Did you know that on this date in 1984, Nick and Simon were presenters for the MTV Video Music Awards? I suppose nowadays they just call them the VMA’s… In any case, that got me thinking about how MY world has really changed. Back in 1984, video was truly king. I could come home from school and watch Richard Blade – on TV no less – hosting Video One. It was on at 3pm where I lived and it was the most important part of my day. I LOVED videos, because they brought the song to life. Sure, a lot of the time the video had almost nothing to do with the song whatsoever – but somehow the idea of relating pictures/images to music resonated with not just me, but my entire generation. There aren’t many songs from the 1980’s (alternative music) that I can listen to without picturing the video in my head, and I’ll bet I’m not the only one out there that can relate.
As a Duran Duran fan, I know that video was HUGE to the band. Duran Duran have truly made the most of their career in large part due to their constant attention to their image – video was an outstanding way to broadcast that image worldwide. In all my time as a fan, I’ve yet to run across a fellow fan of Duran Duran who hasn’t spent many hours in front of their TV watching and re-watching their videos, squealing in delight as their personal favorite flashes on the screen. It was a big part of what made following the band so fun. We could see and hear them everywhere: on the radio, on TV for interviews, video shows, MTV, in magazines and even books. I suppose to some extent it was hard to avoid them, and yet maybe that was the point.
Personally, I think they are having a difficult time adjusting without it. Yes, I know they made videos for Reach up for the Sunrise, What Happens Tomorrow and most recently – Falling Down. How many within the general public know that? Go ahead, consider that briefly. I’ll wait……. most likely no one but fans have really seen videos made by the band within the last 10 years. A fact that pains me to admit. Videos certainly lack the importance they had back in the 80’s, and yet *I* absolutely squealed in delight when I saw Sunrise for the first time. I don’t really know that a video has that same effect on someone in the golden 13-25 age bracket that the record labels love. My own 13 year old is typically less-than-impressed by videos, to be sure. That fact makes me incredibly sad, but the truth is – this generation doesn’t really NEED video. They have access to more information, images, music and people than any of us ever had back when we were teenagers. The internet is up and running 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week…with all of that going on, there’s no time or interest for a video shot in a fantasy location. I try my best to explain to my daughter what she’s missing out on – there really is nothing better than watching John Taylor strapped to a car on late night television – then she whips out her smart phone and before I know it she’s showing me what some young icon from her generation has sent out from Twitter as a status update. She tells me that fantasy is great, but getting real messages from her favorites feels like a real connection, because she can answer her back and possibly even get a message in return. Is that really all there is to it for kids today? I don’t know…for me it’s a far cry from watching Roger Taylor in New Moon on Monday, or Simon in the Arcadia video for Election Day. I’ll take the fantasy, thank you!
Without video as a major marketing and promotional tool, I believe bands like Duran Duran really are having to relearn the biz, and it appears that the learning curve is gigantic. Not only do they have the challenge of becoming/remaining relevant to a generation that weren’t even around in the 80’s, they also have to learn to work within the digital world. No longer is video king – it’s now the internet that is king.
In some ways, YouTube has become the MTV of today – with independent, unknown directors. YouTube is fascinating – you can find a video on almost anything there. People create their own, bands upload their official videos, and all of it is available for any one else to see. As a “dangerouslycloseto40-something”, the fact that I have so much information at my fingertips is both handy and frightening. There is a lot out there that I never wanted to know much about, OR see….yet the younger generation has a huge appetite for all of it. They want no barrier between themselves and their celebrity favorites (music or otherwise), they want no fantasy, and they crave instant gratification. Will a band like Duran Duran be able to evolve enough to remain relevant, or will they simply fade into the background and become the muzak for my own generation? (I’ve already heard them several times at the grocery store – but thank goodness it’s been the original that’s been played, not the muzak version!!)
I feel the need to go put Greatest in the DVD player and watch it full volume on the big screen….