Tag Archives: sexism

2018 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees

Well, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees are out, and you-know-who was notoriously left off the list. Again.

I’ve learned never to assume anything when it comes to writing this blog, but I have to think that many fans, but perhaps not all, would have liked seeing them included on the list of nominees. Am I right, or no? On the other hand, Duran Duran (notably Simon and John) have openly said during interviews that it’s a non-issue for them. They don’t care. They see it (the Hall of Fame) as a political vehicle and therefore it’s not worth their time. Whether or not this is truth or a carefully worded reply meant to hide disappointment, I can’t say.

Even so, there are groups of fans out there that try to rally support for their inclusion each year. In the past, we (Daily Duranie) have stayed out of the argument beyond echoing what the band has openly said themselves. It caused a few people, including those petitioning to have the band included, to block and unfriend us. Our official position was simple – if the band didn’t even want it, we felt like we shouldn’t push it. Some didn’t like that, and I can understand and accept their fury. I also need to call out what I see as industry-driven BS, as you’ll read below.

Before I go any further, here’s the list of 19 nominees for 2018:

Bon Jovi

Depeche Mode

Dire Straits

Eurythmics

J. Geils Band

Judas Priest

Kate Bush

Link Wray

LL Cool J

MC5

Moody Blues

Nina Simone

Radiohead

Rage Against the Machine

Rufus feat. Chaka Khan

Sister Rosetta Tharpe

The Cars

The Meters

The Zombies

The very idea that Duran Duran continues to be omitted from the list of nominees each year is gross. We’re not talking about a band that never graced a top ten list, or never did much beyond release a few unknown albums. At one point, Duran Duran was the biggest band in the world. They are video vanguards, lifetime achievers, and continue to influence younger generations of musicians and performers. They didn’t just embody the style of 1980 and beyond…they created and drove it.  They’re still creating, nearly 40 years later.

Yet with each passing year, they’re not even given a mention beyond a couple of tweets from well-meaning fans. Not only is the Hall of Fame dismissing the band and their career, but they are also smugly discounting the thousands of fans who have stood by them for the last four decades. The old men might not get it, but the little girls completely understand, and always have.

Last weekend, I finally sat down and watched the induction ceremony for 2017. Yes, I’m behind. The one thing I saw over and over was how the bands thanked their fans for getting them there. Of course I liked seeing that, and it was touching that when it came down to it for the bands being inducted, their fans mattered. I thought about all of the history I’ve read about Duran Duran.  Disparaging comments about the band’s fan base aren’t hard to find. The critics hated that little girls loved this band. As far as critics were concerned, the reason to hate this band was purely because little girls (who are now grown women) loved them. That one highlighted detail created a situation where Duran’s music was never quite taken seriously. Why would it? Girls liked them, they couldn’t possibly understand what good music is about, and therefore the band were pin-up material. Period.

Amanda and I haven’t just seen this written once or twice in books. It has been discussed in every piece of comprehensive band history we’ve ever read, watched, or heard.

Simon addressed this general topic in an interview done just before they appeared on Jimmy Kimmel in 2015. He commented about the critics and their hatred for them and their fans. He believes much of that comes down to jealousy, and that may very well be true. He also commented that much to the chagrin of the critics—many of whom are not still writing or in the industry—the fans of the band, and the band themselves, are still around today. In many aspects, that alone is the best revenge. But is it enough?

I’m not so sure.

Sexism, my friends, is alive and well in the music industry, whether  the performers themselves, the business-side, or the fans. Look at the list of nominees again. Do you see many bands up there that have a predominantly female fan base? I can see a few that might have a sizable percentage of female fans, but none of them to the extent of Duran’s. None. Why is that?

The very idea that a sizable number of Duran’s fan base are women drives people crazy. Even the band tries to even it out in interviews by mentioning the growing number of men in their live audiences. People try to attribute our (female) presence to be about anything but the music. I’ve seen the very words “What would girls know about music?” in print more times than I can count.

Really?

