Tag Archives: X-Files

Friends in Fandom

As you might be able to tell, Rhonda and I have been thinking a lot about our early fandom.  We have been pondering how and why we became Duran Duran fans when we did, as kids.  Of course, we can talk about the catchy songs or the very cool videos that whisked us away from our sometimes less than fun childhoods.  All of that would be true.  Yet, when I really start to think about fandom, both then and now, one aspect becomes glaringly obvious.  Friends matter.  They matter big time.

As long time readers of this blog know, my first fandom wasn’t really Duran Duran.  Well, Duran was my first individual, self-chosen fandom.  It was the first one that I found outside of my family, but the first one ever was my White Sox fandom.  My family constantly had their baseball games on.  Unlike many/most people, I don’t remember my first live major league baseball game.  I went to my first game when I was very young, way too young to remember.  In fact, if I asked my parents when I went to my first baseball game, they wouldn’t know because going to games was so common.

Even though, I’m long beyond childhood, I’m still a Sox fan.  I always will be.  I still go over to my parents’ house to watch games and I’m not surprised when the Sox come up in conversation with family.  When something awesome happens with a game or the team, my family gets in contact with each other.  For example, when the Sox won the World Series in 2005, after my parents and I were done literally jumping up and down with joy, we called my sister and my brother to celebrate with them.  Thus, I can’t separate my Sox fandom from my family.  They made me a fan and they keep me a fan.

When I was about 8 years old, I became a Duran Duran fan.  I don’t really remember the exact song or video that I heard first.  I know that I listened to Top 40 radio and loved having MTV on in our TV room.  My childhood best friend, Beth, did, too.  Thinking back, I know that I liked what songs I heard and saw but I don’t think I became a fan until Beth and I talked about the band.  I have no clue who mentioned the band first but once that conversation happened, we were definite fans.  I often state how the Reflex made me a dedicated fan.  After all, the song and video became extremely popular in 1984 and it featured one seriously good-looking John Taylor.  While Beth and I drooled over John Taylor, we reinforced our newly formed fandom by constantly watching and talking about him.

We frequently exchanged phone calls whenever the video aired on MTV.  Soon enough, we searched to find the best magazines to buy and share with the other person.  The two of us spent many hours at Beth’s house watching Sing Blue Silver over and over on video since her family purchased their first VCR months before my family did.  With every fan activity we did, our fandom grew stronger.  Our friendship did, too.  We shared a common love, a common passion.  Our get togethers had a theme, a reason for happening.

Unfortunately, life circumstances separated us, geographically.  My dad’s job forced my family to move about 70 miles away.  While we tried desperately to remain best friends, distance made it tough, especially once her family moved as well making our separation even more substantial.  Our lives no longer could surround our friendship with each other or our Duran Duran fandom.  School and other activities drew us away despite our phone calls and weekend get togethers.

I distinctly remember a phone call I made to Beth in 1986 or 1987.  During that call, Beth told me matter-of-factly that she had taken down her Duran posters and was “moving on”.  My spirit was crushed.  I already felt isolated and an outsider in my new hometown.  Knowing that Beth still loved what I loved gave me the strength to be the weird one, the outsider.  At that moment, I felt incredibly alone and so uncool.  Was there something wrong with me, I wondered.  Should I, too, be moving on?  Was it wrong of me to continue to love this band?  I didn’t know.

I attempted to maintain my fandom.  For example, I bought Notorious as soon as it came out and tried to love it as much as I did the previous albums.  Fandom activities remained as I still searched for magazines and watched MTV for new videos and news but soon found myself losing interest.  Not having anyone to talk to about Duran took a lot of the fun away.  Soon, I found myself searching for a new interest that would fulfill the gaping hole of my heart.  That search lead me to other bands like Depeche Mode or even Skinny Puppy but none really grabbed me as my Duran did.

Once adulthood hit, I began to go beyond bands but looked for other forms of entertainment to grab me.  I focused on Star Trek for awhile as I figured that would bring me closer to my brother, which it did.  Yet, that didn’t provide the same level of excitement that Duran did as a kid.  Then, a little show called Roswell began to air on TV, focusing on a group of outsiders.  Something deep inside of me could relate to that feeling of not belonging, of being a perpetual outsider despite appearing to fit in.  The interest grew, leading me to seek out others who loved the show like I did.  As I formed connections with other fans, my passion grew.  Finally, I felt something like what I had as a kid.

