Back to previous post: Sentence du jour

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Debate, right now

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

August 6, 2006

Turn around, bright eyes
Posted by Teresa at 10:05 AM * 98 comments

This post started out as a comment in the Hurra Torpedo thread, but Patrick thought it should be removed to the front page as a separate post.

What happened was that the conversation had wandered away from Hurrah Torpedo’s version to the original Bonnie Tyler video for “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, which you may want to re-watch. Julie L. had posted:

Meanwhile, an analysis or two of the original video for the song. Because you can never have enough pirouetting ninjas.

So I said: Julie, funny you should mention the Bonnie Tyler video of “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” I’ve been re-watching it, trying to imagine what the hell its makers had in mind.

I can’t agree with that analysis you link to. Those mysterious young men aren’t her accusers. They’re so wrapped up in whatever it is they have going on that they barely register her presence. (There is sexual tension present. It’s all between the boys.) Their non-reaction to Bonnie Tyler’s character makes me think she must be on the staff of the institution where the video takes place. This makes her the traditional uninvolved but centrally placed narrator, and sets the stage for a tale of the worldly fantastic.

The school or institution where she works is privileged, obviously well-to-do, and has been around for a while. The students have some kind of group mind/Midwich Cuckoos thing going on that makes their eyes glow in the dark and greatly increases their speed, strength, and coordination.

As the group’s telepathic linkage becomes stronger, the accompanying gift of careless precision of movement manifests as group fantasies: Let’s pretend we’re ninjas! Let’s do gymnastics in the dark! Let’s put on our best rocker duds, and sing and dance our way up the main staircase! (Good riff. Starts out being weird and mystifying and kind of cool, then gets creepier and creepier.)

Bonnie Tyler’s character, who’s probably the school nurse or something, is torn between concern for her charges, who have falllen under this creepy influence; a more general worry about the nature and intentions of whatever is gestating here; and, eventually, fear for her own safety.

Normal communication with the outside world will of course have been cut off. The only way to get a message out is via the carrier pigeons belonging to the one nerdy young student who’s a holdout from the group mind. (Note: he may be a were-pigeon.)

All we’re missing is the climax, resolution, and denouement.

I don’t have cherished sentimental memories of 1980s rock videos. What I remember is sitting there in a constant state of low-level astonishment, trying to figure out what the bleep was supposed to be going on in them. For instance, why did so many videos entirely consist of scenes of the singer’s girlfriend desperately trying to get away from him?

What I do cherish is Scraps DeSelby’s take on 80s videos: “It’s a good thing that acid and MTV came along in different decades.”

Comments on Turn around, bright eyes:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 10:57 AM:

A voice at the back of my mind keeps yelling 'Stephen King'. I think that's the sensibility here.

#2 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 11:01 AM:

With a dollop of Shirley Jackson. Plus somebody else, on account of the were-pigeon that shows up later.

#3 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 11:06 AM:

Well, yeah, of course. Almost all of the weirdest videos of the '80s can be explained by a judicious application of the Principles of Skiffy.

#4 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 11:23 AM:

Connoisseurs of implication may also direct themselves to the jacket of the album on which this immortal power ballad appeared.

#5 ::: JoXn ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 11:24 AM:

Theresa's description makes a seriously good springboard for a Doctor Who plot.

#6 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 11:25 AM:

A laser beam can pass uninterrupted through Bonnie Tyler's head!

#7 ::: Lucy Huntzinger ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 11:25 AM:

"Turn around, Bright Ears"

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 11:29 AM:

Oh, Lucy.

JoXn: Or some other show. What's obvious is that there's a story going on there.

#9 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 11:30 AM:

Lucy: you win.

#10 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 12:01 PM:

It’s clearly the world's first shojou manga music video. You'd know this intuitively if you'd seen Revolutionary Girl Utena.

I'm still making zero progress on my decade-old desire to write a Planet of the Apes filk to that tune.

#11 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 12:29 PM:

The were-pigeon reminds me of Barbarella. Must get mind out of gutter.

#12 ::: chris. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 12:31 PM:

My god, Avram, you're right: it DOES make much more sense when i view it as Utena.

I was in middle and high school in the '80s and i watched everyone around me go ga-ga over MTV, but music videos never made sense to me. I'd always wondered why, but now i know -- it's because i hadn't yet seen any anime.