I have heard similar anecdotes from female fans all over, whether they’re a blogger like me, your average concert-goer, or a radio show host. Sexism is everywhere. If you’re a woman, you couldn’t possibly know anything about the band you admire beyond their looks, and the only reason for being a fan is to fulfill that one-night stand fantasy. You know, the one we’ve all secretly held for nearly 40 years now?  The assertion that we’re all fans because we’re still waiting for our one nighter with Simon, John, Nick and/or Roger is pretty astounding.

(Call me crazy, but the last thing I’d fantasize about is going backstage and getting on my knees for a band member, only to be gracefully guided to the exit doors immediately following. Why on earth would I waste FORTY YEARS on that???)

Seriously, people of this world, THINK. We’re gonna have to try harder. It does not have to be like this. We have to be ready and willing to call the bullshit out when we see it and force change to happen, because it is obviously not going to happen on its own.

Now THAT is an effort I can get behind.

-R

The Concert Ticket Buying Experience

Yesterday afternoon, while I was in the midst of grading the last set of semester finals (woohoo!), my partner-in-crime posted a video on our Facebook page.  Immediately, people watched and expressed not only how entertained they were from it but also shared stories indicating that they related to it.  What video did Rhonda share?  What was it about?  How come so many could relate to it?  I’ll tell you this much–if you have bought concert tickets online, you will appreciate it.  Click on the link below and watch it.  Trust me.

When You Are Trying to Buy Concert Tickets Online:

https://www.facebook.com/thebragsydney/videos/1539565626056578/

Okay, people, who has purchased concert tickets online?  Raise your hands.  Don’t be shy.  Yeah, I’m willing to bet that most/many/a lot of you have.  I think you all know that I have.  Heck, I wonder how many blogs focus on the ticket buying experience, especially for those little ticket sales we call pre-sales.  So, what parts of this video can I relate to?  What parts are accurate?  Where do I start?!

Honestly, I could relate to SO much of this.  The person in the video definitely does a lot of talking aloud.  I’m not gonna lie.  I do the same when by myself going through the ticket buying process.  Self-talk isn’t a bad thing, correct?  Right from the beginning of this video, I found myself nodding with much agreement.  I refresh the ticket websites over and over again with 20 minutes before the tickets go on sale then 3 minutes before then 60 seconds.  Of course, I also usually spend time talking to friends about the plan especially if we are all trying to buy tickets.  This reminds me of the shows that we went to in March.  Rhonda bought for a show and I bought for a show.  Up until the time of purchase, I was so nervous that I would buy for the wrong day and we would end up with 4 tickets for Friday and 0 tickets for Saturday.  Luckily for us, it didn’t happen.

The ticket buyer’s feelings were right on, in my opinion.  I have uttered the phrase, “I have been dreaming of this concert for so long!”  Likewise, I have paid a lot more money than I probably should have all in the name of a concert “of a lifetime”.  Usually, for us, the phrase is a little different.  We are more likely to say that it is going to be the “tour of a lifetime” or “you never know when a tour will be the last tour” or “they might not tour for years after this”.  The sentiment is the really the same as are the tears of relief and joy once the tickets have been purchased.

One part of the video that I found especially entertaining is when the ticket buying does not go as planned.  In this case, the site wouldn’t load and the wi-fi wasn’t working well.  We have all experienced something similar when buying our tickets, especially when Ticketmaster is involved.  Just recently, when buying tickets for the San Francisco show, I couldn’t get the site to load on my computer and I ended up buying the tickets on my phone.  Like the video, I knew that I wasn’t the only one as I exchanged messages with a friend leading me to buy tickets for her, too.  Of course, like the video, the fear of having the show sold out or only having crappy seats left is real, my friends.

While I loved the heck out of this video, I do wonder about something.  Hmm..anyone else?  Why is a dude dressed in a wig and attempting to sound “like a girl”?!  Is the implication that only “fangirls” would respond this way to concert ticket sales?  Was the idea behind the video to mock female music fans?  I assume that the main character was also supposed to be young, probably a teenager since “she” lived with her dad and didn’t know her post code.

