Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Boundaries of Fandom

A year ago to the day, I posted this article on Just David. Is it still relevant? … 


(Mar. 31, 2009)  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.

You’re the Voice!

This is Top 10 Week on American Idol, and once again, I’m taking a trip down memory lane when David performed “You’re the Voice”:

Ignoring for the moment that David was criticized for selecting a song American audiences never heard of (in fact, Simon implied that it was a song dear ol’ dad chose for him) – on the same night that Cook “rocked” out to Billie Jean – this did show how David was already globally inclined, inspired by pop songs all over the world, as this particular song topped Australia’s pop charts.  But, we can’t give David props for being committed to inspirational pop music now, can we?

Speculation Time

So, if rumors are correct, and we’re getting a new single next month, with an album release most likely in the summer, AND David’s new memoir Chords of Strength coming out June 1, what is more likely: a BOOK TOUR or CONCERT TOUR?

Perhaps even a (gasp!) combo of sorts?  How would that even play out? 😛 

Can’t wait either way! (Of course, I’m assuming we’ll get some kind of tour, but I could be wrong).

Spiritual David

Since this begins Holy Week, what better way to get into a spiritual frame of mind than with David singing “Be Still My Soul”? (‘Member this one?)

What Talent Means in a Musical Sea of Mediocrity

Earlier today, while I was late rushing to an appointment, after scraping ice off my car in one of those bizarre freak wintry weather incidents, I turned on my car radio, and lo and behold, the DJs were interviewing Justin Bieber and acting so star-struck it was ridiculous.  Clueless lil ol’ me: I had no idea we were in the midst of a “Bieber Fever” pandemic.  

To my astonishment, Justin “Baby” Bieber spoke in street slang (seriously?) and liberally used a bunch of ebonics in his speaking voice (he’s from Canada, right? I mean, unless he grew up in one of Toronto’s slums, who is he kidding?).  

Sometime after that fiasco, Lady Gaga and Beyonce’s “Telephone” played, and then I decided to turn the station (after finally watching that hideous, utterly trashy music video of theirs, I didn’t want any memories flooding back).  

So, it’s official.  I’m getting old.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it, and that’s pretty depressing. 

And to think I fancied myself getting younger, which was how I felt when I was being energized as an ODD David fan last year.  Which is why it still makes no sense to me when others make fun of David’s “older” fans because we happen to love him and his VOICE.  They act as if we’re “inappropriate” in our admiration of his musicality.  But, the fact that I don’t get what all the fuss is about concerning Justin Bieber or what it was about for the Jonas Brothers, back when they were the “trending” topics, or what tweens see in Twilight stars or High School Musical, etc. should mean that David is someone to take seriously for the mere fact that his “older” fans feel absolutely nothing for the “teen/tween stars” but who go absolutely gaga for David.  

Maybe David really is cheesy.  I mean, is there anything more “uncool” than having fans over 30?  heh.

But, that’s okay b/c David has embraced his cheesy self, and we’re right there with him! 😛

Of course, it helps that, now that everyone else is slowly realizing that today’s music scene is officially in the sewer, more and more folks are appreciating the rare gems that artists like David represent.  I mean, who ever expected that EW’s Michael Sleazak would defend David’s vocal talents from the likes of AI’s unfair comparisons to Aaron Kelly this week?

At the same time, it does make me wonder: how on earth could David possibly fit into the current music scene?  He can SANG, he needs no autotune (in fact, he “hates” it), and he has tremendous musical and personal depth.  Does his level of talent even mean anything, now that the musical landscape has lowered the bar to new levels of mediocrity? I mean, if you’ve got talent, you might actually stand out like a sore thumb (or show up other “sensations” for the crap they really are).

It is with this realization that I look forward to David’s new album.  I have no grand expectations like I used to when he made his debut back in ’08.  I won’t even read into anything or between the lines – whether he tops the charts or barely makes a mark.  It would have absolutely no bearing on what his potential will be. 

The bottom line is: the music industry sucks hard, and perhaps it’s for the best if David stays just below the radar, appealing to those who love him and slowly awakening those who have yet to discover him.  Slowly but surely an audience is out there waiting to be delivered from this cultural armageddon called “pop music.”  Maybe David can be its musical savior.