During the eighties you probably used to listen to Eye of the Tiger to perk you up and help you find your motivation to face the cruel, cruel world.
It was a powerful song, and especially helpful when you had to get to work wearing your suit and your white trainers that you changed out of as soon as you got to your desk, because, well, it wasn't very professional to walk around in a suit and white sneakers.
Throughout the day, it was likely that you would have to hum the song to yourself and resist the urge to throw air punches, promising revenge while that nasty cow boss of yours took all the credit for all your hard work.
Oh shit, wait... something's doesn't sound right here! Oh, sorry. I got so carried away that I thought you were Melanie Griffith in Working Girl for a couple of hot minutes. Awkward.
Let's scrap that tiger then, shall we? I mean, it was a kind of novelty tiger, and I hate novelty stuff. I hated the Proclaimers. I hated Bobby McFerrin. And most of all, I hated Dire Straits. All three of these were 80s novelty acts in my books that we are still paying the consequences for.
Of course, when I think of the elegance, sophistication and the lean, mean killing machine that sums up what an eighties tiger was all about, I of course think of Duran Duran.
They had some hot brothers, there was Ni(c)k Rhodes, who, I still think has the greatest name of that decade, and then of course, there was Simon Le Bon (runner up in the poncy name stakes). For a brief while they were the kings of the pop jungle. And people loved, loathed and feared them in equal measure, just as we do tigers in the wild.
I almost want to exclude the following tiger from the great tigers in pop culture series, because, Duran Duran were more into wolves. I still can't get that Hungry Like The Wolf song out of my head all these years later. But the tiger that Duran Duran brought to the world is too powerful to ignore.
Teenage girls, a presumably smaller portion of boys, and general pop lovers usually thought Duran Duran were the bees knees for a fleeting moment. They were like a group of cosmopolitan Brits: always on yachts, marrying French supermodels, yapping on about Rio and all kinds of wild animals, and you could pretty much always find one of them backstage (anywhere) or in the gossip rags of the time.
For the first half of the eighties, they were everything, and then, well, they weren't. They kind of vanished, even though Notorious made it seem like they had a bit more life in them when 1986 rolled around and Ordinary World broke everyone's hearts. Of course we also had to put up with things like The Power Station but, well... it was the eighties.
Their disappearance didn't really matter. They had already made their contribution. They did it back in 1983 when they introduced the world to one of the great tigers in pop culture: the ragged tiger. Their mysterious, symbol heavy third studio album (are you ready for another poncy name?) Seven and the Ragged Tiger featured Union of the Snake (why the obsession with wild animals?), The Reflex and of course, Tiger Tiger.
It was a bit more dance and synth oriented than their usual stuff, but it was the last thing they did before they unleashed the shockingly awful Wild Boys onto the world. But more importantly, the ragged tiger was what got people wondering whether or not Duran Duran were actually satanists. There was of course a brief phase in the late eighties when the media were obsessed with playing pop records backwards to see if Satan was communicating to the masses. These days there's probably a Youtube page or an app for that kind of thing. Or you could just ask Trump directly what today's message is.
Back then, you didn't need to play the Ragged Tiger backwards to know if it was other worldly. You could just look at the album artwork, which was dripping with illuminati symbols. You could look around and note the existence of Duranies (Duran Duran fans... hello, cult!) for more proof that something sinister was going on. Or you could just listen to Tiger Tiger, a completely instrumental track which was proof of the devil's work! After all, Satan needs no words!
Duran Duran made better records before and after this one, but the Ragged Tiger is surely one of the greatest tigers in pop culture, because it was so powerful that it enlightened us to the dark sorcery that was behind Duran Duran, their ridiculous names and their cult like music, and for that, we should be thankful.
You can enjoy the dark magic and their message further with this fan made video.
I am the kind of person who goes around telling everybody that Ang Lee is my fourth favourite Taiwanese person.