Perhaps, I’m assuming ill will where there is none.  Maybe the creators of this video just wanted to relate the concert ticket buying experience in a funny, relatable way.  That’s very possible.  That said, why not have a teenage girl or a teenage boy or…an adult woman in it?!  I think that still would have been funny.  Why not show multiple types of fans since we come in all ages and genders?  How hard is that?

-A

Don’t You Just Grow Out of It? Fantasy and Gender

A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I were talking about fandom. I can’t remember exactly what prompted the discussion, but  I was explaining that when I was young, I did have the marvelous, very naive fantasy, of marrying Roger Taylor. That kind of ended once he got married and left the band because reality has a nasty habit of setting in to ruin things. After that, while I still idolized the band, my fandom sort of took on new meaning. I explained that not everyone has that same experience. He responded by saying, “Well, don’t you just grow out of that?”

I took a deep breath and blinked a couple of times, trying to process what he was really asking, and what I really wanted to say in return.

So many other thoughts and quotes I’ve heard and read over the years rang through my head..

“You can love Roger Taylor, you can adore John Taylor…but some people need a certificate [are certifiable].” 

“Fan is short for fanatic, right?”

“Oh, we know you guys. You’re fans and you’re all crazy.”  (emphasis not mine)

I didn’t even know where to start or what to say.  I was thinking, “Here I am, the woman who has Duran Duran posters plastering her closet, and blogs about them nearly every day, and you’re seriously asking me that?” 

The truth is, no. No we don’t just grow out of that. Obviously.  Sure, I stopped thinking Roger was going to ride up on a white horse and marry me, but that didn’t stop me from idolizing him. While I may have let go of that fantasy, there are still plenty of others that took its place. Anyone who knows me, including just passing friends and people I know from Heather’s old dance team and teachers from Gavin’s old school, knows I’m a Duran Duran fan. Sometimes, they even send me links to  contests to win tickets, or charity events where the band is going to play! (I still haven’t been hooked up with actual tickets to one of those corporate or charity events though, dang it!)  So yes, I’m still a fan. No, I didn’t grow out of all of it.

On the other hand, I understood where Walt was coming from. At some point, I did let go of the fairy tale, at least to a certain extent.  The problem I see here though, is that we women are expected to give up our dreams and become our mothers at some point. Society trains us to believe that once married, or once old enough to marry, the posters and t-shirts and all that jazz needs to be put up in the attic, buried in the basement, or tossed out with the trash. What is scary, is that I very nearly bought into this insanity at one point. I think back to when I was a new mom, and I can tell you that Duran Duran was about the very last thing on my mind. I very quickly embraced the idea of staying at home, taking care of Heather, and succumbing to the role of motherhood. It didn’t occur to me that I could still be Rhonda AND do all of that.  Gender roles are a real thing, and we need to acknowledge that the expectations are out there, and that quite frankly – they’re a lot of BS.

To this day, I still have an ongoing struggle with my own expected gender role and what I really want out of life. I am a people-pleaser, I seek approval, and yet many of the things I enjoy most out of life put me in the direct line of fire and reproach from family and friends. If that weren’t enough, society thinks we’re all crazy for being fans anyway.  I still do an amazing amount of horrible (and really dumb) self-talk at times, telling myself that I need to get “back in line” as a wife, or that I should just give it all up and stay at home because it would make my family happier. Since when do my feelings not matter? Since when does being a wife, mom or woman mean that I can’t have my own interests, hobbies, and enjoyment? I’m learning to ask myself those questions more and more often in return when I start thinking about just giving up. (just imagine my house at times…)

Bottom line: it doesn’t have to be this way. It really doesn’t. The more you, and I, and everyone else, starts embracing the word “fan” and recognizing that it’s OK, and that it is absolutely NOT OK for the word “fan” to equate to the word “crazy”, the better off we’ll all be. Same goes for those expected gender roles. It won’t be easy. There are people out there that desperately need us to fall in line to carry on their own agendas, but it’s time we begin standing up for ourselves.

