Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Notes on fandom

Sound Unseen 2005 is over, and while I had to miss the 3-hour director's cut of The Brian Epstein Story (never getting over that one) I did get to see what happens when a couple of Czech filmmakers shoot about a day's worth of digital video of crazy Nick Cave fans, try to edit it into something resembling a documentary and then decide to give up halfway through: you get The Myth, which is actually kind of great in spite of itself, especially the part where Nicky C., smoking and looking tour-weary and distracted in the posh inner sanctum of a European venue, explains that he used to have idols, too--like Bob Dylan! Only, he hurries to inform us, he met Bob Dylan. In fact, Bob Dylan approached him.

Also awesometastic was Debbie Harry in TV Party demonstrating the evolution of the pogo by breaking out an actual pogo stick, then confessing sadly that nobody really does it anymore and it's been appropriated. And this was in 1980.

I think if we want "a fascinating sociological study of the cathartic and sometimes crazy milieu of rock semi-stardom" we're gonna have to wait for Passions Just Like Mine: Morrissey and Fan Culture, forthcoming from Kerri Koch, begatrix of the essential RG chronicle Don't Need You. Lady is totes brilliant. I hope she gets the doc on in the near future, b/c lately, my world is like a 24/7 inquiry into fandom, and I could use some guidance. Last week, some disgruntled ladyfans at the theater where I work (job #3!) flounced out of the main house doors after the Honeydogs show, and I caught one of them hissing, "How can people be so rude? It's the fucking Hondeydogs!" the same way you might expect to hear an art collector say, "It's a fucking Picasso!" But as far as I could tell, the Honeydogs are not a Picasso, just a crappy pop band, and they were not doing it for me, because when a band needs more than twelve people on stage at a time and is not ska, something is wrong.

Then, at my other job, we had an event for this insane celebrity quiltmaker man, and when I told a woman over the office phone about it she shrieked, "[Quiltmaker man] is coming here!? Tomorrow?!?!" and proceeded to say, "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god" about 20 times while I tried to calm her down. So I was like, lady, it's no big deal, it's not like Patti Smith is coming or something. And then I realized, with a shudder and a grin--Celebrity quiltmaker man is her Patti Smith. And the Honeydogs are those women's Raincoats, or Bratmobile, or Mecca Normal. Because this fan thing is wildly relative, and it warps yr perspective once you get inside it.

The begged question for me still is, how does the fan-artist relationship square with feminism? How can we salvage the potentially revolutionary parts (women appreciating & encouraging each other & their art) from the parts that reinscribe hierarchies & boundaries (setlist/autograph hoarding, backstage/VIP areas)? No answer yet, just a question. In the meantime, anybody have a copy of Fanmail for research?

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