Turn Around, Bright Eyes! (Don’t Do Drugs!)

Two people I know this week have referred to a YouTube video called Total Eclipse of the Heart: Literal Video Version.  It’s basically the original video but the old lyrics have been replaced with new ones that just literally describe the weird ass stuff on the screen because have you seen that video?  With the school boys with the glowy eyes?  It’s messed up.  You can watch it here.

My friend Regina sent it to me in an email, and I didn’t know what it was.  When I heard the opening notes, I screamed and closed the window immediately.  I was an Orientation Leader for the University of Arkansas one summer, and we had to do a skit…but, not really a skit because we didn’t talk, so a pantomime, I guess, to that song.  It was an anti-drug bit, and I’ll never know why we chose that music.  It was decided before my time, and all my fellow OLs and I could do was commit to it.  The bit went something like this:

All but two of us stand with our backs to the audience.  We are wearing black sweatshirts with the names of various drugs on the back in white letters like you’d see on a sports jersey.  For my money, the best one was the one that just said X, and it should be noted that when it got cold in our office, we would put them on.  So, I’d frequently be typing in a sweatshirt that said HEROIN.

As the music plays, a girl whose name I can’t remember would wander out and then my buddy Jason would join her, frolicking onstage.  They’d skip around and cavort, but then the people in the drug shirts would seductively wave to her.  She’d begin glancing our way becoming more and more interested in us.

Breaking away, she starts hanging out with ACID, MARIJUANA and the rest.  Then, the drugs all hold hands, encircling her and running playfully around her.  But lest we forget, there’s a dark side to drug use, the drugs keep Jason away.  When she tries to escape from the circle to join him, she discovers (gasp!) she is trapped.

Here, to be honest, my memory falters a bit (mostly due to how I’ve been suppressing it.)  This or something thematically similar happens next:  The girl begins to get scared.  She loves Jason and misses him.  They have drifted to opposite ends of the stage to represent how drugs have separated them.  Finally, she’s had enough and breaks free.  Across the stage, the couple see each other and then (as the song builds in the background–Briiiiiiight Eyyyyyes!) they run to each other and embrace!

There you have it, an anti-drug message brought to you in the form of interpretive dance.  We did that number for every session of orientation, and I think it averaged out to two shows a week.  In rehearsals, we melodramatically lip synced to the song because, really, how can you not?  Eyes squeezed shut, clutching our chests with one hand, we would just go for it.  By the end of summer, I’d head that song more times than I’d care to count, and I sort of overdosed on it.  Maybe there’s a finite number of times you can hear that song, and I used them all up?  Whatever the reason, I cannot hear that song without out the totality of that whole summer hitting me at once.  It’s too much.

After I’d calmed down from hearing the song for the first time in years, I finally remembered I could control the volume on my computer, and I watched the whole YouTube video on mute.  It’s a different experience, but the subtitles still work pretty well to carry the joke.  And that way I can get through the whole thing without screaming and with minimal flashbacks.

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