an enormous corporation that manages your “life” after your death. From there, based on the afterlife you or your loved ones have chosen to subscribe (oh yes, capitalism is still alive and well in 2033), you can continue a virtual “life”….one in which you can call and interact with your still-living loved ones. Can you imagine?

Upload intrigued me because I liked the premise. Personal faith aside, what happens after death? I don’t know. As I watched the first episode or two, it seemed like uploading oneself to a virtual afterlife would be the perfect answer. We live this sometimes very difficult life on this planet (and naturally, for some the life is always hard and punishing), and then after, we’re rewarded by living out our days in paradise. Is there any such thing as total paradise – or as we Duranies should probably call it – Arcadia? (Check the thesaurus for paradise, people.)

In the midst of this seemingly “utopian” world on Upload, there are a number of other social commentaries going on. The “haves” and “have nots” found on earth still exist in the virtual afterlife. Some people can afford a virtual life on a grand scale. They are uploaded to a gorgeous high end resort called Lakeview. The basics are included in the Lakeview package, however, even in the virtual after life, there are in-app purchases and upgrades! Others who need more of the budget-conscious afterlife settle for what is called “2 gig”, a place where the inhabitants have two gigs of data each month before freezing in place, and perhaps can’t afford clothing, or other things we’d consider necessities.

The reason I bring up the show, is that it got me thinking. When I first got involved in the fan community, I couldn’t believe how happy I was. I finally knew other people who were as obsessed with Duran Duran as I was! So many people knew more than I did – they knew of songs I’d never heard and videos I hadn’t seen. I spent months gleaning as much as I could from anyone and everyone I met! Then I went to my very first “fan” event – a convention! I hit the jackpot in a major way.

For me, that convention was three or four days of total immersion into what felt like a fantasy world. Three words: Real Life Arcadia. It was all-Duran Duran, all the time. There were no faces to clean, arguments to referee, or meals to prepare. I had the time to just. be. me. This utopia was one that while I couldn’t enjoy all of the time, it was worth the effort to revisit a few times a year.

So I did just that. Every so often, as the band toured and I was able, I’d plan trips with Amanda. We’d leave our real lives and enter Duran-mode, or my own personal utopia. I’d spend three or four days (or more), forgetting about the mom and wife part of me I’d left behind, and attempt to somehow blanket myself in the joy of fandom, hoping to absorb enough of it all to last until the next time.

The thing is, just like Upload – there’s really no such thing as utopia. The idea of a place where all is perfect with no trouble can be super alluring, particularly when real life doesn’t quite live up. This is why fantasies sell.

As time wore on and I went to more and more shows, the cracks in the facade began to show themselves. You all know and have experienced the basic elements: jealousy, obsession, competition, toxicity, fan entitlement…I could go on. Duran Duran fans aren’t any different than anyone else. When you get a group of people together, and as they start to get to know one another and forget about being on their best behavior, it all peels like an onion. None of us are perfect, least of all me. Even so, I wanted that perfect “place” to continue surviving. I needed it.

For me, fandom has taken me on a crazy ride. I went from being it’s biggest cheerleader, to thinking I could explain and control it, to being overly critical of the reason I am here (the band), to kind of hating fandom itself, and now I’ve landed…here. I’m not exactly sure how I’d describe where I’m standing now. It’s odd. Overall, I’m most thankful for the music. I crave that special spark that comes with live music, and I dearly miss the band who creates it. These days, I’m a lot less willing to put myself out there and have discussions with other fans, outside of maybe Amanda, about Duran Duran. We all feel whatever we feel about things, and there’s no changing someone because they don’t like Dom, or they love a song I just don’t. You be you, and let me be me. Sometimes though, I take the time to write on Instagram or Twitter about something the band has done – whether that’s about Whoosh! (DD “radio” program that Simon does with Katy), or John’s Stone Love Bass Odyssey or something else. Whether they read them or not, I’ll never know for sure, and that’s okay. I don’t want to be sorry or regret not saying something I should have said or written, if that makes sense.

My most recent epiphany, is respecting the one constant I have had in fandom, the band themselves. Another post for another day.

What a weird trip it has been so far. Amanda and I had wanted to take our fandom and do something special with it. We created this blog, and when that didn’t feel like it was enough, we tried writing a manuscript, and when that wasn’t enough, we wanted to hold a fan convention. I’m pretty sure there’s some sort of common thread running through all of it for me that I’m not admitting, or letting myself see, at the moment. The smart people out there – those that study fandom – always say that fandom has a lot to do with the things you’re NOT getting in your real life. Maybe so. Perhaps it is that I wanted to be liked, respected and/or even admired by other fans? I’m not above admitting that, I guess. At this point you all know a lot of things about me anyway. Surprise!!! I’m a flawed human!

