the troubled diary of a David Bowie fan, day 20

David Bowie - Ziggy6

I am confused, as to the nature of fandom.

It is not something I have often considered, not with regard to myself. Not least because (to me) being a fan indicates that you exist within a wider community of fans. This is what I have always assumed, if I assumed anything. One cannot exist without the other. Like football, or collecting superhero comic books in the 1970s. Attending concerts. Losing control. Always (usually?) in the company of others. I do not know why I assume this, now I think about it. It does not seem to make logical sense that one is dependant upon the other. Except that subcultural theory sort of demands that it does, that you have your status as a ‘fan’ validated in relation to others – some more ‘real’ and ‘authentic’, others transitory or late come. Social status. Your social status as a fan. Except I do not seek validation from others in relation to my love for music (maybe I did once?). Is fandom tribal or individual? Both simultaneously? Who has the authority to confer the status of fan upon an individual except for other fans? And who has the authority to confer status upon those fans… and so on. Who watches the watchmen?  I guess this is why I have never thought of myself as a fan of certain singers or bands, even though I guess I exhibit many of the symptoms of such: semi-obsessive collecting, quick to raise to anger in defence, lines drawn in the sand if others do not agree. Refusal to see both sides. Is this fandom or simple tunnel vision?

Conventionally, even by my own conventions, I am not a David Bowie fan. I only realised how much I liked several of his albums (beyond Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust, which I already knew about) when I started listening to several of his albums, which only occurred after he died 20 days ago. Does this make me less of a fan than those who have attended every away game, bought every programme, know the name of every player? If you believe Bourdieu and Thornton, then perhaps so. This is where our paths must start to diverge, I think. This is not fandom to me, proof. Indeed, proof of fandom can often turn me off because it can often turn into a game of oneupmanship.

I grieve more than you grieve.
I care more than you care.
I know more than you know.

Sure, I too have done that in regard to other bands.

I love Beyoncé’s music too. Beyoncé and Girls Aloud. Loved one or two singles (like Bowie) and then had a reawakening, regards pop, after seeing Beyoncé perform at Brisbane Entertainment Centre a couple of years ago. Does this mean I love their music less than you, you who have idolised their every movement since Day Zero?

Since when did love for music or a star turn into a competition? Is that the nature of fandom? Or am I transparently shallow, hipster? Coffin chaser. Rubbernecker. I knew there were certain Bowie singles I loved, but for decades I was very caught up with the notion of authenticity…and I am sorry kids, but that made it difficult for me to love his music like others. I ditched that ridiculous non-concept finally some time in 2015 (that recently), and. And. And I never needed to listen to Bowie and ride with him out to the stars – no more than I listened to anyone else great and shit in equal amounts – because I have a knowledge and instinct around music that means I could listen to the people who he was ripping off in his stead, and listen to the people who ripped him off in his stead. I like the obvious route, but not when it is so obvious.

So. Bowie. Me? A fan. Let us not think too hard about definitions. It will lead nowhere.

As I type these words I am not listening to Bowie…although he has been constantly on my speakers for 20 days now. Old Sugababes albums, of course.

Pop music.

2 Responses to the troubled diary of a David Bowie fan, day 20

  1. Jonathan says:

    One question, if I may. You say that now that you are no longer caught up with the notion of authenticity, you are more into Bowie’s music. Is there any music that you find LESS interesting now that you’re done with that notion? Just curious.

    • everetttrue says:

      that’s a fair question and yes, there is plenty of music I find less interesting these days. Indie, in particular. (Not mainstream rock necessarily, because I always appreciated that was mostly artifice.)

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