Girls, Girls, Girls

Two weeks ago, Duran Duran released a new music video for their song “Girl Panic.” It’s a very busy, high-concept affair, featuring five of the most popular supermodels from the 1980s portraying the members of the band. The real members of Duran Duran play the supporting roles of limo driver, hotel bellboy, room service waiter and elevator operator. They also appear as journalists interviewing their model doppelgangers, and as camera-wielding paparazzi.

It’s classic Duran Duran in so many ways — with the emphasis on glamour, decadence, and an abundance of scantily-clad women, it hearkens back to earlier videos like “Girls on Film” and “The Chauffeur.” There’s a subtle sense of humor in this one too, shown in the answers the models-as-Duran give to the interview questions. Cindy Crawford as John Taylor makes a wisecrack about “never really knowing who’s going to show up” as a nod to their frequently-changing guitarists. Helena Christensen as Roger Taylor says, “I don’t hang out with the rest of the guys, they’re a bad influence,” while in other scenes she’s seen guzzling champagne from the bottle and taking polaroids of the passed-out girls in her hotel room. Eva Herzigova was the standout, providing very opaque non-answers to questions posed by the actual Nick Rhodes. Yasmin Le Bon (wife of Simon), plays the unnamed “Guitarist,” which some people seemed to feel was kind of a slam to their current guitarist Dom Brown, who’s been with them for about five years now, but I thought it was all in good fun, and Dom himself always maintains (as did Yasmin in character), “I’m not a member of Duran Duran.” Naomi Campbell plays Simon Le Bon, and does so with some real poignance, I think. I wonder how much each band member scripted the responses for the women, because they did seem to really reflect the personalities that we know as Duran Duran.

I have to say, it’s a relief to see age-appropriate models in the featured roles. Even though there are piles (literally in some scenes) of young models all throughout this video, the band members aren’t really interacting with them, so it avoids the ick factor I felt about their video for “Falling Down.” In that video from 2007, the band members play doctors in white coats supervising a rehab center/mental institution populated with very young ladies in various stages of undress. I’m sure this attraction to the young ladies is mostly the Nick Rhodes influence at work — see also his photographs for the album cover of Red Carpet Massacre. The “Girl Panic” video could’ve easily gone in the same creepy direction, but manages to avoid it by keeping the middle-aged band members in cameo roles. Though I think it could have been just as good without the dozens of girls dressed in black lace, patent leather bodysuits and garter belts. Even the camera crew for this fake documentary is played by girls who look like they’d be more at home in a bondage club.

And I know, that’s the point. It’s excess to the nth degree, a callback to their 80s past, when they made luxurious big-budget videos in a time of economic austerity, thumbing their noses at the dourness of modern culture. But I watch this video and I wonder, “Who did they make this for?” They are fully aware that the large majority of their fan base is women. Yes, they have male fans, but let’s be honest, it’s the women who pay their bills. I’m one of those women. And you know what I’d love to see in a Duran Duran video? Duran Duran. I have no objection to looking at pretty women in pretty clothes, but when it’s a Duran Duran video, guess who I’d prefer to watch? They still look fantastic and can dress well when they put their minds to it, so why do they persist in overpopulating their videos with babes? Is it just because having pretty girls around is more fun for them when they have to spend a couple days shooting a video? Their last video, for “All You Need is Now,” was, in my mind, pretty close to perfect. Just the band, playing in a room lined with aluminum foil, and various shots of them walking the streets of London. Simple, lovely to watch, no naked women required. Was that just too boring for them? Oh well.

I realize I’m thinking too hard about this. It’s pop music, it’s the thing you’re supposed to use to escape from all the miserable stuff in the world. Am I criticizing a bon bon because it’s not a salad? Probably. And clearly a lot of people are loving this video, because since it was posted on November 8, it has (as of this writing) over 3.4 million views on YouTube. A lot of people are watching it, and it’s gotten a lot of press. So they obviously did something right. In contrast, the video for “All You Need Is Now” has just over 1.2 million views, and it’s been on YouTube for almost a year.

Please don’t get me wrong, I don’t come anywhere close to hating this video. I think it’s a really fun idea, and if it had just been executed in a slightly different way I would be ready to put it near the top of my list. The song itself is definitely one of my favorites from this album. But when you buy into the Duran Duran universe (as I obviously have), you know this kind of awkward excess is part of the deal, and you keep loving them anyway.

*****

All videos referenced above are linked here:

"Girl Panic" by Duran Duran

"Falling Down" by Duran Duran

"All You Need Is Now" by Duran Duran

"Girls on Film" by Duran Duran

"The Chauffeur" by Duran Duran

Girls, Girls, Girls

My body, my enemy.