#13 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 12:50 PM:

"For instance, why did so many videos entirely consist of scenes of the singer's girlfriend desperately trying to get away from him?"

Hypothesis: Because a boyfriend who is always away walking down rain-soaked neon-lit streets, and who sings all the time during conversation (and wears a ridiculous mullet) drives her nuts:

"Honey, why can't we talk like normal human beings -"
"I WANNA KNOW WHAT LOVE IS..."
"You know what love is, stop the %&*# singing!"
"I WANT YOU TO SHOW ME..."
"I'm outta here."

#14 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 12:54 PM:

And I always thought the video was about sex between an older woman and younger men.

I always saw Tyler in the video as a teacher or other authority figure at the school, obsessed with the sexuality of her students.

The sheer physicality displayed by the ninjas/footballers/swimmers seems pretty obvious. And the glowing eyes could be symbolic of the inner sexual fires of horny young men.

The story I got out of the symbolism of the music video was that Tyler was a teacher at the school, became obsessed with one of her students, strayed with him, got caught at it, and (rather than the school facing a public scandal) was allowed to resign her position; the final outdoors scene seems to be her saying goodbye to the school and students.

(The younger boy is still young enough to be a non-sexual figure, and I think represents the normal teacher/student relationship Tyler should have had with her older students.)

(Sex! Sex! It's always about sex! Jeez, I'm so damned predictable sometimes....)

#15 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 01:03 PM:

I had totally forgotten about the supreme cheesiness of that video. Unlike TNH, however, I really do pine for the 80's music video. I remember getting home from school and fiddling witht the little UHF loop antenna trying to pull in U-68, a broadcast video channel located in the far off wilds of New Jersey. (Cable had yet to come to Brooklyn.)

I remember laughing at the twirling ninjas the first time I saw that thing.

There's something delightful about a series of disconnected images strung together into an eighth grade version of a surrealist film. I understand that videos are still made, but if they're shown anywhere, I don't get that channel.

Of course, now I'm frittering away my Sunday morning looking at things like Sweet Dreams and Safety Dance. Not to mention the original German versions of Falco's oeuvre.

Man, I feel old.

#16 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 01:03 PM:

I always thought it was what happened when Victoria's Secret decided to shoot a commercial at a boy's prep school on the same day that the aliens took over.

But (anent the album cover) what is Bonnie Tyler doing with a light saber in her ear?

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 01:16 PM:

Larry Brennan: I seem to remember channel 68 playing nothing but Phil Collins singing 'Susudio'. Then we got cable.

#18 ::: Diane Patterson ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 01:51 PM:

The guys who wrote "Total Eclipse of the Heart" wrote a German musical called "Tanz der Vampire" that features the music/theme of "Total Eclipse" quite frequently. In case you can't get enough of Bonnie Tyler, you can get the song as sung by a long-dead master vampire.

("Tanz der Vampire" evidently came to New York as "Dance of the Vampire," and I can't imagine what the producer was thinking. "Tanz" seems to fit German sensibilities. I can't imagine anyone paying NYC prices to see something so intentionally ludicrous. You can read a synopsis of it here.)

#19 ::: jim ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 01:59 PM:

No, no, NO! It is an error to attempt to impose a narrative on this sort of thing. Larry Brennan has the right idea, I think: "a series of disconnected images strung together ... version of a surrealist film." Robert Hughes (in The Shock of the New, I think) said that Surrealism had a longer life than we imagined and specifically mentioned MTV as a place it had been resurrected. Would you impose a narrative on L'Etoile de mer? Or Un Chien andalou?

In this case, the incoherence of the song (light in my life/love in the dark may be a nice chiasmus, but it has nothing to do with the rest of the lyrics) freed the director from the obligation to illustrate it and he piled on images. Not totally disconnected images, though. It's a mass of gay imagery swirling about Bonnie Tyler as she sings sincerely heterosexually, oblivious to her surroundings.

To me, therefore, this video is a triumph of camp. Camp which transcends itself.

#20 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 02:01 PM:

Fragano - Yeah, U-68 played a lot of junk, but it was the only game in town. Besides, half the fun was trying to see what's going on through all of the snow. FWIW, cable didn't show up in my old neighborhood until the mid 90's, so it wasn't an option. I didn't have cable until I moved to Queens in '92.

