Tag Archives: One Direction

Still In the Pleasure Groove

I find that the best idols are the ones who have actually been, or rather still are, fans themselves. There are a number of reasons for this, but the first and most obvious, is that they know what it is like. They understand how it feels to be a fan. They haven’t forgotten.

That would indicate, of course, that many people HAVE forgotten. They have been celebrities, stars, or what-have-you for so long, or they believe their own BS to the point that they’re convinced of their godliness.

Now, I know that sounds harsh, and perhaps it is in some respects. All I can tell you is that there are people out there that you and I may idolize who just cannot quite believe they’re actually still human. Then there are others, like John Taylor, just to name one for example, that seems to still be a fan. He is someone who gets it. I need point no further than his induction speech [into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame] for Roxy Music, or even his own autobiography, as proof.

Side Men

He writes about going to see Roxy Music at the Birmingham Odeon with Nick. They initially stood in the lobby of the theater, and were told that the band was in the building (words that I myself have heard many times). “…if we hurried down the alleyway that led down the side of the Odeon, we could hear them playing. This is where I learned about the secret world of the sound check….We couldn’t see Roxy, but we could hear them, vaguely, playing songs from their new album, Country Life.”(47)

It gets even better…and strikingly familiar

As they’re standing there, clearly excited by the music (I can imagine this – I mean, I may have heard a sound check or two in my lifetime as a Duran Duran fan. Just once or twice….you know, in passing….), the sound comes to a halt and they see a black limo pull up. Just as quickly, Roxy comes rushing from a side door and straight into the car, which pulls away at lightning speed. A girl yells that she knows where they’re staying – at the Holiday Inn – and that she knows a shorter way. “off we went, Birmingham’s twelve biggest Roxy Music fans sprinting across the city at full pelt. This was a club I wanted to belong to!” They arrive at the hotel before the band, of course. (any self-respecting fan willing to follow the band would, you know.)

The part that makes me smile and chuckle most though, is this: “I asked one of the drivers to give me the champagne cork I spotted on the back shelf of the limo. I was proud of that. Was this strange behavior for a fourteen-year-old suburban boy? I didn’t think so.” (48)

Even reading the words again today, nearly seven years after I read them the first time – I still grin. I can’t help it, because in some bizarre twist of fate, I feel like I’ve found something in common with John. He knows what it is like to be me. I mean, sort of like me, anyway. I highly doubt he still goes around asking for champagne corks, but then again, neither do I, now that I think about it. For me personally, my love and respect for John grew a hundred-fold after reading his autobiography, and much of that has to do with the fact that yes, he really does know what it means to be a fan.

Sign of the Times

By that same token, I see Harry Styles in a bit of the same light. Now, I’ve never been a One Directioner (I can’t name one song beyond “That’s What Makes You Beautiful”), but I’ve been doing some research for a project. It turns out that Harry gets it too.

Some of this is not that hard to imagine. Harry and 1D came to be during the heyday of social media. In some aspects, they embraced the connectivity to their fans. They also became famous as teenagers, and I don’t think it is so awfully difficult for them to remember what it means to idolize. Harry displayed his admiration for Stevie Nicks during her induction ceremony [RRHOF], but he’s also talked about his teenage fans in a positive way.

“He’s always had a fervent female fandom, and, admirably, he’s never felt a need to pretend he doesn’t love it that way. “They’re the most honest — especially if you’re talking about teenage girls, but older as well,” he says. “They have that bullshit detector. You want honest people as your audience. We’re so past that dumb outdated narrative of ‘Oh, these people are girls, so they don’t know what they’re talking about.’ They’re the ones who know what they’re talking about. They’re the people who listen obsessively. They fucking own this shit. They’re running it.” (Rob Sheffield, Rolling Stone, “The Eternal Sunshine of Harry Styles” August 26, 2019. https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/harry-styles-cover-interview-album-871568/ Accessed August 26, 2019)

Have the time of your life

I too, was one of those teenage girl fans once. It is a breath of fresh air to see an artist actually embrace the people who critics tend to write off as “know-nothings”. I appreciate that Harry continues to defend those people, and that he doesn’t talk about how there’s more men in his audiences these days, as if that is suddenly going to convince anybody that he’s suddenly relevant. He doesn’t need to do that, because guess what? He already matters to the music world. I know this because his first album was the fourth best selling album in the UK in 2017, and was the ninth best globally.

