For the R.E.M. fans among us

A little fandom in the Sunday comics (click for full size):

Pearls before swine

I was cracking up before I even noticed the R.E.M. poster and Stipe portrait in the first frame.

I was bummed that they replaced Foxtrot with all its World of Warcraft/adolescent computing humor with this strip, but this might make it all ok.

Hating fans for loving TV

<rant>A quick followup to yesterday’s post about the fan campaign to save the canceled TV show Jericho. The campaign got Slashdotted. There are TONS of comments. And what do they say? Things like:

It’s a TV show. Get over it. They cancelled Firefly, now Jericho is gone. As an alternative, these people should consider:

1) Going to the gym
2) Taking a loved one out to dinner
3) Taking up art
4) Relaxing with friends over the internet
5) Fixing some of those pesky things around the house
6) Getting a dog for companionship instead of a television
7) Volunteering for experiments on drugs to treat obsessive compulsive disorder
8) Going for a walk in the woods and experiencing nature
9) Getting a tan

There are so many other things to do in life that worry about a man soap opera.


Wow. Thousands of Americans are dying in a foreign war that by all accounts we are not doing well in, and the opposition party is much less concerned with fixing the problem than making political hay. Our health care system is a shambles. A major American city is also still in shambles more than a year after an enormous natural disaster.

After all that, what makes Americans stand up and say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” but a canceled television show.

My fellow citizens, and all you others, I fear that this may be a grave sign of the failure of the American Experiment.

I’m ok with the comments that say “Jericho went downhill half way through the first episode” or make critiques of the show to argue that its cancellation was ok. Criticizing the show’s quality is fair game.

But this kind of criticizing the fan to get-a-life response is so patronizing and misguided. It assumes that people who campaign to save a show don’t care about or do anything else. As though fighting for a TV show cannot possibly be done by a person who also fights to stop wars, or to clean their house, or to have loving relationships with people around them. As though it takes 16 hours a day every day to ship some peanuts to CBS.

I know. Stereotyping fans as pathetic losers with no lives is an old one and it’s not going anywhere, but, you know, it’s so logically and empirically flawed. And what do the people who espouse it get out of it? They’re way superior because they… fight against fan campaigns by posting comments on Slashdot? Wow. Way to be an activist!


The fight for Jericho

Post-apocalyptic TV show Jericho was canceled on short notice recently, leaving its faithful fans scrambling to try to save it. “Scramble” might be the wrong word, because in fact it’s a delightfully well-coordinated effort, complete with daily missions and 14,684 pounds of nuts.

My own attachment to the show is 2-fold: the opening shot is of an earth art work by Lawrence artist Stan Herd, and Jericho is supposedly modeled a little bit on Lawrence. Sure we don’t have mountains here, but they came to town to shoot exterior shots and the upper half of town (North Lawrence) officially renamed itself Jericho for a day when Skeet Ulrich and gang came to visit before the show’s launch. At this point we might note that this is not the first post-apocalyptic scenario set more or less in Lawrence. Way back when, The Day After was filmed here, complete with hundreds of KU student extras lying around pretending to be dead.

Which is to say, I guess, that people like me who haven’t actually seen it are probably behind its cancellation. Sorry. I hope they get their show back.

Update: Those of you popping in directly to this post may be interested to see my follow-up post about Jericho fan-bashing here.

Song Blogging

About 2 months ago Matthew Perpetua started a blog called Pop Songs 07 with the goal of writing about every R.E.M. song. He’s not posting the songs, he’s just writing short reviews of them one by one. For those who haven’t been following, that’s a lot of songs covering a lot of time. Thus far he’s done over 40 of them but still has many more to go. I don’t agree with all his analyses, but in a way that’s the point. The fact that he’s doing it, and doing it this way, opens up a new way for fans to discuss the songs, each on their own, and the amount of comments he’s getting from fellow fans offering their own takes on the songs is really interesting.

Yesterday, for instance, he posted about Stand, one of the most successful and reviled of their songs. The 50+ comments demonstrate many of the things music does for fans. It brings up old memories:

“stand” was the first r.e.m. song i can remember hearing. the video was shown on nick rocks. it was a nickelodeon music video show (for kids, obviously–maybe you remember, but it might have been before your time). i think this was in 1988 or so.


When I was 15, Stipe’s long hair and shy smile in this video had me all crushed out. This remains one of my favorite R.E.M. songs, regardless of meaning, connotations, or chart position.

For others, it’s a chance to differentiate themselves from other R.E.M. fans (age has been a huge issue in this fan community as long as I’ve been following it):

Based on the postings so far, I’m a little older than some of you. I’m definitely one of those folks who remember being worried about REM’s move to Warner Brothers. Someone mentioned not being able to get into the IRS years. For me, it’s exactly the opposite: there was such a clear distinction made (by the band) between their IRS and Warner Bros albums, I’ve never been able to fully embrace the later stuff. In many ways, Green was a shock (not in a good way). While much of the album has grown on me, “Stand” just hasn’t.

It also leads to discussion of other topics:

Given the climate change the song is more actual and urgent than ever. I reat that the name Green comes from the german political party “Die Grünen” (german for green), do you know if that is right?


Gabriel, the US has its own Green party. It’s just a word commonly associated with environmentalism, and parties that encourage reform of policies that have a negative impact on the environment.

And of course there is plenty of good natured discussion of whether the song is fun and wonderful or stinks.

Fan forums often have discussions of new records when they come out, and discussions of tours when they happen, but this kind of song-by-song discussion is not something I’ve seen before [if you have other examples, please point them out!] and I think it offers a neat chance for fans to get into depth about what songs mean to them, how they’ve worn over the years, and so on.

Pull Sponsorship, Damage Social Lives

File under unintended consequences:

As you may have heard, the musician Akon apparently gyrated a little too much with a girl a little too young, resulting in Verizon pulling sponsorship of the Gwen Stefani tour he’s opening. Bad news for online fans:

One effect of the move was the cancellation of a contest.

One fan of Ms. Stefani, April Van Zandt, of Landers, Calif., said she and several friends she had met online had labored on a home-made Gwen Stefani music video for a Verizon-backed contest that was withdrawn because of the company’s move. Ms. Van Zandt, 27, said she and her friends — fans whom she has become close to but never met — were hoping to win the contest, in which the prize was a trip to California, so they could meet for the first time. “I would think they would lose some business over this, not just me,” said Ms. Van Zandt, who added that she has a Verizon phone. “People are very upset.”

No deep insights on that one except that the pullout seems a little excessive.

Please forgive light if any posting these next few days as my computer undergoes intensive therapy in hopes it will relearn how to do things like start up. Three words you never want to hear: fatal hardware error. Lesson for us all: BACK UP! BACK UP! BACK UP! (Boy am I glad that I do!) Another lesson learned: write your passwords down somewhere. My computer remembers all of mine so I don’t have to and it’s been very frustrating trying to retrieve them from deep memory (fatal access error), root directories, scraps of paper here and there, etc.