Posts Tagged fandom

Fangirl Friday – Harry Potter – I Open At The Close

Coat of arms of Hogwarts, the fictional school...

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I blame Nick Rhodes. Honestly, almost all my fandoms can be blamed on a member of Duran Duran. I started reading the books when Mr. Rhodes made a (seemingly) offhand remark about Muggles.

Now, with the series at a close, I look back at one of the most influential series of our time. Reading had been on the wane until J.K. Rowling made it fun again. Make no mistake, there are lessons to be learned in the series. Things like friendship, loyalty, hope, and a score or more other virtues were woven into the seven books chronicling a young wizard’s growth.

Each book was darker than the last, which some folk complained about. I agreed with it. Our world gets darker as we grow older and accept more responsibility. Things get harder. We have to make more and more sacrifices. Even so, Rowling handed us Pandora’s box, with hope still fluttering around inside it. Hope that good will triumph over evil, that there are still honorable, kind people in the world.

I love those books for many reasons. First, they are an escape. Even if we don’t pay mind to the broader meanings, dragons and goblins and magic transport us out of our mundane existences to a more exciting place. Second, as stated before, they bring hope, a desperately needed commodity in this world. Third, they brought reading back. Justin Timberlake may have brought sexy back, which is all well and good, but bringing reading back in this age of instant gratification was nothing short of a miracle, yes?

People learned patience as they waited for each new book or film in the series. And even though there were those jerks who bootlegged things and put them up on the internet days before release, we still had to wait while they were being created. No matter what else she does in the future, J.K. Rowling has gifted the world with wonder, inspired new generations, and for that I will always admire her.

 

How did you all feel about the Harry Potter series? What did you learn (or just enjoy) while reading? If you’ve never read them, then why? Please share your thoughts here!

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What Is Fandom?

We’ve spent some time talking about fandom, and I figured it was time to talk about the phenomenon itself rather than aspects. For starters, here’s the Wikipedia definition:

Fandom (from the noun fan and the affix -dom, as in kingdom, freedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest. Fans typically are interested in even minor details of the object(s) of their fandom and spend a significant portion of their time and energy involved with their interest, often as a part of a social network with particular practices (a fandom); this is what differentiates “fannish” (fandom-affiliated) fans from those with only a casual interest.

Well, that’s a fairly accurate explanation, if a bit bloodless. The thing is, as Spike said in the season 3 Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Lover’s Walk, “Love isn’t brains, children. It’s blood. Blood screamin’ inside you to work its will.” Fandom, above all else, is about love. Sometimes it’s a sick, deluded love that leads crazy people to become stalkers, but it’s still love.

The brilliant thing about it, is that it’s constantly evolving as we (the fans) do the same. With the advent of social networking and Twitter, fandom has exploded, and the lines have gotten blurred. When I was growing up, the people I was a fan of were untouchable. Now, I follow people on Twitter and sometimes, when I mention them in my tweets, they tweet back! The first time it happened, I was in a tizzy for days. I’m still pretty jazzed.

Fandom is quoting lines or lyrics, and spending hours listening to them to get them right. Fandom is reading and re-reading. Fandom is going to concerts. Fandom is studying interviews for someone’s “tells” so we know when they’re lying or when they’re accidentally telling on themselves. Most of all, fandom is sharing your love with someone else.

I’ve been a fan of Duran Duran since the spring of 1985. I wasn’t a part of that fandom until the internet led me to John Taylor’s (now defunct) website TTP and its chat room. Before then, I hadn’t known other fans. Now, I am part of a group of wonderful people who share my love for the band named after Barbarella’s evil sex fiend.

Fandom is, like the internet, a web. I fell in love with Duran, and from that I became a fan of David Bowie, James Bond, and the Harry Potter series, just to name a few. Being a fan of BtVS led me to my favorite author, Jim Butcher and to my current favorite television show, Castle. When we connect with other fans, find out what they like, we look into it. Fandom spreads its tendrils out, connecting along points of commonality like Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

What is fandom to you? What is (are) your fandom(-s)? Do you have a favorite quote or lyric you’d like to share?