In some ways, I am defiant when I research fandom, or when I write about being a fan. There is plenty of judgment out there about fan girls like me. The assumptions about who I am, or the productivity of my life simply because I am a female Duran Duran blogger, writer and fan are pretty outrageous.

Even so, I’m not one of those super-enlightened “I don’t care what anyone else thinks of me” people. I wish I were. I’m still in the struggle between not caring, and worrying endlessly if I’m doing enough as a person. I say I don’t mind being called a “crazy fan”, in some attempt to tell myself that it really doesn’t matter. I’m not doing anything weird or wrong, even if I’m the only person in my family who writes a blog about a band, or travels to see concerts. Sometimes though, I wonder if I should have stopped doing all of this years ago. Then I’ll read something, and be reminded of why I still do.

-R

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

I Knew When I First Saw You on the Showroom Floor

I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading recently.  I just finished Electric Ladyland last night, which is about women and rock.  While reading, I found a quote that I couldn’t get out of my head. I sent it on to Amanda because we’re working on something and I thought it would be of benefit to her, too. I’m going to share it here as well, because I’m curious about what our readers might think.

“Even after I realized women were barred from any active participation in rock music, it took me a while to see that we weren’t even considered a real part of the listening audience.  It was clear that the concerts were directed only to men and the women were not considered people, but more on the level of exotic domestic animals that come with their masters or come to find masters. Only men are assumed smart enough to understand the intricacies of the music.” –Susan Hiwatt, “Cock Rock”, an essay from Twenty-Minute Fandangos and Forever Changes

First of all, before the roaring chorus of “No way!!” begins, I feel as though context may be important.  I found this quote in Electric Ladyland, but it came from the essay cited above. Electric Ladyland examines the role of women in music, whether as musicians, writers, or groupies (anyone want to guess why I was reading?).  More specifically, the book targets the years of 1960 through the 1970’s. Anyone who has properly studied that time in history knows how much change occurred during that nearly twenty year period (1960-1979ish).  The quote came from something written in 1971, but I’m wondering how much of it still hold true today, and for the sake of argument, we can take Duran Duran for an example.

I don’t necessarily think that Duran Duran bars women from active participation, per se. I mean, I’ve been to concerts. So have many of our readers. It’s pretty clear they’re on board with the whole “there are women in our audience” thing.

That said, let’s take a few things into consideration. The band itself has never really gotten respect from critics and the like. Part of that reason is because of their following. And who made up most of their following?  Us. Women. Girls. Teenyboppers. Even today, when the band talks about their audience in interviews, they are certain to bring up the fact that their audience has broadened to include men. The point is, if it didn’t matter, I don’t think they’d bring it up.

Let’s talk about the concert itself since that’s something mentioned in the quote I shared. If you spend any time at all looking at the video screens behind the band, the images are mainly of women. Not ALL, but most. This has always amused me, because if the audience is primarily women, and we’re watching the show, which includes the screens…who are those images for, then?  Sure, we can and should argue that girls/women/models/etc has always been a part of Duran Duran’s entire visual package. Even so, there’s part of me that wonders, if the women in the audience cannot tear their eyes away from Simon for even a second to see the screens behind them, who is watching those screens?  Their dates?? Maybe. So while I wouldn’t argue the entire concert is directed towards men (hardly!), I do think there are images there designed for them. Not a bad thing, I’m definitely not condemning the band for them, I’m acknowledging what they’re designed to do.