I know far too many of you out there who have brilliant careers as teachers, nurses, doctors, lawyers and accountants, or supermoms,  and volunteers who donate so much of their own blood, sweat, and tears into one thing or another, to know that most of us aren’t crazy. We might get a little excited, or even sway into lunacy when our favorite band member grins at us from the stage, but we’re not crazy.

Being a woman doesn’t mean we are somehow required to give up being a fan, and it’s appalling that some people are determined to preach otherwise.  As my friends have told me rather recently, it’s OK to have the fantasy! I think almost all of us recognize the difference between reality and fantasy, and sometimes it’s those fantasies that keep us going each day. In some ways, I almost feel sorry for the people who argue otherwise, because they’re missing out on so much.

So how did I answer my husband that day? Well, I didn’t, really. I changed the subject. Now, I know everyone would love to read about a moment of triumph, but that didn’t happen for me. I’m admitting this because I want to show you that I don’t have it any more figured out than anyone else. It takes an incredible amount of work. Sometimes I do well. Other times, I take the easy way that does nothing to help in the long run. In that moment, I recognized that if he didn’t get it by then, he probably wouldn’t. I won’t lie, there are some days when I am just not up for the argument, or the scrutiny. So yes, I still have plenty of work to do on my own. I can’t change him, but I can change me.

No, we don’t just grow out of it, and we shouldn’t. The fantasy lives on.

-R

Must Read: Duran Duran Article

It is a quiet time in Duranland as it will be months before Duran Duran is set to play in Cancun and even longer before those festivals in South America.  No new music is on the horizon.  Fans often get anxious for any news or talking points on the band.  (Maybe, that’s just me since I want to have something to blog about!)  Luckily, an article about Duran Duran popped up that is worthy of a read and worthy of a response.  That article written by Duran Duran fan, Lyndsey Parker, and can be and should be read here.

As soon as I read it, I knew that I had to blog about it.  The premise of the article is that Duran Duran has always been a fabulous band even when the band was criticized, demeaned, and put down in the 80s.  Before I even started reading the article, I found myself nodding in agreement.  Of course, they were great!  Duh!  That said, I always appreciate anyone willing to take the time to prove that.

The article begins by stating how they had all of the ingredients of being a cool and well-respected band when the band formed.  After all, they had great influences and worked with amazing people.  Then, a John Taylor quote pops up stating that something went “wrong”.  I never heard or read that quote before and it definitely caught my attention.  Then, of course, the author explains what went wrong or why Duran didn’t get the credit they deserved.

The obvious answer has to do with the marketing to teens, especially to teen girls.  Once that happened, it seemed like every other  move the band made fed into this negative image that music journalists and critics had for the band.  Of course, this is something that Rhonda and I have discussed on here many, many times.  Be careful for what you wish for, I guess.  In this case, while looking good, having an attractive image, being willing to appear on teen magazines, etc. helped to sell a ton of albums and got the band thousands of female fans from around the world, it also meant that the band wouldn’t get the credit they deserve.  I appreciated the quote at the end of this section of the article, one in which Simon discussed how the music industry was run by men but how girls liked Duran.

I couldn’t agree more with Simon there.  The problem isn’t really that the band allowed themselves to be marketed to teen girls.  The problem is the disrespect and dismissal of females, especially young females as men assume that girls cannot determine quality music.  It seems to me to be an obvious case of sexism, which sounds weird to say when describing a male band’s career success.  Basically, I believe that if Duran had a male audience, they would have received critical acclaim.  Instead, they got treated like women and girls often are.  Thus, it isn’t that the band made a wrong career move but that society, in this case, sucks.

Then, Ms. Parker’s article explains how wrong the critics were for dismissing the band.  She didn’t dive into my sexism theory but instead proved how amazing Duran’s career has been from the very first album through the most recent.  For Duranies, her arguments weren’t new but always welcomed.  Not only does she describe the quality of their music, including the fabulous skills that each member brings to the table, but she also applauds their career moves that challenged their status quo.  She lists both side projects and even musical changes between albums.  The risks, many unnecessary, should be cheered rather than jeered, according to the article.  I have to agree.

