Tag Archives: Star Trek

I’m Busy Working

I spend a lot of time at work, especially this school year due to an additional class.  While I’m at work, it is not uncommon to have a bunch of students in my room.  In many cases, these kiddos are doing work related to my class.  In others, they are just hanging out or asking my advice about this, that or the next thing.  Some of these kids have been hanging out in my room for years.  It should come as no surprise that these kids have gotten to know me pretty well.  They even know that I’m a “big” Duran Duran fan.  The shock!  The other day, one of them asked to use my computer for some assignment.  When the computer was returned to me, my screen saver had been changed from the standard ocean picture to a Duran Duran group photo.  Well then!

I have to admit that I don’t really hid my Duran Duran fandom from any kiddo, no matter if they hang out with me or not.  After all, when the Rio album celebrated its 35th anniversary/birthday, I played a different track each hour to expose my students (and student teacher!).  I even watched the video for Pressure Off for the first time at work on the large projector screen.  Likewise, I do have a bulletin board by my desk filled with photos that make me happy.  These photos include family, cat, friend photos as well as photos of me with famous politicians.  There are also many Duran Duran photos, of course,

When I realized this, I started to think about a clip on the documentary, Trekkies, about a dentist who’s office is totally Trek themed:

To me, going to a dentist like this would be fun.  I hate the dentist so having something fun about it would definitely help.  Maybe I appreciate this because I like Star Trek.  Would I be as excited about a Lord of the Rings themed office?  I probably wouldn’t be as excited but it wouldn’t turn me off or make me not go there.  Maybe, it would even make me rethink Lord of the Rings.  What about the rest of you?  Would this make you want to go to this dentist?  Would it turn you away?

This brings me back to my job.  My classroom has many posters up on the wall.  Obviously, since I teach U.S. History and Women’s Studies, my posters focus on those except for my corner of the room that has my personal photos.  Some might question me having those personal photos up.  While I doubt anyone would criticize my family photos or the pictures of my cat, they might question all the Duran photos.  They might also question my playing of the Rio album or the Pressure Off video.  Yet, for me, as I have gotten older, I have become less concerned about that.  I’m not forcing my students to be Duranies in order to do well in class.  I’m also not suppressing what makes me happy.  I won’t hid who I am.  I might even argue that knowing that I’m a complex human being with people and things that matter to me makes me human.  It allows for my students to see me as a person.  This helps to develop those essential relationships needed for kids to really learn and grow.

Now, that I’m thinking about this, I’m starting to wonder if it isn’t time to start wearing those Duran Duran t-shirts to work.  That could be fun!

-A

Is It Destiny?

Was I meant to be a Duranie, a Duran Duran fan or a fan of some sort?  Yesterday, I opened my personal Facebook and was greeted with the news that Star Trek is 50.  Yes, 50 years ago, the first season of Star Trek aired.  What does this have to do with being a Duranie?  Before I heard of Duran Duran, I heard of Star Trek.  It often aired in my house growing up.  I think there is a connection between that fact and my current fan status.  I am beginning to think that being a fan is my destiny.  It is who I am meant to be in that my environment, growing up made it a given.

Fandom lives and breathes in my family history.  My grandpa on my mom’s side loved baseball.  He tried to play baseball often and when he wasn’t playing, he walked through the Chicago sewers to sneak into old Comiskey Park to cheer on the White Sox.  My mom grew up not far from that ball park and often attended games with both of her parents and her brother.  She was destined to become a huge White Sox fan.  My father who also grew up on the South Side of Chicago developed a love for that baseball team as well.  He loved the team so much that he once decided not to continue dating a woman after she was not interested in the 1959 team’s quest at winning the World Series.  Yes, clearly, my parents were meant to be.  As you can imagine, their three children all grew up to be Sox fans.  Their two grandchildren are also Sox fans (much to the disappointment of their father who is a Yankees fan).

Did my family’s status as Sox fans encourage me to find my own fandom?  I think it helped.  My siblings furthered the likelihood that I would become a fan of something.  My sister, for some weird reason, became a Barry Manilow fan along with my cousin.  The two of them spent a lot of time listening to his albums around the time I was five or six years old.  As a kid, I looked up to my sister and saw how close she was with our cousin because they shared this common passion.  They even went to visit my grandma just so they could attend a Barry Manilow concert near her.

If my parents and my sister weren’t enough, there was my brother.  Like my sister, he was much older than me and someone I looked up to.  As a young kid, I watched everything my siblings did and wanted to grow up to be just like them.  My brother spent a great deal of his childhood wrapped up in comic books.  He read them and organized them.  Heck, he even kept them in special pouches and wouldn’t let me read them because I might leave fingerprints or crumbs or something.  It is no wonder that he grew up to study and teach about comic books.  He has written many books about them and has even been interviewed as a comics expert.

