Tag Archives: Duran Duran stigma

It’s Loaded with Fame

Sometimes, comments we receive on this blog get me thinking.  Last weekend, I posted a blog about how much hatred there still is surrounding Duran Duran.  Rhonda and I have blogged a lot about why there was/is so much stigma against Duran Duran.  In a nutshell,  the fact that they had a lot of teenage female fans hurt them in terms of getting creditability with the music press.  The assumption was/is that if a band is liked by a lot of little girls they cannot be quality.  Little girls only like bands because they find the members cute, right?  Of course not, but too many people believe this to be true, even today.

The comment we received last weekend, if I understood it correctly, blamed the band on the stigma they have.  The belief was that they had done something wrong to get this poor reputation.  As I moved through the week, I continued to think about this.  Did Duran Duran do something wrong through their career, in terms of female fans?  Should they do something different now as a result?

Duran Duran decided to allow the teen media to cover them.  John Taylor discussed this very fact in his autobiography.  He mentioned that he even brought up the subject of going to the teen press in order to get coverage.  “And so began a love affair with the British teen press, a courtship that would last years and trigger a level and type of fame that none of us had intended or could ever have expected.”  (Taylor page 153)  Clearly, John believes that this decision to appeal to the teen press led to fame.  I’m willing to bet that most of us agree with him.  Teenagers significantly helped create Duran’s incredible fame and popularity.

What if they decided to avoid that press?  Is it possible that Duran would have received more critical acclaim?  Sure.  I guess that is possible.  Could it be that the band would not have ever reached the fame they did, if they avoided that area?  That could be.  After all, the only reason that I’m here now, three plus decades later, is because Duran Duran was covered by the teen press.  I was a female kid who got into them during that time.  How can I reject that?

Is critical acclaim more important than being popular?  That’s a tough question for any artist.  Is the goal of artists to be deemed fabulous by critics?  Is that the goal?  Why do artists produce their art?  If I had to come up with a reason, I would argue that artists need to make art.  They need to create.  Yes, I’m sure that most would like to make money to do that.  Don’t we all want to make money for doing what we love?  Artists, though, in my experience, have a motivation to create that goes beyond making a career.  The act of creation is almost a need, a physical need.  I remember when my mom was undergoing treatment for cancer.  One aspect that bothered her the most was that her energy level would not let her work on her art.

If this is the case that artists need to create, I don’t know that critical acclaim matters the most to them.  I think the goal is to get that acclaim or press or whatever just to get the art out there.  Yes, ideally, they want to make money to do art for a living.  John knew that the press was essential to being a successful band.  While, yes, this decision resulted in criticism and ridicule, it also worked to spread their music all over the world so that people like me could hear them and become fans.

What is the solution then?  Is it to reject this decision or reject those teenage female fans?  I don’t think so.  I don’t think the right move is to blame the band for this decision.  Likewise, I don’t think the right move is to REALLY embrace male fans while ignoring the female fans (although we  all acknowledge that there were and are many dedicated male fans).  No, I believe the best course of action is to push back on the myth.  “What’s wrong with having a lot of female fans?  You don’t think that female fans can determine quality music?  Are you saying that only male fans should count?”  Make the sexism clear.  After all, isn’t that what this debate is really all about?

-A

Lay Your Seedy Judgements: Duran Hatred

Sometimes, I do not understand people and their thinking.  Actually, right now in early 2017, it is a lot more than sometimes.  Despite the increasing frequency, I’m still shocked by things that people think and believe.

Looking back to my childhood fandom, I definitely recognize that a LOT of people hated Duran Duran.  I saw friends and family hate Duran.  Friends at school constantly put them down as not being cool, at least not in comparison to artists like Michael Jackson.  I remember classmates talking about how Duran needed to learn how to dance as breakdancing became the “in thing”.  Lunch times were spend arguing the merits of Duran Duran vs. the rest of popular music.  I never convinced any of my classmates about Duran’s coolness, but I always tried to.  I was a dedicated fan even back then in 1984.

Of course, I also remember Top 40 radio DJs that played Duran Duran making fun of them.  That really perplexed me.  Why play the band if you hated them so much, I wondered.  One memory that still stands out for me is hearing a couple of male DJs discussing Nick’s wedding.  They were appalled by the pink attire as well as how much make-up Nick wore.  I didn’t get it then as I had no clue that people judge men who wear make-up or like the color pink.  Now, of course, I recognize that this judgement was based on this rigid notion of gender roles where men are not supposed to like a color that represents the feminine and they definitely should not wear make-up.  That was for women only.  rolls eyes

The stigma against Duran was strong that it carried over to critics and much of the general public, stopping the respect that a band who writes and records quality music should receive.  Yet, decades passed and notions of metrosexuality became more accepted as did the restrictions on strict gender roles.  The world seemed more inclusive and accepting.  Duran, specifically, received more and more critical acclaim as time went on.  I began to read more and more praise about the band and their latest albums.  I believed that Duran finally was gaining acceptance, real acceptance.

This past week, though, proved that this belief of mine was false, that many still hated Duran Duran.  Rhonda and I corresponded with someone about a potential project this week who openly dismissed our idea simply because it was about Duran Duran.  What?!?  Are you kidding?!  Both of us expressed shock by this.  People really still hated Duran?  Seriously?!  After the initial shock, anger took over.  How can people still not see that Duran Duran is a band of quality?  It did not even matter when we pointed out that Duran still sells out arenas and has countless number of fans.  We proved that there are a lot of Duranies out there.  None of that mattered because this person is not interested in Duran.

Days have passed and I’m still furious.  Here’s the thing.  Rhonda and I will continue to shop our project around.  Why?  Simple.  We know that Duran is quality and deserves the respect that we hope to show with this idea we came up with.  I also have to admit that I like the idea of proving this person wrong, too, because I (and the rest of you) KNOW that she is wrong when it comes to Duran.

-A