What About the Fans?

This week my writing partner began really examining Duran’s fan club and even the band itself in their ability to enhance, sustain, encourage a Duran Duran fan community.  She asked the questions:  Is the fan club doing the best job it can?  Is the band?  Many people argued that the fan club is not doing everything it can to please the fans and many said that the band should be involved in helping sustain the fan community.  Now, it’s my turn to ask the same question of the fans.  Do the fans do a good job in making the fan community sustainable?  Do we, collectively, help make Duranland the place we all want to be?  While I would love for the answer to be a simple yes, I think, in reality, it is much more complex than that. 

Let me start at the beginning.  People become fans of Duran Duran because of their music, their videos, their style, their personalities, or because of a combination of those qualities or all of those qualities.  From there, fans seek out other fans.  In some cases, these fans just want to know what other fans are thinking.  In still other cases, they seek out discussion about Duran.  Some want to go as far as becoming friends with other fans.  Some of these friends will, in turn, go to shows or other fan events together.  The real strange ones will write a book together or start a blog…oh wait, that’s just Rhonda and I!  All of these fans make up the fan community.  Obviously, some of you might be thinking that you are not part of the community because you don’t post on message boards or because you aren’t on twitter or don’t update your status on facebook in order for other Duranies to see.  Yet, if you are reading this blog and do so on a consistent basis, you are a member of the community.  You might be a quiet member but a member, nonetheless.  This community couldn’t help but be formed.  It happened naturally as fans will seek out other fans.  That said, is our community one that we are proud of?  Is it one that we actually like?

As Rhonda began her little series of blog posts on the fan community, I began to think about those people who leave the community.  Why?  Do they stop being fans or do they stop wanting to know what other fans think about?  In my opinion, these are two very different reasons.  In the case of the fans who stop being fans, it is most likely that these people did not like the music that was being made.  Perhaps, their fandom was short-lived or not, but, the music got them into the fandom and later made them want to leave.  In that case, the interest ran out.  There would be no hard feelings towards other fans.  They just didn’t want to spend their time on Duran anymore.  I get this.  I have participated in a fandom like that.  I enjoyed it when I was interested in it and even made life long friends from it but eventually my interest left.  Now, I don’t talk about it or think about it.  It is done and over.  For those fans, the rest of the community has very little impact on them.  For the second group of people who leave, it is a different story.

There are fans who seem to walk away because of everything surrounding the music.  It isn’t the music itself that makes them leave, but all of the extras.  Perhaps, for those people, they do get frustrated at the fan club or the perceived lack of effort on the band’s part.  A bigger issue seems to me is the other fans.  Just the other day a couple of friends of mine said that they thought about jumping into the discussion on the blog but decided against it because they don’t like Duranies.  This was quite a statement to me as they grouped a large, diverse group into a single entity.  I know of other people who completely left the fandom despite still liking Duran’s music because of the “culture” surrounding Duranies.  So, what’s the deal?  What is it about Duranies that can and has turned people off?  Then, is it possible to change the overall climate of Duranland?

One thing about Duranies that we have talked about before on this blog is the jealously and/or downright mean behavior that can and has happened in Duranland.  We have also mentioned the invisible or not-so-invisible world of social status in the community that is perceived by some (many?  all?).  We have even talked about possible reasons why this happens in our fandom.  Is this what makes other fans leave?  I think it can for some, definitely.  Some people don’t want to deal with anything remotely like this social status/hierarchy game that seems to get played at every turn.  I can’t blame them, really.  Yet, is that the only reason that some people who could be fans remove themselves from the community?  I think there could be other reasons.  Some people I know get frustrated with fans who won’t be critical with their fandom meaning that everything Duran does is great while other people get frustrated with the opposite.  They get frustrated that other people always seem so negative.  Maybe, still, others don’t like how fans do or do not deal with their fandom.  This could be that they don’t like the people who tweet all the time about Simon or John to people who act like know-it-alls with Duran knowledge and everything in between. 

No matter the reason that people might leave, I have to wonder if those of us still in the community should work to change it.  If we agree that we should, how?  In my opinion, I think that as much as the fan club and the band work to create a certain culture within the community, intentionally or not, I think we do, too.  I think we should take some ownership over our community.  I know that Rhonda and I are trying to do just that by writing about our fandom, by attempting to create a safe place where everyone is free to comment, and by trying to bring fans together.  What are other ways that we could all work to make Duranland a good, happy  community?   

-A

12 thoughts on “What About the Fans?”

  1. Duranland should be the happiest place on earth! So why isn't it? Could it be due to the vast diversity of the crowd Duran Duran attracts? Could it be the length of time people have been fans and over time as fans have gone from hormonal teens to adults they've changed and grown apart? How many bands still have 12 year old fans along side 45 year old fans? Is that where the friction comes in?