Then, there was Star Trek.  By the time I was born, the show had long been canceled and was fully in the re-run schedule.  Yet, it was a show that often was on in my house growing up.  While my brother was the one to buy books about the show and other collectibles related to it, my entire family watched and enjoyed it.  In fact, our family dog was named Mr. Spock.  Yes, my brother named him but it was quite logical in that the dog had pointed ears.  One of the first movies I remember seeing in the theater was the first Star Trek movie.  To this day, the movies require as many family members in attendance as possible.  For the latest movie this summer, I went with my parents and my nieces.  Afterwards, there was a phone call with my brother to discuss it.

Thus, I was always around fandom.  My family always participated in fan activities from going to concerts to baseball games to movies.  My parents allowed everyone to find what made them happy.  For me, then, I guess it was a matter of time before something would reach out and grab me like Barry Manilow did for my sister or what comics did for my brother or what the Sox and Star Trek did for the family.

When I discovered Duran Duran at an early age, my family just went with it.  My parents accepted the posters on the walls and the squeeing that went on when I watched videos with my best friend.  Like they did with my sister and brother, my parents checked out my new passion and found a way to appreciate it.  Even to this day, when I play Duran in the car with my mom, she will often sing along.  My dad even has some Duran music in his stereo.

I saw my family’s fandoms my entire life.  I recognized that it brought them joy and I wanted that for myself.  Luckily for me, I found it with Duran Duran.  It is a fandom that hasn’t let go since I was a young kid.  Maybe, part of the reason is because I belonging to a fandom is my destiny, my genes, my family.

-A

We Could Change the World

For as long as I can remember, I have always been fascinated by what can be accomplished by a group of like-minded people.  As a kid, my two big likes were Duran Duran and the Chicago White Sox.  While I liked individual musical artists as a kid, there was something special with bands.  I know that I could not really analyze that as a kid beyond the fact that different band members appealed to different fans.  I now know and understand that it is WAY more than that.  As for the White Sox, I watched how the team came together to win.  I liked the camaraderie.  When there was a lot of it on the field, the games were more fun and there was a greater chance of a win.  This fascination with the power of groups did not stay behind in my childhood.  No, in fact, during my undergraduate years, the focus became social movements.  This interest combined my study of history, political science, sociology and women’s studies to give me a focus, an academic area of interest.  Now, as an adult, this strong interest remains and found a new example.  Fandom.

Fandom is all about a group of people with a shared interest who come together.  It is about a lot of people who are passionate about the same thing, whether that is a band, a sports team, an actor, a TV show, a movie, a book series, etc.  This passion creates a desire for  people to want to share their thoughts and feelings with each other.  That in and of itself is pretty super cool to me.  I think about the Duranies I know.  There are countless Duranies who live all over the world who all love the same band so much that they talk about them and participate in activities and events connected to this love.  It is amazing, really.  Yet, at times, fandom goes beyond that.  It is when members of a fandom accomplish more than just creating, maintaining or growing a community surrounding their mutual interest.  Then, fandom is able to garner attention beyond fellow fans.  The members do more.  Just recently, I have seen two very good examples of this.

First, I saw such an outpouring of grief and love about David Bowie from bands, artists, celebrities and individuals.  Yet, I also saw people who came together to not only grieve but also to celebrate him as well as seen by this video posted on Facebook.  If you read through the comments below the video, you can see how the people there felt that this was an awesome way to deal with the loss of David Bowie.  Others who weren’t there felt the same.  I know that I would have a similar desire to be with Duranies if something were to happen to one of the guys in the band.  I could not deal with the loss alone.  I would NEED to be with Rhonda, at the very least.  I would want to be around others who understand.  I would also want the rest of the world to see how much the band member was loved.  This is what fans of David Bowie did.  In case the world didn’t really get the love for Bowie by his fans, after seeing that video, it would have been crystal clear.

Sometimes, fandoms are so strong that fans are able to affect the object of the fandom’s future.  Probably, the most well-known and significant example of this is Star Trek.  The fans of Star Trek were not satisfied with the few short years that the original series was on television.  They kept the show “alive” by having conventions, writing fan fiction, and more.  Eventually, Hollywood took note and resurrected the show with movies beginning in the 1980s and more Star Trek TV shows following that.   A TV show that I am a big fan is going through something similar, which is the X-Files.  The show ran for 9 seasons and even had 2 movies get made from the show.  Yet, the franchise saw the end after the second movie in 2008, or so it was assumed.  Now, the show is coming back!  In fact, new episodes begin in a week!  Many say that this would not have happened if there weren’t fans still interested!  In fact, I would say that there are many fans still around who are VERY excited.  Some lucky ones were able to see the first episode already as seen by the video below:

These fans remind me of how many of us felt after seeing Duran Duran reunited after so long.  Would Duran Duran have reunited if there weren’t fans who were still interested in seeing the Fab Five back together?  I suspect not.

These recent examples prove to me, once again, that united groups of people can be truly amazing.  They can express emotion in a much bigger, much more significant way.  They can accomplish so much more than any one individual can.  This is the power of fandom.  It should also be the pride of fandom.

-A

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