Unfortunately, the show did not last long but some of the friendships I made during its run have.  In fact, my friends from that fandom are coming out for a weekend in a couple of weeks.  In the case of this fandom, the demise of the show led for all of us to pull away from it slowly, but collectively.  I didn’t feel the same sense of isolation and otherness as I did when Beth pulled back from her Duran fandom.  Perhaps, part of the reason for that is because I also rediscovered Duran Duran at the same time.  Maybe, the pull back from the fandom did not feel like a rejection of me, which in many ways is what Beth leaving Duran felt like.

Since then, my focus truly has been my Duran Duran fandom.  Despite this focus, other interests periodically grab me and threaten to pull me in.  For example, I was super excited when X-Files returned as that is a show that I have dearly loved.  During those new episodes, I found myself seeking out other fans, but no real connections were made.  Will my interest increase if there is a season 11?  Of course.  Will I seek out other fans then?  I suspect that it is possible.  That said, I believe that my passion will be temporary, though, unless real connections are made with other fans.

When I think about fandom throughout my life, the only logical conclusion I can have is that friends are essential to me diving deep into an interest.  They also help to maintain fandom for me over time.  In thinking about Duran Duran, I have to wonder if I would have become this hardcore had I not found Rhonda.  Would I still be as passionate about them today without her or other friends I have made?  Would I feel that same sense of isolation and loneliness if Rhonda were to leave the fandom like I did when Beth did?  I suspect I would.

Clearly, for me, friendship and fandom have gone hand-in-hand and will continue to do so.  What about the rest of you?  Is that true for you?  If not, how do you keep your interest in a fandom up without others to feed off of?

-A

I Can’t Escape the Ghost of…Fandom

I can’t escape fandom.  I don’t really know that anyone can in modern American culture as fans are everywhere, but I really feel like I cannot escape it if I tried.  Just this week, I had a number of times that fandom rears its head (good, bad and ugly) that showed me that my study of fandom and my reaction to it will never really be done, even if the book on it has been written.  Each time that it popped up, I paused, took in the situation, thought about it and silently filed my reaction to it.

Just yesterday, for example, fandom entered my classroom in the form of a super excited high school student.  A couple of the University of Wisconsin-Madison basketball players were in the school to be guest speakers for a class.  One of my students (a female student, I might add) found this out and had been talking about her desire to meet one of them ALL week.  Clearly, she came to me to discuss her interest because she knows that I know what it is like to be a fan of something.  The first time she mentioned it was on Monday and the excitement and conversation about it increased as the event got closer until, finally, this basketball star came to visit.  My student arrived to class shouting with excitement.  She was all flushed and couldn’t sit still!  Instead, she wanted to tell everyone and anyone about her interaction with this player and to show the picture she got.  I smiled a lot at hearing her story and seeing her enthusiasm.  I understood exactly how she was feeling!  When other students began commenting on how this basketball player isn’t that good, I stopped them and explained that fandom is just about feelings and passions, which is hard to understand if you don’t have it.  The class got quiet after that.  Fandom really is about passion for something or someone and this student of mine had it in abundance!

The passion of fandom doesn’t always translate to excitement.  Sometimes, it translate to frustration or anger or some other less than positive response.  Interestingly enough, I found myself having that reaction on Monday night with the last of the new X-Files episodes airing!  The show ended with a cliffhanger, which feels like torture when the fans, like me, don’t really know if or when the show will be back.  I immediately expressed my feelings online and chatted briefly with some other X-Files fans.  This is very different from how I am with my Duran fandom.  Typically, when something is announced in Duranland, I might have a gut response, a fly off the handle response BUT…like I am at work, I have learned that it is better to think, to let the information sit there for a second or two or 200 before I really react.  In doing this blog, I have developed this pattern as I know that if put some emotion out there without really thinking it through that I’m usually inarticulate and unclear, which can result in really negative reactions back from our readers.  That said, I have to admit that I enjoyed just reacting to the X-Files episode.  I like that I don’t really have any connection to the X-Files fan community other than being an observer from a far and even that might be taking it too far as I don’t really even watch their fan community much.  This, of course, is also very different than how I am with Duran.

