Sunday, March 17, 2013

More 80s Video Fun: Cyndi Lauper, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

As I inexplicably continue my series on 1980s music videos as art, I'll give you one that is for a change highly recognizable: Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

(Previous 80s music video highlights are HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE

Almost everybody has seen  Lauper's "Girls Just Want To Have Fun"  video.  I consider this one art because it has a great social commentary undercurrent beneath all the slapstick, campy colorful comedy that makes the video such a joy.

The cover of Cyndi Lauper's "She's So Unusual" album,
from which we get "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."  
The music video to me marks a turning point in the feminist movement, one in which an ill informed stereotype of equality seeking women started to die.

I'm going to stop right here and note I'm now stepping on treacherous ground.  I'm a middle aged guy, hardly qualified to discuss the finer points of feminism. So if say anything particularly boneheaded, go ahead and set me straight.

That caricature of feminism I referenced above was the notion that activists were angry, humorless women who hated men.

And here comes our simultaneously smart and daffy Lauper, in a delightfully chaotic, colorful party video that explains what women really want. Fun, yes, but fun in this song also means being full players in life, not just some subordinate sidekick of men.  She sings:

"Some boys take a beautiful girl
And I hide her away from the rest of the world.
I want to be the one to walk in the sun.
Girls just wanna have fun."

Early in the song, Lauper makes clear that women are not hating on men, not trying to push them aside. In the video she does good humored battle with her father, played by huge wrestler Captain Lou Albano. She subdues him physically and with lyrics, such as this:

"Oh daddy hear you know you're still number one
But girls, they want to have fun."

The song and the video are anything but preachy, the music is bouncy and ecstatic and catchy as hell. The video is full of movement and color-- a celebration.

Lauper also took back the word "Girl," which had become something of a way not to take women seriously to a term that women owned.

Many, many women over the decades have worked incredibly hard to get their gender into full equality, and the work isn't done.  Lauper certainly can't take all the credit with her song and music video.
The crowd parties down in Lauper's "Girls Just
Wanna Have Fun" music video.  

But my perspective is, the notion that feminists are man-hating shrews largely evaporated aroudn the time "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun"  came out, notwithstanding the lingering "feminazi" nonsense from Rush Limbaugh and his ilk.

(As an aside, one young woman recently mentioned the term "feminazi" to me and asked how a desire for gender equality is just like invading Poland)

In any event, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" has been among my favorite songs and videos since it came out in 1983. So what if it's, well, girly. Everyone can join the party.

Which is Lauper's point.

As the video for "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" nears its conclusion, Lauper and her posse of fun loving girls parades through the streets. Other people, including quite a few men, join the joyous party which ends up at Lauper's house.

These men realize the world's a much better place if us guys have fun with the girls, rather than trying to tamp down their right to have that fun.

No comments:

Post a Comment