Many long lasting bands find a formula that works for them and repeat it over and over.  Some bands that come to mind include U2 and Depeche Mode.  When a new album of theirs comes out, fans generally know what to expect.  That is not the case with Duran.  Sometimes, they hit and other times they make more of a miss and Ms. Parker isn’t afraid to point that out, either, which I appreciated.  I agree with all of that.  Duran’s risks should be praised.  They refuse to stay in a corner that is comfortable but instead choose to push themselves.  To me, that is the sign of a real artist.  Artists are willing to try something new and fail.

All in all, this article really explained a lot about why people dismissed Duran and why they shouldn’t have.  In my opinion, it is a must read article for any Duran fan but also one that non-Duran fans need to read.

-A

You’re Welcome to Celebrity

I am a political person.  I hold teacher certificates in History and Political Science and has volunteered for many campaigns from local races all the way up to President.  Yet, I try to avoid political discussions here or on our Daily Duranie social media.  Fandom is supposed to be focused more on fun.  Plus, I recognize that not everyone agrees with me and I would never want to alienate anyone because of that.  (Heck, my partner-in-crime doesn’t always agree with me.)

The latest big new story about Donald Trump’s statements about sexually assaulting and objectifying women really has me thinking, especially since part of his statement in 2005 surrounded fame and celebrity-ness.  According to the article from the Guardian, which you can read here, “…a tape emerged of the Republican candidate bragging about using his fame to try and “fuck” women and groping them without waiting for their consent.  ‘When you’re a star they let you do it,’ Trump says in the recording, which was obtained by the Washington Post and released on Friday. ‘You can do anything.’  Does fame really give people or men, specifically, a free pass to commit sexual assault?  Then, I wonder what would happen if I ever found out anything close to this about Duran Duran.  Could/would I still support them?

Unfortunately, Donald Trump is probably not the first, nor will he be the last celebrity to make statements like this.  I think there are some celebrities out there who do believe that their fame gives them the opportunity to do whatever they want to whomever they want.  I’m not naive as I’m sure that for some people, fame is a turn on and they would gladly jump into bed with whatever celebrity they can find.  Of course, that is not what is going on in this situation.  This is about the lack of consent.  It isn’t about someone thinking a celebrity is hot simply because he is famous.  No, it is about the assumption that Trump felt (feels???) like fame means that he does not need to wait for consent.  He didn’t need to wait to get permission before acting in a sexual way towards someone.

In my world, consent does not change depending on who is the person giving or getting the consent.  Every person, every woman, has the right to say no.  Every person must get consent before acting sexually.  According to the Department of Justice, the definition of sexual assault is, “Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape.”  Based on this definition, sexual assault is sexual assault.  Trump’s statements on tape indicate sexual assault.  His fame is irrelevant other than the fact that fame could create more of a difference in power.  Therefore, in my eyes, fame does not excuse sexual assault.  It just makes it worse.

The next question is more challenging.  Would I be able to support Duran Duran if one of the band members was accused of something similar?  I’ll be honest.  I didn’t like Donald Trump before this.  (Actually, that might be an understatement.)  Therefore, this news did not change my thoughts or feelings about him.  My negative thoughts about him were just reinforced with this revelation.  Obviously, Duran is the opposite.  I have been a passionate fan of theirs for decades.  Finding out something even remotely similar to this would crush me.  Luckily, I can’t imagine anything so horrible to be true of my favorite band.

Yet, I have to acknowledge that they aren’t always or haven’t always been pro-woman.  The video for Electric Barbarella is pretty dang sexist, in my opinion.  The woman is designed to just clean and be a sex toy for the band without actually having or using a voice of her own.  Does that kind of sexism equal what Trump said and did to women?  I don’t think it does for a really big reason.  A video is fiction.  It isn’t real.  It is made up.  All of the people are acting.  I still don’t like it (understatement) but it isn’t the same as sexual assault.