Amanda and I upped the fandom ante for ourselves as often as possible, until it just didn’t seem like there was anything else that could be done. It was as far as we could go on our own steam. We didn’t publish a book (wrote a few though), we did host a convention, we didn’t get backstage or interview the band. Fandom – that means any of you reading and even those who refuse to read – has/have a love/hate relationship with us. They liked us until they hated us, are the words I like to use. At that point, or juncture, Amanda and I had to find our own path. We’re still friends, we’re still Duran Duran fans, and we still write the blog, but it’s different. I think she’d agree with me on that. Even our friendship is different now. In some ways, it is even better. In others, I miss the way we’d put everything aside and encapsulate ourselves whenever we’d talk. Back then, we’d talk often, and sometimes, throughout each day!

For me – I think that when I got to that point – I didn’t know how to feel. I still don’t, really. I look at people who have actually done something tangible with their fandom and made it into careers, who are so incredibly loved and revered by other fans, and wonder why that didn’t work out for me – at least not in an obvious sort of way. Just where on earth do I belong or fit in??

I still don’t think I know. Maybe I won’t. Hence, this is not utopia. Or paradise. Or even Arcadia.

I try not to get down on myself about not knowing, or maybe accepting my path, in the same way I once did. I just sort of respect that for whatever reason, my path lies elsewhere. I’m clearly standing on it, even if I don’t quite get what the hell I’m doing here or why. I’m still here blogging – or attempting to – at any rate. I’m also doing other things for other people who count on me that have nothing to do with Duran Duran. I hear that’s called “life balance”. <insert chuckle here>

Utopia doesn’t exist, at least, not for long. Even if I could upload myself to some virtual life that included a career outside of the home, with more friends and maybe even more obvious signs of personal success – what would it look like? Could I be any happier?

If you notice, I used the word “could” rather than “would” in that sentence. Maybe that says more about than anything else I’ve written today.

-R

It’s As If I Don’t Recall

Is fandom dead?

Well, maybe not dead…but different from when I was a kid? Last night, as I was cooking dinner, I skipped around the channels on the television, looking for something to…well, completely distract me from the task at hand. (I still hate cooking) As I scrolled along, I saw that Breaking Dawn, Part 1 & 2 were on Freeform channel.

Now, while you chuckle at that disastrous movie series, for me, they bring back memories of trading Twilight books with my oldest, talking and giggling over Edward and Bella, Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, and going to see the movies on the first night of their release. These were the books my oldest grew up with (she wasn’t a huge Harry Potter fan), and she came upon them right around the same age I was when I found Duran Duran.

I can remember the first time Heather asked me if she could read Twilight. I was skeptical because the content seemed a bit mature for her, but agreed, as long as I read the books first. She didn’t love that she’d have to wait for me to read and absorb the content before I passed them on to her, but luckily for Heather – I was a super quick reader, finishing the first book in a matter of hours, not days. Sure, it was a little mature, but I was able to use the subject matter as a way to broach issues that I knew would be eventually on the horizon. Say what you will about the content, the writing, or even the implications of controlling relationships as described in the novels – for us, Twilight was a bonding experience that I will always appreciate.

For one, I understood what it meant to be a fan. Lifelong Duranie, right? I not only understood, but encouraged Heather to enjoy the ride. I jumped on the merchandise train, buying her posters, t-shirts, books, and anything else that seemed worthy. Her bedroom started to look a little like mine had in the 80s, sans the big, bold colors and Nick Rhodes eyeliner. For another, it was the last chance I really had to bond with Heather before the teen years began in earnest. Those moments mattered.

I remember going to see the first movie on opening night. We stood in line with a gaggle of other girls her age, parents in tow. The other moms peered at one another over the heads of the excited throng of pre-teens, commiserating and smiling ruefully as we listened to their chatter. Once we were seated in the crowded theater, a security guard actually came down to the front, and stood on the small stage in front of the screen, while he explained to the kids that they absolutely needed to stay in their seats, and there was to be no screaming.

Let me reiterate: the kids weren’t supposed to scream…in delight, mind you…at a screen. It wasn’t even as though the actual celebrities were in our theater. No, kids were screaming at a movie screen as though they were at a rock concert. I was thoroughly amused.

Sadly, it all ended as quickly as it began. By the time Breaking Dawn part 2 was out, Heather hardly seemed interested in going. I talked her into it purely because it was the final movie – the others had turned out so dismal that she said it was difficult be excited. I understood the disappointment, but told her we owed it to ourselves to see it through anyway. Not long after the movie, Heather took down her posters and grew out of her t-shirts. We didn’t talk too much about Twilight after that, until last night when I turned to her and suggested watching.

To my utter disappointment, Heather wasn’t interested. “Nahh….” she said, as she headed into the office with her boyfriend.

“What? Really??” I marveled out loud. “You don’t want to watch with me? Oh, come on…it’d be like old times!”

Heather laughed. “No thanks, Mom. Those movies were the worst!” She walked into the office, sliding the door shut behind her. I sighed heavily. Out of sympathy, my husband decided to sit with me and watch. Not quite the same, but better than being alone!

