Take On Me is the Love Game in Thailand
In 1984 the Norwegian synthpop band A-ha released their hit song Take On Me. In 1985 the award winning music video to the song was released which featured pencil-sketch animation combined with live-action – a technique called rotoscoping. The video stars lead singer Morten Harket and actress Bunty Bailey. The videos main theme is a romantic fantasy narrative. It begins with a montage of pencil drawings in a comic-book style representing motorcycle sidecar racing, in which the hero is pursued by two opponents. It then cuts to a scene in a cafe, in which Bunty (Harket's girlfriend at the time) is seen drinking coffee and reading a comic book in a coffee shop. As the girl reads, the waitress brings her the bill. The comic's hero, after winning the race, seemingly winks at the girl from the page. His pencil-drawn hand reaches out of the comic book, inviting the girl into it. Once inside, she too appears in the pencil-drawn form, as he sings to her and introduces her to his black-and-white world which features a sort of looking-glass portal where people and objects look real on one side and pencil-drawn on the other.
Meanwhile, back in the restaurant, the waitress returns to find that the girl is not there. Believing that the girl has left without paying the bill, she angrily crumples and throws the girl's comic book into a bin. This makes Harket's two opposing racers reappear, armed with a large pipe wrench and apparently aggressive. The racers smash the looking glass with the pipe wrench, evidently trapping the girl in the comic book. Harket punches one of the thugs and retreats with the girl into a maze of paper. Arriving at a dead end, he tears a hole in the paper wall so that the girl can escape as the menacing opposing racers close in on him. The girl, now back in the real world and found lying beside the bin to the surprise of restaurant guests and staff, grabs the comic from the bin and runs home, where she attempts to smooth out the creases to learn what happens next.
The next panel shows Harket lying seemingly lifeless, and the girl begins to cry. But he wakes up and tries to break out of his comic-book frames. At the same time, his image appears in the girl's hallway, seemingly torn between real and comic form, hurling himself repeatedly left-and-right against the walls as he attempts to shatter his two-dimensional barrier. He escapes from the comic book by becoming human and stands up. Smiling, the girl runs towards him and he embraces her.
Our hero Morten and his lover Bunty are two people living in two very different worlds who are deeply attracted to one another and want to be together. This music video strikes a chord with all of us who have ever fallen in love – especially those of us who have fallen in love in a situation or under circumstances in which it is very difficult or impossible to be together.
The music video by A-ha is analogous to us western men and the love game we play with the beautiful women or ladyboys of Thailand. The woman sitting in the cafe is our Thai lover watching on with the hope that we will some day come into her colourful world. She glimpses our boring, controlled but resource rich black and white world through the screen of her computer or phone – we take her hand and show her our world as best we can virtually via the internet. She is reluctant at first but ever hopeful of a new and better life with us.
The lover we pine for is from a different country, with a completely different culture, values, customs, background and experiences to ours. We want desperately to be together. We want to understand each other. The differences between our two worlds are immense. Instead of turning the pages of written love letters and flicking through photos of us our Thai lover clicks through our Facebook pages with interest liking every new post we make just as we do on hers. We peer at each other through the internet looking-glasses of Facebook, Skype and Line. Two hearts, two minds living in two seperate and very different worlds. The rotoscoped world is our western world. It's grey. It's predictable. It's boring. It provides but a two dimensional, black and white, sketched outline of us men who are constantly performing, working hard, gathering money and resources in order to eventually escape from it's carefully sketched and scripted conformity – just like our hero Morten so we can be with our Thai lovers in the colourful world of Thailand where we can write our own scripts and sketch out fully three dimensional lives in which we can truly be ourselves.
The race is our work. Our pursuers – our competitors, are our fellow western men. Our enemies in the western world are after us and forever putting us down, placing barriers in our way to stop us from being with our Thai lovers, trying with all their might and brainwashing to keep us from leaving the west so they don't lose us, their ultimate resource providers, otherwise known as good and loyal, hard working employees. We devise all sorts of plans, schemes, strategies and ideas so we can escape our comic book western world in which our lives have been carefully sketched out for us mostly by others – our so called superiors. Lives in which we are managed by them to the nth degree. We yearn for freedom – to be with our Thai lovers. To love each other, to be together, to make our two worlds meet, to make sense of each others worlds, to break free from our controlled two dimensional black and white world and live and be ourselves in the full colour multidimensional world – in Amazing Thailand where we are treated with appreciation, respect, and dignity by our Thai lovers.
The people in the cafe look on as Bunty takes the hand of our hero Morten – like our Thai lover who does something she is not supposed to ever do – take the hand of a farang and disappear into his western world. Her Thai family and friends look on with judgement as our lover tries desperately to be with us and avoid the shame and judgement from Thai society of being with a farang. Our Thai lover dreams about us whilst we are away – crying, waiting, hoping that we'll come back to them. Our only escape from our rotor-scoped western world is through a hidden wall in the shape of a business we plan to set up in Thailand which will enable us to stay with our Thai lover permanently. We throw ourselves against the wall trying to break free from the rotorscoped western world. Some of us make it through and some of us don’t. Talking away. I don't know what I'm to say. I'll say it anyway. Today's another day to find you. Shying away. I'll be coming for your love, OK?
Take On Me – Take Me On.
A-Ha – Take On Me Music Video: