Saturday, June 26, 2010

All my goodness has turned to badness

Does anybody remember a cheesy '80s song called "Obsession"?

I admit it, I like the song. It's catchy, it's fun, it's good to dance to. But it's dumb. Take this snippet:
My fantasy has turned to madness
And all my goodness has turned to badness
Nothing I can add to that, really.

I never would have thought anything could make "Obsession" goofier—until I saw the video.

Though I came of age when MTV emerged as a cultural force (and, you know, actually played videos), my family didn't get cable. I missed a lot. So today I filled in a bit of my pop culture past. I found "Obsession" on YouTube and watched it for the first time.

Oh. My. God.

First of all, you can't do a tune about unrequited passion as a duet. It doesn't make sense. This is a fundamental problem with the song itself, I grant you, but the visuals make it even more obvious.

Second, there's ... oh, hell. Pretty much everything else. The dance moves by the lead singers, which looked as though they were choreographed and performed by twelve-year-olds. The guy who kept raising his eyebrow at random intervals. The expression on the male singer's face as he lip-synched "All my goodness has turned to badness."

If I had seen this at age 16, when "Obsession" was released, I wonder what my reaction would have been.

Yes, I probably would have found it cheesy and kinda stupid. But I don't think I would have realized how indistinguishable it was from parody. That's just what videos were back then.

I blame my lack of discernment on my youth. Then again, the people involved in the production of this thing were all adults. What on earth were they thinking?

I wonder what we'll say "what were they thinking" about 20 or 30 years in the future.


DeppityBob said...

:insert liberal laundry list here:

John Wenger said...

Good heavens, Susan, your analysis misses the point, although you get close to it yourself when you say, "Yes, I probably would have found it cheesy and kinda stupid. But I don't think I would have realized how indistinguishable it was from parody. That's just what videos were back then."

This video was indistinguishable from parody because it WAS a parody. The whole thing is camp, as punctuated by the deliberately silly eyebrow thing and just about everything else in the video, including the deliberately bad choreography.

These people were poking fun at their own song and just having fun. You can't analyze that.

As to madness turning into badness, I think that is a cool lyric. It points out that passion can ruin one's moral balance. Think about it.

As to your missing a lot because of your parents' understandable determination to send you and your sister to college instead of wasting money on cable television, all I can say is that if this video is what you mean by missing a lot, you have more problems than you think.

You do make a good point about a duet on unrequited passion not making sense, except that when it comes to camp, logic is irrelevant.

cinderkeys said...

You may be right about the self-parody. I'm usually good at picking that sort of thing out, but it honestly didn't occur to me this time. Maybe because I DIDN'T WATCH ENOUGH VIDEOS GROWING UP and don't have a proper frame of reference!

(But thanks for sending us to college, Dad. 'ppreciate it.)


Whaddaya think, fellow Gen-Xers? Funny on purpose?

MOS said...

OK, not a fellow Gen-Xer, but I agree with FOS above. It seemed like parody to me.

But you are evil, Susan! I listened to it 3 hours ago and the melody still is going around and around in my head. And my usual solution of running your songs through my head until one of them sticks isn't working!

John Wenger said...

See what you did to your mother? Bad girl.

As to your criticism of your long-suffering parents because of the cultural deprivation resulting from your inability to waste huge amounts of time watching videos, all I can do is quote Shakespeare: "Well, flog me for a tulip if a strangeling's complaints is flaggon for a tuppence. How cruel the issue who blathers a flood stuffing over uncooked trifles."

I wish I could remember what play that was from.

Kyle Bennett said...

Tongue in cheek was de rigueur for 80's music video. It provided cover for low budgets.