We watched both parts to Breaking Dawn on my own, enjoying each one despite marveling at how awful the acting and special effects were (Part 2 is still the best one out of all the Twilight movies, though). I also reflected back on how, for a very short time, I saw how much fun fandom could be for a young pre-teen. That period of parenting was a gift for me, softening me for some tougher times ahead.

Reflecting a bit more today, I can’t help but wonder if fandom is just different now altogether. None of my kids ever got into something with the same sort of gusto I did with Duran Duran, and definitely not music. Both of my girls have had their favorite book series, and Gavin was a huge Starcraft II fan (and player) for quite a while, but nothing like the lifelong, hardcore fandom I have in Duran Duran.

I think they missed out, actually!

-R

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

Teach You How to Live

This blog post finds me in Philadelphia on a family vacation. My sister and her family drove from North Carolina to meet my parents and I there after we took a short flight from my home town airport. We are basically taking a long weekend to spend some time together, to see some of the local sites and to go to a baseball game. A few years ago, we discovered that we enjoy going on vacation together and planned this one as a result.

So why Philadelphia on the first weekend in August? Did I mention that we are going to a baseball game? Yep. That’s right. We are going to see the White Sox play the Phillies. Fandom is part of the family DNA. My mother likes to tell the story about how my grandpa used to travel through the Chicago sewers to sneak into old Comiskey Park to watch games for free with his brothers. My dad, on the other hand, talks about dumping an old girlfriend when she was not interested on the day the team won the Pennant. I literally do not remember a time when we weren’t White Sox fans. Games were always on and summers often revolved around listening, watching and reading about Sox games. Family discussions are filled with criticism and ideas about what the team should or should not do. I remember when my grandpa died in 1983. When grief got too much, we went out to play catch or turned on the game, which helped. It is definitely part of my family culture.

I often hear or read about the first time someone went to a baseball game and how memorable it was. I don’t have that. It isn’t that I haven’t been to a game but the exact opposite. My first game was when I was very young and I don’t remember it. The same is true for my siblings and parents. I couldn’t even tell you how many games that I have been to. Lately, we have started traveling to different cities to see our team of choice play. I have seen games in Milwaukee, both parks in Chicago, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Detroit, Boston, DC and Philly as of tonight. My parents could list even more like Denver, Cleveland, and Kansas City. My aunt and uncle do the same thing as well.

The point here is a simple one. I learned how to be a fan as a kid. My parents taught me that there is nothing weird or abnormal about traveling to participate in one’s fandom. They never sat down and said, “You are going to be a White Sox fan. Here’s why and how you will express your fandom.” No, they taught me and my siblings by example. I saw them be fans like I saw my grandparents be fans. As I was growing up in this White Sox household, I also realized that this brought us together as a family. We cheered the World Series win in 2005 as well as no-hitters and other big games. It provides us with something that we will always have in common. Even when we are frustrated with each other, we ALL still root for the White Sox.

Interestingly enough, this made me think of those Duranies who have taken or will take their kiddos to go see Duran. Rhonda and I took both her daughters to shows, for example. I never really thought much about the fans who bring their kids to Duran functions. Up until now, part of me probably didn’t really get it. I mean I can understand why fans would want their kids to also love Duran Duran. I get that. I would love for that to be the case with my nieces. But to take them to shows? I have taken my oldest niece to see the Killers with me but Duran is different. Would they be as into as me? What if I want to party that night? Could they go where I go? Now, though, in thinking about my White Sox fandom, I think I get it more. I totally understand wanting to really share the love of something with your family and having it unite the family. The question that I have is does age matter? In order for this to happen, do the kids have been exposed from day one?

-A

I think you might have noticed that there was not a question of the day today. I’m taking a break with them while with my family. They will return on Tuesday!

Crazy About Boybands, So They Say

Sorry the blog is late today. I’m trying to steal away the last few days with family for a summer “staycation” before we are back to school.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been doing some reading as of late – and yesterday I found myself watching a British television documentary on One Direction fans. The program was titled “Crazy for One Direction”, and chances are – everyone on the planet has already heard of this but me.

Crazy sells

I sat down to watch knowing that One Direction fans were furious when it was originally aired. They felt betrayed and a bit cheated because the director tended to weigh filming more heavily on what the fans felt was the most extreme portrayals of fandom, rather than focusing on how the overwhelming majority tend to express themselves. I watched purely because I wanted to see how those fans were really portrayed. The title alone, complete with the word “Crazy” – made me cringe.

As I watched, I saw behaviors that were not really that far off from what I’ve witnessed even as a Duran Duran fan. Sure, if you took specific incidents to heart – I suppose some situations felt a bit out-of-hand. Context matters, but I suspect the full intention of the director was to show the extremes. This is something I’ve grown very accustomed to even as an adult – as I’ll come back to a bit later.

What I will say though, is that despite fandom itself being a gender-neutral sort of activity, this documentary focused SOLELY on females. No males aside from the band and perhaps a wayward adult male or two were seen in the documentary, and certainly not interviewed. I highly doubt there are zero male One Direction fans in the same way that I know for certain there were male Duran Duran fans back in the day (and many more now!). This very obvious slant enrages me as someone who not only studies, but participates in fandom because of the obvious implications that continue to be made about female-specific fandoms.