Now, about that whole exotic domesticated animal thing. I’m not gonna lie – anytime I read words like that I think of “The Man Who Stole a Leopard”, which I feel is symbolism for a lot of different things.  But, when I get past that thought, I would agree that it’s difficult for me to see a Duran Duran concert in that same light. But isn’t that part of the reason why critics had such trouble giving Duran Duran even an ounce of credit back in the 80s?  The band wasn’t playing just for guys, or just for girls for that matter. They were meant for everyone.

On the other hand, I feel like there are a plethora of other examples, particularly in hard rock, where women are merely the eye candy for the evening. The music is meant for men, and they can bring their women along with them for the evening. Or women can show up on their own and then go looking for men! While I’m not saying that can’t happen at a Duran Duran concert, I’m also saying that they’re not the first band that pops into my mind when that scenario is discussed.

What about Duran Duran’s videos? This is another area that I think we have to at least acknowledge packaging.  Let’s be honest: many of their videos have beautiful women in them. Girls on Film, Rio, Hungry Like the Wolf, Falling Down, Girl Panic, New Moon on Monday, Careless Memories…I could go on and on.  They don’t just put women in their videos for their own benefit. They’re there to attract the audience the label (and maybe even the band) would like to have: men. Now why is that?  Why are men so important, and why is it that even when a band has millions upon millions of ardent female fans, why are they never given credit?

It’s not just Duran Duran in that boat, and it’s not just the 80’s we’re talking about here. The Beatles, Bay City Rollers, New Kids on the Block, N*Sync, Backstreet Boys, and yes, One Direction. By any account, all of those bands were (and still are) very successful. Millions of fans, sold-out tours,  and #1 records to go all around. In every example given, women make up the majority of their fans, and in every case the critical acclaim has never quite been there. (with the possible exception of The Beatles, where the majority of their critical success came after the band broke up). I just don’t think that’s   purely coincidence.

“Only men are assumed smart enough to understand the intricacies of the music.” 

If I am to understand that quote correctly, if men like the music – I think of Bruce Springsteen, U2, The Rolling Stones, The Police, etc – it’s because the music is genuinely good, men get that, and that is why they choose those bands to follow.  If an audience is made up of women and girls, it is because those women don’t really get the music. I mean, how could they – they’re too busy looking at the band to hear much else, and they don’t really understand music anyway. Ah. I see.

I can remember sharing my thoughts about various songs the band has done over the years. Amanda and I have done many reviews on the blog or even on YouTube. I never failed to be amused by some of the comments we received, some of which came incredibly close to a virtual pat on the head, explaining that while we’re cute, we don’t understand music.

Outraged, I’d write back, sharing my education with them. I would punch at the keys on my computer as though each one was hurting the (typically) male who dared question my intelligence. But then one day, I got smart and stopped responding. I don’t need to bother. I know what I know. I am confident that for the most part, the men (and some women) who choose to belittle whatever Amanda and I are doing at the time, aren’t going to ever be convinced of why or how we do it. We run into that kind of judgment all the time, whether it’s someone criticizing why we go to shows, why we blog, or why we’ve written manuscripts. We can’t win those individual battles on our own, but together, we can win the war.

It just doesn’t have to be this way.  I’m interested in reading your thoughts and ideas!

-R

Off the Roundabout

Shout out to Jessica for the heads up to the article that sparked this post.

I had been hearing bits and pieces about One Direction taking an extended hiatus after this tour. Admittedly some of it went in one ear and out the other as I focused my attention on Duran Duran or the school year. Even so, I took notice of the hiatus mention, particularly since Zayn Malik had already left the group, and it appeared as though the four remaining members were trying to figure out what would come next.