    Maybe before we can find a solution we have to figure out where we as a fan community took a wrong turn. This blog, I believe, has started that process, but until all fans who read it feel comfortable in posting their thoughts, we're not going to know for sure.

    I truly believe this is a safe place to post. If we want to make a difference we can't be afraid to speak up. It doesn't matter if your thoughts are different than others here – we're all different and have different expectations of the band and what we want in the fan community.

    In the words of a great lyricist:

    “Sometimes the beauty of it all seems unbearable until the colours bleed…”

  2. I guess the question for me is do I really need to be a member of the fan club at all? I mean,there are certain goodies and perks that come along with being a member,and that would encourage me to want to join. As for the fans that want to treat this like a high school pecking order,that's just not for me. I have met some good,honest fans,some of whom have become friends and for that I'm grateful. Right now,time is playing a factor for me in this Duranland. I don't have the time I once did to be concerned about everything going on. Working in retail for me has been both good and bad,and I have to bear that cross. I think also,after the U.S. tour and seeing them in concert last October,everything became fulfilled and made me content. That's not to say I haven't lost total interest in them,it's that other things have now taken priority and Duran has simply gone on the back burner for now. I'm grateful that this blog is around to keep me updated and the questions on Facebook are really good and thought provoking! I'm glad that those questions are being asked to see how others feel about certain songs of theirs. I know that I have weighed in my thoughts and I will continue to do so until there are no more questions to ask. So,with that said,those are my thoughts on the matter. Good,bad or indifferent I will always be a Duranie until the end.

  3. “What are other ways that we could all work to make Duranland a good, happy community?” One word: tolerance. So many times, Duranies are completely intolerant of other Duranies who may have a different opinion or different idea about how to express their fandom. One of the many reasons I no longer spent my time on DDM is that so many there were absolutely intolerant of others. The primary example is the schism over fanfic. People on both sides attacked each other on a personal level and it was ugly, very ugly. That seems to happen over and over. Fans can't seem to stick to the actual issue but instead resort to insults and demeaning comments. I don't expect to agree with everyone else or have them agree with me but I would hope that we can all agree to have a level of respect and tolerance for each other. – Michduran

  4. You know what's interesting about the subject of intolerance – I kind of think the internet in general has allowed people to become VERY intolerant of our differences of opinions and whatnot. So many times people are just flat out rude to one another with what they say and post, as though being behind the screen of a computer somehow allows us to just say everything completely unfiltered. I know that many of the things I see and read online would never be said to one another out in public, that is for sure, and this isn't just about Duran Duran, but in reference to anything and everything. I've been reading a few books about social media and how it's changed our perceptions of the world – and this is the one nugget of information that continues to pop up over and over. People have completely lost their willingness to filter in order to “keep the peace”. It's pretty scary. -R

  5. In my experience, there is always some friction in all fandoms. I think that part of it is how strong emotions are when it comes to fandom. Heck, if we didn't care much, we wouldn't want to be part of the fandom, would we? I also think that there always tends to be an argument about how people behave. Now, is it worse in Duranland? Maybe so. That would take an extensive survey. Nonetheless, I think we can and should work towards a better community.

    I'm glad that you find this a safe place to post. I hope everyone feels that way. 🙂

    -A

  6. There is a difference between the “fan club”, which I would define as DuranDuranMusic, which costs money, and being a member of the fan community. Now, as for being content and not spending as much time in Duranland, I think that happens with all of us from time to time. That's natural.

    -A

  7. It's definitely not just Duranies with this backstabbing, intolerant behavior. I have seen it everywhere online. You're right, Rhonda, the anonymity or physical distance even when one isn't being anonymous gives people “keyboard courage” and sometimes the consequences have been deadly. Internet bullying has caused how many death by suicides? I don't even want to know. While I can't comment on DDM's message boards, one reason I've not bothered is from my experience on other message boards – one sports where fans turned on each other badly, one an author's message board where fans were arguing bitterly about a fictional character! It was like watching a train wreck.

    I'm not sure what it is that makes otherwise likeable people behave badly online – perhaps it is more like Internet Intoxication – where your true colors show?

  8. Well to be honest one of the things I've found I like least about Duran Duran fandom, in my brief time in it recently, is the amount of complaining that goes on. I think a lot of Duran fans act very entitled and spoiled sounding. They seem to think it's always better “somewhere else” and somehow Duran Duran is lacking in comparison. Well having been part of many fandoms, I can say that no really for the most part Duran Duran isn't really lacking, they are pretty much par for the course. I mean I just spent $60 on a non Duran Duran fan site membership not that long ago and you don't get possible VIP tickets or meet and greet potential. The site is a bit more extensive than Duran Duran's but the artist has been around 20 years longer and has a massive amount of material so it's only natural that there would be a bit more available on the site. That paid website doesn't even include a message board.