Context is everything

The director speaks with two teens (the interviews were done in the girls’ bedrooms – and in every case, their walls were wallpapered with One Direction pictures and pinups) about what they might do in order to meet the band.

The girls giggle, as one answers, “I wouldn’t kill a puppy, but I might kill a cat!” She is chided by her friend – and she quickly backpedals. I suppose that to some adults, that answer might seem a little too far into crazy-town, but they’re KIDS. Exaggerations go with that territory. Maybe it is comes with being a mom, but I wouldn’t have been worried if it had been my kid. We would have, however, had a little chat about wording and context while in the public eye.

We know the exact time of their birth, and the hotel they’re staying at!

They speak about Twitter, explaining, “We can find out everything about them.” Even the tiniest personal details about the band, such as their exact birth times, can and have been mined and shared via Twitter. Directioners rely on Twitter as though it were a life line, particularly when they wish to track the band’s every movement. It surprised me to see how easily the teens were able to find the band while they were touring, and of course this subject sparked discussion of actually meeting the band – which for this community (as well as our own in many aspects) is of paramount importance.

The girls seem to take pride in giving exact numbers for the amount of times they’d met One Direction, explaining (just as fans who have met Duran Duran multiple times) that finding the band “takes time and a lot of patience. We’re not lucky, we work hard.” They suggest that other fans just don’t bother, or don’t try and that because they go the extra mile – they are rewarded for their efforts. “They say I’m a stalker and that people [presumably she means the band themselves or management] don’t like it, but I don’t care.”

Border-policing

One of the teens interviewed comes across an online post suggesting that one of the boys (the band, of course) should die. There is an immense line of cursing and violent suggestions of what should happen to the person who created the post. It is border-policing (what fans do to keep one another in line) at it’s most extreme.

I don’t think anyone would disagree when I write that fandom can be intense. It certainly was portrayed as such in the documentary. That intensity runs like a river throughout every possible nuance of the One Direction fandom, good and bad. These are young women who recognize that much of their fandom has to do with being a part of a larger group. It is a community. More than one of the girls interviewed commented on the friendships she’d made as a result. That can’t be bad….although one of those interviewed mentioned that she is part of a fan community that “can kill you if they decide”. That’s the double-edged sword of fandom. What builds you up can also slice and dice like a Ginsu, I suppose.

Is it Larry….or JoSi???

Then there are the shippers. One Directioners have a fantasy/fanfic going about Liam and Harry – they call it “Larry-shipping”. There are stories, memes, and even fan drawings and paintings about “Larry”.

Before scoffing, I’d just like to remind everyone of “JoSi”. It is indeed, a thing.

Ultimately, the longer I watched, the more I realized that these teenagers are no different than I was at their age – although most of them enjoy far more freedom than I did. However, as the documentary concluded, I recognized something more.

I can’t really say that these girls are much different at 15, than many of us are at 40, 45, or even 50. I still see people my age chase after the band after a show. I’ve watched people follow Simon right into a restaurant, or wait just outside. Many of us have shed tears at concerts, or become tongue-tied when we meet the band. Information of all-sorts is spread via social media, and we border-police ourselves as good as it gets. The label “stalker” is thrown around rather liberally – and truthfully, we are the kings and queens of double standards when it comes to this band. Anything we do to meet them is fine until we see somebody else doing it, then it is judge, judge, judge all the way.

I don’t know how I feel about that connection. On one hand, I can see the obvious – perhaps we never quite grew up. I became a Duran Duran fan at the age of 11 or 12, maybe I still feel that way when I hear them play to some extent. Feeling young again isn’t a bad thing. On the other hand, I’m nearly 49. I’m still trying to sort that out, I guess. My advice? Watch the documentary for yourself and decide. I’d love to read what you think!

Watching these girls tell their story was very much like watching us tell ours – and then having the media decide to play it up as though we’re far too crazy to be roaming free on the streets. For me personally though, this documentary wasn’t nearly as cringe-worthy as watching “Something You Should Know” – which is our own fan documentary. The fact is, extremism sells.

This is something that Amanda and I know firsthand. We’ve written more than one manuscript that has been submitted and rejected by publishers at this point. While with each one we’ve sharpened our pencils and improved our research, writing, and voice(s) – we’ve also learned that virtually no one cares about the positive things that fandom has done. Publishers aren’t interested in reading about friendships that have been created, or the sense of community. They want to know the dirty. Editors want to read the torrid tales. Slept with the band? Snuck onto a bus? Verbally threatened another fan who dared get in our way? They want to read about crazy. The widespread belief, of course, is that female fans are crazy.

It is unfair when you think about it. Men could follow Bruce Springsteen around the country on tour, and not only would they be held up as heroes amongst fellow fans – they’d get press, and the slant would be incredibly positive – “it’s about the music and the brotherhood, man”. Let women follow Bruce around, and it suddenly becomes a whole lot less about the music…because what could women possibly know, right?