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Anticipation (or, Why Not To Order Online)

I’m going bonkers. Usually ordering stuff online isn’t a big deal. It’s so easy and user-friendly over at Amazon.com that I have a great time. Well, when waiting on a new release, it’s horrible.

I didn’t have much of a choice, though. If I wanted the new Duran Duran album All You Need Is Now, I had to use my coupon and the free super-saver shipping. Believe me, if I’d had the cash, I would have been at Best Buy when the store opened to get my hot little hands on a copy.

But these are hard times.

We’re all tightening our belts and making do as we can. So when I found I’d accrued enough points from research.fm surveys to pick up the album for free, I jumped at the chance. Otherwise, I would have had to wait who knows how long until I could buy it. When you think about it, I really lucked out.

I’m still going bonkers, though. All the other Duranies have their copies and are happily listening to and chatting about it.

What a sad puppy?

Image by Cameron Bennett via Flickr

My copy will come some time next week. We will review it. There will be much rejoicing.

 Until then, there will be frustrated, giddy waiting. Hoping the album will be better than the iTunes download, breathlessly anticipating the liner notes and artwork, I will sit on my hands and try not to whine too much.

What about you guys? What have you had to wait for that made you jump every time the postman went by? Have you ever waited outside a store for it to open on new release day? Please, please tell me now, is there something I should know?

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Fangirl Friday – Fandom Midwife

Today is a very special day. We’re going to talk about a beautiful event: birthing someone into a fandom.

Coming into a new fandom is a lot like being born. Sometimes it’s fast, easy, and plop! We’re in a new world full of promise and hope. Sometimes, it’s excruciatingly slow, with long and painful labor, and we emerge into a new life kicking and screaming. I’ve had both happen to me, and everything in between. The best experience though, is being someone else’s midwife. Guiding them into the world, watching their face light up, hearing them express their joy and wonder and opinions for the first time is… well, it can be addictive.

Currently, I am inducting my dear friend Kelly into the Buffyverse. She missed it the first time around, though her sister watched both the Buffy and Angel tv series, mostly because of her age. However, at nearly 21, she’s ripe for the humor and pathos woven into this particular universe of Joss Whedon‘s making. Plus, she prefers her vampires to NOT sparkle.

We’ve already finished seasons one and two, and are about to start season three. It’s so difficult when she says she loves this or that character to keep my mouth shut about their future on the show. Sometimes I’m very good about not spoiling her, but I do often slip up and blurt something out. For example? Every time Spike comes on screen, I give commentary. I can’t help it. I say things like, “did you see how, given a perfect opportunity, she failed to kill him?” Or, “Oh just wait! You’ll see!” And then I cackle. I smirk and cackle, causing her to glare at me.

My mom, who is watching most of it with us, doesn’t help. She’s always asking for spoilery knowledge when the suspense gets to be too much. “Is Jenny (Calendar) in the whole series? Oh, she’s gonna die, isn’t she?” I bit my tongue almost hard enough to bruise when she asked THAT one. It was such a relief when that question was answered on the show.

It’s amazing to see the conclusions Kelly draws. After “getting to know” Angel, she gave me the side-eye and asked if Stephanie Meyer based Edward off of him. I chortled with glee. I thought that too. I mean, they even have the same hair. Who knows if she did or not, but it’s fun to think about.

I can’t wait to get through the rest of the shows with her and, possibly, the comics. Then we can really get down to spinning theories! It’s absolutely fantastic to revisit familiar territory with new eyes pointing out things from a different perspective. She catches things that I never did, and I see and hear foreshadowing that I missed before, like Xander saying, “once more, with tension.”

What about you? Down what primrose path have you led a friend? Or what have they taught you? Are you still friends?

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Fangirl Friday – All You Need Is Live

Welcome to a new edition of Fangirl Friday! Snowbound in the frozen north (of Texas) mostly because I’m afraid of the loony toons on the road who have no idea how to navigate in weather that we normally don’t get, I’m pretty cozy. It’s all Duran Duran‘s fault.

