What a morning. I need a drink. Hey Roger, can I get a dirty martini over here – Grey Goose, four olives and so icy cold I can see icebergs, please! (and yes, he can be *my* bartender ANY TIME. ANY TIME.)
Here’s the reality: Amanda and I can’t review this in quite the academic sort of way that we normally might. Every single time I’ve watched the video today, I’ve seen something different and new that makes me see the whole video in a completely different light…not totally unlike the way I might look at a crystal or a diamond, come to think of it. With that in mind, you’re going to get a review unlike any other we may ever do here at Daily Duranie, and we may end up needing to revisit this subject several times before it’s finished. That said, off we go and it’s my turn (Rhonda) first!!
So today was the day I’ve been waiting for since June 6 – the day they FINALLY released the video for Girl Panic. I almost wish I’d never known they’d filmed it in many ways, and try as I might – I had so many thoughts running through my head before I actually saw the video in its entirety. It was very difficult to discern what the final cut would look like, but all I knew was that there were going to be supermodels and the band. I don’t mind saying that I felt like that premise was so ridiculously overdone that it was cliche. I was hoping for the best, expecting the worst – even though I wasn’t quite sure what that would mean. Even this morning as I cautiously got onto Facebook, I saw that the video had been posted in 1,000,000 different places and instead sat absently biting my nails wondering if I should watch right then or later on. I wasn’t prepared for what I might find, but watched anyway. Turns out, I really was not prepared!
Initially, I will tell you all that I rolled my eyes not once, but SEVERAL times. I had a very difficult time grasping the concept of the supermodels being the guys, and I have to admit that I’m still not sure. I think that at least for right now, it feels very much as though the band – while interviewing each of their corresponding “supermodels” is almost looking at themselves through a mirror of sorts. That had to be a very strange moment or several for each of them. I also rolled my eyes at the girls, the black leatherish lingerie, the girl on girl action, the champagne, the idea of “Roger” being rolled in on a luggage cart…of course Yasmin’s role in the entire video as the unnamed guitarist, several comments from the band – in particular “Roger’s” comment about wanting to be a drummer because drummers are cool…”Nick’s” comment about writing the final song and taking full credit (OK, seriously who wrote that?!? Hilarious one there), there’s just so many completely over the top moments in this video – how can you not roll your eyes? Am I right??
Hardly…and isn’t that the point?
The beauty of Duran Duran, and the overriding theme of their entire careers is that primarily all that is ever seen by critics…the public…and an overwhelming majority of even their fans is what’s ONLY at face value. My gosh, most of us had them up on our bedroom walls and regularly admired their outward beauty. I never even considered what the song Friends of Mine was really even about until I was an adult! Interestingly enough, there is so much more to this video than what you see initially, and I really think that’s the entire point the band (and director) is trying to make.
This video is quite the parody on the band themselves. It’s a view of what the band thinks the public really sees and believes about them – the stereotypes that continue to follow them to this day – and I think they nailed it in almost every way. Yes, a lot of it probably has happened over the years, and I’m sure that quite a bit of it is true to form in one aspect or another. Believe me, I don’t want to paint the band as being completely misunderstood or perfect – if you’ve read this blog over the past year, you should know that about me by now. Honestly though, how many of us don’t think or thought about the “afterparties”…past or present… as wild orgies of women? That’s why there ARE girls on girls in the video. The supermodels are playing the band – because that’s how you and I: the FANS – see them! For us, they ARE our supermodels! They are our idea of perfection and fantasy.(or at least they were when I was 12) The other girls in the video are probably playing roles of both the gorgeous women we assume must be at the afterparties in their hotel AND the fans. Did you notice the girls simply just waiting on the stairway or the girl waiting in the hallway, with that familiar expression of “I probably shouldn’t be here but maybe if I just act like I belong no one will notice”?? That’s a fan, a stalker…maybe even a groupie *gasp*! Oh, and I recognized that expression because yes, I’ve very much HAD that expression at some point(s) that will-not-be-named-here. (rest assured, I’m going to start practicing the “I belong here” look from here on out) The video is so smartly tongue in cheek. Well done. Well done. You can’t watch this video for simply the “squee factor”…and if you are, you’re about to be very disappointed.
