Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Gay-Musician-Love-Dog Disconnect

Today I bought a copy of Erasure's "Hits!" DVD. The word "campy" isn't sufficient to describe it, so I have coined a much more extreme term: "bivouwacky."

Particularly bivouwacky is the video for "Heavenly Action," in which Andy Bell plays a spaceman who runs afoul of a nosferatu-styled villain played by Vince Clark.

I was initially distracted by all the creepy cherubs, but then I twigged to the way the song's lyrics had been realized. "Heavenly Action" was a straight-forward love song, and it was an open secret even then that Bell was gay -- his space-suit ensemble in the video included ruby high heels, for goodness sake -- so it really would have been strange to show him falling in love with a WOMAN.

To get around this they portrayed him falling in love with a DOG.



You just weren't going to see same-sex love on MTV in 1985 -- I suppose bestiality was more acceptable -- so this puts me in mind of OTHER popular love songs written by the Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell musicians of the time. Freddie Mercury wrote some eternal love songs ("Love of My Life" etc.) which any sane person assumed were actually about men, but Queen's videos -- as far as I remember -- didn't ever show the objects of his affection (though by the time of the EXTREMELY biviouwacky "I Want To Break Free" he was a John Waters-style, mustachioed hair-hopper pushing a vacuum).

We were too busy looking at Elton John's hair implants to notice his music video partners, you simply couldn't think of Fred Schneider as a sexual human being, and it seemed to me that Jimmy Somerville wrote more about oppression than love. Marc Almond skirted around the issue by simply being sleezy-kinky, though there was a strange disconnect between him being a flaming, somewhat chipmunky homosexual AND a sex symbol for teenage girls at the same time.

So I wonder what Andy Bell and Vince Clark thought about the "dog-lover" concept in "Heavenly Action." Chances are they enjoyed the ridiculousness of it all, but it must have sucked to have a heartfelt love song treated that way.

2 comments:

jj said...

Not that I have studied it, but I guess great/popular gay musicians have done more for making gayness mainstream than all the liberal left activists put together.

Which brings up the natural corollary question - surely the liberal left activists deserve all the credit in the world for making racism and sexism unacceptable? :)

Muffy St. Bernard said...

I think it's hard to untangle who was responsible for what -- you could certainly say that some acceptance comes from backlash against extreme zealots on the right! -- but yeah, gay musicians played a big part...every time I see a bunch of rednecks dancing to Bronski Beat's "Smalltown Boy" I am reminded of that. :)

As for racism and sexism, same thing...lots of factors coming together. And we still need many more of those factors!