#21 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 02:17 PM:

"Tanz der Vampire" evidently came to New York as "Dance of the Vampire," and I can't imagine what the producer was thinking. "Tanz" seems to fit German sensibilities. I can't imagine anyone paying NYC prices to see something so intentionally ludicrous.

When it came to Broadway, it was with a new book and direction which attempted to reconfigure it from serious Euro pop-opera (in the mold of Les Miserables) to campy send up. (How else are you supposed to explain a chorus of villagers larded with garlands of garlic singing "Garlic! Garlic! That's what keeps us young./ Garlic! Garlic! That's why we're well hung.")

Having said that, I can't imagine what the producers were thinking either. Maybe they thought the presence of Michael Crawford would paper over all possible flaws. Nope. The show flopped.

Given that in recent years, Dance of the Vampires, Dracula the Musical and Lestat have all flopped on Broadway, I have to think producers will have to think hard before they mount the next vampire musical. (I should point out that all of these shows had problems which weren't specific to vampire musicals.)

#22 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 02:33 PM:

The video opens with a brooding mansion with one lighted window. The image is dominated by warm dark tones, with a warmly-lit window. The viewpoint shifts inside, and the image is dominated by cold light tones and cold (cold?) candlelight. Through blowing cloth, a female figure in a gauzy gown is visible. Cut to a white dove, flying out of the light into a darkened room.

Goth, baby.

#23 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 02:53 PM:

Larry: What can I say? I lived in Manhattan.

#24 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 02:53 PM:

I'm not sure how much it helps to know that Tyler's video was directed by Russell Mulcahy (Highlander), but this site has a fairly nifty set of filmographic/stylistic notes for various 80s music video directors. However, their location cite seems to be a bit off; rather than Bethlehem Asylum, the building seems to be the Holloway Asylum (or Sanatorium).

...well hey, there's a (poorly formatted) interview with Tyler that goes into a bit of detail about the video:

"Total Eclipse Of The Heart" went on to sell over 5 million records.

The song, as great and powerful as it was (and still is) was helped by a completely over the top video story-boarded by Jim Steinman (with a few ideas "borrowed" from the movie FUTURE WORLD - the follow up to the Yul Brunner futuristic thriller WESTWORLD). Bonnie said at the time:

"We've just made a video to go with the single. We filmed it at Holloway Asylum, a doctor who invented a drug used all the money he made from it to build it, to help his patients. Hellish frightening it is though, they've got six security guards and six dogs and the dogs will go in every room of the place except the morgue and they won't step over into the rooms where they gave patients electric shocks. It's funny how dogs seem to know these things.

"It starts off with me daydreaming in this window and I'm supposed to be fantasizing about all these things that happen in the video. There's about twenty boys in it and I'm supposed to be fantasizing about all these boys. There's American footballers, Hells Angels, Fencers and there's one scene where all the boys are sat around in dinner suits looking all suave, there's this big dinner table and they're all drinking champagne out of silver goblets and then they kick the table over and start fighting.

"Two of them actually ended up in hospital because they kicked the table over and a champagne bottle broke and a glass dish broke and two of them fell in the glass and cut themselves. We started filming at nine thirty in the bitter cold and we were still there at 3.30 in the morning. At about 1.30am it was pouring with rain and I was there in the pitch black, running through the grass, falling in the muck with these pagan dancers, all of us practically rolling in the muck. It was quite interesting!"

(IIRC Jim Steinman was the songwriter responsible for "Total Eclipse" as well as the nearly identical-sounding "Making Love (Out Of Nothing At All)", which was on the charts via Air Supply at nearly the same time. Also, most or possibly all of the "Bat Out Of Hell" album. He has much to answer for. As for the Futureworld connection, I've never seen that movie so I have nothing to add about that.)

#25 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 03:10 PM:

"If you're scared of dyin', you see bulimic video-eyed preppies throwin' doves at you. But if you've made your peace, you see that they're really ninja-spawnin' draperies, settin' you free." - Harvey Keitel, in Jacob's Ladder

#26 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 03:32 PM:

Searching for deeper meaning in a Bonnie Tyler video. Oh, Vienna.

#27 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 03:53 PM:

It's a visually powerful thing, regardless of Deeper Meaning.

#28 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 04:03 PM:

The song, as great and powerful as it was (and still is) was helped by a completely over the top video story-boarded by Jim Steinman (with a few ideas "borrowed" from the movie FUTURE WORLD - the follow up to the Yul Brunner futuristic thriller WESTWORLD).