Will it always be my nemesis? I’ve always thought of it that way to a certain degree. I’ve never looked at it as my friend, or my ally. It was always the source of my problems. I was always too fat, too ugly, I had too much hair on my arms, too much hair on my face, I had bad skin, I had bad eyesight, you name it. To get rid of the bad skin I took antibiotics for a few years when I was a teenager. My skin is better, but now I have grey teeth that no whitening process will fix. I still strip the hair off my face on a regular basis. Being without tweezers for more than 24 hours will send me into a panic state. Sometimes I still bleach the hair on my arms, but I’ve learned to not care about it as much. I’m still fat, and I’ve basically resigned myself to it. If I want to NOT BE FAT, the amount of energy I must expend is completely life-consuming and I have no room in my head or my life for anything but NOT BEING FAT. And I hate that. So I’ve more or less set that aside as a goal I can reasonably attain.

Then I got Crohn’s Disease. Actually, I probably had it for a long time, but then it became something that could no longer be ignored. The idea of “autoimmune” diseases is fascinating to me — when the body turns on itself. Knowing my lifelong attitude towards my body, it doesn’t really surprise me that this is the road I’ve gone down. Not that I believe my brain and my attitude are solely responsible for my condition, I’m sure there are other physical things at work here, and/or environmental factors. I don’t buy the power of positive thinking as the only way to true healing. That’s bullshit. But I’m sure it would help if I had some.

The Crohn’s has been under control for almost two years, and I’ve been feeling really good as far as that goes.

But now my joints are hurting. I’m 44 years old, so I’ve had the random ache and pain that comes from being middle-aged, but this is different. Elbows, shoulders, knees, finger joints all hurting at the same time in various combinations. Some joints have been swollen, and I have tingly feelings in one of my pinky fingers. A visit to the doctor was kind of inconclusive (of course). Blood tests were indicative of Rheumatoid Arthritis — but I’m not experiencing all the symptoms that usually come with it. Sometimes this kind of joint pain can be related to Crohn’s, but is that what this is? I don’t know. As part of my Crohn’s regimen I take a Humira injection every other week, which is also often prescribed for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Clearly it’s not helping me in that respect.

I took a week-long round of steroids and the pain lessened. But now I’m off the steroids and it’s back again. I have an appointment with my gastroenterologist in a couple weeks, and I’m in the process of getting a referral to a rheumatologist.

In the meantime, I feel like someone dragged me around by my arms. It’s kind of like that feeling when you have the flu, like you got hit by a bus —- everything hurts and all you want to do is sleep. Getting dressed hurts. If I push a button the wrong way, or grab something too tightly my fingers protest strongly. If I’ve been sitting for awhile, when I get up I creak around like an old lady for a few minutes until I walk out the stiffness in my knees. Because of the Crohn’s, my GI doctor doesn’t want me to take Advil or Aleve. So my OTC painkiller of choice is Tylenol for Arthritis Pain, which is about as powerful as not taking anything. At least I can still type.

Without really knowing what this is, I’m trying to avoid my worst-case-scenario speculations, and being reasonably successful I think. But if this is another case of my body attacking itself, what do I do with that? What is happening inside me that my own body wants to cripple itself, if not one way, then another?

(This post is not a solicitation for medical advice. I’ll delete any comments that offer it.)

My body, my enemy.

2011 Readling List Update

Currently reading:
Generations: The History of America’s Future, 1584 to 2069 by Neil Howe & William Strauss (re-read)
When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

Read:
American Tabloid by James Ellroy (I think this was the most hard-boiled book I’ve ever read.)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson
The Haçienda: How Not To Run A Club by Peter Hook
Libra by Don DeLillo (I liked this Kennedy assassination novel much better than American Tabloid.)
Walking Man by Tim W. Brown (I finished it, but I could hardly give a crap about any of these characters. If it was any longer I probably wouldn’t have bothered.)
The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martell
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (re-read)
My Booky Wook: A Memoir of Sex, Drugs & Stand-Up by Russell Brand
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson
South: The Endurance Expedition by Ernest Shackleton
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Safe Area Gorazde: The War in Eastern Bosnia, 1992-95 by Joe Sacco
Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
American Eve: Evelyn Nesbit, Stanford White, The Birth of the “It” Girl and the Crime of the Century by Paula Uruburu (sheesh, so many books have a mile-long subtitle now, it’s getting out of hand.)
The Fucking Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel by Dan Sinker
Brief Interviews With Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace
Oscar Wilde by Richard Hellman
Role Models by John Waters
Talking to Girls About Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield
Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain

2011 Readling List Update