Friday, February 22, 2013

Moving Pictures – “What About Me”

  We start with the camera panning along outside of the infamous corner shop, with bits of advertising posters and such whipping by, like a smiling, 1940’s urchin urging us to drink our milk or we’ll become a Communist. The camera catches up with a little boy and his old-school suspenders as he goes in the front door, past another poster with another Stepford child proclaiming that milk is better than crack. What is up with these people and dairy products?

  Once inside, the boy briefly gazes around in wonder at all the amazing things that are available for purchase (because everything is amazing when you’re ten years old, even air), then heads right to the little candy section, because there’s no point in living if you can’t have candy. Conveniently, the lead singer is right there next to the jars of sugary sensations, so he’s able to launch into the first bit of the song without being too intrusive. (Well, as unobtrusive as one can be when one starts bellowing lyrics in the middle of a quaint little shop for no apparent reason. Maybe this happens all the time in Australia, not sure.)

  Our Little Buddy tries to get the attention of the young woman at the checkout counter, but she’s much more invested in reading the personal ads in a newspaper and making sure she holds her head just right so her hair looks pretty for the camera that she’s not supposed to notice. Little Buddy just looks around the store and waits, mainly because the lead singer is hollering an important part of the song, and even little boys who want to stick something in their mouths know it’s a bit cheeky to get all insistent when it’s time for the chorus.

  This goes on for a while, with the camera basically ignoring Little Squat and Big Hair so we can get a nice close-up of the lead singer being devastated by the social carnage he has just witnessed, what with candy not being immediately available for those in need. (Big Hair does her best to remain in the shot, jostling around and waving the pretend newspaper that she normally doesn’t read unless unwanted customers arrive or a film company knocks on the door.)

  Brief shot of the candy jar, looking sad and unopened.

  Back to the lead singer, because he and his now-vintage V-neck shirt are not done yet. While he’s still warbling, the camera finally pulls back (oh, so the cameraman does realize there are other people in the store), and over his shoulder we can see that Big Hair has finally given in to peer pressure (we all eventually do) and is assisting the youngster, hoisting the jar and pouring out a measure of candy with the finesse of someone who has learned a technical trade roughly 20 seconds before the director yelled “Action!”.

  Whoops, it’s time for the chorus again, so Big Hair spends an inordinate amount of time screwing around with the packet of candy because she can’t do anything dramatic like fully satisfy the boy’s desires until the song is a little quieter. So she fiddles while Little Buddy burns until the lead singer and his apparently captivating eyes release the camera from his mental grasp.

  Then we’re suddenly outside the shop on the sidewalk, with a woman (or maybe a drag queen, let’s be equality-friendly here) tosses some coins into the open music case of a man playing an instrument, creating notes that sound exactly like the music in the actual song right about this point, so some artsy person must have been involved with the script for the video, a rarity even in those days. We spend more time with the street-corner musician than is really necessary (he’s blowing on something in his mouth, end of acting range) but it’s a nice break from the claustrophobic shop where people are singing really loud and staff people are petulant about having to work for a living.

  Okay, now we’re outside of a much larger building, with the lead singer walking alongside it and letting the wind caress his hair just right. He starts passing a long line of people leaning against said building, although it’s not clear why they are doing so. (Are they really tired? Are they waiting for candy, too?) One of them is not wearing any pants, so we’ve got a whole other video right there if the crew can stick around after this shoot is done.

  Just as the lead singer hits another dramatic part of his story and he strolls past a couple of women in the line who seem to be enjoying the afterglow of mutual frisky business, the camera pulls up and back so we can realize these folks are queued at the “Employment Centre”. Oh. Well, that changes things a bit. (I was expecting a dance club or a methadone clinic.) It also makes me a little sad that we don’t have live entertainment at unemployment offices here in the States. That would be so much more relaxing than the sounds of drive-by shootings, heated discussions over proper baby-daddy identifications, and weave-pulling.

  And we’re back outside the little shop, so the lead singer can warble about “standing on the corner” while he’s doing just that, more pleasant artiness, and then the camera pulls back with a flourish (the cameraman is definitely getting better as we go along, no longer setting the lens on the lead singer and then taking a coffee break). Now we have the whole band on that corner, with the massive drums taking up the most real estate, which is appropriate, since this is the part of the song where the booming percussion takes over and the lead singer does some more powerhouse vocals while raising his fists defiantly in the air.

  We get a close-up of the drummer, letting us know that he’s actually making that rhythmic noise, unlike most bands these days where somebody just pushes a button and a computer program does the actual “musicianship” part. But we can only watch the drummer for a short bit, because then we switch angles so the lead singer is in front of the pesky drums who are threatening to steal the show. (This is probably in the contract: “The talent must not be overshadowed by the equipment,  the cute children, or the happy lesbians.”)

  Lead singer launches into the thrilling part of the vocals where his voice gets even raspier and he makes strained faces so we can understand that this bit is some real singing, and not the spoken-word crap spouted by the Fifty Dents, Spit Bulls, and Nicki Massages of today. As the lead continues with the intensity of his devotion, we have a nice montage of the other folks in the band, people who actually participate in the making of music and don’t just wear cute outfits and pose for magazine covers.

  For the final stretch of the song, we first head back inside the corner shop, where Big Hair is doing something with the ancient cash register. (Probably trying to figure out how it works.) Then we cut to Little Bit still standing there without his candy. (Wait, we saw Big Hair wrapping it up, did she not give it to him? She’s being rude AND stealing from the company? She is so not getting the special parking place this month.) Then we wrap it up back outside, with the lead singer finishing the story and then bowing his head.

  In the murky background behind him, we can see the now-quiet drums waiting patiently. They know that sooner or later the lead singer is going to call in sick, and when that happens, they are going to storm the stage and take over the world. Because they had the beat way before the Go-Go’s claimed they did….

Click Here to Watch this Video on YouTube.

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