His caramel baritone is singular. Like those of us at CM, you probably thought he was black, before you saw the video; not that it mattered, because his being a tiny, tiny, little, elfin Englishman, with a singing voice that dissolves panties on contact, made it even more amusing when he mounted and thrust himself into worldwide singles charts in 1987. And now he’s sodding your web-browser. Or, at least, he’s the knob with which your browser gets rogered.
I remember watching the video hundreds of times that summer, because MTV refused to play much of anything else, and for whatever reason I thought the blonde girl who appears occasionally was hot, in a sweetly flawed, Rosanna Arquette, Desperately-Seeking-Susan sort of way.
It’s twenty years gone, and I’ve a quarter of a life’s academic conditioning and pop-culture dung stinking up my skull. Three times already today, on this, April 1st, 2008, I have been rick-rolled. Here we are then, reunited. The man and his big-one have become a meme and internets phenomenon. And I didn’t believe him when he claimed he was never gonna give me up. The video, unpacked:
The man-meme appears first, outside. He is wearing sunglasses to hide his eyes–his true intentions–from others. Shadows play off lit concrete. Black/white. Black bartenders in Daisy Duke shorts bounce off fences. Inside, at a rehearsal for a banquet or wedding reception, black and white are again separated by a bar. Of course, the black bartender is at work, while tiny-dancer stands elevated, with two hot white chicks.
Suddenly, because the Rollmaster’s voice is possessed of bottomless funk, the spunky, no-nonsense, black bartender finds his equilibrium straight-up hijacked. He begins bobbing. Eventually, he’s doing the running-man. Then the bartender actually vaults over the bar, breaking the symbolic barrier between himself and the UberFunk Astmaster.
Next, we find ourselves in the night-time raincoat train station of the human soul, where the whitest white guy superego engages in very lame knee-dancing before the blondest blonde personification of the Universal ho, whose position in the Archetypes has since been usurped by Paris Hilton. Now the black fellow makes an appearance; no longer held back by the bar or the fence, he turns flips off the walls–liberated, free, at last, loose in the unconscious.
Ultimately, the video is an expression of the yearnings of white men of good will to be considered, weighed and accepted by minority communities with whom they sympathize, if not empathize, and whose cultures they appreciate. Herein barriers fall, opposites unite, taboos are transgressed, and new syntheses emerge.
Every honky wants a nod and dance from the bruthas. Some even write for Chapati Mystery, own hookahs, and are just now realizing how deeply the badly expressed hopes for racial and cultural harmonies during their late adolescence may have affected the places they hang out now.