Donald Trump wasn’t playing a character in that tape from 2005.  He was being himself.  I have never heard one story about a member of Duran Duran treating, thinking, or talking about women in such a way in their personal lives, in their real lives.  Instead, I hear them speaking highly of their wives, their daughters, their mothers as well as the women who work with them and women in the public eye.

What would happen if I did find out something horrible about a band member?  As I stated earlier, it would crush me.  I could not continue to be a fan or support someone who advocates assaulting women.  It is a line in the sand for me.  They could disagree with me about how best to approach countless political issues, but they could not be hateful of women like the Republican nominee for President.

As I continue to process this story and what it means for this year’s election and politics in general, I’m thankful that I am a fan and a supporter of a band, made up of men, who may not be perfect in their treatment of women over their careers but who, personally, have demonstrated nothing but respect for women in their lives and women in general.

-A

Perfect Parody or Stereotypical Review?

Life makes me laugh sometimes. Yesterday I had commented that this tour had given me very little to write about.

Today is a new day!  This morning I had Mike Bell’s review from the Calgary Herald waiting in my inbox.  Without noticing the byline, I assumed it would be another glowing, beautiful review of a well-staged production.  I clicked on the link, preparing to scan the article and move on.

“Someone recently asked about the enduring appeal of Duran Duran, why they still mattered or if they, in fact, actually still did.

Musically, that’s an easy question to answer: No. No they don’t.”

One line—the one above, mind you—and I realized I would need to read far more carefully.  After reading the entire article, I had to go back and re-read, hoping to wade through the insults to find the meat of the review.

Here’s a particularly good zinger:

“Duran Duran opened the show with the flaccid title track from the new album, taking the stage to those trappings of earlier days, when it seemed cool to have thunder, fog machines and images of trees and birds, for some reason, displayed behind them.

It wasn’t cool. It was sad. Laughable. Almost perfect parody in an arena that they no longer belong in.”

Ouch. So he didn’t much care for “Paper Gods” as the opener then.  OK.  I think that song is a particularly tough sell for people who haven’t followed the band over the years, and in my opinion, I do find it a bit weak as an opener compared to “Before The Rain” (but there were plenty who hated that one too).  But then, I follow the band. Guilty as charged.

I did chuckle openly over his comments about “Hungry Like the Wolf.”  Simon is no closer to Will Ferrell than I am to say, Kiesza or anyone who has ever shared the stage with Duran Duran…but that whole “Is anybody hungry?” thing has got to go.  I think though, even Simon knows it’s corny, and plays it up for all it’s worth.  So good on him.

He goes on to compare their “Space Oddity” to a turd (his words, not mine), calls the set “muddled karaoke”, and characterizes the work from the latest album as “landlocked, cruise-ship fodder.”

WOW.

Then there’s the lights and visuals (oh no, not even the production team was spared…my thoughts and prayers to all of you who might be reading….and yes, that’s sarcasm you’re reading.)

“a crappy light and video display, barren stage, almost inanimate band members, but, confetti! — was mom and dad jeans come to life.”

I can handle most anything, but leave my jeans out of this, Mr. Bell.

And then he does the unthinkable and dares to use the name Spandau Ballet, in the same review as Duran Duran. (cue dramatic music)

“It was like that Spandau Ballet episode of Modern Family, where everyone wanted so desperately for a dude playing music from the past in their living room to be something special, something to remember, something that would be a new event, but it wasn’t.”

I don’t even remember that episode of Modern Family, by the way.  Now I’m gonna have to search it out. Thanks.

He goes on from there, calling the show desperate and hollow. Oh, and a sham.

He also reviews Chic, which from what I’m grasping—he seemed to like, and felt that the audience didn’t deserve them. Perhaps that’s possible.  But let’s just get back to Duran Duran, shall we?