"Story-boarded by Jim Steinman" is really all the explanation you need. A writer in Spin once accurately described Steinman as "a cat so wack he makes Captain Beefheart look like a tax accountant."

The man achieves a certain loopy grandeur in his songwriting, but you can't expect it to make any sense.

I'm having a hard time resisting the temptation to spend the rest of the afternoon looking at 80's videos on YouTube.

#29 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 04:21 PM:

I'm having a hard time resisting the temptation to spend the rest of the afternoon looking at 80's videos on YouTube.

Resistance is futile...

#30 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 04:38 PM:

In my iTunes library I also have the Nicki French "dance version" cover as well as the Tori Amos live cover from her Boston concert in August 2005.

I don't have the original Bonnie Tyler album version (the 7 minute long one), though. Yet.

As for 80s videos...we get VH1 Classic. They have run seven-hour blocks of 80s videos.

#31 ::: Suzanne M ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 04:55 PM:

I was in high school in the late '90s, when a dreadful movie called Urban Legend came out. In the very beginning, a young woman is decapitated with an axe while singing "Total Eclipse of the Heart". Now, I associate that song with decapitations.

...I think I like pirouetting ninjas better.

#32 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 05:10 PM:

The astounding this about the '80s is how much sense they actually seemed to make, at the time.

#33 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 05:30 PM:

. . . how much sense they actually seemed to make, at the time.

"I've got a dream when the darkness is over
We'll be lyin' in the rays of the sun
But it's only a dream and tonight is for real
You'll never know what it means
But you'll know how it feels
It's gonna be over (over)
Before you know it's begun
(Before you know it's begun)
Let the revels begin
Let the fire be started
We're dancing for the desperate and the broken-hearted
Say a prayer in the darkness for the magic to come
No matter what it seems
Tonight is what it means to be young
Before you know it it's gone."

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United states has just concluded his State of the Union Address, backed by the Donald Rumsfeld Experience. America prevails.

#34 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 05:40 PM:

Resistance is futile...

Well, I wasted a bunch of time on YouTube, but wound up going in a different direction.

#35 ::: Velma deSelby Bowen ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 06:53 PM:

It's a very popular audience participation song some nights in the NYC piano bars, and it's occasionally terrifying to realize how many people know the entire song.

#36 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 07:16 PM:

I'm not actually in the least surprised.

Terrified, yes, but not surprised.

#37 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 07:34 PM:

It sounds corny to say, it demeans me to say, maybe, that I was very affected by this song when it came out. I never saw the video, though, until Atrios posted a link to it a couple of weeks ago, or thereabouts. I just listened to the lyrics. Over and over and over.

It's hard to explain. It's stupid, maybe. Forget the video, just listen to the words. I was married to someone on the autism spectrum, and I knew that he really did love me even though there was an emotional chasm between us. Lines like "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Your love is like a shadow on me all of the time" have the ring of truth to them, for me.

#38 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 07:38 PM:

There aren't many huge hit pop songs that have the ludicrous majesty of "Total Eclipse of the Heart", but another of the serious contenders, "Bohemian Rhapsody", is also a piano bar staple.

#39 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 07:41 PM:

The lyrics are nowhere near as nonsensical as the video; they're a pretty good description of the state of mind of a really distraught person trying to get solace from a lover, in a Jim Steinman histrionic sort of way.

#40 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 07:42 PM:

Just to be clear, Mary, if we didn't find pop music affecting, we wouldn't write about it.

Of course a ballad like "Total Eclipse of the Heart" can pack an emotional wallop. It's built to do so. There's no shame in being affected. That's what music does.

It's entirely possible for something to be kitschy and moving all at once. Anyone who loves genre SF ought to be clear on that.

#41 ::: Matt McIrvin ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 07:46 PM:

...what it has in common with a lot of other Steinman songs (and also with "Bohemian Rhapsody") is the complicated melodic structure; it's not some simple ABABCB thing like most pop songs, it's more like ABCDEFGABCDEFG, this involved thing with a lot of little parts, repeated twice. That was what I remember really standing out when I heard it back in the Eighties; it wasn't organized like anything else on the radio.

#42 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 07:47 PM:

"Ludicrous majesty" is the perfect phrase.

#43 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 07:58 PM:

God damn it, guys.

