Thursday, November 22, 2007

80s: cold but mushy

in New York a few nights ago i came across a box of old videotapes left out on the sidewalk. i am a packrat, so i rifled through them and brought some home. today i popped in "Nine 1/2 Weeks," from 1986. It was terrible. Nothing but Mickey Rourke's smug smirk -- did Bruce Willis learn this smirk from him? -- and the female lead looking uncomfortable.

beyond the erotic story, i noticed two aesthetic elements whose combination says a lot to me about an "eighties aesthetic," or maybe even something more, a cultural zeitgeist, a current of sentiment. almost every scene used white, cloudy light, which lent the scenes a stillness. and many scenes also used soft, cheesy music, keyboard tones from easy-listening pop songs. in other words, the scenes are suffused with cold light and overly soft music. we see the two people making love on a bed, on a kitchen floor, on a table; behind them are venetian mini-blinds pierced with this chill white light; after their climax a keyboard sounds a few saccharine-sweet notes.

it is an odious combination, like heavy perfumed wafted into a sterile office or parking garage, something false dolloped atop something exceedingly chilly, even harsh. like a sugary donut eaten on an empty stomach -- or worse yet, a ring ding made three months ago in a factory. you get the picture. yuck.

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