Posts Tagged 'fans'

The Boundaries of Fandom

davidhob

So, last Monday, I read with fascination a discussion that ensued about David Cook’s recent myspace post calling out his “scary fans.” Not surprisingly, a debate got under way about the difference between a “normal” fan vs. a “crazy” fan, the difference between being “obsessive” and being a full on gunning-down-Selena-style lunatic. So, how in this conversation do I go from shaking my head at some of the shenanigans that full-on lunatic stalker-fans engage in to seeing someone lumping “an adult who gushes on about the beauty of an 18-year-old” in the same category as a crazy fan who bugs her idol’s tour bus with a GPS tracker? Since I recognize myself in the former scenario vs. the latter, I am definitely having a “hold up…wait a minute!” reaction.

Let me get this straight since the David Archuleta Bus is the first serious ride I’ve ever taken in the world of fandom. Because I’ve decided that I like an 18 year old who charmed me through my TV screen last year and have been following him ever since. Because I love his voice, his beauty, and what I assume to be his sweet personality and have found an online community of fellow David admirers who love the same qualities. Because he is mentioned in 14 posts in a sea of 400+ posts on my personal blog, and is the subject of four fan videos that I created just for a whole lot of fun. Because I went to one concert of his when he came to town. Because I bought his CD and downloaded his iTunes stuff. I could go on and on, but how do any of these actions even remotely place me in the same category as a stalker-fan who bugs her idol’s tour bus with a GPS tracker? Oh! Because I’m over 30 and gushing over an 18 year old!

What I find remarkably limited about this conversation – a conversation I think is worth having – is the sexist and ageist stereotyping going on, so that instead of just rightly calling out certain disrespectful (and, quite frankly, ILLEGAL) behavior on the part of obsessive fans – because that’s the problem more than what people personally choose to do for their own enjoyment – assumptions are made about who “crazy” fans are “over there” vs. the “normal” fans we all assume ourselves to be. Such assumptions made (did you know, for example, that Arch Angels are really Claymates who needed to find a new American Idol? Funny to me because Ruben Studdard was the reason I started watching American Idol religiously to begin with), especially ones that assume Idol stalker-fans are either “unattractive” or “fat” or “bored housewives,” do nothing to address the ways that stalker-fans who show no respect for the artist they admire should be roundly dismissed or chastised for their bad behavior. Instead, these assumptions are designed to belittle mostly women and girls who dare to go over the top in their love and appreciation for the artist and his music. Ever notice how when guys develop obsessions over music or sports or gaming, and travel to every concert or fan conference and every sports event, they’re not called “stalker-fans,” they’re just called “hardcore fans”?

I’m bringing this up because I find it disturbing that it would be so easy to lump all fans in the same category of “crazy,” especially those of us (women in particular, who have often been characterized in patriarchal societies as “hysterical” since we have “wombs”) who publicly declare our love and admiration for David Archuleta (as if the story is about him but somehow Archies are a “point of reference”). For I do believe there is a difference between disrespectful obsessive behavior and just your average ODD when you log in to your favorite fan site on a regular basis and get your latest David news or watch your latest David YouTube video. I don’t have certain resources to travel to several concerts, but for those fans who do, more power to ’em is what I say! As long as nobody is getting hurt. Fortunately, JD (and prior to that, ND) has never made me or anyone else feel like a “bad fan” because we didn’t or couldn’t attend David’s solo tour. Perhaps in not being judgmental in these ways, I’ve never thought to question which of us was “normal” and who is “the crazy over there.” Besides, we’re already so self-critical and mature enough to know the boundaries of our fandom, we don’t need to point fingers at anyone but ourselves – if we care to or worry about it at all.

Having said all this, I would be remiss to also not mention that, within every fandom, and David’s is hardly unique in this way, the boundaries have been drawn, and JD is here precisely because ND’s blog owner no longer felt his views were welcome. Needless to say, hierarchies are established – from those who think they have an “in” with the artist (or the artist’s family member or band member) to those who create “insider” groups within a fan site.  Regardless, I always have to ask the basic question: why am I apart of this community? Or any community? Someone or something binds us together. Here, it is the love of the artist and his music. When that stops being the point, it’s time to move on, or it’s time to regroup and refocus.

I’ve never had the desire to be a groupie. If an artist is in town, and I want to see him, I see him. Or, if I have an opportunity to travel somewhere for vacation or to meet up with members of said community, that’s the enjoyment and the pleasures of fandom, I would think. Music is such a personal gift, a direct connection straight to the heart, that there’s a reason that music artists, more than any other celebrity, inspires the fanaticism. But, to me, whenever fanaticism bumps up against respect issues and privacy issues, then we have a problem. Traveling hours to see your favorite artist in concert is about love and respect. Calling up your favorite artist’s hotel room number or tracking his tour bus, that requires a restraining order.

