My colleagues and I use a framework at work called “Thinking Like a Historian” in setting up our lessons for United States History. Part of this framework includes asking students to do a variety of tasks in order to reach complete understanding. For example, they have to analyze events by looking at cause and effect. Another means of reaching understanding might be by asking the question, “What if?” I particularly like this one. What if the South won the Civil War? What if women didn’t get the right to vote through the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920? What if Stalin let the Soviet Union’s military back off in World War II? As you can imagine, the questions are limitless. Part of the fun is that there is no right or wrong answer. The answer is always a guess.
Obviously, the fun could be expanded beyond history but even to Duran Duran and the band’s history. What if MTV wasn’t around? What if the band decided not to go with teen magazines? What if the band didn’t reunite? Now, typically, this question applies to past events but we could apply it to the future as well. So, here is the question I pose. What if the band does not do anything for the 40th Anniversary? Now, before you all freak out, I am not asking this because I have some insider info that the band is not planning to do anything. I have no clue what they are going to do or not do. I am just asking the question to determine how much this celebration really matters.
I haven’t really thought much about the 40th Anniversary. Yes, I heard some fans starting to groan in 2018. For them, they assumed that 2018 was the date of the anniversary since the band formed in 1978. Heck, the band used to have t-shirts that said 1978 as a means of honoring their history. Those fans wondered why the band wasn’t doing anything in 2018. They felt that the band was missing an opportunity there. I cannot say that I was one of those fans even though I got where they were coming from. Maybe, I didn’t sweat it because I was so busy in 2018 with the Midterms. I also understood why the band might celebrate 1980 instead of 1978 since that was when Simon joined the band. So, I didn’t worry too much. I assumed that it might be 2020 before we saw some sort of celebration.
Since I figured that I would have a couple of years before any sort of announcement of shows or events, I just quietly started to save and talk some general ideas of participating with Rhonda. I won’t lie in saying that I have been saving money in hopes of making it back to the UK in 2020, assuming that there would be something amazing happening there. This idea appeals to me greatly. I would love to take a big trip with Rhonda. It has been far too long. On top of that, I really do love the UK and would love to see my friends there. But what if it doesn’t happen?
Would I be disappointed if there is no big party in the UK in 2020? Yes. Would I be sad if there was no celebration at all? Of course. I think most fans would. What are some of the reasons to be sad? First, I suspect that fans want to have something to push the band to do something really cool. People want something beyond just creating new music or headlining a few festivals (not that those aren’t cool). Obviously, a big anniversary would do that. After all, we have all learned the usual pattern. The band goes into the studio and creates new music. Often, this process takes years. Then, the band promotes the new music. They do it, first, through interviews and performances on TV before otherwise before hitting the road. Those concerts are filled with many of the new songs before the process starts over. Duranies know this pattern, get it and even like it. We all get excited by the new music and we definitely get thrilled with any sort of touring. But I think fans would like something more or different and an anniversary could provide the reason for it.
What do I mean by saying something different or special? I’m not even sure. Maybe it could include special releases or unreleased tracks. Perhaps, it would be special shows or a residency. I could see some special events beyond typical concerts. No matter the form, I think that fans want to see something. I think Duranies want to really celebrate Duran Duran. After all, this band means a lot to people. Maybe this would be a chance to really show how much.
On top of that, not doing something would definitely feel like a lost opportunity beyond the fans. Would the anniversary and everything that could come with it create some publicity? Some attention? I would think so. Then, how much money could those things bring in? Not only would the diehard fans buy but I could see other people who might have liked the band at one point purchasing as well. Could that bring people back into the fandom?
So, it seems to me that the answer to the question, “What if Duran does not do anything for the anniversary?” is simple. It would be a lost opportunity.