Monday, December 17, 2007

Appreciation: A-Ha's "Take On Me" video

Many kids had Cinderella. Some had Hansel and Gretel. Others had The Ugly Duckling, Snow White, or Peter Pan. My parents never read fairy tales to me as a kid, but TV gave me something more potent: a music video.

A woman one day was having coffee at a diner. She was leafing through a comic book, about a biker who has just won a race. Suddenly, the biker winked at her, and reached out to her out of the page. She took his hand and was sucked into his world of white spaces and black lines. He showed her around. They fell in love. Then out of nowhere, the rival gang whom the guy just beat appeared to exact their revenge. Armed with monkey wrenches, they chased the couple until they came to a dead end. To save the girl, the guy made an opening through a blank wall and forced the girl to go in. The girl appeared at the diner's kitchen, beside a waste basket where the waitress had thrown the comic book after crumpling it out of anger because she thought the girl left without paying. The girl stood up, picked up the comic book and dashed for the door. Upon reaching home, she immediately leafed through the comic book to see what happened next. A monkey wrench went down. The guy was dead. The girl wept, and she looked up. The biker came back to life and struggled to get out of the comic book panels. The guy appeared in her room, looking exhausted after his ordeal. She was shocked. Their eyes locked. They went back to his world, and finally they kissed.

For many people this was silly, but for a 9-year old, it was something he hasn't seen before, an engaging wordless story soundtracked by a soaring anthem that has since etched itself in many people's mental time capsules. Along with Sesame Street and The Neverending Story (among a few others), watching A-Ha's groundbreaking "Take On Me" video over and over again was one of the defining moments of my childhood. It was fantasy. It was comics. It was pop music.

It was heaven.

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