Picks and Pans Review: The Politics of Dancing
Both these videos sing (or is it picture?) the praises of that 64-year-old medium, radio. "Everything I had to know/I heard it on the radio," croons Queen's Freddie Mercury as he and the group pilot a futuristic hovercar through the glittering skyways of Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Blending black-and-white footage from Lang's 1927 futuristic classic with color visions of a once-vibrant medium commercialized into "radio goo-goo, radio ga-ga" for the obedient masses, the canny video uses old versions of the new to suggest that music television is a new (and possibly dehumanizing) version of the old. Ironically, the result shows just how good a well-crafted video can be, wedding Queen's revitalized sound with evocative images that complement, rather than literally interpret, the lyrics. Re-flex's vision of radio in The Politics of Dancing shares the Queen video's Orwellian overtones, if not its seamless execution. The boys in the band are broadcasting their subversive (and eminently danceable) song from an underground radio station: "We've got the message/I heard it on the airwaves/The politicians are now D.J.'s." Meanwhile, antidissident thugs are employing some secret police tactics to ferret the lads out. This plot allows an entertaining, if somewhat pat, compromise between a performance and a narrative video. In Re-flex's case, the eye is not nearly so pleased as the ear. As Queen sings to the aural medium it celebrates in Radio Ga-Ga, we still need both: "Stick around 'cause we might miss you /When we grow tired of something only visual."