If you’ve followed our blog for a reasonable length of time, you are probably aware that Amanda and I write about fandom. Rather than this blog being a constant, never-ending, series of love notes to Duran Duran, we write about being a fan. The act of being a fan. Additionally, we write about fandom studies (yes, there is an entire section of studies that focuses on fandom). Today’s blog is going to be a little bit of fandom studies, and a little more “being a fan”.
If I listen close
Who watched the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last weekend? If so, you were treated to seeing Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard, The Cure and of course, Roxy Music, (among others) inducted into the Hall of Fame. Naturally for Duran fans, the best part of the night was likely when John and Simon gave their speech for Roxy Music.
In full disclosure, I’d already seen their speeches prior to the show on HBO. So when I comment, I’m referring to what I originally saw in full, since HBO cut part of their time as the show went to air. Regardless, their speech impacted me in a few ways. For one, and likely the most important – I loved seeing just how vested John and Simon were in the moment. Clearly it was a point of pride to be chosen to honor Roxy Music. It wasn’t difficult to see that yes, they too are fans. I loved that. That validated so much for me. Overall, it confirmed that yeah, even rockstars can be fans of something. I also felt a great deal of pride hearing the thunderous applause from the crowd as John and Simon took the stage. Yes, there was also some screaming. Obviously, there were Duran Duran fans in the house.
I took the cheers as a positive. That seems like it should be obvious. There were plenty of people sitting in the audience that like Duran Duran. The applause was loud, and it was long. I may be reaching a bit, but it felt an awful lot like “we’re glad you’re here”, or “it’s about time your band is on this stage!” There were a great number of peers in the audience, in addition to fans.
I can hear them singers
Then of course, we’ve got to talk about the screaming. It was there and yes, it was hard to miss, particularly as John and Simon were trying to speak. I could have written the headlines I would eventually see the following day. As proud as I was to hear those cheers and screams, I had a feeling there would be a collective marginalization in 2019, just as there was in 1985.
I didn’t have to wait long, and in fact – DDHQ were the ones to find it for me. The web-mag Vulture carried an article titled “The Highs, Lows and Whoas of the 2019 Rock Hall Induction Ceremony”.
I knew this was a big mistake
The tongue-in-cheek subheading of “Whoa: The Horny Ladies of Barclays” did absolutely nothing to quell my concerns of depreciation, and I readied myself before reading on.
“At least, we think it was a terrific speech, as the near-constant screams from excitable women in the audience hindered Vulture’s transcription. Those ’80s New Wave heartthrobs — they’ve still got it!”
(Vulture.com “The Highs, Lows, and Whoas of the Rock Hall Induction Ceremony 4/27/2019, Devon Ivie, 2019 New York Media LLC)
The chosen title was bad, at least from where I sit. Horny ladies. Really? It couldn’t be that the women in the audience actually knew their career? Loved their music? Listen, I’m no fool, and I do have eyes. Of course John and Simon are good looking men. I wouldn’t dare suggest otherwise. I just don’t see a whole lot of critics or music journalists commenting on the libido of male fans just because an audience happened to cheer loudly for a female artist. Why is that, exactly?
Then there’s the actual text, which doesn’t really make the sting any less painful. Duran Duran has been in existence now for over 40 years. 14 studio albums, a zillion (highly technical term that means “many more than I can count!” tour dates, millions of albums sold, and several personnel changes later, it still comes down to the fact that they attracted a largely female audience in the 80s? Really? Nothing else they’ve ever done or will ever do matters because I (and many others like me) once had my bedroom walls completely lined with their pinups? The time has come to stop equating the band’s entire career with the words “New Wave Heartthrobs”. For crying out loud it is 2019, people. At least get creative with your dismissive comments.
Give me strength, at least give me a light
Many took the comments from Vulture as positive. Certainly, some will say I’m too serious or that I should lighten up. Indeed, I saw many fans – mostly female – respond online, giggling over being called “horny”, some going as far as to agree. If guys whistle and cat call while you’re just trying to walk down the street, do you laugh and flirt back, or do you show annoyance? To me, it is the same thing. It comes down to deciding how people are going to treat you.
The slope is slippery. A male fan can hit it off with a band member and say “Hey, we should keep in touch” or, “Come hang out with us and have drinks”, and no one thinks he’s trying to make a pass at them. Should a woman dare to do similarly, and suddenly it’s assumed they must want something entirely different. It is asinine, and yes, I speak from personal experience. I’m 100% over it. My God, I’m 48, married, and have three kids. The LAST thing I need is another man assuming I’m ready to jump his bones. I could, however, always use more good friends. This isn’t difficult, people.
If it had been mostly males cheering in the audience that night – I can guarantee there wouldn’t have been anything written about the band being 80s heartthrobs. Instead, their enduring talent and legacy would be heralded. Their looks would have never been mentioned, much less the sexual drive of the audience in question.
It is 2019. I’m over it.