Here’s the thing: it isn’t always the best plan to review shows that you have already decided in advance that you’re going to hate. I’ve never quite understood that methodology, and while sure—sometimes you get assigned things as a writer that you don’t want to cover. I get it. But do yourself and your career a favor and do them well. Mr. Bell can’t honestly tell me that he prepared to go in and write an unbiased review that night any more than I can sit here and say that I’m not a Duranie.

I suppose there are different ways to get traffic on a website. One way is to write a glowing review of a show. That band might then tweet it to their followers and they click on the link to read.  Another is to write what I would consider to be one of the most scathing, brutal, and unrelenting reviews I’ve read about the band’s live show since perhaps the reunion tour. (Even then reviewers found SOMETHING to like about the show. Conversely, Mr. Bell here seems to only enjoyed the moments when the band was NOT onstage, but I digress.) People like me will read those reviews with great interest, and then discuss them on their blog.

Point taken.

After reading, I immediately posted the review on our Facebook page and encouraged fans to read and discuss.  One of the comments (and there were many) was that this seems to be an ongoing issue with male critics.  The commenter went on to guess that maybe Mike had lost his first girlfriend to the band and harbors continued ill will. It is a comment I’ve seen whenever a man has given a poor review to the band, actually.

I thought about the reviews I’d read from female writers lately.  There too lies a theme. The review is often from the point of view that the writer loved the band back in the 80s, complete with posters on their wall, a John Taylor haircut, bleached bangs, pleas for marriage…etc etc.  I welcome a positive reviews, but I often wonder why it is necessary for so many female writers to admit their bias as the framework for their article. Why not go to the show and review it purely on its merit? Why make it about nostalgia and having that moment they dreamt of as teens?  Not every female reviewer does this, but enough do that I take notice in the same way I see that plenty of male critics seem to have anger issues with the band simply because girls liked them in the 80s.

As someone who has run into the sexism that goes along with being a female fan of any band, much less Duran Duran (and for crying out loud stop comparing them to New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys!)- particularly when it has come to the writing Amanda and I have done—I can see we still live in a time where assumptions and stereotypes still rule, across the board.  I can’t possibly like the band without the crux of it being about wanting to get backstage with them, and men don’t like the band because of jealousy.

I can’t very well say what Mr. Bell’s truth might be, but I can say that overall—it is far easier to accept the stereotypes (and we all do: male and female alike) than acknowledge the truth.

-R

 

 

 

Lipstick cherry all over the lens as she’s falling

I need to thank the London Evening Standard for publishing an interview with the band. Just as I was about to scrape the bottom of idea barrel in search of a decent blog topic – there comes an interview. Coincidence? Maybe….or else those ceremonial offerings to the Duranie Gods are beginning to actually work!

If you haven’t caught the interview yet, please allow me to direct you here to read it.  I’m not going to comment on everything, but I do want to touch on a subject that has been mentioned more than a few times as of late. The interview, at least in part, seemed to center around the band’s younger years (due to Denis O’Regan’s Careless Memories pop-up gallery and photography book) and how they would find girls hiding in their wardrobes, hotel rooms, etc.  In the interview, Simon admits Duran Duran were “sexist”. “But not misogynist. We like girls in bikinis but the women always win in our videos. We wouldn’t have made the Robin Thicke video. It’s just a bit too …” He gropes for the word, his hand a claw of agony, “… you know.”

Oh, I do know. Sometimes, I swear the band knows what I’m thinking, and if I were really deluding myself, I’d swear they were reading my discussions on Twitter.

Just a few weeks back, similar comments from Simon were also in the press. I couldn’t help but agree with him and said as much openly on Twitter. I’d commented many weeks prior that at least in theory – that Robin Thicke’s video was probably a mistake. Maybe I’m just getting old and less tolerant overall, but his video is just a little bit (a lot really) over the line for me. I think there is just a certain tone to his video – the fact that the man wins (using Simon’s words!) and that the woman really seems to not be in control, that registers pretty highly on my “this is complete sexist and cruel BS” meter. It makes me very uncomfortable to watch, in a very similar way to how I’ve felt about Chris Brown. I realize that for Robin Thicke, that video is likely just an act, but that’s not the point. Why do women really need to be used like that?? What year is this again?? I’d said as much on Twitter, and gotten into quite a discussion with a few others on the subject. We never came to full agreement, but I enjoyed the subject – just not the frustration of having to explain my thoughts in 140 characters or less. Damn Twitter.