The one thing I’ve seen in my years both as a music fan and someone who worked for one band or another,  the “wall of death” or “roundabout”…otherwise known as the music industry, literally eats a band or artist up, and spits them out on the other side. Very few bands are really able to keep up the frenetic pace for long. Either they are unable to regroup, or they’re too exhausted to even try. It is a sad side effect of the industry, which is why in many ways it isn’t necessarily wrong to equate Duran Duran to a unicorn. Say what you will about One Direction, I don’t think there’s much of an argument out there that they weren’t exploited to within an inch of their lives during the five years of their career (thus far, anyway). During the time since December of 2010 when they finished third on the UK version of X Factor and were signed to Syco – Simon Cowell’s music label, they recorded four albums, and seemed to always be on tour. FOUR albums in less than five years is a lot for any group. Even more so for young guys who really hadn’t even been given the time to really learn about themselves or who they were as people. They will forever be associated with their fame – and I suspect it will be very difficult (collectively speaking) for them to separate themselves from their celebrity. Some may say that isn’t such a horrible problem to have. I am just not quite that sure.

I think back to those fateful early 80’s years with Duran Duran and how they characterize that time as working at a breakneck pace with no time to stop and see what was around them. Once social media is factored in on top of it all, it really is no wonder that One Direction is calling for an extended  rest period, or hiatus. Granted, there are all sorts of rumors, or lack of information, about when and/or if the band really WILL return (I think Duran Duran fans are very familiar with that sort of thing)…but the bottom line is, we’ve been there. Duran Duran fans know this road well, and although I personally have never been a One Direction enthusiast, I feel for  their fans this week. I also feel for the four young guys in question.

That brings me to the beautifully written article I’m going to pass on. Hedy Phillips carefully writes her reflections as published on  Popsugar.com, having flown 7,000 miles to attend the last One Direction show in Sheffield, UK on Halloween. She flew in for the show, turned right around and flew back to the US. (That is one HELL of a lot of travel!) She quickly adds that she wouldn’t trade a single second of it and only wants to relive the night over and over.

Phillips explains how she stood in her third row seats, and the songs just flew by. I loved how she explained that she tried to “catalog each moment” in her head and that she wanted to “force time to move slower.” I think every one of us tries to do that at any Duran Duran show we attend, never mind how we might feel when it’s the closing show on a tour. It would seem that at least as far as Hedy Phillips is concerned, she didn’t want to leave anything to chance in the event that this does become the end point for One Direction. I cannot blame her. As a Duran Duran fan – it is impossible for me personally to ignore that Simon is 57.  He (or any one of them) could decide they’re tired, they’ve done what they wanted to do, and they’re ready to hang it up. I try my best to go to the shows I can, and soak up the moments as they come. I just happen to think that the words Phillips eloquently and painstakingly typed happen to ring true for any of us.

When things are not going particularly to plan, the beautiful feelings she conveys are what I focus on to keep me going. She mentions that One Direction has brought her “some of the most amazing friends ever.” My circle is incredibly small – getting smaller all the time – but the very few close friends I trust most have been a gift through some very dark moments. Then she says something that I think explains everything, “…we all feel like we’ve been part of this thing with them. We all feel like we’re part of this phenomenon that’s happened over the past five years, and even though the One Direction fandom is massive, we all feel like a family….going to a One Direction concert always feels like going home.”

-R

“After” Fan Fiction: Once a Fan, Now Celebrity

I love reading. In fact, my other “hobby”, positioned right next to writing blog posts for this very blog, is running a street team for my friend Karen Booth, who is an author. I enjoy running the street team, although I am definitely in the learning curve of finding what works and what does not, but it’s a good challenge, and I’m also learning a lot about the world of publication. What does it really take to sell a book? How do books end up on the New York Times Bestseller List?  Like anything in life, it’s complicated…but this blog isn’t about me, so keep reading.