Last night, I got to see them play live with two of my best friends and one of my sisters. Y’all, I’ve got a confession to make. I am now in love with All You Need Is Now. All the problems I had with it were absent in a live performance. It was a short set because they shared the evening with two other acts, but it was a lovely way to induct my friend Kelly to the wonders of Duran Duran live. Laura and I had spent the morning and afternoon “schooling” her in the ways of Duranies, playing songs they were likely to play, teaching her some of the audience participation stuff they like, and so on.

We braved the icy roads and idiot drivers to get to the Verizon Theater for the Pepsi Super Bowl Fan Jam and ran into my sister, Alia, who had scored a free semi-VIP ticket thanks to one of her friends. After they had been ushered away, our threesome went to find our seats… in the far right corner where we could barely see the stage. While that seems bad, that was a pittance compared to how badly VH-1 managed the evening. But I get ahead of myself.

Don’t get me wrong, we had a fantastic time. That, however, was due to the excellent performances despite the poor management of the event. In a three-performer show that started at seven at night, Duran was billed second. That usually means they play second,or at least they would at any other such event. What that means is that Duranies who had no desire to see the first act has no way of knowing that Duran would actually go on first, their bits being recorded to air in the middle of the televised event. Thanks to Twitter, some knew that Duran would be up first. Thanks to my personal paranoia of being late to anything, our group arrived just after the doors opened at six. We saw the Twitter notice after Duran had played.

 As soon as it was announced that Duran was taking the stage, the three of us jumped up, manning our far out post like good soldiers, cheering, hollering, and dancing to save the world. Admittedly, it had been a few years since I’d last seen them, and hearing them again, even at our far away station was happy. They opened with a classic: A View to a Kill. In the proverbial fan groove, when they announced  they were playing a song from the new album, I was admittedly apprehensive. My friend Laura said that my face and posture actually fell at the prospect. However, midway through the first verse, I finally felt what other fans have been saying this far. I was caught up in the brilliance of Being Followed to which my friend next to me was going crazy.  After the next song, Hungry Like the Wolf, VH-1 stopped the show and made my band wait on stage. SOMEONE MADE DURAN DURAN WAIT. I started ducking for fear of flying pigs.

We waited, mostly impatiently, and then a miracle happened. Laura thwapped my arm, pointing. “There’s your sister.” Sure enough, there she was. She leaned over the railing with a half-smile and gestured. I couldn’t believe it. She was inviting me to come with her. Eyes wide, I said, “Can they come with me?” She nodded and the three of us chased her across the venue until she turned into the pit, and they let us down into the pit! And we SCREAMED. The difference was amazing. The band chatted on stage, and my fangirl heart was imagining all the ways they were thrilled to see us get to move closer. Surely we’d made enough ruckus from way out in proverbial left field to get us noticed. And surely we made their evening by cheering like mad women from where we stood a few dozen rows back. I’m almost certain our little group caught at least Simon’s eye once or twice. I mean, Duran knows who belongs to them, you know?

The rest of the concert passed in an overheated blur including two new songs, All You Need is Now and Girl Panic, as well as such classics as Notorious, Come Undone, (Reach Up for the) Sunrise,  and Girls on Film. My sister even took video of me dancing without me being in any way aware of her doing so. I do remember, however, that the two men in front of us just standing there like lumps actually started to clap and dance after a song or two of us singing along and screaming behind them. The big surprise of the evening was that we didn’t hear Rio! Don’t get me wrong–I’ll never turn down Rio if someone happens to play it. However, for the last ten years, the band has closed EVERY show with this song, and I do mean every. When I hear Rio I start mentally preparing to leave wherever I am. To not hear it was lovely.

The joy of the evening, however, was introducing Kelly to one of the loves of my life. Kelly’s a bit younger than me, but she’s been incredibly gracious to indulge my hobby. I was far more excited about taking her to the show than myself even. I wanted to witness that joy I remember feeling when I first saw them live. And as I mentioned before, Kelly didn’t have the history with them that I did. Her main frame of reference for the band was having played along with their music on “Band Hero.” Bless it for existing. So when they concert started, she knew almost none of the songs, despite her brief introduction to the band. She cheered and danced and clapped along with us, and I figured at that point it was mainly due to being swept away with the crowd. All that changed when Girls on Film played. I looked to my left and there she was, screaming loudly enough to be heard above the others, twenty-year old hands in the air waving, and cheeks pointed so far skyward I thought she might float away! She bounced and danced along finally really feeling like one of us. The energy rolling off her was restorative for me, knowing that my well-aging band could capture an entirely new generation who weren’t born until after their fame had withered away. In that way, the band definitely has a point: all I needed was now. Right that moment when we were all surrounded by pure joy and magic. My ego forced my chest out a bit because for all time I will be part of Kelly’s first memory of Duran Duran. In that way, my legacy lives on with theirs.

