I’ve been thinking a lot about why I became a Duran Duran fan lately. Not just that I heard a song and fell in love with it, but what really drove me into fandom? Almost more importantly, why have I stayed?
When Amanda and I were writing our manuscript, we tried to answer that question. We answered it by citing the band’s history and writing about all of the things that most of you know that made the band different, unique, and wonderful. Not necessarily the wrong answer, but probably not the entire story, either. We’ve been told that we need to dig deeper and really answer that question for ourselves. Rather than use the band’s history to hide behind, we should probably examine our own.
I can’t speak for Amanda, obviously. I only know my own history. She and I didn’t meet until the “second-half” of my fandom got started in 2004. Prior to that, particularly when I was in middle school, it was a very different tale.
I remember hearing Duran Duran for the first time on KROQ, although truth be told, I had obviously heard them several times prior because one of their songs had been included on a particular K-Tel compilation of mine. The backstory is that I had either asked for records without being terribly specific, or my parents, at a loss for what to buy me for my birthday and Christmas, were fond of getting compilations—records that had recordings from a variety of different artists and put together in “themed” albums. I had one 80s themed compilation that included Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” on the B side. I didn’t even notice that until much later on! It wasn’t until I heard KROQ play “Planet Earth” that I began to take notice.
The funny thing, or…maybe not so funny…is that I am not entirely sure it was really the band that stirred my interest initially. I mean, yes, when I heard “Planet Earth” for the first time, I did like the song. Enough that I remember going to school that very next day intending to tell my friends. I excitedly told them about this new band I heard, and one of them—the bossiest one of the group— already knew all about them.
At first, I was totally deflated because I thought I was going to bring something brand new to the discussion. Very quickly though, I realized that this could be the “thing” that united us. We were a group of misfits that didn’t necessarily fit in anywhere else. Before any one asks, yes – I was that aware. I think most of us who don’t quite fit in are generally pretty aware of the situation!
As I go through the semi-painful process of remembering the less-fanciful parts of my childhood, I’m realizing I spent much of it alone. I was one of those kids (and really, one of those adults) that didn’t really get along easily with a lot of people, particularly other girls. Even in kindergarten, for a variety of reasons, kids singled me out. That continued into elementary school when boys started categorizing girls into “dogs” (ugly girls) and “foxes.” (cute girls) I’ll give you two guesses where I fell, and it wasn’t pretty.
Then there were the times my teachers would want us to pick partners for projects or PE. I HATED those exercises, because I’d immediately be on edge. I’d hope someone would grab my arm or something to partner up, but when that inevitably wouldn’t happen, I’d panic and try to find a friend, only to see that they’d already paired up. Without fail, I’d be the last to not have a partner, and my teacher would have to take pity and “assign” someone to me, which typically annoyed the other kid involved. I personally believe there’s got to be a certain type of hell for teachers that pose those situations for kids.
So, middle school comes around, and Duran Duran shows up on my horizon. I embraced the band as though it were a lifeline, and to be fair, at the time I think they probably were. This band was the ONE thing that bonded me to other kids my age. Yes, I played clarinet, and yeah, I was in band. At our school, we didn’t really have time to chat with other band members, and it wasn’t like high school where we spent much time outside of class together. After school I practiced music and did homework alone, until Duran Duran came along. So you bet I grabbed onto that one, tiny little thing—liking a band—and ran with it.
Not much time went by before Duran Duran was everywhere. All over record stores, on the radio, in magazine stands—and their pinups were all over my bedroom. I lived and breathed them right along with my friends from school. I may not have had the coolest haircuts, or wore the latest styles, but I was a fan of Duran Duran. As my group of friends later discovered , we were among the first to fall in love with them. We were still total outcasts, and the popular girls still gave us disdainful looks in the hall. Even so, we had something that brought us together with other groups—outcasts and otherwise. For me, it was the first time in my life that I finally felt included.
I think that’s part of the reason why I am still a fan today. I don’t have a job that I report to, and I am not one of those women who hangs out with other women. (I never really did learn how to function well with other women in a group.) I spend most of my day alone. This band is my source of inclusion.
I’m still working on writing my history and digging deep to find the reasons why I’m a fan. I suspect that will take some time. I’m only just beginning to scratch at the surface. I challenge you to do the same. Why are you really a fan? Go beyond the music and really think about who you were and your life circumstances when you first heard them. What drove you into fandom?