I know I have already done two Billy Joel music videos this year, but I opened my big mouth and brought up this one up a couple of posts ago. I figure I’d get it over with now.
Even though I burst through a bunch of the book I Want My MTV when I first got it, I’ve slowed down significantly, and I’m still stuck at the part where people are telling stories of drugs, alcohol, blow jobs, shrooms, cocaine, and even using a penis to sing a Rolling Stones song. I’m not joking about that last one. I’ll get to that Van Halen music video eventually. The point is that I am still stuck in the period numerous people in the book refer to as the Old West with lunatics running the asylum.
I bring that up because this music video has become notorious in the past decade or so for being one of the most homoerotic music videos of the early 1980s. People interviewed in the book bring up that this was a highly experimental period for music videos. That’s how you get crazy music videos like Anger Is My Middle Name by Thor. It’s also how you got Huey Lewis & The News singing to a woman in a bed who must be an incredibly heavy sleeper (Do You Believe In Love). Lewis thought it was ridiculous, but it was hit, so he figured that if that was what people wanted, then that would be their thing. That’s how we got things like Huey becoming Frankenstein’s Monster, The News getting decapitated, Huey finding a Lumiere brothers film behind a door at a party, and a sand shark trying to eat a family, among other things.
So, you take a highly experimental time when people were trying all sorts of things with some people deliberately making nutty music videos, and you wind up not being able to real say that this music video was intentionally homoerotic. Considering all the early music videos I have seen, I think not. One of the early appeals of MTV was that then exotic acts like ABC were suddenly being broadcast in the midwest.
Back then there seemed to be two masters of music videos. You had the women who were at the high-level because the music industry was largely a man’s game, but music videos had to be made, so they pawned the job off on women. Russell Mulcahy is basically the father of the modern music video. He tried all sorts of things. A good example being Total Eclipse Of The Heart for Bonnie Tyler. I think the stuff that is homoerotic was put in because it seemed to fit, and they were trying things no matter how crazy they seemed.
The most interesting part about this music video to me is that while it does have the mostly naked guys, the construction workers, and the unnecessary dancers at the end, it still is a good representation of what Billy Joel’s song is about. Even the homoerotic parts fit just fine into Joel’s intended message until you get to the end. I think the dancers at the end were probably choreographer Kenny Ortega’s idea to go with the whole thing looking like a play rather than reality.
Why the guy in white briefs? You got me. I get why there’s the guy in black briefs throwing the guitar around him in Faster Than The Speed Of Night. Bonnie Tyler’s best music videos are filled with what people perceive as binary, and sexual orientation is just another one of those things. They could have left out the white briefs guy. That just doesn’t have any reason I can think of to be there.
In summary, I suggest you watch the music video three times. The first time watch it how it was intended. The second time watch it for the homoerotic material. The third time combine the two to find that it still comes together.
Jackie Adams was the producer on the music video. You might recall her as the producer of both Rio for Duran Duran and Pressure by Billy Joel.
Doug Dowdle was the editor on the music video. He did a mix of editing, directing, and writing for music videos. He apparently even directed a music video for his own song Burning In Me. We’ll see him again when I finally get around to doing Bonnie Tyler music videos because he directed Holding Out For A Hero.