You know I love you.

BUT YOU'VE GOT A HELL OF A LOT TO LEARN ABOUT ROCK AND ROLL!!!!

:) Yes, I love Jim Steinman's work. So sue me.

#44 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 08:27 PM:

Thanks, Patrick. I'm also emotionally affected by Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin, (so there, or something; whatever). Music really can be affecting; it's like the voice of the soul.

#45 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 08:38 PM:

Hey, Zander? Around here, we like Jim Steinman. And overblown kitsch. And the Ramones.

Are you sure we're having an argument? I mean, if you insist, we could pencil you in.

#46 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 08:43 PM:

Of course, it may be worth noting that the ludicrous majesty of "Bohemian Rhapsody" is more or less intentional; part of Queen's underlying philosophy was the elevation of kitsch as far as it would go.

(One of the best spins on BR I've been exposed to was the one I saw played by California Guitar Trio at NEARfest 2001; they did an instrumental version and the audience - nearly every chubby nerd of us - sang the words. That's knowing your crowd, right there.)

#47 ::: Lawrence Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 09:20 PM:

Jim Steinman's work is unmistakable, whether it's Bonnie Tyler or Meat Loaf or Air Supply or the Sisters of Mercy singing it, and I love it, and I never felt even the slightest urge to try to explain it.

#48 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 09:50 PM:

The California Guitar Trio's instrumental cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" is in fact a serious work of over-the-top art.

#49 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 10:00 PM:

I would even have liked that bloody Celine Dion "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" (known among my friends as "that Karyn Cadavy powder-blue dress one," because we watched a lot of ice skating that year) if Meat Loaf had performed it instead of Celine Dion.

Jim Steinman writes some Good Stuff.

#50 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: August 06, 2006, 10:11 PM:

The definitive take on all of this surely has to be the Not the Nine O'Clock News team's Nice Video - Shame About the Song

#51 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 12:00 AM:

I can't believe I never saw this. Gay video bars were huge in the 80s and this video would have totally rated.

Teresa, I (now) share your bafflement at 80s video, but at the time, college for me, they were soooo cool.

Now I look at them and they actually remind me of home movies from the late 50s/early 60s. Suddenly, there's this new format/technology that everyone wants to play with but no one knows what to do, so they do silly things or things they think must be cool. I have an absurdly funny film clip somewhere of my mom's brothers--they're twenty-something--jumping up and down in place in their backyard. In suits. Because it was MOTION PICTURE film!!!

#52 ::: Sara G ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 12:18 AM:

I really did not remember that video. All I seemed to remember was the end, where the boy had glowing eyes and sang "Turn Around Bright Eyes." But, I do love that song. My favorite version of the moment is by a band called "Straight Outta Junior High" Which is about the maturity level of the rest of their songs from what I can tell, but their version of "Total Eclipse..." amuses me. I can't seem to find a link to it. I found it on Rhapsody.

#53 ::: broundy ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 01:07 AM:

(Note: he may be a were-pigeon.)

Of all the sentences I've read today, this is my favorite.

#54 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 01:46 AM:

Never had MTV.

My memory of this song is playing it over and over on the jukebox in my friend's backyard when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. For me, this song is flavored with a young summer, and pink ice cream....

#55 ::: Marie Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 01:56 AM:

There's a CD called London Horn Sound which consists of French horn players playing cool music which was never written for horn, usually for a good reason. (Speaking as a player of the instrument myself, some of the tracks made my eyes bug out.) But despite the technical splendor of other tracks, my favorite is the rearrangement of "Bohemian Rhapsody" for eight horns, eight Wagner tubas, a piano, and a drum set. I wonder how many rehearsals it took before people got over the urge to snicker in the middle of their own playing.

#56 ::: Lynne ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 02:15 AM:

I can understand most of the costumes -- shirt and tie, choir robes, sports gear, even the cheesy leather jacket stuff -- but what the hell was up with the loincloths? What kind of private school was this supposed to be? ;-)

#57 ::: Zak ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 03:37 AM:

Okay, folks. Really. There is only one possible interpretation of the video.

It is a critique of the ideation of Thomas Harris' Red Dragon.

In Red Dragon, a serial killer named Dollarhyde (represented by the very expensive and scary boy's school in the video) seeks out and murders families who he percieves as having light coming out of their eyes.