Time and time again here on the blog I’ve attempted to skip lightly across the waters of fan fiction. It is not an area that I’ve spent a ton of time examining, particularly because just as in other fandoms, our fan fiction seems to have gone underground. Just as some see writing a blog about a particular band to be something that I should have grown out of by now; others see fan fiction as something that psycho people do. There’s the whole “You’re writing about an actual person!” thing, coupled with the whole “You’re writing about your own fantasies, aren’t you?” question.  The funny thing is that fan fiction is  huge business in fandom these days. Pick a subject, TV show, band, video game, book series, etc…and there are entire websites devoted to such delights. To many people in the academic world, fan fiction IS fandom. Any literary agent with half a brain would likely be staking out such places to find the “next best thing”.  My point? Many will scoff at fan fiction, point and call names; but you can’t really deny the marketability if you’ve spent any time at all looking into the subject.

A friend of mine tagged an article for me that ran on Billboard.com about Anna Todd. She is a One Direction fan who has written fan fiction in a series called After. It’s gotten a staggering amount views and follows (something like a billion reads??), and earned Todd both book and screenplay deals. The fiction is based on Harry Styles (whose name has obviously now been changed in the books. Legalities, you know.) and a few of his buddies.  They are marketed as New Adult fiction, with plenty of sex scenes (in fact Simon and Schuster asked Todd to include more for publication), and are large books at about 550 pages. Todd went from fan to published author in the blink of an eye, so it may seem.

To hear Anna’s story, it might sound remarkably familiar, if we erase the part about being offered a $500,000 book deal and screenplay, of course.  She liked reading, found that she enjoyed One Direction, stumbled onto a fan fiction website (iPhone app Wattpad) where she spent her time reading (amongst sending out resumes and looking for a job). One day nothing was being updated and she decided to write her own story. Something about that story resonated with someone, who told her friends, and so on and so on. A billion reads later and she’s got her OWN fandom. She spends her time writing, responding to her own fans, creating her own community.  Her participation in 1D fandom has really become participating in her own fandom at this point.  And result? A very vocal (and not quite so small “minority) of fans hate her.

Here’s the thing, not all fans want to see great things happen to other fans. It’s a fact of life. Jealousy easily flows and divides. 1D fans who originally liked her story now swear they hated it from day one. As Anna Todd has evolved from fan to celebrity, a certain faction within the One Direction community that once supported has turned against her. They don’t believe she was ever truly a fan and argue that she’s simply using the band’s success in order to cash in.

Todd herself claims that she was never, “psychotic obsessed with One Direction”. As someone who studies fandom, I find this particular characterization and description interesting. There’s always this need to equate the sort of passion that fans exhibit with crazy behavior; as though since 1D fans question the validity of her fandom, they are crazy.  It is a mechanism designed to dismiss their concerns, whether valid or otherwise, one we see used in fandom debates over and over again.

Fans particularly do not appreciate the “bad boy” characterization Todd has given to Styles, even though at this point Harry was simply the beginning “muse”. The character in the book is now named “Hardin”, and all other band member names and/or likenesses have been changed.  This is something that I’ve seen mentioned across all fandoms with regard to fan fiction. Fellow writers and readers forget that this is fan fiction. The band, the subject of interest, etc, are used purely as muses. They are starting “platforms” and those characters are typically expanded to be something quite different than how they began. Besides, who is to really know what Styles or any other band member is really like? This type of argument, over what is or is not “canon”, is common. I can only imagine what Twilight fans must have said regarding 50 Shades…

Jealousy flows readily within even our own fan community when stories of success are told. Rumors fly. Some may be valid, others couldn’t be farther from the truth. The bottom line is that it’s all fine and good until somebody gets an extra hug from LeBon and Co…and we’re in our forties at this point. The demographic of One Direction fans is decidedly younger, in more of the teen-range. Oh, the drama!