My Duran Duran fandom is really just pretty unique.  Sometimes, I long for those days when I was totally anonymous and no one in the community knew me and when I didn’t know anyone back.  Yet, I know that I couldn’t go back to that, no matter if I tried.  I am someone who blogs on a daily basis.  I’m someone who organizes fan events and plans full-blown Duranie conventions.  I am not the same kind of fan that I am with X-Files, which reminds me of a conversation I had with a colleague at work.  He asked me how long I have been a Duran Duran fan.  I explained to him that I became a fan at 8, over 30 years ago.  After he got over that shock, he asked me if my fandom is the same as it was.  I immediately laughed.  A LOT.  Ah…no.  My fandom is now VERY different than it was when I was a kid.  When I was a kid, I was pretty happy listening to the music on the local Top 40 channel or on my record player.  Their music videos and documentaries like Sing Blue Silver were watched over and over and over again.  I looked forward to buying the latest issue of Bop or Tiger Beat and placing those little posters on my wall.  I dreamed of seeing the band in concert.  Now, I don’t spend a lot of time listening to the radio or even watching those videos.  On top of being too busy, my fandom is now focused on things like touring.  If someone told my 8 year old self that I would travel to see the band play concerts, I wouldn’t have believed them.  Once I experienced touring, I couldn’t go back to being content with what my fandom was.  I think the same would be true, really, when it comes to writing or doing fan events.  It would feel weird not to.  Those activities, related to my fandom, have become truly part of my day-to-day existence in a way that X-Files is not.

These events reminded me that fandom comes in so many forms from the squeeing teenage girl to the casual fan tweeting a reaction to the latest release to someone like me who dived so deep into her fandom that it can no longer be separated from the rest of life.  It seems to me that all types of fans, from the casual fan (like my X-Files example) to the more serious (like my student) to the most intense like me and Duran, are worthy.  I’m happy that I get to be or got to be a little like all those types of fans.  It brings an understanding of fandom that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.

-A

Easter Eggs and Fandom

I have been watching the new episodes of the X-Files that have been airing for the last month.  A couple of weeks ago, an episode entitled Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster.  This episode caught a lot of attention for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest reason was its inclusion of what is called “easter eggs”.  What exactly are “easter eggs”?  According to Wikipedia, “An Easter egg is an intentional inside joke, hidden message, or feature in an interactive work such as a computer program, video game or DVD menu screen. The name has been said to evoke the idea of a traditional Easter egg hunt.”  Okay, so if easter eggs are like inside jokes or hidden messages, why would a TV show opt to include them in an episode?  The answer is simple.  It is a way to include fans.  For example, when Mulder says at the end of the episode, “I WANT to believe,” all X-Files fans recognize that phrase from the poster that was behind Mulder’s desk for the 9 years that the series originally ran.  The fans could watch the episode and feel like they had inside info that a non-fan would not.  Fans felt included, important.

While the use of so-called “easter eggs” is usually done in various media like DVDs or TV episodes, I believe hidden message and inside jokes can be found in any fandom.  I believe that “easter eggs” can be found in the Duran Duran fandom, too.  There are actions or phrases that might be seen at a show, for example, or in a video that means something to Duranies.  Other people viewing the same thing would not see this actions or phrases as anything.  They would be seen as unimportant to non-fans.  This got me thinking about what are those in Duranland.  What are those actions and phrases that only Duran Duran fans would get or think of as important/interesting/cool that show some sort of recognition to fans?

When I think about the answer to my own question, I cannot help but think of lyrics in recent albums that seem to speak directly to fans.  Here are some that come to mind:

  • “I’ve been traveling around now, big world with my brothers”–That is what touring feels like for fans who can do that! (Last Night in the City)
  • “Search light the crowd, I fix on your face”–seems to reference live shows and fans, right? (Pressure Off)
  • “And still they come to hear the drum”–fans going to concerts (Planet Roaring)
  • “Everybody’s gunning for the VIP section”–reference to ticket sales through their fan club? (All You Need Is Now)
  • “Sway in the moon the way you did when you were younger”–asking fans to stay with the band.  Heck, that whole song (All You Need Is Now) seems like an easter egg!
  • “The music’s between us” (Sunrise)

I’m sure that there are a ton more.  What can you think of that would function as a hidden message to fans?  What would you WANT to see if Duran filmed a new documentary, for example?  What are phrases or actions that always catch Duranies’ attention?  Some of the examples I think of here go back to early videos or Sing Blue Silver.  Here are some of the things I thought of:

  • “Gimme a wristband”
  • “Hello.  Good evening and welcome to our show!”
  • “Roger needs two hands for his.”
  • “Switch it off!”
  • “We’ll have to spend more time in nightclubs!”
  • The New Romantic dance from the Planet Earth video
  • Using pink and blue phones or drinks from the Rio video
  • That punching like dance move from Wild Boys  (Heck, Simon sort of dances like the actors did in Wild Boys now.)