In the book, the killer is motivated by William Blake's painting The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun. The video is clearly saying that this cannot be, based on Dollarhyde's single delusional vision. The negative space formed by the lack of Blake's imagry in the video illustrates clearly that the only motivation possible for the killer is actually the paintings of Amedeo Modigliani (specifically, The Boy).

Alternately, it could be just delightfully whacked and I'm making wholesale ungulate byproduct.

#58 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 06:21 AM:

She's an English teacher. The loincloth party is a new approach to studying Lord of the Flies.

#59 ::: Scraps ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 10:30 AM:

By the way, I've never understood "now there's only love in the dark." What's supposed to be wrong with love in the dark? Kelly Howe, the singer who has made "Total Eclipse" her own at Rose's Turn, always asks for a big round of applause for love in the dark on the last iteration.

#60 ::: Northland ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 10:39 AM:

AFAIC, the winner & still champeen of bad 80s videos is Heart's These Dreams. Bonus: Bernie Taupin's lyrics sound like they were created by playing madlibs with Extruded Fantasy Product.

#61 ::: Francis ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 10:49 AM:

Hey, Zander? Around here, we like Jim Steinman.

Um... Context.

#62 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 10:58 AM:

I've seen a collection of Doctor Who clips (lots of baddies with glowing eyes) cut to that song. I think it was at the '92 Eastercon.
I was reminded of it by Doctor Who Confidential doing something similar with "Dedicated Follower of Fashion" in the introduction to repeating the first Ninth Doctor series this weekend.

#63 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 11:12 AM:

whoa. literal pirouetting ninjas. I must have forgotten that from the way back days, staying up late to watch whatever they could scrounge up on Friday Night Videos.

How about Duran Duran's video for "Wild Boys" next? For some reason, the image of Simon Le Bon strapped to a windmill, getting his head dunked in water has haunted me for decades...

#64 ::: nerdycellist@sbcglobal.net ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 12:47 PM:

I am exactly the right age to enjoy 80's videos on any and all levels - as kitsch or moving art. Since I hit 30 a few years ago, I have lost all shame about my music choices. Barry Manilow, Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, Faure (who, according to one musical encyclopedia I read, is nothing more than a cut rate Debussy wannabe) Wham!, Apocalyptica etc. And I refuse to be "ironic" in my enjoyment of these groups; all have music or lyrics which move me for one reason or another.

Duran Duran are probably my favorite nonsensical band. Their lyrics make no sense. Ever. When I started listening to them I was about 11, and I assumed that they must be serious poetic works that I would understand better when I was an adult. As an adult, I realized they still don't make sense, but I no longer care. I love their musical arrangements. And their videos, which make as much sense as their lyrics. Greg, I remember reading that the video for "Wild Boys" was supposed to be a representation of the band being tortured by what they loved most, hence John(?) being strapped to the car. I have no idea Simon's method of torture indicated - a great love for water? Wind power? Who cares! It was awesome! And, like Labyrinth, something that compelled and/or warped me at a young age whose implications I can only fully appreciate as a grown up.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to crank up the volume on this a-ha CD.

#65 ::: Lynne ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 01:41 PM:

I never realized that the same songwriter did "Total Eclipse of the Heart" and "Making Love Out of Nothing At All." Thanks for the tip. It explains a lot!

The part I never would've seen coming is the fact that he wrote for Sisters of Mercy. Now if we removed Andrew Eldritch's über-Goth voice from "This Corrosion" and substituted Russell Hitchcock's tenor instead, would the song be recognizable as a Steinman piece? :-)

#66 ::: Mark Richards ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 02:38 PM:

"Ludicrous majesty" fer shur ...

One thing that crossed my mind was that, as an older woman surrounded by virile young men, Tyler could be channeling Mae West here.

Except that it's all a dream sequence, where she and they are mutually oblivious to each other.

The anti-Mae West, perhaps?

#67 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 02:51 PM:

The California Guitar Trio's instrumental cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" is in fact a serious work of over-the-top art.

This is true of a great deal of their catalogue, including their take on "Pictures at an Exhibition" and the Japanese folksong that quotes "21st Century Schizoid Man." One of the things that impresses me about them is how they an enormous range of material with very little apparent pretention and still manage to create over-the-top art out of it.

