Michaeline: When They Don’t Deserve the Happy Ending, Part II

A young handsome man in a turban.

Jazzin’ for Blue Jean? Jose Rodrigues, self-portrait at age 19. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Today, I’m taking a good look at David Bowie’s 20-minute music video, Jazzin’ for Blue Jean. Spoil yourself, spend the time on David Bowie’s official YouTube channel here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXvAaNcXNzI and enjoy!

Or allow me to spoil you. I knew the ending before I watched it, and the short film was still full of lovely little surprises and layers. David Bowie plays two parts: an ambitious billboard installer who falls in love (hard) with a girl on the street, and a neurotic but fabulous rock star. Boy meets girl, boy hustles for the girl who barely acknowledges his existence, girl flits off with different boy who either 1) didn’t have to do nuffin’ to pull this bird, or 2) spent 20 years becoming a rock legend so he could whisk girls away with a simple “Come home”. Depends on your perspective, really.

Vic, our everyman, is really quite energetic. He spins a web of BS to the girl, the bouncers, the scalpers – anyone who might be of use, really – and manages to get what he thinks he needs to “win” – tickets to the Screamin’ Lord Byron concert, and even an aftershow interview with the guy. But the ending, where the girl chooses Lord Byron, comes as no great disappointment. Vic doesn’t deserve this happy ending, on a lot of levels. One, he lies; and we all know a strong relationship survives on fundamental truth between partners. He’s just not worthy of this jet-setting beauty. But also, two, she’s not good enough for him. Sure, she’s beautiful and has a great sense of style for 1984. But she doesn’t display a scrap of fondness for him. She seems him simply as a tool to get what she wants. Vic may be a liar and a goofball, but he deserves a woman who loves him for his humor and his hustle.

The best part of the clip may be the end after the end. Vic transforms into the character of David Bowie, Auteur, who complains to director Julien Temple about the lack of a happy ending. “I told you before, Julien, if she gets into the car, with a rock star, it’s far too obvious.” There’s some squabbling with the crew, and “Bowie” says, “Look, I want a happy ending.” One of the female crew members says, “I want a ninety-nine,” and it’s obvious from her tone of voice that she’s definitely not going to get it(*). Ah, but “Bowie”’s happy ending would have been of only the most fleeting duration. Reminds me of the line from “Young Americans” – “It took him minutes, it took her nowhere.”

I love this ending. A reminder that it’s rare for us to get the happy endings we want. Doesn’t matter how hard we work for it – other factors are in play. They both have to deserve it.

*Did I hear this right? “I want a ninety-nine?” I’ve got a couple of theories. First, the Urban Dictionary, in a rather tame entry, says a 99 is a play on the double entendre, 69, only with two guys. I don’t think that applies here; the crew member’s voice is quite girly. The second one may be a stretch, but apparently (and maybe Jilly can speak to this), there’s a beloved ice cream in Britain with Cadbury Flake inserted in the middle. The delightful thing is called a 99 Flake. (Wikipedia). No 99s to be had at dawn in the middle of the 80s, I’m afraid.

What makes this footnote even better is that Cadbury has a history of chocolate advertisements full of sexual frustration and the thwarting of the dreams of love. Take a look at this 42-second ad for Cadbury’s Wispa (1984). (YouTube) Tagline of awesome hilarity: Bite It and Believe It.

The third theory, of course, is that I heard it wrong. What do you think? I love the way she says it, though.

2 thoughts on “Michaeline: When They Don’t Deserve the Happy Ending, Part II

  1. A person forgets what a good actor David Bowie was, and what a good concept this short film was. And it’s a reminder to me, at least, that my characters need to deserve their happy endings!

    • He really was quite good. People give him such grief for his acting, but I have to wonder if they are really looking. Here he plays three distinct characters with such versimilitude that it’s easy to think he’s just being himself. Maybe he is. Maybe he’s just channeling different aspects of himself to the camera. However, how many people can do that? Channel their true selves and make it look interesting and real?

      One common “critical” (as in, evaluating) comment I agree with is that he’s taking the piss out of himself. What is the American equivalent to that phrase? I think in the American South, they say something like, “Oh, he told some good stories on himself.” I love the way Bowie and his gang skewer fan perceptions of being a rock star — and being an ordinary Joe.

      Apparently, this film is available as an Easter egg on The Best of Bowie. But I’m not quite sure how one accesses Easter eggs on a modern DVD player . . . . Given my current fannish enthusiasm, it’d probably be worthwhile to me to get the DVD anyway — whether or not I can get at all the hidden goodies.

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