Let me know what you think after you watch the documentary!

-R

Fan-made Time is Durantime

I don’t know if Amanda or I have flat-out written the words here, but we’ve been working on a new project. Right now, it is not much more than a very basic outline – topics, basically – of a direction we’d like to take, but we’re both reading, and doing some researching, and reflecting. I don’t think either of us have quite given up the dream of having something published, but it has taken us quite a while to decide to try writing again.

So with that in mind, yesterday I was reading about teen fans of bands such as One Direction and The Beatles. While there are many, many things I could write about here – ways fans have been marginalized, or how pop was created for women (true story!), I’m going to stick to something a little more basic and easy-reading.

I’ve been reading, writing and studying fans now for as long as we’ve been writing this blog (longer, actually). I am continually learning new terms and angles to see things. Yesterday, I learned about “fan made” time, which applies directly to us as Duran Duran fans.

In this community, we have something called “Durantime”, which is a well-loved moniker we’ve applied to the wait-time in between albums, projects, tours, etc. In our case, “Durantime” not only describes the time, but it also has come to be known as the clock the band uses (which is unlike any clock or calendar I’ve ever known). In this sense, we hear things like “the album will be done when it is done” – which is Durantime for “it could take decades. Probably should go get yourself some sustenance and another hobby while you wait!” Or, “we hope to tour next year” which could easily mean, “we hope to travel to Mars.”

Yes, I’m exaggerating a little…and maybe poking a little bit of fun at the guys. Hey, at least I didn’t mention that one time when Roger announced that the album would be finished by year end and instead it took another couple of years!

Oh wait. I just mentioned it. Oops!

Regardless, “fan-made” time is the wait in between present and whatever anticipated event is coming next. That could be a show, a tour, a movie, interview, appearance, etc. The term is rather elastic and fits just about everything. In my opinion, the word “Durantime” is far catchier, but a lot less generic. What makes fan-made time such an interesting topic though, is that it is one way fans have taken back control.

What does that mean? Well, we have zero control over when the band tours or when the new album is coming out…or even when they plan…IF they plan…to do anything more to celebrate #DD40. So, fans do what they can with that downtime and “in-between” space. They control that piece but doing countdowns, having fan parties, creating whatever content they wish during that time. It is about the fans continuing the party without the guests of honor, so to speak.

The thing about fan-made time is that even while we’re sitting outside of a GA venue, or waiting in line at whatever event might be taking place, we’re creating that fan space. Talking to friends in line, organizing ourselves into a systematic group, even chatting about the set list, or taking surveys or citing our own fan stories are all ways we manage fan-made time. I would say it is THAT space where (and when) we go from being relative strangers to a community.

Fan-made time as Duran Duran fans in the same way that fangirls of other bands do. They might be two decades younger, or lived out their concert days in the 60s, but we all do the same things. Just a little something of interest from yesterday’s reading…

-R

So Complicated Part 2

Yesterday’s blog talked how simple fandom can be in as I wrote about the three interactions I had with random people who either were fans or knew fans of Duran. At the time, I found myself envying the simplicity. It was just a matter of liking the band’s music. In one case, that’s all there was. The woman in the second case went further in that she attended concerts near her and the last case, the person talked about how big of a fan he was. Yet, I suspect that while these fans like Duran, they do not participate in the fan community at all. They might not know other fans and might not talk about the band much. There is no traveling for shows, friending or following other fans, collecting merchandise or any other fandom practice. Their fandom can be described as casual.

I, of course, am on the other end of the spectrum in that my fandom consists of producing new material related to being a fan (like this blog!). Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that I am a bigger or better fan by acknowledging that. I’m just pointing out that I devote more time and money to fandom than these people do. (Again, maybe, I’m the crazy one!) We just express our fandom differently. One is not better or more important than the other. In meeting these people, a part of me was jealous of them. It must be nice and easy to just be a casual fan. I know that it is easy for me to be a Killers fan as I just buy the albums and go to concerts nearby. That is the extent of my fandom there. No one in the fan community knows me and I don’t know any of them. Part of me wishes that is how things can be for me in the Duran world.

So, the first question is why? Sometimes, being part of a fan community is tough. Initially, it might feel totally awesome as you are meeting tons of people who love the same band you do. You can gush about how fabulous the music is or how there is nothing better than their concerts. But, then, you realize that it is not that simple. Some fans might not like how you express your fandom or disagree with your fandom philosophy and you to them. For example, some fans enjoy reading this blog. Others might never click on it, thinking that Rhonda and I are terrible people. Sometimes, people love what we have to say or do and others totally disagree with us. By writing this blog, it put us in a position in which we can be judged. I am not saying that to earn sympathy. On the contrary, we knew that criticize was going to happen and still went ahead and wrote the blog anyway. We accepted how this was going to go, for the most part. While we get it, it doesn’t always make things easy.

