Saturday, August 23, 2008

80's Weekend Rewind #6

In today’s edition of the 80s video rewind I decided that I should give a lecture on foreign relations.

Like most Americans, I have absolutely no idea how people live in the rest of the world. It is confusing enough when you travel to another part of the country and realize that, yes, you may be forced to buy your groceries at stores named Acme or Piggly Wiggly. But the culture shock that I received by going to England and wondering, “Ok, I’ve got a headache. Where is the damn Walgreens so I can get some aspirin” and being met by blank stares is rather stunning. That doesn’t even match the whole television situation with fewer channels, no programs ever starting on the hour or the half hour and the strange feeling you get when walking back from a bar, turning on the tv and seeing only nature programs being broadcast in sign language.

But at least I understood England. When you talk about the third world I don’t even have a frame of reference. I have to go back to my first introduction to those places which was, of course, Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.”

Imagine my surprise when I went to Mexico, which while not quite third world is probably in the second world, and discovered that things weren’t quite like they were in the video. First off, I wasn’t in India which is what I assume the setting for the video actually is. Also, there was a noted lack of mysterious women pulling me into darkened corridors or freestyle wrestling matches taking place in the jungle. (Look, I was nine when I watched the video. Even as an adult I’m not quite sure if they are having sex or if Simon LeBon is looking for an opportunity to hook her in a cross-faced chicken wing.) However, the kids rolling tires and friends of mine running out shirtless but sporting headbands showing pictures of myself to locals in an effort to locate me proved to be quite accurate.

I use this as my example as to just how narrow a view of the world that we have from pop culture. If you ask me what Bombay is like I would describe this video. Like I would be amazed to find that they have cars or electricity. Also, I would assume that I could flip over tables just because I was pissed off without setting off an international incident. As cultured as I think I am, and I probably beat the average American, I really don’t know that much about the world.

Do you know what the weirdest thing is? Twenty some years later and this is still a damn good song and I’m not afraid to say it. It just sounds really catchy and interesting. Duran Duran is one of the bands you bring up when you talk about crappy, synth laden 80s bands but the music worked for what it was. It was meant to be fun to listen to and it is. It will never change the world but you certainly wouldn’t change the station when the song came on.

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