Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Flock of Seagulls – “I Ran (So Far Away)”

  And here we go back to the early 80’s, when an amazing number of English new-wave bands consisted of very pale people wearing alarming makeup and hair that had been styled with a pitchfork. Ah, memories…

  We start out with the drummer kicking things off, wearing an outfit indicating he just left his day job, one where he is a chef in a trendy restaurant that will close within two months. Cut to lead singer Mike with his alarming, upswept hairdo that has more volume than some of the smaller countries in Europe, back to the drummer, and finally to the two guitar players standing in the middle of what we quickly learn is a rotating stage. The fact that the stage is constantly moving might explain some of the wackiness to follow, but I think drugs are still the underlying axis of evil here.

  The one blond guitar player looks like he could have been in the Wang Chung band if only he had listed the right things on his resume, and the brunette player made a seriously bad decision with his eyewear. Even at the time, when all of us cool-kid wannabees were wearing outrageous things because we were desperate for attention and we were drunk, I was still stunned by seeing the enormous pink sunglasses on this guy. Perhaps Nancy Reagan was watching this video when she came up with the “Just Say No” slogan.

  The stage continues to spin for a bit, making sure that we’ve been properly introduced to all the band members, and someone not making sure to place the surrounding disco mirrors so that we wouldn’t see the camera every time we twirled past it. Of course, this was the early days of MTV, when everything was experimental, and that experiment did not include black people or their music.

  Oh wait, now we have the first shot of singer Mike standing in front of several mirrors that replicate him and his hair in interesting ways. Initially this is very exciting, and we all applauded appropriately back in the day. But eventually we will lurch into overkill with the reflections, and you will want to destroy the mirrors with the will of your mind.

  Brief shot of Mike looking down at his keyboard like he has no idea what it is, even though he’s supposed to be playing the thing. (Dude, you’ve really got to learn to take your drugs in the right order, this was basic 80’s party etiquette.) Cut to Mike back with the multiple mirrors, and we get our first shot of multiple drag queens. Okay, there are only two of them, and they are supposed to represent the “girl like you” that Mike never thought he would meet. But the mirrors? They jack things up.

  At first, the girls and their trash-bag outfits don’t want anything to do with Mike, and they march away in formation. But they do pause to look back at us during the “hypnotize” bit of the lyrics, so we can see laser beams shooting out of their eyes. For me, this bit of unpleasantness would be a date-ender, but I suppose I can appreciate the laser beams since they will one day allow you to have your gall bladder removed without invasive surgery.

  More extended shots of the band spinning on the revolving stage (I can still see the camera, folks) and another close-up of the pink sunglasses that only Yoko Ono or the French edition of Vogue would promote. Then we cut to Mike and one of the Drag Girls trying to overpower his makeup with hers in front of the mirrors. Mike staggers around for a little bit and tries to weakly paw at one of the mirrors like it’s an exit door while singing “couldn’t get away”. We get another close-up of one of the Drag Girls, with her brick-size eye-shadow letting us know that she means business.

  More pink sunglasses.

  Longish scene with Mike playing the keyboards and looking absolutely terrified of us. Or the fact that if he moves around too much the shellac on his hair might break. But he’s a trooper, and he keeps singing, wailing the words about the “aurora borealis” coming into view, and then he looks up. Like he can see the sky while in a mirror warehouse. Quick shot of one of the Drag Girls, her expression indicating that she has more important clients to dominate later and we need to get this thing moving.

  Quick shot of both Drag Girls marching at us in formation, and I don’t think they want anyone to be happy.

  More shots of Mike and both girls in front of those mirrors, with him still trying to escape without any real dedication to the effort. (They’re only cheap-ass mirrors, man, just knock one of them over.) Thankfully, we cut to the Drummer Chef doing one of his solos, and there’s nothing like insistent percussion to take your mind off of things. As the music gets more lively and guitar-based, instead of makeup-based, we get to see pink flames burning at the bottom of the screen. Right under the guitar player with the wretched pink glasses. Symbolism, much?

  Brief shot of the Drag Girls indicating that they don’t appreciate the sudden prominence of the guitars or the low-budget special effects. This inspires them to march toward the camera in defiance of all things not about them.

  Back to the rotating stage, because such a thing probably cost a lot of money when Margaret Thatcher and her intimidating hair were in power, and they might as well get their money’s worth with the shoot. Mike is still playing the keyboards in a passive-aggressive manner, we can still see the camera, and the guitar players have not moved from the middle of the spinning wheel, afraid that if they do so they will be hurled closer to the Trash-Bag Tarts who learned makeup application from a brick-layer with a trowel.

  Another long scene with Mike (who may also know the brick-layer) and his vibrant red shirt and power hair riding the carousel. He does seem to be a bit more confident now, so he might have gotten his sea legs, but he still keeps closing his eyes more often than he should and his movements are very jerky. (People should only look like this when they are on the witness stand about a questionable homicide, not when they are making a music video.) Oh wait, he seems to have picked up an extra dance move, where he makes his hand look like a claw and attacks the keyboard like an outtake from Nosferatu.

  And we’re back to the Hall of Mirrors, with Mike submissively not really trying to escape from the Max Factor Twins. (This is getting a little old. Somebody just needs to become somebody else’s bitch so we can be done with this part.) Oh great, now the other members of the band have joined them, with all four guys unable to overpower two women wearing so much makeup that they can barely hold their heads up. (And still, no one thinks about just knocking over a mirror and heading to a pub for a pint or two.)

  We finally head into the last bit of the song, with another appearance of the low-tech pink flames (hey, maybe that’s the stage name for the Drag Girls!) because the guitars start wailing again. Brief shot of Mike and his keyboard being over it all, another visit with the Chef Drummer who really just wants to get back in the kitchen and baste something, and another helping of the pink sunglasses to keep us awake at night.

  Final shot is of Mike and his hair glaring at the camera.  He’s either really tired of spinning in a circle for hours, or he’s upset about the upcoming lawsuit where a judge will have to decide if he or Alannah Currie from the Thompson Twins owns the rights to their shared hairstyle…

Click Here to Watch this Video on YouTube.

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