I’m getting ahead of myself here, because I’m forgetting to mention that when those comments of Simon’s became public, the response and outcry was rather swift. “What about Girls on Film, Simon?? Did we forget all about that Duran Duran video then?”  

Yes, what about that video?

This was exactly the point of discussion when I took to Twitter at a later date about Simon’s comments. Yes, Girls on Film (to begin with) does seem to be a bit of a problem when looking back on Duran’s career as one reflects on Simon’s feelings about Robin Thicke’s video. The women in the video are put in various situations including a lovely little pillow fight while on a cream-slathered candy striped pole (oh, the subtle innuendo), a cowgirl riding and then giving a horse a bath…a sumo-wrestler being massaged after losing a fight…and my personal favorite, the lifeguard “saving” a young woman drowning in a kiddy pool.  And that’s just the R rated version. If you want to really see something, the “Night” version has even more going on backstage…but I’ll leave that to you to find if you haven’t already seen it. In the interview linked above, Simon mentions that in their videos – the women “win”. To be fair, I suppose it is possible to see that the women do end up in control of whatever situation they seem to be put in here. After all, it IS the lifeguard who ends up being left in the pool, and who is riding the horse but the woman?? Again…I cringe at the innuendo, but yes, the woman do seem to be on top. (Go ahead, cringe at my play on words!)

However, not all fans see it that way, and to be equally fair – I think they too have a point.  Why make a video like Girls on Film at all? Was the music not enough to stand on it’s own? Probably not, I’d say. I love the band and adore their music..but back in the 80s?? Getting attention meant taking the risk to shock the public. If you’ve ever seen the full length video, you know that at the end of it the entire band holds up a banner that says “Some people will do anything to sell records.” That alone speaks volumes to me as a viewer, and by the way…it worked! Continually throughout the bands career, the “sex” label has been stamped on their heads or branded across their bodies. When you consider the sheer amount of videos, albums, artwork, etc. that they have had in their career that contain images of women…it’s pretty impossible to say that the band is not sexist, which to his credit, Simon openly admits.

However, and I think this is a huge point most fans (among many others) that have criticized Simon’s comments miss, or at the very least misdefine: Misogyny is a pretty strong word. The definition of a misogynist, according to dictionary.com, is a person who hates, dislikes, mistrusts, or mistreats women.” To me, it’s tantamount to calling someone a homophobe or a racist. It runs in that same vein of hatred, and I have to ask: does the band really hate women?  Think about that for a minute.

Even if you think the Girls on Film video completely objectifies women – which it very well might – the women do seem to end up with the upper hand. If we look at other female images that the band has given us over the years, it would seem that the women almost always look stronger than the band. How about Rio? That woman in Rio makes each band member look ridiculous! She yanks Simon off the boat, Nick can’t even bring himself to pour champagne properly, poor Roger ends in some sort of a fish net, and then there’s John – who daydreams about being a soldier, only to be stopped dead in his tracks by yes, a woman. Such weaklings. This band does not hate women. They are not misogynists, even though by Simon’s own admission they have been sexist, a point to which I would wholeheartedly agree.

We can have the discussion about whether or not we’re all sick of seeing models in the band’s videos. We should acknowledge the band has been branded with the word “Sex”, and whether or not we think that’s propelled their fame. We should talk about the band’s sexism. We can even discuss the music and that should really be the point they stand on, historically speaking. What we we must stop doing, is applying the term “misogynist” to describe the band. It is not fair, and it is not a accurate. Oddly enough…if one really felt that way, especially as a woman, how could one be a fan?

-R