Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Monday, January 02, 2012


-- audiovox -- nighttime and memory

Memory is a really weird thing sometimes, especially for stuff that's of no lasting importance. I mean, I have buckets -- just tons and tons and tons -- of neurons dedicated to various pop culture things, like the above song. I hope I'm not unique in that. Oddly, turns out that memory about things of no lasting importance can sometimes be really off.

"Own the Night" is one of my favorite Chaka Khan songs. I couldn't tell you why ... no, actually, I could. It's because it's part of one of the few episodes of Miami Vice that I actually remember. In fact, I bought the Miami Vice soundtrack, back in the mists of prehistory, purely because of that song. (I was buying pretty much everything Chaka Khan recorded, back then. Still do, in fact. But I digress.) The cassette was lost to the normal stresses of play and the shift to CDs and then digital, and losing that one song was the only thing I really regretted about that. (But then, thanks to the digital era MP3, the song came back! Everything old IS new again!) However, assuming the interwebs are to be believed -- and they're always right, aren't they? -- I didn't remember that episode. Not correctly, anyway.

One of the things Miami Vice was known for was doing full length songs as plot-related music videos during an episode -- the song would be commentary on whatever was going on behind and through it. Sometimes with dialogue, sometimes without. I remembered "Own the Night" as taking part during the episode "Rites of Passage", during the scene where Diane, Valerie's younger sister, is seduced into the world of high(ish) end prostitution. Traynor is buying her all sorts of dresses and jewelry and getting her hooked on cocaine, the 80s high style drug. (Because coked out prostitutes were The In Thing in the 80s, and in 80s television.) And as the sparkly dresses and drugs fly willy-nilly about the screen, and Diane is reluctantly convinced to let Traynor pimp her out -- literally -- "Own the Night" plays over the scene.

Except that it didn't. Assuming that the wiki is accurate, "Own the Night" appears in a similarly themed scene in an entirely different episode, Buddies, and it's in the background, not a full music video treatment.

It's weirdly disquieting to discover that your memory has played you false about something that minor, you know? Makes you wonder what important bits and pieces might have gone missing, or have been misremembered.

I did, however, remember the more significant -- plotwise -- music video from "Rites of Passage" correctly. After a great deal of trouble (and the odd spot of what was, as a purely legal matter, felony kidnapping committed by the police), Diane is convinced to go back to New York with her sister. She flatly refuses to testify against Traynor, saying that she did what she did of her own free will. That's somewhat debatable -- the whole drugs thing, remember -- but because she feels that way, despite having been specifically warned not to contact him, she calls Traynor, tells him where she is, and that she's leaving for New York, never to be in Miami again. Which comes true, if not the way she planned. The scene starts bouncing back and forth between Diane in her rehab, Tubbs and Valerie in bed -- relieved that Diane is taken care of and away from Traynor, if nothing else -- and Traynor taking out a hit on Diane, because he doesn't believe that she won't testify against him and wants to be sure that she can't. To the dulcet strains of Foreigner's "I want to know what love is", Diane dies. And Crockett and Valerie get that awful call. (And that scene is actually available, so I have documented proof that I remembered that one correctly.)

And, just for the hell of it, have some more night-time themed Chaka Khan:

Also, even more for the hell of it but in keeping with the theme, one of my favorite Whitney Houston songs. (Yes, I know, dance dance dance.) Oddly enough, this song isn't heard in its entirety in "The Bodyguard"; it's interrupted by her character getting overwhelmed by some out of control fans after having had death threats made. ("The Bodyguard", musically speaking, is known not only for "I will always love you" -- I prefer Dolly's version myself; that song is meant to be a lament for a love that can't/didn't work, not a big sweeping declamation about a love that didn't/couldn't work -- but for having wangled an Oscar nomination for "I have Nothing", a song that gets all of five seconds of screen time in the background during the film. But I digress. I think.)

Questions? Comments? Ice-cream colored suits?

Posted by iain at 01:26 PM in category audiovox , television