There are some very telling moments throughout the video, and most of them are included in the dialogue of the “band” when they are being interviewed…by the real band members. “Simon’s” comment about how lonely it is when there aren’t hundreds of thousands of people screaming for you on stage. “Silence doesn’t mean you’re forgotten”. The moments at the very beginning of the video when they talk about the last night of the tour – there’s this beautiful, poignant moment where you see “Simon” waking in his room, looking at the remnants from the night before (including the women all over), “Nick” walking over the city – it’s almost as though they seem lost within themselves. Fascinating if not extraordinarily telling. Then there were times that I am still trying to understand – why is it that Roger asked “Roger” about addictions and why didn’t “Roger” want to talk about it? As I understand, it was never Roger who had those issues, so I thought that was kind of funny. I thought it was funny then that “Roger” was being wheeled in by Nick on a luggage rack, only to fall off the rack and then dial up room service for champagne. I thought it was also funny when John asked “John” about the guitarist…and of course “John” answers that “As you know, we’ve had more than a few guitarists and so it’s gotten to the point where I never really know who is going to show up.” A Spinal Tap moment?? Yasmin was also funny when she says she’s not a member of Duran Duran…but if you watch her closely at the end of the video she has Dom’s stance down to a T. Yes, maybe I’ve watched him too often at shows…but so what? 😀 Well played. I will even say their choice to go with Swarovsky Crystal is incredibly over the top – but also poignant is it is indeed considered to be a diamond simulant – something that LOOKS like diamond, but really is not. (it also photographs and films much better than real diamond…but that’s another subject for a different blog!)
For all of the good that this video is, and it really and truly IS good with all of the sex, overconsumption, girls, bling and unabashed decadence that we’ve always loved about Duran Duran, along with quite a bit of hidden intelligence that somehow never quite gets noticed, there is at least one thing that I believe the band completely missed: and that’s the opportunity to promote the song AND themselves. Maybe they didn’t feel they needed to do that, but I have to pan them for the missed opportunity. The very best moment to have done this would have been during the last minute to perhaps minute and a half of the video. The money shot here would have been to allow Naomi and Co time to sing Girl Panic on the set as though they were doing the video, only to end up with the real band finishing it, thereby showcasing themselves and the song properly. (complete with the fabulous guitar straps and microphone because I loved them). They needed that moment to bring the video full circle, and to give the song the full credit it so deserves. Other than that detail – and make no mistake I think it’s a big detail that should have been done, the video is good and worth watching over and over again. It’s no New Moon on Monday, but it’s definitely better than Girls on Film for me. 😀
I have to write this review fairly quickly in between work and another meeting, but I will do my best to give anything Duran justice. That said, let me tell you that I watched the video this morning and HATED it. It is interesting that the initial reviews of it from other fans I saw, talked about how they were worried it was going to be like Falling Down, which apparently they all hated, whereas I LOVED and will blog about this weekend. What is funny, though, is that this stayed in my head and made me what to watch it again, which I did at work. The strange thing is that I found myself noticing SO much and thinking SO much that I began to think it was genius. Clearly, this isn’t going to be a basic video of Duran’s where the fans who are attracted to men will watch and squee. It isn’t one that is filled with a significant plot but one that I will watch over and over again just to try to see everything!
The video begins with a throbbing sound of sorts and a stark, black and white view of a city. Then, of course, this is followed up with the statement “tour’s over”. Is this how it feels to the band? Is this how it feels to the fans? Is this how we are supposed to think they feel? The video does not stay black and white and does shift back and forth between color and black and white. With this video and everything about it, I have to believe that it was intentional and one element that I hope to see what the connection is. Is black and white used to show reality and color used to show the perception? Yes, obviously, before I go much further I absolutely believe that this video is about perception and stereotypes. It is about stereotypes of the band and about rock and roll in general as they even used those words, “rock and roll”. Do I think that this is what it is like to be Duran? No, sorry, I don’t. Are there elements that exist? Sure. It’s possible. Is that what it was like back in the day? Maybe. Obviously, though, we are supposed to be thinking about the present as one of the first questions has to do with being a band for 30 years.
