Electric Barbarella amongst the #MeToo movement

Day two from Santa Barbara. Last night we took a drive to see a couple of homes we like, and we were able to cross a couple of others off of our list of favorites. I think that if we threw caution to the wind, we’d have our answer….but I’m not quite ready to do that just yet, so today will bring more looking around. If nothing else, it’s lit a fire under me to get our current house on the market!

On to more important things, like Duran Duran. (Right?!?) Does anyone remember What Unfolds? What if I gave you the name, Steve Aoki? Terminal Five? How about champagne and cake?? Well, if you were there, tomorrow is in fact your sixth anniversary of making it out alive. I would have mentioned this tomorrow, but it is also someone’s birthday, and that needs to take precedence. So, happy early anniversary to those of you who survived the insanity at Terminal Five. (Sounds like a great book title, in my opinion!)

Today also has an anniversary of sorts. On this date in 1997, the filming for “Electric Barbarella” wrapped up, and Pop Trash was also released on this date in the UK.

I don’t know if I’m alone here, but I’ve always had misgivings about “Electric Barbarella”, in particular the video…but the song as well. Cheeky as though it may be, when I watch the video, I can’t help but cringe. An electric Barbie, bought off of a floor, to do anything and everything the men want. A problem arises only when the doll starts thinking on her own. Music video or not, it’s cringe-worthy even by 1997 standards, but certainly more so today, in the shadow of the #MeToo movement. It is hard for me to defend the merit of “Electric Barbarella”. I always felt the content was anti-female, and I couldn’t help but wonder why on earth a band who was loved by so many women would put out a song (not to mention a video) like that. Maybe I missed something somewhere.

I don’t know that the intention of music videos created back in 1997 were necessarily a call to arms to fight injustice or to make any kind of a social statement. Maybe some were, but I can’t think of them off-hand. I’m sure someone out there will have great examples.  I can’t help but think about Childish Gambino’s recent video for “This is America”. There’s nothing lighthearted or joyful going on there. It is a powerful, social statement, from song lyrics to one of the first images in the video where a man is savagely shot from behind while sitting in a chair. The scene is disturbing and stays with you, but even more so when you continue watching and notice that the point of the video is not necessarily the violence or injustice itself – it is that while all of that goes on, no one else pays any attention. As alarming and shocking as the video might seem, the portrayal of America is disgustingly accurate. I don’t know about anyone else, but it is a tough video for me to watch. Art can be like that, and yes – I do believe it is art. I had a long discussion with my oldest about the video when she insisted I watch it. Instead of being disturbed by the graphic nature, she was thrilled that in 2018, artists are being encouraged to really be so open and honest.

It is funny, and by funny I mean very strange and slightly discomforting, that back when I was her age, I felt the same way. I have to wonder what the future will bring.

In contrast to “This is America”, “Electric Barbarella” at least seems to be the epitome of the throwaway 1990s culture. Bright colors, animated graphics, shallow, plastic and pretty.  It is hard to see past the facade…and I admit that I just can’t seem to find what the real message is, if in fact there is anything going on there to be seen. My question to you is simple – what do you think the band was really trying to convey? Do you like the video or the message, and does it still have a place in 2018 amidst #MeToo?

-R

5 thoughts on “Electric Barbarella amongst the #MeToo movement”

  1. I agree with you. I am very progressive, and as much as I love Duran Duran, I had problems with some of their songs and music videos. I think they knew the video was going to cause controversy and thats what they did it just like it happened with Girls on Film, I only watched that video once and that was enough for me. I believe they were also trying to attract “male audience” by putting beautiful models doing sexy stuff in their music and I am okay with that I really liked the “Rio” video is sexy but tasteful and very creative but Electric Barbarella just like Girls of Film is a no for me, too cringe.

  2. Well, I am in the minority here. I love Electric Barbarella- the song and the video. It’s witty, a joke and the joke is on the guys. Yes. They went to the store and bought a robot sex doll. Who clearly isn’t thrilled with her fate. For the record I am a female and a strong one too But I really saw this as a send up.I get tired of political correctness and everyone trying so hard to be offended at something. Duran videos feature lots of beautiful women (and beautiful men courtesy of the band) because most of us enjoy looking at beautiful people. They are sexy too- band and women- and I cannot see that as a bad thing.There was one bit where they took the imagery a bit too far, but I think as adults we can survive it.I wonder (on a personal note) if being born and raised in Vegas gives me a different perspective.To me it’s art. To others it’s crass.But Electric Barbarella doing the #Me Too is great and I laughed.

  3. I thought I should add an addendum. I am not insensitive. I too have been molested, three times, different men. One a school teacher. So I take the movement seriously.but at the same time I refuse to be defined by it. I just can’t lump Duran’s videos into the movement because their intent was different. I do not feel demeaned or objectified when I watch their videos.They are boys who simply appreciate the female form.And want to have sex with it.Seems pretty normal to me. I know what videos I’ll be enjoying tonight.

    1. I totally understand. The whole point of the blog is to exchange ideas, and I see where you’re coming from. It really isn’t one of my very favorite videos, but on the same token…it’s Duran Duran. I know, in my heart, that they didn’t necessarily mean it to be taken literally. I just thought that the idea of it happening in 2018 might be worthy of some discussion. 🙂 -R

  4. Being older and more mature I don’t think Duran would make a video like Electric Barbarella anymore.They were still young enough that it was kind of fun, and funny but with them approaching 60 it would seem a little sad, like they needed a robot girl.I can’t say that they will ever let society at large dictate their artistic endeavors-(They aren’t worried about political correctness) and for that I salute them.

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