I have been a fan for a very long time. Heck, we have been doing this blog for a very long time. When I think about the fact that we are going to turn 11 in September, I almost cannot believe it. Then, I think about the fact that we started before All You Need Is Now was released then continued through that era as well as the entirety of the Paper Gods era. Now, we are gearing up for the next one, the Future Past era.
As I began to study fandom, I attached my understanding to this great analogy I once read that compared fandom to romance. This idea was that when you first fall into a fandom and join a fan community, it is like when you first meet someone and you cannot get enough. It is definitely a honeymoon period when you see no negatives and experience lots of good feelings. Over time, you begin to settle in. You start to see flaws, imperfections and you have to make a choice. Do those flaws make you want to leave? Are they too much? Do they outweigh any of the good that you once experienced? Many fans choose to go. Maybe they had enough or other fandoms catch their attention. Those kind of fans like the excitement of the new. Other fans move beyond the “in love” stage into the “love” stage. You still love the subject of your fandom but it is no longer new, shiny or perfect. You accept the whole package. It may not be as exciting as it once but there is a comfort in the familiar.
While there is much that I like and appreciate about this analogy, I’m not sure it explains all of people’s experiences. Then, I heard that fandom is like a wave with some ebbs and flows. At times, it is high. In Duranland, that might be when a new album comes out or when a tour happens. Of course, the other times the love is lower. In some ways, I feel like that is a better explanation because it takes into consideration the activity of the subject of your fandom. In our case, what Duran Duran is doing matters a lot in terms of people’s fandom.
Right now, though, I find both explanations a bit too simplistic. My fandom has certainly changed over time, especially since the beginning of this blog. Yes, I could say that I have accepted everything that Duranland is, warts and all. In that sense, I guess I could say that I have allowed my Duran fandom to just be a comfortable part of my life. At the same time, despite the impending album, my fandom isn’t feeling as high as it might and this is where these analogies are incomplete. Neither theory takes one’s personal context really into consideration. It matters where an individual is in their own life.
When I look back to the All You Need Is Now era, I remember feeling a sense of urgency. I desperately wanted to erase the previous era that felt so divisive and hoped the new album and tour would bring back the joy and the fun that the Astronaut Tour was for me. I was all about the fun. During that era, I faced some setbacks, personally, but tried to use fandom to ignore, to overcome the losses I had. For the most part, it worked. The Duran fandom gave me something to distract myself with. It got a little tougher to do as the era began to wind down. I didn’t want it to end. I didn’t want to face what I was avoiding. I spent the same in between that era and the next begging the band to do more. I desperately wanted to do anything to keep fandom at the top of my agenda. Obviously, many readers could sense that something wasn’t quite right.
The Paper Gods era was a strange one. At times, it felt like this blog and everything we had done with it might result in something…more. At other times, it felt like we had targets on our backs as it seemed we dealt with a lot of the ugly aspects of our fan community. Needless to say, it was confusing and not always awesome. None of that stopped me from going to as many shows as I could in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Part of it was to keep reaching for that initial fun I had when I returned to the fan community. Part of it was to keep my commitment to a fandom that I had embraced like no other. Part of it was that distraction piece. I wanted to keep fandom as the means to avoid some things in my personal life.
Now, there has been a significant break between the eras due to covid, which forced so much to stop. It forced me to stop avoiding some things as I could no longer use fandom to distract. Where am in that journey? I am in the middle. I’m not where I would like to be but I am not at the beginning either. What does this mean for my fandom? It isn’t that I don’t love Duran Duran. No, this fandom is still a big part of me. Does this mean that I’m in fandom low? I don’t think that is really fair either. It isn’t that I don’t care. It is more like recognizing what I need in my life right now. I know that I don’t need to debate the quality of the new songs, collaborations or anything else. Of course, I have my opinions about all of that but I want to focus my energy on the journey for me, at least publicly. I’ll be happy to cheer the new music, the new videos and any TV appearance and will welcome other people cheering on anything Duran. This is not me trying to bury my head in the sand. I’m well aware that they and this fandom is not perfect. I just, personally, need positive and kindness in my life right now as I deal with some things. This won’t be forever but it is what it is, for now.