After thinking about all of this for awhile it hits me, Duran sort of did this very thing by the cover of Paper Gods.  Those images all mean something to the FANS.  We all know that smile is from Rio or that angry mouth is Wild Boys.  Other people would look at that cover and not get it.  Non-fans wouldn’t know that those are images from Duran Duran’s past.  The fans knew that, though.  Thinking this gives me a little bit more appreciation for that album cover now.

I think all fans want easter eggs, in order to receive validation that they matter.  Fans want to know that their knowledge and loyalty are appreciated qualities.  Easter eggs do more, though, as they work to separate casual viewers and listeners from serious fans.  On that note, I would not mind, at all, if Duran Duran wanted to do more inclusion of easter eggs moving forward.  It doesn’t matter where they put them–song lyrics, videos, live in concert video, documentaries, tour books, album covers, etc.  It is a nice way of acknowledging shared knowledge between the object of fandom (in this case–Duran Duran) and the fans.  Fans deserve that.

-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

To Keep Me Company

This weekend, I will be spending it with a couple friends of mine.  I have mentioned these particular friends before on this blog.  One of them lives in Chicago and one of them lives in Minneapolis.  They are around the same age that I am.  Where did we meet?  How did we meet?  Simple.  We met online around the year 2001 on a fandom message board.  At first, we were just screen names and avatars to each other.  Then, we started finding out information about each other beyond what we saw on  the message boards that we frequented.  Finally, we decided to take a chance, to meet in person.  In 2002, this wasn’t something I did.  Ever.  It was weird to me and to other people.  The thought of driving to see people I had never talked to in person or met seemed not only strange but slightly dangerous.  What if these people were psycho?  What if they were creepy?  Would I feel trapped?

Yet, we got together, despite any and all reservations we might have had.  Like many other meetings in fandom, we had an instant connection, an instant understanding of each other that, at first, seemed to be connected to our fandom of choice (we were all part of the Roswell TV show fandom), but quickly expanded beyond.  Roswell ended a long time ago as did our participation in that fan community.  Would it return, though, if the show did?  I think about all of those X-Files fans who are super excited that X-Files is returning in some form.  Did they remain in the fandom the entire time or did the return of the series spur some people to rejoin and reach out to other fans?  Or was it other fans who actually brought them back to the fold?

I don’t really follow much about Roswell in social media anymore.  I don’t frequent message boards about the show.  If, for some crazy reason, the show, in some way, shape or form, returned, would I even hear about it?  It is doubtful, especially when I’m super busy and don’t even check into social media for days on end.  How then would I hear about it?  Simple.  I would hear about it through my friends, the people who once were fans and could be again.  This might be the case for X-Files, too.  This might be the case when Duran Duran releases #DD14.  I know a lot of people who used to be involved with the Duran Duran fandom who have left for a variety of reasons. How would they hear about a new album?  Through people like me!  For some of those friends/former fans, all they would need to hear is that Duran Duran has a new album and they will check it out.  Others, though, would need more.  They might need me to be even MORE enthusiastic than I normally am about a Duran Duran album (and that is saying something since I am one-half of a blog that posts daily about being Duranies!)!

What would cause me to be even more excited than normal about a new Duran album?  I don’t know.  Certainly, I talked a LOT more about All You Need Is Now than I did about Red Carpet Massacre because I liked AYNIN more.  Thus, a good album would help me and people like me talk about a new Duran Duran album and get others interested.  Similarly, if I was going to see them live a bunch, I would definitely be talking about them and the new album more.  For the record, I would be talking about Duran to lots of people then!  Not only would former fans hear about them and the album, but so would colleagues, other friends, family, etc.  Of course, if there was a really special event planned that I was fortunate enough to attend that worked to get me really excited, then no one would be able to shut me up.  NO ONE.  I would love that, too.  I would love to see former fans come back to the fold.  It would certainly mean more fun times for me, but for other fans, too.  I think we would all feed off of each other!  Our excitement would build and build and build!

Ah, yes, sometimes, I do think it is fans that promote, bring back old fans and, maybe, even gather some new ones!  That would happen if Roswell returned for my little group of friends from that fandom.  I’m willing to bet that it happened for the X-Files fandom.  It could happen with Duranies, too!

-A