Monday, June 18, 2012

Derezzed: The Best Sci Fi Music Video Ever?

“We all need the Human Touch.”  Yes we do.  When Rick Springfield’s cryogenic-like chamber opens in his 1983 video Human Touch, I thought he awoke to a future that seemed to be completely devoid of all human life.  Springfield opens his eyes and starts singing, “Everybody’s talking to computers...”  He typed into a keyboard, “Hello Sally.  What year are we in?”  The computer screen displays the response, “Hello captain, we are in the year 2016 A.D.”

How cool.  What if the captain was the last human on Earth?  Sally - an artificial intelligence - could not give him that “human touch.”  Apropos to the song.  Alas, the 1980s always had to include a bunch of cheesy dancers in the background, so Captain Springfield presses more buttons and other chambers open, unleashing some terrible choreography in the year 2016.

Springfield then sings, “You know I’ve got my walls, Sally calls them prison cells.  Sometimes I need protection.  I’ve got the chains, I’ve got the warning bells.”  Dependency on the AI has all the makings of a great story.  Why, oh why couldn’t the video have nixed the dancers and stuck with the relationship between an AI and a human?  The captain needed her.  The captain’s song even admits, “I’m so scared and isolated in the modern world.” 

When scenes of war come on the computer screen, a red light blinks and a digital scroll spells out “Warning Radiation Alert.”  The dancers flee to their chambers while the captain presses more buttons to seal them in, but he falls down on the way to his own chamber.  The radiation gets him.  The last dancer races out of her chamber to rescue the captain, then shares her space with him.  That shattered my hope for an AI/human ending.  The captain got his human touch.  It even seems the movie Supernova borrowed this concept when James Spader and Angela Bassett share their own chamber together, except they are naked.  Despite my disappointment that Sally got short changed, Rick Springfield came to Pocatello, Idaho on his Human Touch tour - my first rock concert - and sealed my belief that his video had to be the best sci fi video ever.  I’m a sucker for AI stories.  Take a look for yourself--here's the video:

Fast forward to 2010.  Instead of two small alien creatures entering an abandoned bunker in Human Touch, there are two people wearing motorcycle helmets entering Flynn’s Arcade.  They open the front doors to an abandoned building with plastic covered arcade games.  This is great foreshadowing since Sam Flynn in TRON: Legacy opens those same doors.  The motorcycle duo takes the plastic off the game DEREZZED and gets the game to come on with a kick.  One of the duo has “daft punk” embroidered on his/her black leather jacket.  Unlike Human Touch which sings about Sally, Derezzed has no lyrics.  It’s like a silent film set to electronica.  The action tells the story, and so much more.

The video mimics the beginning of TRON: The Original Classic where a teenager plays the light cycle video game and the audience is treated to the actual light cycle battle inside the game.  But in Derezzed, the light cycles transform into mechanized horses.  The game becomes a joust.  A shield materializes in the blue rider’s hand, a lance advances to full length like a lightsaber, and the two competitors are on a collision course.  The red jouster wins, and the red neon light turns blue.  Another foreshadowing element when Tron in Legacy goes from red to blue.  The victor then takes off her helmet.  With artistic flair, the brunette exposes her long natural hair as a counterpoint to the digital landscape.  She is the image of Quorra, a major character from Legacy.  The guy who loses is clearly upset because he slams the arcade joystick.  I think it’s the first time I’ve ever seen a woman win a joust.  You’ll never see that on Game of Thrones

There is also a mysterious neon red figure who watches the joust with binoculars.  He has a pet bird of prey.  It is robotic, mechanical, like the horses in the joust.  To me he represented the AI of the game.  Then a countdown begins to continue the game and the video ends.  Take a look:

Derezzed made me think of a new question:  Do I need the human touch if I’m in the system?  It’s like the question Morpheus asks Neo in The Matrix: “What is real?”  What if your electrical impulses are mimicked inside the system so that the human touch is digitized?  What if the victorious brunette is Sally?  Would Captain Springfield go inside to meet her rather than stay in his separate chamber?  I like a video that makes me think.

This is why Derezzed is the best sci fi video ever made.  Obviously, I’m a sucker for AI stories.  Especially if that AI is mysterious ... and named Sally or Quorra.