Tag Archives: female fans

Media Representations of Fandom: Be Somebody

It has been a long time since I saw fans represented in a movie, TV show or book so I haven’t done a post about the media representations of fandom for a very long time.  Yet, last weekend, I saw a movie called “Be Somebody” that definitely featured fans and motivated me to do a little writing about the movie.  What is the movie about?  How are fans featured?  How are they shown/depicted?

IMDb describes the plot of this movie in this way, “Pop superstar Jordan Jaye has a big dream – he just wants to live like a regular teenager. When he’s chased down by some excited female fans, he finds a perfect hideout and a reluctant new friend from a small town, high-school art student, Emily Lowe. Despite being from different worlds, they soon discover they have way more in common than they ever imagined. Over the course of several days, the two embark on an unexpected journey of friendship, first love and self-discovery — proving that maybe opposites really do attract.”

If you notice the story begins when fans chase down Jordan, the teen idol.  The chasing happens when Jordan leaves his tour bus to have a break from the non-stop life of a pop star.  He assumed that he wouldn’t run into anyone who would recognize him.  When fans did notice him, they went all crazy by screaming and literally running after him.  Within the first few minutes of the movie, I found myself shaking my head.  Do all teenage female fans scream and chase the star of their desire?  Did all of you, if you had the chance to be anywhere near Duran?  While I didn’t have the opportunity to see Duran in person until I was way beyond my teenage years, I doubt that I would have chased them!  My point here is simple.  This feels like a stereotype about teenage female fans.  All teenage music fans would chase after their idols, is that what they are saying?  All of them?  Every last one of them?  How does this make the female fans seem?   Illogical.  Crazy.  Hysterical.  Emotional.  Out of control.

Then, when the pop star finds another teen female, the assumption is that she must also be a fan.  When he thinks she is a fan, he asks her not to scream because all female fans scream.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  Many female fans of all ages scream.  I do.  I’m not judging it.  What I am questioning, though, is that movies, the media, perpetuate images of fans, especially female fans as being hysterical, crazy, over-the-top.  They aren’t showing them as just excited but going WAY beyond excited.  You can see what I mean in the trailer:

After the pop star finds out that the teenage girl is not a fan, he opts to stay with her.  Obviously here, the message is that non-fans are safe for stars but fans definitely would not be.  While I understand that this is the usual storyline for movies like this, I wish that they would have shown the female main character as a fan but a reasonable one.  Wouldn’t that be cool?  The idea could be that he gets in the car of a fan and is about to jump out when he realizes that she’s cool, that he’s safe with her.  Being a fan doesn’t mean that she has lost her mind.  Then, the movie could be about how an idol becomes a real person and about how the idol starts to see the fan as a individual rather than one of the collective.

While I thought the movie was cute with a good message about sticking up for oneself, fighting for one’s dream, I also found it following a usual formula.  The movie is safe, in that regard and relied on too many stereotypes, including not only stereotypes about female fans but also about the music industry, fame, etc.  Has anyone else seen this movie?  What did you think?

-A

It’s Loaded with Fame

Sometimes, comments we receive on this blog get me thinking.  Last weekend, I posted a blog about how much hatred there still is surrounding Duran Duran.  Rhonda and I have blogged a lot about why there was/is so much stigma against Duran Duran.  In a nutshell,  the fact that they had a lot of teenage female fans hurt them in terms of getting creditability with the music press.  The assumption was/is that if a band is liked by a lot of little girls they cannot be quality.  Little girls only like bands because they find the members cute, right?  Of course not, but too many people believe this to be true, even today.

The comment we received last weekend, if I understood it correctly, blamed the band on the stigma they have.  The belief was that they had done something wrong to get this poor reputation.  As I moved through the week, I continued to think about this.  Did Duran Duran do something wrong through their career, in terms of female fans?  Should they do something different now as a result?

Duran Duran decided to allow the teen media to cover them.  John Taylor discussed this very fact in his autobiography.  He mentioned that he even brought up the subject of going to the teen press in order to get coverage.  “And so began a love affair with the British teen press, a courtship that would last years and trigger a level and type of fame that none of us had intended or could ever have expected.”  (Taylor page 153)  Clearly, John believes that this decision to appeal to the teen press led to fame.  I’m willing to bet that most of us agree with him.  Teenagers significantly helped create Duran’s incredible fame and popularity.

What if they decided to avoid that press?  Is it possible that Duran would have received more critical acclaim?  Sure.  I guess that is possible.  Could it be that the band would not have ever reached the fame they did, if they avoided that area?  That could be.  After all, the only reason that I’m here now, three plus decades later, is because Duran Duran was covered by the teen press.  I was a female kid who got into them during that time.  How can I reject that?

Is critical acclaim more important than being popular?  That’s a tough question for any artist.  Is the goal of artists to be deemed fabulous by critics?  Is that the goal?  Why do artists produce their art?  If I had to come up with a reason, I would argue that artists need to make art.  They need to create.  Yes, I’m sure that most would like to make money to do that.  Don’t we all want to make money for doing what we love?  Artists, though, in my experience, have a motivation to create that goes beyond making a career.  The act of creation is almost a need, a physical need.  I remember when my mom was undergoing treatment for cancer.  One aspect that bothered her the most was that her energy level would not let her work on her art.

If this is the case that artists need to create, I don’t know that critical acclaim matters the most to them.  I think the goal is to get that acclaim or press or whatever just to get the art out there.  Yes, ideally, they want to make money to do art for a living.  John knew that the press was essential to being a successful band.  While, yes, this decision resulted in criticism and ridicule, it also worked to spread their music all over the world so that people like me could hear them and become fans.

What is the solution then?  Is it to reject this decision or reject those teenage female fans?  I don’t think so.  I don’t think the right move is to blame the band for this decision.  Likewise, I don’t think the right move is to REALLY embrace male fans while ignoring the female fans (although we  all acknowledge that there were and are many dedicated male fans).  No, I believe the best course of action is to push back on the myth.  “What’s wrong with having a lot of female fans?  You don’t think that female fans can determine quality music?  Are you saying that only male fans should count?”  Make the sexism clear.  After all, isn’t that what this debate is really all about?

-A