Every once in awhile, I run across something on social media that I take note of. I might bookmark it or send myself an email or whatever I need to do in order to remember to go back and check it out more thoroughly. About a month ago, I saw a post over at Slicing Up Eyeballs, a site focused on ’80s college rock. This post focused on a recently uncovered documentary about Morrissey fans entitled “Love Bites”. If you are familiar at all with my blogging partner and myself, you are aware that we are students of fandom. Our studies, in fact, have led us to complete a full manuscript in which we examined fandom (what is it, what is it like to be part of one, and why people stay), which Rhonda talked about yesterday here. Thus, I knew I had to watch this documentary. I was most curious as to how the fans are presented. A big reason for us to have written our book is to explain how NORMAL fandom is, how common being a fan is. My question then is: Does this documentary present fans as normal or are the fans being shown expressing extremes or demonstrating stereotypes about fans?
This documentary like many focusing on specific fandoms tells the story through a handful of fans. These fans discuss meeting other fans, following Morrissey on tour, why they keep going to shows, moments they have had with Morrissey, how they express their fandom, why they like Morrissey and his music and much more. I have to say that I could immediately relate to what they were talking about! While I admit that I’m not the biggest Morrissey fan on the planet, unlike my writing partner, I do own many Smiths albums and a few Morrissey ones, too, and have seen Morrissey live. Yet, I didn’t relate to these fans because of Morrissey, specifically, but because of the commonalities of fandom, especially music fandom. There were so many lines that echoed things I have said and things I’m sure I will say again. Let me give you some examples. The documentary opens up with the fans talking about touring, as in traveling to go to show, after show, after show. The fans talked about how touring made it the “best year” of their lives and how “fun” it was. One person said, “I love seeing all my mates.” Exactly. There is nothing better than going on “tour”! Not all do you get to see many shows by a favorite artist but you get to do it with friends! The shows become mini-reunions of sorts and you get to meet and make new friends.
Of course, they described how the shows make them want more. Again, to me, the goal of a show should be this. Fans should leave wanting more. Many in the documentary explained how Morrissey made eye contact with them or other fans and that he seems to understand his fans. Isn’t that what all music fans want? Don’t we all want our moment with the artist of choice? Don’t we all want to be understood, especially by our idols? Of course, the fans in the documentary described how/why they became fans of Morrissey in the first place. They talked about his intelligence, sense of humor and how they could relate to his lyrics. Couldn’t we all make similar statements about our favorite artist? I know that I could and have.
One thing about this documentary that I appreciated was how each of these fans embraced their fandom. They talked about how it was such a part of them and they weren’t ashamed to admit it. Yet, they didn’t cross the line to be stereotypes. Yes, they wanted their moment with Morrissey. Yes, they went to many shows. Yet, they didn’t keep towels Morrissey used in concert or a fingernail or something they found of his or something along those same lines. I suppose it is possible that they did those things but that filmmaker chose not to include that. Nonetheless, I appreciate that. Fans do not need to be shown as crazy, extreme. This is one of the many criticisms I had with the documentary about Duran Duran fans, which you can read here.
This documentary isn’t flashy or filled with cool graphics or even scenes of Morrissey. It wouldn’t win any film awards but it does a great job capturing the positive aspects of music fandom. It doesn’t show any of the negatives, which I am sure are there, but instead focuses on the fun. As a fellow music fan, I definitely appreciate how the fans are represented. We need much more of that.
Watch here yourself and let me know what you thought of it!