At the end of the day, where’s the fun and the joy that started us on this journey? I hope we, as JDers, will always keep this goal in mind and not ever lose sight of this aspect of our love and enjoyment of David.

– Hello Gorgeous

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Feeling The Power

chicagopointingmoreredpChicago, House of Blues, March 8, 2009 (photo credit: Tom Cruze/Sun-Times)

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(thanks to LettuceBoy924)

Zero Gravity, The Moshpit Experience!

To mosh or not to mosh, that is the question! Yes, you’re up close, but oh! the elbows and the shoulders and the other body parts you don’t want to think about, that are pressed up close to you! And the endless sea of video cameras thrust in your face and brushing up against your hair. Sigh….

For those of us who haven’t had the pleasure yet, here is the moshpit experience, up close and personal.

dfl

David’s Unfolding Story, Through Music

David signing at Mardi Gras, 2009

David signing at Mardi Gras, 2009

On a mid-summer day in 1982, my sister and I received an airmailed letter from Sydney, Australia. Tearing open the letter with excitement, I immediately recognized the writing as that of Russell Hitchcock, the co-lead singer of the pop band Air Supply, an Australian band that achieved worldwide fame in the early 1980s.

I had sent Hitchcock a letter months earlier and described myself as a young fan. Without a real address, my sister and I simply addressed the letter, “Russell Hitchcock; c/o Air Supply; Sydney, Australia,” and placed a domestic postage stamp on it.

Aside from the miracle that the letter had reached Hitchcock, I will never forget Hitchcock’s kind response to a young rural girl. To my young eyes, I viewed Air Supply as larger than life. That hand-written letter with Hitchcock’s distinctive cursive writing taught me that the band included real people with busy, often complicated lives.

Now, more than 25 years later, I view young David Archuleta’s career from an adult standpoint. I have met and spoken with David several times. Each interaction was a needed reality check for me about the sheer work that David’s career requires.

Leaving LAX (summer 2008)

Leaving LAX (summer 2008)

As avid fans, we see the photographed, videotaped, broadcasted, and blogged results when David shows up for an event. However, I often think about the hard work that is not readily visible except when David shares glimpses through his blogs and interviews: Early morning flights, endless airport check-ins, performing on little sleep, adjusting (or not) between time zones, opening the door to yet another anonymous hotel room, enjoying quick visits with extended family and friends during promotion stops, learning a score received the night before a recording session, and so on.

During one night this past week, a fan reported that David did not leave his bus after his concert because, according to the fan’s recollection, Jeff said that David was “exhausted.” This moment really struck me because we know how much David loves to interact with his fans.

Visiting new countries will soon be added to David’s list. Following David’s schedule and imagining the logistics behind the scenes leaves me tired.

David at the Detroit airport on his way to record in Indianapolis (Summer 2008)

David at the Detroit airport on his way to record in Indianapolis (Summer 2008)

However, I can also sense David’s excitement. I see a lot of my young self in David. I was about David’s age when I traveled to England and Continental Europe for the first time. Through travel, I realized that the world was much bigger and messier than my small-town and conservative upbringing ever let on.

As I watch David’s story unfold, I am delighted about the new experiences that await him while realizing his dedication in making it all happen. I know he will experience highs and lows as we all do. I anticipate how his personal growth will be communicated through his music in the coming years.

When I attended David’s Ford Day concert last September, a fellow fan showed me a hand-written postcard from David. The postcard reminded me of Hitchcock’s letter that today is tucked away with my sister’s most treasured belongings. These letters, which affirm our artists’ appreciation for the fans, accompany the music that tells their story to us.

–By Freofan


Quotable ArchuQuote

"I'm just David and a lot more people know who I am now than before, but it's not like I'm a different person because of that." — Square Magazine, Jan./Feb. 2009

From the notingDavid Archives

"One of the reasons I know that David Archuleta is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience is because there is an entire category of people who find themselves inexplicably drawn to this remarkable young man who are not the kinds of people commonly–if ever–given to fanaticism of any kind.” - Rascal
notingDavid, June 1 Trust the Archulator

From the Comments

"I just listened to How Great Thou Art. NEVER have I heard anything so moving and beautiful. Just when I think I’ve heard the most beautiful sound in the world, he goes and does something like this. He keeps outdoing himself. I swear his voice could stop wars.."
— betsy

Archu-love

"He pulls us up on stage with him,” all right! Then he shakes the dickens out of us ’til all the stuffing comes out our heads!! GAH.
- — highervibe

Random ArchuPoetry

Wishing for wings, I've waited
but none were sprouting
then you came to take me up.
-highervibe

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