The next question is can I go back? If I stopped writing the blog tomorrow, could I go back to be like those casual fans I met this week? When I think about my real life, the people I run into and interact with, I know that if I stopped listening to Duran today, they would still associate me with the band. A couple of weeks ago, a friend from high school was passing the area when Duran apparently came on the radio. She immediately thought of me and messaged me to get together. Duran Duran leads people in my life to think of me. That would not change if I stopped writing this blog or even stopped being a fan. What about in the fan community? Could I go back to being anonymous there? I don’t think I could get rid of every evidence of this blog existing or all of the meetups we have done. Could I be anonymous at concerts? I have met a lot of fans at concerts. Would I want those people to forget me? Could I forget them, especially those fans who go to a lot of concerts? I don’t think so.

Finally, would I really want to go back to how things were in 2003 or early 2004? As much as that might be easier, I have never been one for easy. I am teacher. That is not exactly the easiest profession. I’m also an activist. Both of those are such that I work really hard for sometimes minimal changes. Yet, I don’t give up. Even when things are tough in our fan community, I cannot see myself walking away. I am part of this fan community and always will be.

-A

Running Like a Fox

Ain’t your problem

One of the trickiest things about our fan community – is that while we are all here because we love the music, the way that fandom manifests for each one of us is very different. I don’t think we can judge fandom using one particular sort of barometer. It is a mistake I fell into early on in my fandom studies.

I believe, for the most part – and strictly when it comes to die-hard fans, there are likely two, perhaps three, different groups of people. The first group are the creators – they’re people who like to create content (of any kind) to go along with being a fan. Maybe they write blogs, maybe they do podcasts, make fanzines, design jewelry – it’s all content of one form or another. The next group collects. Those people might collect shows (meaning they go to as many as possible), or posters, or albums…or all of it! The final group might be the largest because they’re the consumers. Maybe they do a little of all of it: they buy the albums, go to the shows, and do the creative things. They aren’t doing more in one area than another. It’s fairly equal.

Even though we each might fit into one of those groups, I still don’t think there is, or should be, a barometer in order to judge who does what “the best” or “the most”. That’s the problem. It isn’t supposed to be a contest, yet for some bizarre reason, we try to make it one. I think this goes mostly for the females amongst us, but perhaps male fans find this also to be true.

What you say

This seems to happen often in our community, particularly lately. I used to joke about this going on between albums, but it is true. I think we get bored. We go after our own. It isn’t pretty. It is one reason why I’m glad the band has done a few things in between recording sessions (which have apparently taken place far more often than I’d realized). It has only been within the last few weeks that I’ve noticed the Duraniverse getting a bit restless.

I know it is a trying time. Summer is hot. People are anxious for whatever is coming next. It can be difficult to remind ourselves that we’re grown adults and to give one another some grace and respect. This is something I need to put into practice, and will continue working on.

Another rattle in your brain

Just today I was talking with a friend. We were commiserating over how we felt walking in to a crowded bar of Duranies. I definitely have felt in the past as if all eyes were on me, giving me the once over. Hello again, Sunflower Intermediate and your main locker hallway. My mom would constantly tell me not to worry about what the other, more popular girls said as I walked down the hall. “You’re there to learn, not to get into it with other people, Rhonda.”

(that never worked for me)

Isn’t it strange that even as many of us are edging ever closer to 50 than 40, all it takes is to walk into a room of our peers, or see something online that doesn’t sit well, to shove us straight back to the halls of junior high? Why is that? Why do we let it get to ourselves so easily?

-R

Something On My Mind

Hello, Monday. I feel as though somewhere along the way, I lost one of my weekend days, because it feels like Monday arrived far too early. I’m still trying to regain some of the hours of sleep I missed out on from being at Vidcon last week. I wish I could say it was due to having so much fun, but in this case, I just didn’t sleep well.

We drove home late Saturday night, and arrived to see many tweets and posts about the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 – corresponding with the Kennedy Space Center show tomorrow.

I’m light years away

When the show was first announced, I knew right away that there’d be no way for me to get there. Sure, I could blame it on not having enough notice, but I could have had a month’s notice or even more, and still not been able to attend. Several years back, I went to a lot of things. I would fly across the country, and I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that many times, I didn’t even think twice about it. Three spousal job layoffs/changes, one very large move, childbirth, college, and countless grey hairs later, I’m finding that I not only think twice, I know I can’t travel like that anymore.

That fact is something I guess I’m still coming to terms with. I went from going to one show a tour (or even less), to taking a single trip to New Orleans and then Chicago, which ignited something in me. Suddenly, I felt the need to try and go to everything. My husband was less-than-thrilled with the arrangement. Usually though, I’d win him over by saying I’d save money in other ways, or that he didn’t have to buy me birthday/Christmas/Valentines/Mothers Day gifts, etc. In some ways that worked, but in others – I can see how selfish I was. Any extra money I came across would go towards seeing Duran Duran, and the fact is—when you have three kids and live in Southern California, there isn’t a lot of extra anything!

