Prejudices worth rethinking
By Chris Peck
Were you a fan of Duran Duran?
I missed their heyday in the 1980s.
Young children and Willie Nelson music got in the way.
So it was with some grumpiness that I dragged the cooler to their Live at the Garden concert series show this month.
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Sure, they had some hit songs back then. And they managed to appear on TV as part of the opening of the Summer Olympics this year.
But I had my preconceived notion well polished. These one-time pretty boys from the early days of MTV would be a bore, a bunch of washed-up has-beens, and we could leave early.
But the preconceived notion, as is so often the case, was dead wrong.
Those boys can play! And sing! And get people up and dancing from the first song.
More than dancing, actually — more like throbbing, jumping, screaming.
To be honest, hundreds of women in their 40s made quite the spectacle that night.
To them Duran Duran was more like the Beatles or Elvis than anything Live at the Garden has presented in the last five years.
They couldn't contain themselves as they rushed the stage. And they didn't want to try.
And that got me to thinking about what it takes to get people over their uninformed ideas, their preformed assumptions — yes, their prejudices.
I had a prejudice against Duran Duran. And I'd never even seen them.
What got me to rethink? Hundreds of women acting like they were 13 again.
Seeing their reaction, their adoration, their complete connection to lead singer Simon Le Bon and bass player John Taylor basically required me to challenge my prejudice.
If these otherwise normal moms, wives and working women were going absolutely bonkers over Duran Duran, there must be something to the band.
Either that or there was something in the bottled water being consumed that night.
But it's not a simple question: How do we deal with our own preconceived notions?
They get rooted in your brain, reinforced by selective thinking, and pretty soon are about as tough to loosen up as a month's worth of hard clay caked on your shoes.
And there is something else.
Rethinking requires just that — thinking again.
And that's difficult. Messy. Confusing.
It's just far easier to think a shallow thought than a deep one.
Research shows that.
It's why the music of your adolescence, whenever that was, remains easier to absorb than the music on a contemporary radio station.
And why the advice your mother gave you, or the words of a book you read long ago, come more quickly to the surface than what you are learning bit by bit in a new book, or from new friends and other sources.
Rethinking Duran Duran, of course, was easier than rethinking what to do about the future of Social Security and Medicare.
Erasing Duran Duran from my list of "never want to see" didn't take the effort of trying to make room for the views of a fundamentalist group in a foreign land that is making the case that America is ruining the world.
But there was a lesson learned that night at the Memphis Botanic Garden.
I didn't expect to like Duran Duran. But my mind was swayed when I saw and felt and observed what others envisioned that I could not.
And that's a lesson worth remembering when it comes to politics, religion and modern life.
Courtesy Commercial Appeal