#68 ::: Sharon ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 03:22 PM:

John M. Ford: I saw the video for that song once, in high school, on one of those late night video things (we had no MTV). It took me years to identify it, and I happily bought the Streets of Fire soundtrack just to get that one song.

Good times.

#69 ::: mds ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 03:40 PM:

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to crank up the volume on this a-ha CD.

Oooh, now "Take On Me" is an interesting twist on the phenomenon. The video actually relates an almost-coherent fantasy tale, with someone pulled into comic book land by the lead singer. I'm not quite sure why the race car fellas had it in for the singer, though, unless they were serious music critics. And of course, as usual, the video seems to have no connection whatsoever to the content of the song.

#70 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 05:15 PM:

mds: Then there's a-ha's next video, The Sun Always Shines On TV, which starts with the "end of the story" from "Take On Me".

#71 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: August 07, 2006, 08:24 PM:

No, I'm not arguing with anyone. I don't usually feel the need to disparage things I love (by calling them "overblown kitsch" and whatnot), but I'm comfy with the fact that other people do, and I can fit in if necessary. :)

Thank you, Francis, for providing the context for the quote, and also linking me to a video I hadn't seen.

#72 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 12:17 AM:

On a not entirely unrelated note, it distressed me for years that I could never remember what song it was that had the music video featuring a carnival with a ride at the end of which the little boy who'd gotten on it was an old man. It also featured a mermaid.

As a result, my absolute ecstatic delight upon being reintroduced to The Tube's "She's A Beauty" via some retro '80s station or other was totally out of proportion to any inherent pop goodness (already not inconsiderable!) in the song itself.

"Total Eclipse" was one of my favoritest songs ever when it came out (if I wasn't still in single digits, I wasn't long out of 'em). I barely remember the video, but the phrase "piroutting ninjas" had me in stitches.

a-ha's "Take On Me" video has never lost its ability to have me all choked up at the end. I've got "Sun Always Shines" on pause pending full download--thank you for the link!

#73 ::: Brad DeLong ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 01:07 AM:

Can someone tell me why I thought "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was a duet between Meatloaf and Bonnie Tyler?

#74 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 02:20 AM:

I loved the video for "Take On Me" - and although I was a somewhat idealistic teen, my faith in (non-representative) voting was totally destroyed by the fact that a-ha lost the MTV's best video of the year award to "We Are the World". The latter was a fine cooperative fund-raising effort, sure, but the video was just a bunch of people singing. sigh. Since then, I always assume that crass sentimentality will win over any kind of inherent merit, and I am rarely disappointed (though often frustrated).

#75 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 02:29 AM:

Can someone tell me why I thought "Total Eclipse of the Heart" was a duet between Meatloaf and Bonnie Tyler?

Mitral Steinmanosis. Fortunately, there is hope.

#76 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 02:47 AM:

Brad - Bonnie Tyler devoured Meatloaf before the song was recorded, hence the duet.

Thanks for the belly laugh.

#77 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 07:32 AM:

Okay, so I watched the video of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" that someone linked to.

Someone tell me what was the deal with the cow?

#78 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 04:15 PM:

Truth about acid and MTV. In the 80's I used to just turn on MTV and let it float me -- except when the perv elements freaked me out into the real world. Not that I was that tuned in to perversion -- it was just a shock compared to the imagery of other things.

#79 ::: Cathy ::: (view all by) ::: August 08, 2006, 10:37 PM:

So, having read this thread, I've has the song stuck in my head for several days now and I have some thoughts regarding some of the imagery in the video. Mainly I've been thinking about the boy in the chair releasing the pidgeon. In American art in the Colonial era, a portrait of a child featuring a bird or a butterfly generally meant the child was dead. And that the portrait was done postmortem. Portrait painters rode circuit and if you knew one would be passing through, you'd postpone the burial so he could have a look and do a painting. So perhaps the reason she is leaving the school is not because of an affair with a pupil but because of the tragic death of a pupil. No idea how the pirouetting ninjas factor into this.

#80 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 09, 2006, 02:03 AM:

David Goldfarb: Mu.

#81 ::: some girl ::: (view all by) ::: August 14, 2006, 11:53 AM:

The house is a representation of the woman's sexual fantasies.
She can't decide if she wants to marry or not.
She doesn't wan't to commit, because she worries that the "best of all the years have gone by".
The boy at the end reminds her of her fantasies.