My head is full of chopstick

Even so, fandom – or planning to go to shows – was sort of like a drug for me. I couldn’t say no, and yet I didn’t go to nearly as many shows as a lot of people. Gigs would be announced and I’d think “Fly to Chicago? Oh, I shouldn’t…but I will!” “Go away for five or six days and see more than three shows? YES!” I wanted to go. I desperately wanted to be a part of the fandom wave that everyone seemed to be caught in.

During the Astronaut tour, which was really the first when I’d gotten involved online and knew people from all over the country – I’d sat on the sidelines for the most part. I went to two shows: Chicago and All-State Arena, and Milwaukee. That last one had been added to my itinerary without telling my husband. He’d expressly told me prior to even buying my Chicago ticket that I could choose ONE show to see, and that was it. “The concerts don’t change that much, Rhonda!”

Turns out, that while the set might not change that much (One night I heard “Nice” and the other I heard “Union of the Snake”), there are far more other, more subtle things, that do. Roger waved at us in Milwaukee. I cried when I heard “Tiger Tiger” in Chicago. I stood outside and waved to the band when they left the Riverside Theatre in Milwaukee. I had my closest friends with me for Chicago, and got to drive to Milwaukee with a full car of Duranies. That was the first time I’d ever done something like that. After those two shows, I never wanted to miss anything again.

I’m making a break

However, that was/is an impossibility, at least for me. I’ve never had carte blanche to go to any show I want. I don’t work outside of the home, and my money is never my own money. Even when I’ve done what I consider to be a ridiculous number of shows, I’ve had to pick and choose. Sometimes, I’ve chosen wrong. That’s the crap shoot of life, I suppose. In darker moments, I wonder what it would have been like if I could have gone to all the Astronaut shows my friend Jessica went to see, or if I could have flown overseas as many times as other friends have gone. Would I feel any differently about the band now?

Over the years, I’ve seen people come and go. After having been an active fan in the online community for nearly two decades now, I have seen some patterns of behavior emerge from the fog and dust. I think about the people who seemed to be “regulars” for the Astronaut and RCM tours, and for the most part – those people don’t come around often now, and I rarely see them.

Maybe they stopped going to shows or participating online because life circumstances changed. Perhaps it was because they got sick of some of the childish drama that goes on between fans. Maybe it was something else entirely -but the fact remains that they’re not doing much these days. I have friends who went to 14, maybe 15 shows for Astronaut that just stopped following the band for the most part Can there really be too much of a good thing?

They should be mine

Getting back to my situation here – I have serious budget constraints that make it nearly impossible for me to fly very often. I don’t even fly to visit my mom or sister, so how on earth can I justify flying to see a band that doesn’t even know I exist? It is particularly frustrating when I’ve made the decision to buy tickets to something, and then another opportunity comes up that sounds even better.

For example, tomorrow Duran Duran is playing at the Kennedy Space Center for the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11. As soon as this show was announced, I knew there was no way I could go. The idea of traveling to Florida was out of the question. A flight from here would easily cost $500 during the summer, plus the $300 ticket for the concert, another $300 or more for a hotel room and the additional expenses for food, uber and drinks. It adds up quickly to a similar amount that my family might spend on a camping vacation – one that we’re not even taking this year. HOWEVER…

Had I known that they were going to be playing this show in advance of buying the tickets for Las Vegas (each was $441, if I remember correctly) I might have chosen differently. Sure, I’ll see Duran Duran three times in September whereas if I’d gone to Florida I’d only be seeing them once – but how many times does someone get the chance to see Duran Duran at the Kennedy Space Center??? I worry that I made the wrong choice. Zigged when I should have zagged…bought when I should have waited.

I’m saying this in private

Similar scenarios have happened before. In 2013, Amanda and I along with a committee of amazing helpers worked our butts off to put on a fan convention in Chicago. I can’t remember the precise timing, but I would say that within days of returning from that weekend, Duran Duran announced a special opportunity to see the debut of UnStaged at MOMA in New York City.

I think that at least to begin with – both she and I weren’t too upset. I mean, to some degree we’d wished we could go. We’d worked hard to put on that convention for fans, and in a lot of ways New York City seemed like it would be a great way to reward ourselves. Even so, Amanda didn’t have time off from work, and my husband had pretty much declared a moratorium on spending money and traveling. Just getting to Chicago was hard enough. Amanda and I paid the same amount of money to attend the convention as every one else. That’s right – we bought tickets to the very convention we were putting on for everyone else to enjoy. I paid for my flight from California, and Amanda and I split the cost of our hotel room., same as everyone else. That money did not come out of the convention budget. No sooner did I get home and back to an exploding family crisis when the MOMA show was announced.

We absolutely tasted our share of sour grapes while watching a few of the same people who came to our convention fly on to NYC. I remember feeling so dejected after I saw how the evening went. What started as a screening ended up as a cocktail party with the band present. There were pictures, and the band seemed so welcoming to fans that night…those who were there were so lucky!! Oh well, right? What can you do??