    As for intolerant fan community, I largely have been involved in TV fandoms and believe me, fans are no more tolerant there. There are the slashers, the hets, the gens and various mixtures of all of them, there are wife and SO lovers and haters. There are those who RPS(which really all band fic is) and those who think it's disrespectful. One side or the other are called sick psychos, close minded homophobes, etc, etc. And that's been EVERY fandom I've ever been in since 1997. I don't even fanfic and I've seen it.

    I think the biggest thing missing in Duranland amongst fans is perspective, as in no really it's not much better any place else in fandoms on the internet, and trying to not always look at the glass as being half empty. This is what I see frequently in Duran Duran fandom over the last 6 months as I've tried to read backwards to see what came before. I honestly feel most of the “problems” in fandom are caused more by we fans ourselves than by the band. And you know what, it really isn't their job to referee us and try to appease the various sides because there isn't any way to do so, someone would always be unhappy anyway.

    Does that mean that some things couldn't be better organized? Of course not, there is always room for improvement but geez, there is no reason to look at everything as a “slight” or an insult, like some group is purposely being disrespected in favor of another as I'm actually fairly sure that neither the band nor the people who run their sites are usually doing so. I feel this because I have been in fandoms where “the powers that be” play factions against each other and have serious favoritism and believe me, it looks very different.

  9. First, while you might think it sounds “entitled” or “spoiled” to want a better fan club, but I don't and neither do a lot of Duranies. If you want to pay $60 for content, that's fine. I don't know if you are aware, but DDM used to be better. They used to offer a lot more. For example, they used to hook fans up with group rates at hotels for shows. The tickets used to be better as well.

    As for other fandoms, yes, I, too, have seen intolerance in other fandoms. I'm well aware that it exists. Yet, I would argue that there is a difference between arguing about a fictional character or fanfic and arguing about how someone acts around a real person. Perhaps, we have a different perspective because I have been around for years and you have been around for 6 months. Time does affect how people see things.

    Now, where in our blogs did we say that we feel like some group is being disrespected over others? All we ask is that we look at how things are and work to make things better.

    -A

  10. I think the main point here worth making is that DDM USED TO BE BETTER. This is true. More was offered, and what was offered was of better quality. If you're just entering the picture within the last 6 months, no – you wouldn't know that, even if you're “reading backward”.

    I also tend to believe that if you're someone who is involved in many different fandoms, it's not quite the same for you as it might be for someone who follows only one or two. That's not saying it's better or worse, just different. You might be satisfied with each of your fandoms doing only a small amount, and that's perfectly acceptable. All of us are here for different reasons and get different things out of being a fan.

    As for the rest – I'm going to leave it as we have different opinions and perspectives, because to get into a debate over how a fandom should or should not be handled, or whether or not Duranies need more perspective is something that it's just too slippery a slope for me. Fandom is indeed personal, and while Amanda and I try to bring our perspective to the blog – I accept that not everyone is going to agree. I think it very much has to do with just how involved and invested one is to whatever fandom is in question, though. Casual fans or fans who haven't been around long see things much differently than someone who is more invested, regardless of whether that is seen as a negative or a positive, it is what it is. -R

  11. Steve Jobs made it his business to know what people were going to want and provided it for them before they even knew they not just wanted it, but had to have it.

    And that brings me to Andy Taylor. Andy has pulled a Steve Jobs on us. He and his team have created an incredible, informative, interactive site and before we even knew we wanted it, or even dared to wish for it, there he was tweeting with fans for six hours. SIX HOURS. If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes I may not have believed it. I look forward to seeing what else Andy has in store for his fans. We don't even need an official fan club, if you ask me. The way he has structured his site and reached out to his fans has laid the foundation for a fan community that will thrive.

  12. That is actually a very good point. Of course, that's Andy….we've still got the other band to mess with. ;D

    The beauty of Andy's site and his vision in general is that it's all there for the taking. He doesn't even completely focus on just HIS thoughts, dreams, etc – he wants fans to take ownership of the community and direction. He wants to have real conversations, and he wants to be a “WE” empire. While Andy remains involved, it's very different from the literal meaning – he's not there hanging out every second of every day and he's (hopefully) not personally maintaining the website and adding all of the content, but he's AWARE. You just get the feeling that he's personally invested in what is going on. He knows what's happening. I don't necessarily have that same feeling with the paid fan community for Duran Duran. (Please note: I said PAID FAN COMMUNITY, specifically!!) That said, yes – they ARE on Twitter and Facebook and they do interact. Those are VERY good things, and I think if the band were given a little more length on their leashes, there would be more.

    -R

We (Amanda and Rhonda) appreciate discussion and differences of opinion. We respectfully ask that you fully read the blog before bitching us out. If you're only here to take us down a notch, note that we moderate replies (meaning we're not printing rude comments). Thanks a bunch!

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