I have no way of determining whether Anna Todd is in fact a real fan or someone with enough marketing genius to see that if she could get her stories read, followed and supported by the legion of 1D fans out there, she’d have half a shot of getting a book deal. In the end, I really doubt it matters much. Someone commented to me earlier on Facebook, “Too bad the subject of our fanfic probably wouldn’t garner quite that many readers!“, and that’s really the truth, as much as I dislike admitting it. That’s really more than half of the equation here. It might not even be that her writing or the story is that compelling – it’s that she got it read by a billion people before it ever became a printed publication. In the short time that I’ve dabbled amongst street teams and have witnessed the victories and defeats of fiction authors, talent rarely has anything to do with getting published. It’s who you know, who saw your work, and in the case of Anna Todd…building a community of people willing to support you.  Billboard characterizes Todd as a lifelong fan. Perhaps a fan of many things, although we all know that One Direction has not been around quite that long. Anna Todd has gotten a billion people to read her work. How many of us can say that?

Fan or marketing genius….we may never really know.

-R

 

Fandom Representation: SNL

It has been awhile since I took a long look at something in the media and how it represents fans and fandom.  Over the years, I have analyzed books, TV shows, and movies.  This past weekend, like many in America, I tuned into the SNL 40th Anniversary Show.  It reminded me that there have been a number of skits on Saturday Night Live over the years that focuses on fans.  What are some of those skits and how are fans represented?

When I think of the fandom most often covered on SNL, I think of Star Trek.  That fandom has been discussed a number of times.  There are two skits that really stick out to me.  This first one involves William Shatner (actor who played Captain Kirk) who attends a Star Trek convention.

https://screen.yahoo.com/star-trek-convention-000000768.html

As you can tell, the fans at the convention are dressed like characters from the show and ask questions as if Shatner is actually Kirk.  They are unable to keep actor and character separate.  How does Shatner respond to this and more?  He tells them to “Get a Life” and that it is weird to dress in character.  In fact, they are so weird that they would never be able to have romantic relationships.  While, obviously, the skit is supposed to be funny.  Taking that into consideration, what makes it funny?  Simple.  It is based on stereotypes of fans and science fiction/Star Trek fans, most specifically.  While we all might laugh at the skit, does a skit like this reinforce those stereotypes?  I am not sure.  Probably.  What I do think is interesting is that this skit came out at a time in which geekdom wasn’t popular.  It wasn’t popular at all.  Now, it is much cooler to be into something in that genre.  Would be fans be represented in the same way now?

Speaking of more modern times, there was another Star Trek skit that sticks out in my mind.  This skit features Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine (actors who most recently played Spock and Kirk in the newly rebooted Star Trek).  In this case, they addressed concerns that the fans had about how the Star Trek franchise was changing.

https://screen.yahoo.com/feature-star-trek-000000010.html

Clearly, the idea behind this skit is that fans take things too seriously and are unwilling to change.  They refuse to accept a new direction.  Hmm…I am sure that there aren’t Duranies who are stuck in thinking that the only good Duran albums were the first three, right?  Again, this skit is supposed to be funny because it focuses on the stereotypes of fans, including that they take the object of their fandom too seriously.  In fact, they are so serious that they cross the line into scary.  Is there truth to this?  Perhaps.  Does this reinforce stereotypes?  Again, probably.

Of course, other fandoms have been featured on Saturday Night Live over the years, including musical fandoms.  Not too long ago, SNL took on the hysteria following the band, One Direction.  In this skit, an adult tries to prove that he is the band’s number one fan over the pre-teen girls.

How does this clip do in terms of representing fandom?  Obviously, his behavior is supposed to look silly since he is an adult.  Thus, he should not be doing the things that the preteen fans do like know trivia, compete over who is going to marry which band member, plan to name children after them, push through the crowd to get an autograph and more.  Since this particular clip hits close to home for most of us reading this blog, I have to admit that I laughed and laughed at this one, too.  Again, the jokes are funny when they are based on stereotypes.  Clearly, there are a ton of stereotypes about young, female fans.  Are some of them true?  Sure.  Does it then reinforce the idea that fandom is only for young girls who do silly things?  It does that, too, I think.