When we got home, we stayed up to watch the re-airing on VH-1. If I hadn’t been there, and had to rely solely on their representation of the concert, I would’ve been incredibly disappointed in and for my boys. Their set looked short (only 2 songs aired), boring, and the fans look disinterested when they were shown at all. Which brings me back to the subject of my post. Live shows. Nothing beats live. Don’t ever think that seeing a concert aired on “live tv” is the same as watching my band live. If you can go: GO. Always. Every time. No exceptions. No matter how tired, no matter how complicated, no matter WHAT–make the effort. I’ve yet to regret it.

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Wordsmith Wednesday – Duran Duran’s “What Happens Tomorrow”

What Happens Tomorrow

Image via Wikipedia

Welcome to Wordsmith Wednesday, Duran Duran week edition! I chose What Happens Tomorrow off their 2004 album, Astronaut for our discussion pleasure today because, honestly,  I thought we could use a little dose of hope after all the world events that have been unfolding of late. So, without further ado, the lyrics:

What Happens Tomorrow by Duran Duran

Child, don’t you worry

It’s enough you’re growin’ up in such a hurry

Brings you down, the news they sell ya

To put in your mind that all mankind is a failure

But nobody knows

What’s gonna happen tomorrow

We’ll try not to show how frightened we are

If you’ll let me, I’ll protect you however I can

You’ve got to believe it’ll be alright in the end

You’ve got to believe it’ll be alright again

Fighting because we’re so close

There are times we punish those who we need the most

No we can’t wait for a saviour

Only got ourselves to blame for this behavior

But nobody knows

What’s gonna happen tomorrow

We’ll try not to show how frightened we are

It would seem lonely

If you were the only

Star in the night

You’ve got to believe it’ll be alright in the end

You’ve got to believe it’ll be alright again

And nobody knows

What’s gonna happen tomorrow

So don’t let go

Now we’ve come this far

Hold my hand please

Understand we’re never alone

We’ve got to believe it’ll be alright in the end

(Nobody knows)

We’ve got to believe it’ll be alright my friend

(So don’t let go)

And yes we believe it’ll be alright again

(So don’t let it go)

Ooooh ooooh ooh oooooh

Ooooh ooooh ooh oooooh

 

So, we can see that the song starts out reassuring someone else. As it progresses, we can tell by the switch from “you” to “we” that the lyricist is reassuring himself as well as his audience. The fear has spread, but by reaching out to one another, we can make it through. It’s also, I think, a commentary on the band’s history itself. It was a big leap of faith for John, Simon, Nick, and Roger to work with Andy again. After he had left the first time he, for several years, was nicknamed Mr. Lawsuit Of The Week because he literally kept throwing lawsuits at them over and over. They even mentioned it in the song Notorious, “who really gives a damn for a flaky bandit.” Oh! And look! He flakes out on them AGAIN and they have to scrap almost an entire album to keep him from pulling the same shenanigans.

For me, this song represents hope in the face of fear, despair, and mistrust. Whether that hope is misplaced or not isn’t the point. We need hope more than just about anything, especially when things are at their most bleak. The first time I heard this song I cried, because it filled me with a hope I desperately needed. I felt safe, protected, for the first time in years. The point is that hope and solidarity makes us stronger, more able to face the unknown of tomorrow.

It shocked me, although it shouldn’t have, how relevant this song still feels after seven years. The simplicity of the lyrics belie the depth and breadth of their scope. “We’ve got to believe it’ll be alright in the end.”

What do these lyrics say to you?

