Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sex Over the Phone!


Today was my first day of summer law classes. In the two weeks or so period from when I finished my last final to today, I had almost forgotten how much I hated going to school. In fact, it's sort of needlessly cruel really; to give me this fleeting taste of idle summer pleasure just to take it away and keep it away until essentially the end of summer. I may have been better off if they had just started summer school right at the end of the school year without missing a beat. During the year I had forgotten the concepts of "free time" and "vacation" so giving me that brief window back there before the summer session was like reopening an old wound and then jamming a fresh lemon on it.

Yeah, there's basically no other way to put it: summer school (sans Mark Harmon) sucks! However, I cope and muddle on, giving it my best, half assed, effort, and trying to keep my spirits up. After spending the day being bored by the library, fleeced by the bookstore, trapped by the classrooms, and bored by the lectures there is only one sure fire thing that always cheers me up; you guessed it, it's the video for the Village People's final single, "Sex Over the Phone."

I am actually big enthusiast of the final hits of band right before they broke up or stopped being relevant. Many times a fairly productive and veteran band's last hit is totally out of left field or a complete 180 from what their sound was when they started out or when they were in their prime and I find that endlessly fascinating (and listenable). To the chagrin of many of my music loving friends, my favorite Beatles song is probably the "Long and Winding Road" with its lush, and blasphemously un-Beatles-like Phil Spector Wall of Sound production. I have no interest in anything Led Zeppelin related but I love their final hit, the totally non-canon "Fool in the Rain." Similarly, other swan songs like the Four Seasons' "December, 1963 (Oh What a Night)", ELO's "Calling America", and the Beach Boys' "Kokomo" (with that classic Stamos drumming) all rank fairly high in my personal depth charts of their singles.

The Village People's final single, "Sex Over the Phone" also fits into that mold. However, while the song itself is just as catchy and innuendo laden as their best dance singles, the video is what really distinguishes it. I have yet to see another music video that was both so flagrantly gay and so flagrantly 80s at the same time. The Village People have always maintained a somewhat subtle, slightly subversiveness to their songs (as evidenced by all the marriages and bar mitzvahs that so innocently play "YMCA") but I guess by the mid 80s and with the advent of music video they decided to just eschew all that...with a very modest budget. However, to their credit with a title like "Sex Over the Phone" how could you not create such a ludicrously flamboyant and hilariously literal video?

Here's a rundown of my highlights:

0:15: We see that the Indian has been getting all dapper and ready for his hot date with, you guessed it...the phone; thus setting the foundation for our high concept fare. Also interesting thing to note is how all the characters have gotten updated to the slick 80s'; no more headdresses and loincloths for the Indian it's all leather pants and bolo ties.

0:32: Thus begins the most amateurish music video dance sequence of the 1980s. I mean I'm not one to push stereotypes here but shouldn't a nearly all gay dance music group, be you know, a little better at choreographing a dance sequence? I also wonder: where are those phones were connected to?

0:50: Why is the cop getting a ticket? Why is he so causal about it?

0:56: Had I seen this as a child, I probably would have had nightmares about the close up of the bearded biker with his intense burning stare.

1:08: Once again guys, a few hours practice before the shoot might have made this look a whole lot more professional.

1:22: And the single most homoerotic moment of the Village People's career is brought to you courtesy of the construction worker.

1:42: Meanwhile over in our nation's telecommunications lines; the suggestive, chaotic dancing continues unabated.

1:59: The army guy shows commitment to his character by using a military issue walkie talkie as his phone. Other Village People members however fail to show that sort of commitment to accuracy: the Cowboy does not utilize 19th century telegraph nor does the Indian use smoke signals.

2:26: Female versions of the Village People digitalized and obscured. A commentary on the sexual anonymity provided by mediated communications? A statement about the band's sexual orientation? Just an excuse to use some digital effects? Or all of the above?

2:33: "I got it," said the Leather-bound Biker.

2:40: This is where the video gets really confusing. After all that's transpired and after all that is known about the Village People, they're talking to women (female doppelgangers of themselves no less).

2:58: A young Madonna trying get some exposure with the club crowd?

3:17: For that last person in the audience that has yet to grasp the "phone sex" theme of the song and video thus far, perhaps this gigantic phone (and to a lesser extent the giant credit card) should crystallize the message.

3:31: All this sex over the phone is just too much for the prudish, old timey telephone board operator who seems to be the one in charge of routing all these erotic phone calls.

3:39: Wait a minute, if it's a phone sex line then why is there a computer screen with a sex simulation program which is somehow disconnected from a fantasy hotline??? How can they leave us with this confusing shot as their parting image as a band?

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