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?