#82 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2006, 07:54 AM:

I finally watched it. Did anyone else notice the shot of the TARDIS about two and a half minutes in? It's under the arches beneath the balcony where she's standing, and appears at the important moment when she sings the song's title for the first time.

I'm glad the (5th?) Doctor is there. He's obviously needed, and this kind of situation is right up his alley. It's a shame Bonnie Tyler doesn't seem to have met him yet.

His presence makes it extremely probable that whatever's going on has something to do with aliens, but then, we could have guessed that.

#83 ::: Velma deSelby Bowen ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2006, 04:18 PM:

I keep forgetting to mention that for anyone who wants to experience the ultimate Jim Steinman experience (well, apart from vampires dressed in torn black and hot pink spandex -- I have a friend who worked on costumes for that show; she'll be out of therapy in another few years, I think), there is a version of his song "Read 'Em and Weep" recorded by Barry Manilow. It's my personal ultimate in over-the-top pop songs, rather like the most elaborate mediocre bakery cake imaginable, with inches of white sugar frosting in intricate shapes.

#84 ::: Jeff ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2006, 08:58 AM:

I must say I have not read the thread. I have not even seen the video. However I am on a one man crusade to have this song declared as the worst song of all time. Turn around bright eyes? Once upon a time I was falling in love, now I'm only falling apart? Such verbal tripe coupled with crashing cymbals and misty eyed arrangement add up to a composite score of 0. I would rather listen to Donny singing "puppy love"

#85 ::: Dave ::: (view all by) ::: May 29, 2009, 09:53 PM:

You must also watch the literal video version

Just last week I was remembering this thread while talking with my wife, and she wondered if there was a literal video of it. And only days later, there was.

#86 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 12:56 AM:

Dave @ 85: That literal video is fantastic. Thank you for sharing! Has it occurred to you that your wife may have called it into existence? Sort of a variation of the xkcd rule 34?

#87 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 01:33 AM:

Dave, #85: OMG. I very nearly literally fell out of my chair laughing when it hit the following couplet:

"What kind of private school would let in this kind of guys?
It started out as Hogwarts, now it's Lord of the Flies!"

That was inspired lyric-writing.

#88 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 02:18 AM:

Oh my goodness. I didn't know about the literal video concept; must look for more. Funny funny material.

#89 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 08:26 AM:

I'd call it over the top.

#90 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 10:32 AM:

Dave (85), Lee (87): The line that made me laugh was I think he just flipped me the bird.

#91 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 02:27 PM:

I was underwhelmed by the "I have to pee" section, but the writers worked it nicely back into the plot.

I sent it to relatives I don't usually send these links to. (Usually my links are too geeky.)

#92 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 30, 2009, 05:08 PM:

Dave #85: LOL! I just passed that on to my old high-school buddies. And yeah, there were some pretty inspired snaps in there....

One could say that the original video asked for the treatment by getting literal about the "bright eyes" bit. (Actually I like the song, especially with Nikki French's additions. But it is corny!)

#93 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 03:33 PM:

Great- I just find it a bit uncanny how the singers voice sound almost, but not exactly, like Bonnie Tyler's own.

#94 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: May 31, 2009, 04:36 PM:

Personally, I think the "Hogwarts" line gets eclipsed by the stretch starting with "I go out on a balcony where I think I'm alone/ But Arthur Fonzarelli's got an army of clones..."

(For the youngsters here, that refers to the iconic Fonzie from Happy Days. The funniest part is that in one episode he did get a (sorta) "army of clones".)

#95 ::: Naomi Parkhurst sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 04:48 AM:

Oh, spammers. At least this one's pretending to be polite. (Not actually polite, or they wouldn't be spamming.)

#96 ::: SPAM spotted b y praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 04:48 AM:

Valuable to me too, which is why Ä° like to see it's kept clear og spam.

#97 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2012, 05:20 AM:

Waves at Naomi Parkhurst.

Ä°ncidentally, the link for the literal version of the video seems to have rotted, but can also be found here http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/f03d464867/total-eclipse-of-the-heart-literal-video-version-original

(preview stripped out my nicely formatted link for some reason)

#98 ::: Stefan Jones suspects spam ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2012, 01:22 PM:

#100 appears to be spam.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Jim Macdonald, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

If you are a spammer, your fate is in the hands of Jim Macdonald, and your foot shall slide in due time.

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="http://www.url.com">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.















(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.