It is difficult to analyze comedy in terms of how it does with fandom because it is MEANT to be funny.  It isn’t supposed to be taken seriously in the same way that documentaries are.  That said, it can reinforce stereotypes, even stereotypes involving fandom.  Now, on that note, I understand that there was a skit on SNL about Spring Break in the UK in which Duran Duran shows up.  I believe Chris Farley was playing Simon.  Clearly, if my understanding is correct, the stereotypes in that skit weren’t about fans but about the band, or at least Simon.  I tried desperately to find it online but couldn’t.  If anyone has it, please share!

What do the rest of you think?  Are these portrayals of fans accurate?  Are they exaggerations based on commonly held beliefs?  Do they reinforce negative assumptions?

-A

Simon LeBon – Year End Katy Kafe

I am way, way late with the Katy Kafe highlights for Simon and Nick, and I apologize.  To begin with, for some reason I couldn’t get the audio to play on my laptop (I have a MacBook), which has never happened before, and then well, Christmas happened.  So I’m a little late, but never fear, I have the highlights!!

Simon LeBon and Katy settled in, Katy with Lemonade and Simon with whiskey for a pretend “fireside” chat about 2014.

Simon LeBon on Band Aid

Simon did a Rolling Stone interview on Band Aid, so if you’ve missed out on that, check it out. However, he did share his pride with being on the original. He was one of the first to agree to doing the record, along with Sting – and even after showing up that fateful morning to realize that it wasn’t just he and Sting on it, he feels as though the song has stood the test of time.

Simon LeBon on favorite album of 2014

This year, Simon really has enjoyed London Grammar‘s album “If You Wait”. Simon describes the album as ambient and soft without a set rhythm.  He also has enjoyed another Estonian artist that I can’t even spell…nor find phonetically online…but you can find it on his twitter if you care to search!

Simon LeBon on favorite concert of 2014

Simon said that he didn’t see too many concerts this year…something about being locked up in the dark of the studio for the past year I suppose… He did go see Leonard Cohen though, and also saw Fleetwood Mac, which he really enjoyed.

Simon LeBon on favorite film of 2014

Simon said that the only films he saw this year were on airplanes, and then mentioned Cold In July.

Simon LeBon on favorite TV of 2014

Hands down, it seems that Simon’s favorite TV show was Happy Valley – a UK show starring Sarah Lancashire. He says the show was very dark, which seemed to be an ongoing theme for Simon in 2014.

Simon LeBon on favorite book of 2014

Simon began his year with Donna Tartt and The Goldfinch, and ended it with Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose novels, beginning with Never Mind.  These novels are considered autobiographical,  even though the main character has a fictional name.  We also learn that Simon reads more than one book at a time.  (Don’t we all? I have several going at one time, depending on what mood I’m in and whether I’m doing research or reading for fun.)

Simon LeBon on favorite event of 2014

You get one guess and it starts with “Fashion”.  You guessed it – for Simon, Fashion Rocks topped off 2014. As a personal favorite, Simon looks to celebrating his father’s 80th birthday as the event of the year.

Simon LeBon on DD14

OK, admit it – this is what you’ve been waiting for.  Simon says the album will be out in June or July (which really means Autumn at the earliest if you speak Duran Duran. We haven’t even made it through New Years Eve yet and we’ve already preempted half of next year.) He says the album is brilliant, (I am thrilled but I want to make that judgment for myself. Next year, thankyouverymuch.) but they need to cut down the songs to about 10 (right now they are at 13, according to Simon – and you’ll soon find that it depends on what band member you’re talking to as to how many songs they’ve got.) Best question of the Kafe? Katy asked Simon what they’ll do with the songs they have leftover after deciding upon the album. Simon’s answer, which is likely the best answer of 2014 no matter how you slice it – “We’ll sell them to One Direction.”

wild applause

Katy also asked if they had an album title. Simon said yes. Then he spoke “LeBon gibberish” and said that he gave the album title backwards.  Then he did it again, and again…each time sounding just a little different.  So, yeah.  It’s still #DD14 to me.  Yay.

And we’re off to 2015…

-R