Sunday, October 3, 2010

A-Ha - “Take On Me”

Side Note to the, um, “more experienced” folks out there: Remember when this video first came out and we were stunned by the amazing technology, babbling about it to each other and watching it at least 46 million times? Apparently it didn’t take much to impress us in the 80’s, which explains things like leg warmers, rubber bracelets and all that cocaine. Anyway…

As the beat of the song kicks in, we’re seeing hand-drawn stills depicting slightly Gestapo-looking people preparing their vehicles for some type of hybrid motorcycle race thing. Some of the participants seem to be very angry about either the race or the non-flattering helmets they have to wear. We see one non-angry guy who’s sorta cute, so he’s probably the hero, since heroes have to be cute and strong or Bonnie Tyler won’t sing about them. Everybody lines up their motorcycles and some dude fires a gun.

Off they go, as we flip through the drawings showing aggressive driving, determined expressions, and toxic exhaust belching out of tailpipes. Oh wait. Are they racing directly into the sun? Should we tell them that’s not a good idea? Never mind, that’s not the burning rays of the sun, it’s just the way the artist decided to indicate velocity and a desire to succeed at all costs. Somebody gets the checkered flag, we’re just not sure who. Probably the hero guy, because it would be confusing if an ugly person won.

Cut to our heroine, with her very 80’s hairstyle that she might have stolen from Meg Ryan before she surgically transformed herself into a boiled red potato. She’s flipping through the comic book we’ve been watching, and sitting in a diner with signs advertising “nice cold, ice cold, MILK!”, because that’s what I look for on a diner menu. A nice serving lady brings Meg some coffee.

Meg doesn’t really care, since she’s more invested in her little book. She keeps turning pages, and seems really focused on the cute hero. Interestingly enough, he seems to be focused on Meg as well, and his cute hand-drawn face winks at her. Instead of screaming and running in fear like any non-drunk person would, she remains calmly seated in her booth. (Maybe she doesn’t want to miss the cold milk. Ice cold!)

Suddenly, a hand comes out of the comic book and reaches for her, as if someone were in a naughty position under the table. (Having been to many seedy diners in my day, this same exact thing has happened many times and I’m fine with it.) Meg studies the hot boy’s face in one of the stills, then decides, what the hell, let’s go bang a cartoon character, might be just the thing to have on my résumé with the right company. She takes the proffered hand.

Oh look, now she’s in the cartoon, wearing a very 80’s, Alison Moyet/Bea Arthur-on-Golden-Girls sack dress thing, and following her new lover. He takes her to a special place in the cartoon where he can walk behind this nifty wall and transform into a real person. She stares at him coyly, not sure that she wants to go back to the real world because her hair looks better over here. (We also get glimpses of the other A-Ha band members, real versions, but we don’t care because they’re not as cute and they aren’t singing.)

So they stand at the Transformation Wall for a while, changing back and forth between their actual and charcoal-pencil selves. (This is the part where, 25 years ago, we were all screaming in awe, wearing our torn sweatshirts and calling our friends on a land-line and telling them to watch MTV right now because we couldn’t pause live TV back then.) More shots of the other band members that we don’t care about.

Back to the diner, where the formerly very nice serving lady discovers that Meg is no longer at station 7, apparently having run out on her bill. Because the waitress and her tremendously large hair have anger issues, she snatches up the comic book and wads it into a ball, eventually throwing it into a wire wastebasket. (This is yet another reason why you should always tip the wait staff. Otherwise they will violently destroy any personal possessions you have left behind. Hell hath no fury like a person who refills your water glass and doesn’t get compensated. Word.)

Back at the special wall, with Meg twirling in cartoon form while Stud smirks in real form, those bitter Gestapo people show back up, with the Head Meanie shattering the magical wall with a pipe wrench. (I guess you need to be a plumber in order to destroy portals between worlds. I never considered this, perhaps I should take some classes.)

There’s a bit of a ruckus, then Stud grabs Meg’s hand and they go running through claustrophobic cartoon hallways, pursued by the Gestapo. (One of them is sporting the number 13 on his headgear, just in case we didn’t understand that he and his friends are not here to make us happy.)

Our love duo runs and runs, then finally reaches what might be a dead end in the hallways. Meg, instead of trying to be logical about this and figure out what to do, simply huddles against one wall and looks distraught, which doesn’t help matters much. The Stud, obviously having kidnapped other diners from the Ice Milk Bar before, knows just the trick. He opens a portal in the dead-end wall and shoves Meg through, carefully avoiding her 80’ slouch boots and those insipid, useless buckles that didn’t serve any purpose but just might cut his pretty face.

Back to the diner, where Destructo Waitress and several of her inbred friends discover a soiled but still alive Meg next to the wastebasket in the kitchen. Meg takes one look at this pathetic crowd (nope, don’t want to sleep with any of them), and then snatches her beloved but crumpled comic book out of the wastebasket and runs like hell. She flees out the door and back to her apartment.

Once there, and having tossed aside part of her outfit, because really, she’s wearing too many layers, even for the 80’s, she smoothes out the comic book on her quaint little desk that has obviously never been used to study for actual classes. She flips through the pages, all sad that the love affair of her life only lasted roughly two minutes, and involved a lot of running. Suddenly, she notices that in one of the frames her lover is still alive, beating against the walls of the cartoon box. Then she whips around to look behind her and realizes that Stud Boy is now in her oddly-designed hallway, beating against those walls while still in charcoal form.

Well, then. Things look promising. If Stud Boy can successfully break back through to this side, they might actually get to have sex, and Meg won’t end up as one of those sad virgins who pine endlessly for a man they’ve never even seen naked.

Meg pulls at her messy 80’s hair in anguish as she watches Stud bounce from wall to wall. Oh look, he’s no longer a cartoon! Glory day! (He’s awfully sweaty from his efforts, and his hair looks like a bald eagle made a nest out of it, but hey, one can always take a quick shower.) Meg races to live her new life with the lover she knows nothing about other than he was possibly created by someone who watched a lot of “Speed Racer” as a child.

And really, that’s just as good a basis for a relationship as anything else, yes?

Click Here to Watch This Video on YouTube.

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