Sunday, February 12, 2012

Watching Videos, Literally

We're skiing again. Do I sound like a broken record? Think how I feel! As soon as I've finally finished the ski laundry — long underwear, thick socks, flannel pajamas, my daughter's beloved "Waffle Hut" long-sleeved tee — I'm packing it again. The winter's half over; we have just two more trips planned.

These ski weekends entail lots of traditions. Homemade (or seriously doctored) salsa and chips, thick sandwiches at our favorite local joint: "The Den" (their policy, reinforced by humorless waitresses, pointing to the words: Absolutely No Substitutions!), my breathtaking walks through sugar-coated woods, funky earrings and handknit sweaters from local artisans, communing with our two best friends from Vermont: Ben and Jerry. Yum.

These are all fairly natural extensions of any family's journey into the great white north. But, one of our favorite customs is, I believe, uniquely our own. We sit with our friends, libation of choice in hand: glass of wine or local microbrew, and watch ...

Literal videos!

For those of you who have not skied with us (or stumbled upon them in some less frozen place), literal videos are music videos that have been rerecorded so that the lyrics match the actions onscreen. There are dozens of them out there. The best ones have vocal talent that sound eerily like the original artist, and a cleverly offhand narrative that walks you through often silly directorial choices. The very best are videos that were, in their time, perfectly legitimate examples of the medium ... no matter how perfectly ludicrous they were. An 80s song, complete with asymmetric hair, eyeliner and shoulder pads, set in a library? On a riverboat? At a Renaissance fair? Why not!

My daughter and the other tweens and teens in the house think the videos themselves are ridiculous (which they certainly are). My generation, who remembers the advent of MTV like it was yesterday, can get an extra chuckle. Yes, we used to think these mini-theatricals were a valid art form. As my daughter would say ... OMG! WTF!

Here, for your listening, viewing and laughing-out-loud pleasure is a countdown of our ski house's all-time top four literal videos. (After you watch, be sure to hit your browser's "back" button to move on to the next one.)

Number 4: I Would Do Anything for Love
This is the only one on our list that is post-80s. But, the gothic twist on Beauty and the Beast meets Bram Stoker's Dracula is as over-the-top as anything from that decade. You gotta love the gorgeous damsel in distress, the lesbian vampires, and, last but not least, Mr. Loaf! After all these years, I love me some Meat Loaf. Thrill to it here.

Number 3: Safety Dance
Whatever happened to "Men Without Hats?" They are long gone and forgotten by all but their friends and family (and a dwarf and some puppets and a "crazy ho"). And yet, thanks to the miracle of modern literal videos, they dance on. You too can dance (if you want to) here.

Number 2: Take On Me
My husband's favorite. After all, it has everything a man's man could wish for: a diner, a comic book, a cute 80s chick, a race car, and pipe wrenches. It also features a short sequence ripped off, frame by frame, from the movie Altered States. Take it on here.

And our Number 1 Literal Video: Total Eclipse of the Heart
Here is a video that could never be made in our post Mary Kay Letourneau world. Bonnie Tyler is apparently the new teacher at an all-boys prep school. She fantasizes about underage preppy boys in various states of dress and un-dress, while she emotes through a castle in a filmy white dress. Laugh, cry and sing-along while you wonder aloud together "What were they thinking?" here.


  1. Oh Alex, how did Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield" not make the cut?? "Stick 'em up, play the air guitar..." Laughing just thinking about it!

  2. I know, that one is great too! "Kick, kick, booty shake, booty shake."