Hey, everybody. Welcome to…Wednesday. This is Wednesday, right??
If you’re following along with our Daily Challenges, today’s is your favorite DD video. It has been fun seeing what people post! My own favorite DD video, for today, is Rio. Truth be told, there are a lot of DD videos I enjoy, but the one I tend to always come back to – chances are, it’s because it was one of the first I watched – is Rio. Whenever I think about Duran Duran, MTV and videos, Rio comes to mind, and specifically, the scene I think about most – for some odd reason – is when Simon is underwater and drinks that brightly colored neon pink cocktail. I have no idea why, only that I always think about that scene first. Silly, right?!
I do have a confession though, and that’s when I reposted this challenge yesterday, I quickly scrolled through the list of challenges and didn’t even bother updating them. I was in a hurry, and knew I’d have to schedule a bunch of tweets and Facebook posts to make the whole thing work for everyone, so I just copied, pasted and was done with it. In hindsight, as I was scheduling tweets, I realized that I could have easily revamped and reframed some of these questions to breathe a bit more life into them for 2020. Anyway, as I read over the list of challenges, I started thinking about their videos. If I had to come up with a short list of things that seem to pop up in Duran Duran videos again and again, I’d probably say things like: exotic locations, the band (duh), models, and storyboards (meaning video plots). I’m sure many of you could come up with other things, but those are the three things I notice right off the bat.
Out of those things, I come back to models. Why is it that Duran Duran used models so many times in their videos? It feels so overdone. Yet, here we are. Even Falling Down and Girl Panic used models. I suppose I partially expect them in any Duran Duran video these days, and I’m pleasantly surprised when they’re not included.
Amanda and I have written about the models in their videos before. We’ve touched on the subjects of sexism, and whether or not videos like Girls on Film infringe upon that boundary, or address the exploitation by the modeling industry. I know that many fans have their own opinions as well.
When I was a kid, especially in middle school, but even beyond into high school – I didn’t have a very high opinion of myself. I was a late bloomer when it came to boys, and part of that was because I just didn’t think I was worthy. Even now, when I see photos of myself from that time period from 6th to about 8th grade, I cringe. High school wasn’t a lot better, but I’ll give myself a little credit there, at least. I had frizzy, wavy hair that I had layered (badly), and it gave my entire head a sort of Q-tip type appeal. I had no idea how to dress, how to act, or how to do that thing the other girls did when boys paid attention to them and they acted dumb in response. I can remember proudly announcing to my friends that if that was how I needed to act in order to get a boyfriend, I didn’t need one.
That is when Duran Duran entered the picture. In 6th grade, when other girls my age were throwing themselves at any boy that would pay attention long enough to ask her to “go around”, (in my day that meant walking around campus holding hands, although I don’t remember PDA beyond that being discouraged, either), I found a favorite band. Posters to hang on walls. I could disappear into the fantasy world in my head where I could be myself and never be rejected. Duran Duran were my “boyfriends” before any boy knew I existed, outside of being that weird girl in class. It was WAY safer than dealing with actual, real-life boys.
That was all fine and good until videos came along (so basically, it wasn’t long before my dreams were crushed). In the videos, as we all know, there were models. From Rio and Hungry Like the Wolf, to Girls on Film, The Chauffeur, and so on. Sure, I fawned over Roger, Nick, Simon and John. (no, I didn’t fawn over Andy. I just loved his guitar playing.) It was just very hard not to notice the girls. The women, I should say. I would sit and watch those videos, and somehow, I gleaned the message of “You’re not worthy”. The only women this band (or any band for that matter) would ever be interested in, would be supermodels or similar. l was never one of those teens that thought the women were being exploited. I didn’t think of Duran Duran as misogynists or sexist. Instead, I saw that they were attracted to women who were thin, beautiful and perfect, and I was, well, not any of the above.
At the time, seeing any of them date models, and of course Simon marrying one, did absolutely nothing to squash the feeling I had in my belly. People like me did not end up with men of their dreams. They settled for what they could get. Rockstars were ABLE to date models. Models were practically expected to date, and marry, rockstars. Girls like me were lucky to be paid attention. I was average, and maybe a bit below that given that I was a clarinet player in my high school marching band and a good student. Smart? Sure. Beautiful? Don’t make me laugh. On any given day I would think about the women in Duran Duran videos, and know that I was pretty much the polar opposite in every way.
As an adult, I think I still struggle with the same messaging. Let’s be honest, everywhere we – then teenage girls – looked in the 80s, there were leather mini-skirt clad girls, rolling around on cars or models of perfection in every single music video around. I don’t think I ever said the words “I’m nothing like them” to my friends back in the day—we didn’t discuss such things—but I know I felt them. I said the words to myself all the time. We grew up with the images of what we were supposed to aspire to look like all around us. I don’t think I ever got past it. It isn’t entirely a surprise when I still feel less-than. I think the difference now, is that I feel that way even with fellow fans.
I’ll be fine at a show, and I might even feel good about myself. But then, I’ll see something that immediately drags me back to how I felt in front of the television the first time I saw Hungry Like the Wolf. Maybe I’ll see the high-heeled glamour girls running after a band member who immediately turns and gives them his undivided attention for a photo. They giggle with glee and pose flirtatiously. I might try to tell myself that the women are trying too hard, or that they are “so sad” for chasing after the band member, but the TRUTH is—I immediately put myself back in the box marked “Not good enough”, and that’s without a single person saying a word to me. I inevitably want the floor to swallow me whole, because I know I don’t fit in. I don’t approach band members because, unlike posters on my wall, the guy in front of me is real, and the last thing I want is to be rejected. (and trust me, these days I’m not asking for anything more than a “hello!”) The fantasy is safer. I don’t have to worry about not being a model, or not being perfect.
I don’t actually blame Duran Duran here, although it likely seems that way. I just wanted to write about how messaging affected a woman – then a teenager – like me. They didn’t do anything different from anyone else back then, though. It just happens that the messaging from this band affected me most. I still adore them though, and quite frankly – I married the right guy anyway. Duran Duran, videos, and models go together. I never quite got why it was so important for them to prove—to a predominantly female audience—that they were worthy of the attention of females. We kind of already knew that, didn’t we? I mean…didn’t we?? I’ve had male fans say “Well, they were men. Of course they wanted models in their videos!” Yes, that does make sense. Except, that back in the 80s, it wasn’t men or even boys watching most of the time. It was girls, like me. Some of us not only watched Simon, John, Nick and Simon, but also paid attention to what was being communicated, too.