Thursday, September 30, 2010

Videos That Changed My Life

There are a few a points in my youth that I remember very clearly. Most involve embarrassing encounters with lady folk or emasculating confrontations with the big boys. But some, and far more than I'd care to divulge, revolve around the small screen in the living room.

I really did spend a lot of time in front of the TV as a child. A large chunk of that was MTV. Partly because they actually showed music videos all day in the 80s and partly because my brother was a teenager and that's pretty much what you did as a teen. He was bigger than me (7 years bigger) so if he wanted it on, Sesame Street had to take a back seat.

As a result I took an earlier than normal interest in music videos. They were mostly crap. You remember how MC Hammer used to look. It was all just shapes and moving colours to a child of my age. But two stick out in my memory as making me go "woah..." Keanu style.

Rock And Roll Superstar Aaron: The Early Years

I can't remember which one I saw first so I will go in alphabetical order.

Everyone knows "Take On Me". It has been riffed and parodied so many times now that the current youth probably know it more for the Family Guy piss-take than the real deal. And it's possibly hard for them to understand just how flawless this video is. Even if you look at it now with CGI educated eyes, it looks great. If it wasn't for the bad 80s hair and jeans you could even go as far as to say it hasn't aged much visually.

I obviously loved cartoons as a kid. I read The Beano every week making me very familiar with comics. So when a girl enters a comic book world that is animated before my very eyes... brain explosion.

The tune is catchy. There is an easy to follow story that plays along with the pace of the music. As a kid I genuinely feared the two fat guys in racing helmets. I don't know why. "Oh look out, they have a spanner!". Also, can more girls please read comics in coffee shops? Thanks.

It could be a short film. If you watch it without the sound, it's interesting. It's a work of art.


I was fascinated and always wanted to watch it whenever it came on. It made me want to draw my own little sketches. It made me want to dance. It made me want to make this sort of thing myself. Christ, I still want to make a video as good as this (I've been trying but I'm not there yet).

Another that illicited the same response and arguably to an even larger level was "Sledgehammer".

Now, I've tried for a while to write this without using a bad sledgehammer pun but I can't. This video hit me in the head with force. When those horns kick in, it's time to pay attention.


Can you imagine me at age 3 or 4 trying to wrap my head around this thing? I mean seriously. I didn't even have an imagination that could come up with what is in this. I'm not sure that I do even now.
His head goes from being fruit, to clay, to a dancing chicken. In the space of a minute. Let that sink in for a minute as you try to put yourself in my 3 year old position.

Even now, as someone who studied filming in college and has had experience making videos, I am boggled by the sheer dedication and ambition it took to do this. The planning alone would have been a nightmare and that's doing it now in 2010. But in 1986? Damn...


I knew early on that I wanted to do something creative with my life. It's always hard to judge where those impulses come from. It can often be genetic or just a result of psychological needs. But if I had to pinpoint some of the strong factors, the above videos would be high on the list.