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Fangirl Friday – Stalking vs. Strategic Loitering: What Is Appropriate And When

 We all want to meet our favorite musician, right? Wanting them to acknowledge us, recognize us, is part and parcel of the whole fandom gig. When someone goes too far, we call that stalking. What is stalking? What exactly is going too far? Maybe we should start with what is acceptable and work our way up.

Here’s the thing some people don’t understand. They owe us nothing. Sure, we give them money, in exchange for their albums, merchandise, or concerts. It’s a straightforward transaction. No, seriously. We may mention the time we’ve put in as fans, but they put in the time as well in the studio, rehearsing, whatever. Of course we like it better if they’re nice to us, it makes us more inclined to continue purchasing their product. What may trip us up is the feelings we get from those products.

So, because they give us joy, fill our souls, we want that connection to go both ways. To that end, we want to meet our idols.

A good way to do that is strategic loitering. This is best accomplished in groups of two or more, but probably should not exceed eight depending on the venue one chooses. Remember, if we know where to go, odds are others will as well.

Basically what we do is very simple. We go somewhere our idol is likely to be and hang out. For example, the radio station adventure I talked about last week. Other acceptable places are, in no particular order: concert/show venues, signings, hotel bars, and other public places. One location one should NEVER go uninvited is a private residence. This lands you firmly in stalking territory, and should be avoided at all costs.

Now, okay, we have the places, but what should we do when we get there? First, and most important, be polite…to the person you wish to meet, fellow loiterers, and most especially to any staff who might be working your chosen venue.

Let’s say we’ve chosen the hotel bar as our hang-out spot. Order a drink. It doesn’t have to be alcoholic, we just have to keep in mind that the bartender and servers are there to make a living. If we’re taking up their tables and bar space without ordering, we are impeding their ability to do so. That’s rude. What’s more, they’ll be less inclined to pass on any potentially helpful information, such as when Mr. or Ms. Rock Star tends to come down for a drink!

So, the bartender has given us the skinny that our idol will be down within the hour. What do we do when they appear? No! We don’t mob them or hover in the doorway! Bad fan, no autograph! We wait for them to come in, get comfy, and gauge their mood. If they look like they want to be left alone, we LEAVE THEM ALONE. Regroup, come back at another time or try a different venue.

If, however, they’re being approachable, do so. We don’t mob them, we send one or two of our group over to politely ask for autographs. If the water’s fine, they discreetly beckon the others to join. If, on the other hand, what we took for a welcoming smile was just gas, we back off post-haste.

“But Gigi!” I hear your dulcet tones clamor, “That means we don’t get to meet them!”

True enough, but it also ensures we don’t piss them off and make a bad impression. It gives us a chance to try again later at a more opportune moment. And maybe, just maybe naughty girls need love too they’ll remember how polite we were at the hotel and be extra nice at the backstage door!

Okay, so let’s say our venue is at the back of the House of Blues or another small setting. There’s maybe ten people total, and two of them are with us. Where do we stand? Near the big black car/SUV/limo idling at the curb! Now we wait. We see the first band member exit. He’s the one our two friends are there to see so we take the camera, ready to play a combination of shutter-bug and wing-man(woman). Oh no! The crazy stalker fan has launched herself onto him like a monkey, arms around his neck, legs around his waist! For shame!

Here’s where playing to Mr. Rock Star’s tastes really comes in. God (yes, I mean Nick Rhodes) really likes the unique. Happily, one of our friends is in boots that make her over six feet tall, sporting fire-engine-red hair, and wearing a bindi. Though shaken by the scary limpet fan, he sees her and his face lights up like a kid on Christmas morning. When politely asked for a picture, he readily agrees, puts his arm around her, and the picture gets snapped. We thank him, he slips into his limo, and drives off. Now we have a memory that will last forever and our idol is reassured that not all his fans are insane.

There have been a few examples peppered throughout of inappropriate behavior. Other things no good fan should ever do: dig through their garbage, abduct their pets for ransom, steal their clothes to sell on eBay, follow them into the bathroom, interrupt conversations, grope them without express permission/invitation or do anything we wouldn’t want a stranger to do to us.

What examples of strategic loitering have I missed? What about stalking? Share your tales of band encounters here!

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