Back in the summer of 1994, I had just wrapped up the second grade and was really busy doing things like pretending that I was Ariel in the pool, reading books about horses, turning 8 years old in a decorative visor, and tumbling rocks. I also watched a lot of TV, but I was definitely not allowed to watch MTV or even really VH1, which meant that I never got to see some of the incredible music videos that accompanied the hit songs of that summer. (Even I'm old enough to remember when those stations actually played music videos).
In this series, "I Wasn't Allowed To Watch," I'll attempt to catch up on what I missed -- 20 years later. I begin with the video for Boyz II Men's "I'll Make Love To You," which I watched for the very first time while writing this.
Alright, I’m already confused, because I just watched an ad -- why is there another ad playing? Oh wait, this isn’t an ad. It’s actually the video. I should have known from the soft focus and the man wearing a blazer over a white turtleneck.
So… turtleneck blazer guy is clearly “in charge” of some other worker guys holding some wires, and he’s telling a woman she’s safe now. She says, “Actually, I feel very safe” with this flirty little smile, but this guy is all business. Looks like he’s selling her some sort of home security system? Did they have those back in the ‘90s? Now he’s showing her how to set it up with a password. She is all googley eyed and isn’t even paying attention, but again, he has no time for that nonsense.
He gets up to go, and she offers him -- Duane (she knows his name and he doesn’t even have a name tag on!) -- something to drink. He says that he’s got other clients to attend to -- such a pro! -- but, OMG, then he says “Another time? I do know your code.” UM, ISN’T THAT THE POINT OF A SECURITY SYSTEM, TO KEEP OUT RANDO SERVICE PEOPLE WHO COME TO YOUR HOUSE TO INSTALL THINGS? I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that a man wrote the script for this video, because any woman in her right mind would never be down with some dude she barely knows -- who also owns bunch of power tools and a large amount of wire -- gaining access to her home whenever he feels like it. Come on!
Regardless, this extremely trusting woman seems pretty psyched about the fact that Duane has her security password memorized. Also, there appears to be either some sort of reflective pool or a disco ball in the foyer of this woman’s home, because these two are being speckled with light like they’re sitting at the edge of a lagoon.
Onto the music! The Boyz have arrived and they're wearing amazing outfits. We have khaki suits and suspenders and canes happening. Now one of the Boyz is singing wearing a Ronald McDonald-esque red and yellow sweatsuit. Now he's wearing sunglasses that, swear to god, were used in the "Dick In A Box" video.
We’re cutting back and forth between the Boyz and Duane, who now looks like he’s in a well-decorated lawyer’s office or a library, and appears to be very anxious! I hope he’s not considering going back to that lady’s house to punch in her code. He’s sitting down at a really fancy desk.
Back to the Boyz... the band member with the white puffy hat is singing. Swoon. If I wasn’t seven years old in 1994, I think this would have been my favorite Boy. Instead, I was watching Carmen Sandiego every day, so I was in love with the mullet cornrows guy from Rockapella. I digress. Back to Duane. Looks like he got some fancy stationery and a fancy pen out of his fancy desk. And he’s also wearing a very fancy pinky ring. Maybe he's the wealthy heir of a security company fortune. He does not know what to write! Oh, here he goes. He’s scribbling up a storm.
Now we’re back in the "totally secured" woman’s home. She’s wearing some sort of kimono loungewear and is enjoying some white wine. And… Oh. My. God. The Boyz are now in their best outfits yet! (How big was their clothing budget?!?) White shorts, white socks, white sneakers, and coordinating vertically striped shirts. Unbuttoned over white shirts, obviously.
Duane is still working on that note. Oh shoot, guess he didn’t like that version because he just threw it across the room. Now we're back at her place, and she's looking at what I think is the keypad for her security system. It kind of looks like a big guitar pedal. Duane is furiously ripping up another note. Dude needs to get it together! Uh oh... she just picked up his business card. Don’t do it!
False alarm! She’s decided to take a bath instead of call Duane. Again, I'm picking up a real horror movie vibe here, and I'm pretty sure that wasn't what they were aiming for. And, of course, now we see that Duane's business card and a fancy landline phone are right next to the tub. There are so many problems with this scenario -- what if she gets the card wet and the ink runs? What if she drops the phone into the tub and electrocutes herself?
The Boyz are singing and doing a lot of sexually frustrated head shaking. Cut to a CD case opening… whoa, it’s the Boyz II Men CD single OF THIS VERY SONG! What! Mind blown. Duane is handling the CD extra carefully, because it’s 1994 and CDs were like precious gold back then.
Our friend in the tub seems conflicted about whether she should call Duane. In the meantime, Duane is really, really enjoying this CD a lot. Oh no. No! Duane just SLID THE LINER NOTES OUT OF THE CD CASE and is looking at them for inspiration. This is simultaneously the worst and best thing I have ever seen in my whole life.
Meanwhile, the Boyz are losing their minds singing about making love to you.
Duane is now 100% plagiarizing the Boyz and copying down the lyrics word for word. Good thing it’s 1994 and this CD is like brand new, or maybe he even has some sort of embargoed press copy, because otherwise she would be like, Duane, you copied this down word for word from like... the most famous song of this year! How stupid do you think I am?
Also, I’d just like to point out that if your average woman got a note from a person she met earlier that day that included lines like “throw your clothes on the floor” and “I’ll make love to you," chances are she'd reach for her pepper spray and start running, or at least send a friend a SOS text. But Duane obviously thinks this is the best idea ever -- I can tell because he hasn’t thrown this version out yet and he’s doing the “all right!” fist pump thing at his desk.
In the meantime, she's now out of the tub, having not electrocuted herself, and she's holding a candle in a very contemplative way. Oh nice, they synced up the words “make a wish” and her blowing out the candle. Classy touch, Boyz.
Duane is finally done writing, I mean transcribing, this ridiculous love letter... and he kisses it after he seals it up. Ugh. Dude. Get a grip.
OH $#*% HE'S OUTSIDE HER HOUSE! I think her security alarm is going off! What! This just escalated way too quickly! And she is LOVING that her alarm is going nuts. This is all kinds of wrong. I hope it’s not the kind of alarm that automatically calls the cops, because I have a feeling that that could get preeeeetty awkward.
Oh lord, she’s opening the door and going outside. DON'T DO IT!
Oh wait... I’m totally wrong! Duane left his plagiarized note and maybe some flowers too... I can’t tell because it’s so soft focused. And he's gone! Wow, Duane, I was wrong about you! You are so classy!
Now she’s sitting by a cozy fireplace (obviously) reading the note. Oh boy, she is eating this up. Guess she doesn’t know this song yet.
Back to the Boyz… who just inexplicably just faded away until they disappeared. That's it?
Wow! I feel like I learned some important lessons while watching this video about trust, and faith in mankind, and '90s fashion. But I just remembered what Duane actually wrote (or, should I say, copied) in his letter, so I really just don’t know what to think. I do know that watching this video has given me a whole other storyline to think about the next time this song comes on, and for that I am both horrified and grateful.