I think Duran Duran’s love for Planet Earth kind of goes back to the song at hand – which was the beginning of my journey with this band. It didn’t come as a complete surprise to me to see the announcement that they would be performing for 24 Hours of Reality…which is also Live Earth. After all, we all live here on this planet, don’t we? Why wouldn’t we want Duran Duran, the band who first told us that there were 247,680 born everyday (surely there are more than that being born each day now in 2015) or that the oldest known song is the Shadduf Chant, to perform in a broadcast that – at the very least – will encourage every day folks like you and I, if not the powers in charge, to take our dwindling resources a little more seriously?
Well, like anything else I’ve written in regards to Duranland, I underestimated how strongly fans feel on either side of this issue. While I really didn’t see much on Twitter, fans had absolutely no problem posting their disappointment with the band and their choice to perform, citing reasons from Al Gore to the fact that this band shouldn’t be political.
There’s no way I’m touching the political football on this one, because ultimately – I don’t think the planet deserves that kind of treatment. That said, I acknowledge that some governments, such as my own, have encouraged the game. While there is no doubt that Daily Duranie is as much written from opinion as it is from fact at times – this post isn’t going to take a side on climate change or try to prove that it exists or explain why it is OK for the band to rub shoulders with Al Gore even after his (now ex) wife managed to have them censored back. Nope. Not gonna go there. Even I know when it’s time to back away from the hornet’s nest.
So many of the comments I’ve read expressed dismay over the band making a “political statement” just by appearing. I have to wonder where those people have been over the past thirty years. I know there has been many an interview – especially lately – where Simon has said that they’ve tried not to get too openly political in the past. Perhaps that’s so, and perhaps they’ve also done it subtly enough to where most people haven’t found fault. A few examples? The video for Planet Earth has scrolling text about doomsday, the population, and various other facts about our planet. Not overtly political, but the point was still there. The band played Live Aid – which I am sure no one has forgotten, although I think many have forgotten just what Live Aid stood for, in 1985. They followed that up by playing a show for Amnesty International in 1987. In 1990, Simon LeBon sang “Follow in my Footsteps” on the album Requiem for the Americas – an album curated by Jonathan Elias as a tribute to Native Americans. In 2007, Duran Duran performed at the London (Wembley Stadium) Live Earth (also organized in part by Al Gore). John Taylor even openly stated his support for Barack Obama as President of the US by doing YouTube videos and wearing an Obama t-shirt, and that was even before he became a US citizen. These are just a few examples off the top of my head, and I haven’t even touched upon the social commentary topics they’ve included in songs and videos over the years. This isn’t new and this certainly is not the first time, so I guess the idea that some fans feel like now is the time to insist that they not become “political” comes thirty-seven years too late, at least in my head.
I know how important it may be to keep Duran Duran on a pedestal, or in a box marked “escapism”. My goodness, we all sometimes need to just turn the music on, sit back, and let it take us away. For the most part, it is a very healthy way to deal with stress and life – at times. On the other hand, it is also important to live in reality. Even though you or I might use the band as our escape, it’s reasonable to assume they live in reality. Sometimes, reality is worth taking a stand and putting yourself out there…and sometimes, you get hammered for it. I have to admire the band for being willing, and for challenging their fans to see another side they may not have previously considered.
I know I’ll be watching for them during Live Earth on Friday with the same sense of pride and affection as always…and chances are, I’ll steal a moment or two from my real life to “escape” as they perform on that Paris stage for Live Earth / 24 Hours of Reality!