Speaking of the questions and comments, I thought they were brilliant and all of them from what I could tell could be broken into two camps: rock and roll, in general, or Duran, specifically. Some of the specific Duran questions: Nick was asked about being a metrosexual, Simon was asked about playing a role on stage, Roger was asked about addictions, John was asked about fashion. Even the question and statement about guitarist is very much about Duran and their long career. Then, of course, some of them were about rock in general, including something about how no one teaches about being famous, the rush of being on stage, and how they are doing what makes them and their fans be happy. The headlines that flashed across the screen after the statement about having some “truly shocking reviews” were also fitting of Duran: “Nick adopts alien baby”, ” 99% style 1% music”, and “Trash hotel room again”.
Of course, they attempted to show what people (press, fans, the world) think of them by having supermodels be the band. Is the use of models overdone in Duranland? Of course, it is. I think that was the point. They had to be predictable. It is one of the major stereotypes about their videos. This is one element I really liked about the video, the layers that were involved in both the stereotype element and in the production. They used film credits, which reminded me of New Moon on Monday, to start it and end it, which leads you to think it is the finished product. Yet, there were many other parts that showed that it wasn’t like the clapper indicating a take or the “behind the scenes” wording or seeing what the camera is filming. It was very post modern, in that way.
While there was a storyline of sorts, it wasn’t so straightforward in that people would get lost in the plot. Of course, clearly, it begins with Simon waking up, surrounded by girls as any proper frontman would. Clearly, there had been much partying and action taking place. Yet, Simon seems lonely as the curtains are opening. Then, of course, there are photoshoots and an afterparty at night. In between, before and after are all of the other trappings associated with being famous: press, pictures, people demanding autographs, champagne, partying, sex, and groupies/stalkers as Rhonda mentioned looking very cautious and very curious standing in stairwells and hallways. At the end of the clip, there is the video shoot for the song that they are clearly promoting as evidenced by all of the interviews being done. For the video, they are ultra glam.
I’m sure, by now, many people are talking about the use of women and the girl-on-girl action. My first reaction was…if we are going to see some same sex couple kissing how about a little JoSi, thankyouverymuch! Yet, to me, this makes sense for the purpose of the video. Obviously, in this video, the band was being played by women. The rest of the people surrounding the band, in reality, would be women, wouldn’t it? The people who are attractive enough to be welcomed into a hotel room would be women, right? The groupies would be women? The stalkers? Yes, they would be women again, at least if they are maintaining the stereotype/perception theme as this is what people would think about Duran. On top of that, the use of girls and models is what Duran is known for with their videos and, in case we didn’t remember that, they showed clips of videos like Girls on Film, the Chauffeur, Rio, Notorious to name a few. That part actually bothered me because they felt like they had to include that to remind us like we were too stupid to remember that without the reminder. Anyway, while I understand wanting to see less women and more of the guys, it doesn’t fit, for the most part, until as Rhonda mentioned, the end. They could have easily had the models turn into Duran, which could have made the end more normal video like.
So, now that I have had some time to watch it a few times and think about it, do I like it? Love it? Hate it? For me, it depends on what the purpose is. Again, I don’t think it is a video that I would watch with a bunch of other Duranies to squee over the guys as they just aren’t in it all that much. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t want John to drive me around or have Roger make me martinis! Thus, I doubt it will be a fan favorite as there are many fans out there who are just looking for that and who don’t want to think too much. Is it is quality video that will help sell the song? I doubt that, too. Yes, I think it will get some attention, initially, in certain circles but it isn’t a clip that can be really short and it doesn’t highlight the band or the song, especially since the song is stopped for dialogue. Yet, if I analyze it for quality. I would give it a big thumbs up. It is SO smart and really does show the stereotypes and should make people, including us fans, question their assumptions about what life is for the members of Duran and other famous people. I doubt it is really all of the over-the-top glamour and bling that is shown in the clip. As a piece of art, a film, I think it is brilliant.
What do the rest of you think? Are we crazy with our reviews? Did you love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between? Why? Let us know your thoughts!
-A and R