Well, because three of my Taiwanese friends are more important to me than him. But make no mistake. Ang Lee is better than us all.
His films are beyond perfect and yet, are usually populated by flawed characters, whose souls are so broken there's no way they're ever going to get it together again. And as a result they usually top themselves, go and live in Denial or waste away, slowly consumed by their regrets.
I'm pretty sure that even Mariah Carey thinks Ang Lee is the bees' knees and that he'd figure in her Top Five Taiwanese list (though her list would probably look like this:
1. the Hello Kitty Train that has just been unveiled in Taiwan
2. the Hello Kitty EVA Jet
3. the Hello Kitty suite at the Grand Hi-Lai Hotel in Kaohsiung
4. the Hello Kitty maternity hospital in Yuanlin
5. Ang Lee)
The best lyric Mimi ever came up with - and I have to give her credit, occasionally she pulls a decent one out - must have been inspired by the characters in films like The Ice Storm (my second favourite Ang Lee film).
Man, if you think you are fragile, go and rewatch that film. Then you could use Mimi's music as the soundtrack, kind of like a hip hop lite Pink Floyd/Wizard of Oz scenario. Just make sure you use the "If we were two Lego blocks/ Even the Harvard University graduating class of 2010/Couldn't put us back together again" verse in Up Out My Face to a suitably depressing scene.
Although I loved The Ice Storm and Brokeback Mountain, I love Ang Lee even more than usual when he's playing with tigers. He pulled off what nobody thought was possible with The Life of Pi and I have to say I had a thing for Richard Parker. God, what a hottie! Being shipwrecked with Richard Parker is my ideal fantasy. But The Life of Pi was not Ang Lee's greatest tiger moment.
No, for that, we have to turn to one of the greatest tigers to have ever made it into popular culture. The Crouching Tiger. Along with the Hidden Dragon, this tiger was kind of invisible. This tiger was a metaphoric one that alluded to the traditional Cheng Yu (like a Chinese idiom) about people's hidden strengths and talents. And the Crouching Tiger was almost as sexy as Richard Parker although you never got the feeling that you wanted to have a little cuddle.
With Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Ang Lee managed to bring together all kinds of Asian cultures to produce what I think remains the highest ever grossing foreign film in the US. He mixed together the best of Hong Kong martial arts films, classical Chinese and Taoist elements and, the pulpy, comic book/novels and came out with a masterpiece which made so many of the spiritually themed martial arts films that came before it seem like an embarrassment.
And how did he manage to do that?
Well, Ang Lee, as I said is better than us all. He's a top notch film maker, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is another example of his perfect films being populated by broken souls. And it's that juxtaposition that makes it so easy to fall in love with the characters and the stunning imagery - especially those rooftop and bamboo forest scenes. Still breathtaking nearly twenty years later.
And for that, I salute not only Ang Lee, but also one of the greatest tigers to have ever made it into popular culture: The Crouching Tiger that you left you so breathless back in 2000 that you've not ever quite recovered.
I ALWAYS thought Canada was too cold for tigers - especially the rocking variety.
Not too cold, of course, for radio friendly rockish music. I mean look at the stellar talent that Canada has pushed out into that arena: Alanis Morisette, Alannah Myles, Bryan Adams, Nickelback... Avril Lavigne.
We all love the eighties and nothing screams nostalgia like big hair, a big power ballad or a strange mix between the two. Enter Glass Tiger.
They took over the world in 1986. They won Juno Awards and had (2) top ten hits and were partly responsible for people burning the tips of their fingers at concerts because they had to hold onto the little gas thing on their lighters. These days there's probably an app for that kind of thing. You know, you can go to a concert today, and your iPhone can probably display a flickering candle on its screen when the big, heart breaking ballad kicks in to gear.
I don't really know much about Glass Tiger but I still know all the lyrics to Don't Forget Me When I'm Gone. That I think, is a mark of respect for the first of the great tigers in pop culture. The Glass Tiger.
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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