Breaking open doors I’ve sealed up before

Even with the missteps I’ve taken along the way (and there have been many), I can’t be bitter. My days of sour grapes are over. I’ve done and seen a lot – much more than a lot of people. I’ve had times when I’ve been able to afford to go to a lot of shows and travel, and now I’m in a time where I really just can’t. Oddly, I feel like I’ve won the lottery because for the past few years – coincidentally the time when I’ve been least able to afford to fly – the band has played within reasonable driving distance to where I live. I am very lucky, which is why you’re not going to see me complain about set lists or much anything else. My luck isn’t going to hold out forever though, and I would imagine that next year – should they decide to tour for their 40th anniversary – I’ll be sitting at home doing most of my cheering.

I also can’t ignore the fact that for most of the rest of the world, they’ve had to sit on the sidelines since before Paper Gods was released, watching the US fans complain about ticket prices, set lists, and the like. It is easy to forget that many of these worldwide fans would pay whatever ticket price the band wanted, and would be willing to listen to whatever set the band plays, just to be able to see them.

Looking for cracks in the pavement

The reality is, most of us just can’t go to everything. I feel like I’m a recovering addict in that sense. Every time something is announced, I have to forcibly talk myself out of feeling like I need to go. I’m learning to say “no” to myself more and more often. I can’t say it’s easy, but a lot of times, it’s necessary. I’m not responsible for only myself. I have a family and husband to consider, and I wouldn’t trade my family for all of the Duran Duran shows in the world. That’s progress, right?

I see friends tell one another all the time that they should just buy the ticket and that they’ll make more money later. That thinking might work, until something catastrophic happens. I’ll never forget going to New York City in 2007 to see the special fan show that fell on Father’s Day. My husband and dad were fine with me going, and I came home to celebrate with them the following weekend. Little did I know at the time, that was the last Father’s Day I’d ever spend with my dad. I think about that a lot.

I’m a work in progress. Every single time I start feeling self-pity because I can’t be in Florida, or something else, I quickly force myself to acknowledge that other fans in the world haven’t done much in several years. I have one hell of lot of nerve feeling bad about one single event. That usually snaps me out my funk. I still feel like a recovering addict in some weird ways – but I’m working on it.

-R

These Beautiful Colors

Good morning, Duran Duran fans.

It is Thursday morning, and I am currently sitting in my daughter’s apartment in Fullerton, California. It is about a zillion degrees in here, and the traffic from the street outside is enough to wake the dead

My kids and I arrived yesterday to go to Vidcon. We went to pick up our badges and things when we got to Anaheim, and then drove to where we’re staying with my oldest. I’ve only been gone from Southern California for six months, and I’ve decided that I can never come back here to live permanently. Too crowded, too frenetic…and just too everything. I apparently have slowed WAY down since moving, which is both good and bad, I suppose.

Til the colors bleed

So, Vidcon. It’s like all the internet fandoms poured into a confetti cannon along with rainbows, unicorns, and glitter. Then someone stood in the center of the convention center area with a firehose, and sprayed. Vidcon is both horrifyingly shallow, and incredibly inclusive. I can’t quite figure it out. I’ve never seen so many girls (and yes, I do mean girls – they’re way too young to be women) so worried about how they look. Nor have I seen SO many selfies being taken all at once. Upon first glance, I admit being concerned for my youngest, and youth in general. That said, I suspect there’s far more depth going on than meets the eye.

Yesterday afternoon, I stood in line to use the restroom, and a girl walked past in a micro mini skirt, tube (or bandeau) top, and platform sneakers that had to be at LEAST a foot high. Another very tiny young lady was with her mom as she was being herded towards the “Creator” area, wearing the smallest, most glittery, silver boots I’ve ever seen. Nick would have approved. I didn’t know who she was, but she was stopped more than once for selfies on the short walk to the roped off area set aside for talent, production, and other YouTube creator-types. (I suppose our few v-logs don’t really count!)

There is a lot of that at this convention. I’ll see kids swarming around someone like worker bees to a queen, and then they all move on to another one. All the while, I’m trying to see if I recognize the person they were surrounding, and so far, the answer has been “nope!” The trouble with YouTube, or at least as I see it – there are too many freaking YouTube channels with far too many pseudo-celebrities!

Everyone’s their own universe

Sure, there are some serious breakout YouTube stars. There are people pulling down far more per month or year than I’ll make in a lifetime. That said, there are far more kids that have YouTube channels and subscribers that aren’t exactly Sofie Dossi, Jake Paul, or Kasey Neistat…or even Pewdie Pie. (In full disclosure – I had to consult with Gavin on those names. I don’t know who in the heck these kids are, but I will say out of the four names he gave, only one is female. Fascinating.) There are many people who work very hard only to have a few thousand subscribers or even tens of thousands, and yet they’re not really stars in any other arena besides YouTube. It makes me wonder.

So today we’re headed out for a full day of programming. I’m looking forward to seeing these fandoms in their full glory and reporting back! Is it all that much different from Duran Duran?? We will see!

-R