Duran Duran As A Consumer Product In New Life Magazine Special Edition

It’s come to this… Duran Duran as an impulse buy in the checkout line

I was recently shopping in a mass market retail chain [Target] and when queuing to pay, my gaze stopped upon the souvenir Life Magazine special edition. There they were, as bold as life; the Fab Five original lineup of Double Duran™ [a nod of the cap to J.J. Jackson, R.I.P.] each heavily laden with metrosexual hair care products as depicted at the height of their pomp. I’d place the photo session at fall 1982 at the latest. Duranies would have a better grasp of such things, perhaps. I’m just a fan. But at that moment, I knew for certain that I had crossed over to the elderly demographic.

Normally the checkout of such a large retailer is where People Magazine, supermarket tabloids, and snack items you might need right now await the less discriminatory shoppers; neck deep in a rushing torrent of capitalism in the zone where nothing you ever came to the store to buy resides. Yep. It was Duran Duran on a Life Magazine special edition. We are getting old.

Who buys magazines anymore? The elderly. Magazines cost around $10 each now! Who can afford them? Anyone under the age of 55 obtains all of their information from the internet, or some form thereof. For those reading this in cultures thousands of miles from America, let me paint a picture. Life Magazine is a standard of American magazine publishing. It has been publishing intermittently for over 135 years. At the height of its of popularity, millions of Americans read Life Magazine every week.

As the Seventies dawned, the market for mass market weeklies began to break down and atomize into magazines with a narrower demographic focus. It stopped publication in 1972. It renewed publishing as a monthly starting in 1978 and continued publishing monthly issues until throwing in the towel in the year 2000. Since then they publish only special editions. But Life has still been publishing for over half of America’s lifespan. It’s that kind of publishing bedrock.

Throughout my lifespan, I’ve seen Life’s demographic become older and older. Though Reader’s Digest’s demographic was always older than Life Magazine’s! I actually wasn’t aware that the Life monthly stopped publication until I was researching this post! But I was certainly aware of the parade of special editions that I would see peripherally when shopping for groceries. Here’s a brief sample of some recent editions.

life magazine special editions
Under 60? move along…nothing to see here…

So that selection gives an idea of what sorts of topics seniors might like to read about when shopping for groceries. The BIG War [II] was a perennial topic I’d see on books and magazines growing up, but I suspect with every veteran now dust, that the days are numbered for the viability of that nostalgia. We can clearly see that The Beatles are at least as big as Jesus, but it’s your guess if they were ultimately bigger or not. Royals? Does any American under the age of 70 really care? Look at the “100 People Who Changed The World.” Fewer than half of those photos were in color! [Jesus was hand-tinted…]

So that now brings us to Duran Duran. Who are all at least 60 years of age, so I guess they have earned their place in line honestly. But it’s still jarring to see a phenomenon as ephemeral as a New Romantic band being marketed on this mass market level [especially in a country where there was no New Romantic movement] and assumed to hold the same commercial standard as Elvis and The Beatles. When 41 years ago, they were seen as the antidote to examples of mass culture Rock Hegemony like those two.

I tend to think of Duran Duran as a cult band who got lucky, but that sentiment dates from the era when The Rolling Stones were long in tooth at 20 years of fame…not the 60 they can count forty years later! In 1982 bands that reached 20 years of history were counted on the fingers of one hand. Now it’s as common as dirt underfoot and yes, Duran Duran have also notched over into the 40-years-and-over club, which includes such Monastic faves as Simple Minds, Shriekback, and OMD. Yes, even the mighty Shrieks, who have never troubled the fever dreams of John Hughes [though Michael Mann was another matter…] released the “Sexthinkone” 12″ 40 years ago this year.

It’s all a bit much. I’d like to have a lie down now, but I’ve got to earn my crust so I’ll leave you now with the sobering realization that not only are Duran Duran in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, but also the checkout line of your local grocery store. And their target audience is on statin drugs and blood thinners. The Cult With No Name is now that ubiquitous.


About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
This entry was posted in Assorted Images, Core Collection, New Romantic, Want List and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Duran Duran As A Consumer Product In New Life Magazine Special Edition

  1. slur says:

    It’s actually quite annoying to get reminded how old you are by simple facts as that, Blancmange are still touring as one man show, Human League and Heaven 17 sort of survived too. Soft Cell restarted again after various stop and go’s and celebrate today the 41st year of ‘Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret’ f.e. And all that special celeb box set releases, I passed the 20 years, 25 years, 30 years, 35 years specials to get confronted with 40 years re-remastered colored vinyl sets now, from Vinyl to CD, back to (colored) Vinyl again. Whatever was fresh and inspiring gets recycled as long as possible. Ahh, Memorabilila “Over And Over Again”. Who are the Stones of our generation ? Depeche Mode ?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You could have ended this whole post at the first paragraph. I need my Doan’s…


    • postpunkmonk says:

      postpostmoderndad – They still make Doan’s Pills?! I’m so old, I can remember when TV ads for them were among the earliest medications advertised on TV, which was mostly about cars and tires, with occasional OTC drugs, before prescription medications took over TV advertising some time in the 90s after I stopped watching.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. TIm says:

    The Life magazine from the 1800’s – the mid 1930’s was a whole different beast.
    I love their covers, see them often in a 20th century commerical art group I am in on FB.
    The other ones are still interesting. I bought one years back because it had an article about Julie London that I wanted to read. Fast forward a couple of years and a friend of mine is writing a book on 1968. I mentioned that I had a LIFE magazine from that vintage that had an article that he may find useful, it was on how armed African Americans were planning a “race war on whitey” (Life’s words, by the way, not mine, from the cover to boot). He was thrilled to see this as the penetration of Life throughout US homes and businesses was huge and such a salacious article really showed what was acceptable as a tone in mainstreat conversation…..not really that long ago.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Tim – Such a tone of racist dog whistles would always be the norm in publications run by a prominent Republican éminence grise such as Henry Luce, founder of Time-Life and CEO until his death in 1967. He was the Rupert Murdoch of the Mid-Century. And don’t forget that the whole push for “gun control” came initially from the right wing as a response to thousands of African Americans [via the Black Panthers’ example] deciding to exercise their 2nd amendment rights. All of a sudden…concern.


  4. negative1ne says:

    hi mr monk.

    i too saw this in a grocery store the other day. but was alerted by someone
    on a duran forum first.

    i did pick it up because it wasn’t too expensive either, and the novelty of it.

    maybe we will see other groups show up too. will be interesting if they
    pick up on other alternative or 80s groups.



    • postpunkmonk says:

      negative1ne – I may pick one up but money is so scarce this year. It’s better spent on actual music. We’ll see. It’s a low priority. I still have Mojo special issues on David Bowie and Roxy Music bought years ago which I’ve yet to read!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. TLewis says:

    I am totally running to the store tomorrow to buy this issue. A lifetime of Duran Duran has been a pretty amazing thing. Their great albums are still some of the best.

    But yes, it is so disorientating to see the artists you grew up with getting older and older (and many even passing away). When you feel young at heart you forget about the pile of decades until you have “Oh my god, what’s happening?” moments like this.

    Liked by 2 people

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