A Stalker’s Tale: Darkness in the heart of Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’…

Ok, we’ve been doing this for nearly 6 months now and I feel the time has come to tackle one of the most (in)famous music promos of all time, a video that purports to tell a heart-warming tale of seemingly unrequited love finally being resolved (requited, even). It’s a video that reeks of the 80’s and is one of the most memorable of that decade, and yet there is something – a few things, in fact – that has always bothered me about it, and it is these sinister anomalies which I intend to explore in detail today…

On the surface what we have is the tale of a college drama teacher – Mr Reynolds – and the amour he has for one of his students, a blind girl called Laura. For most people there is something a bit daytime-soap-opera about the story, it has a mawkish, slightly over-sentimental quality about it helped in no small part by the mawkish, slightly over-sentimental song. However, a couple of things near the beginning ring definite alarm bells.

Firstly, Mr Reynolds is clearly old enough to be this girl’s father. Maybe in his head he still thinks he looks the same as he did when he was twenty-one and not the wrong side of forty, but he’s in a minority of one unfortunately. Secondly he’s also her teacher, a fact which throws up a moral situation that the video rather negligently fails to tackle. Even in the 80’s such things were seen as inappropriate, right? The seemingly friendly, laid back Mr Reynolds is already showing signs of being a bit of a perv. But wait, there’s more….

“Hello, is it an ethically dubious student/teacher relationship you’re looking for…?”

Hello

So how does Reynolds go about wooing the object of his desire? Does he try and strike up a conversation and then casually ask if she wants to have lunch with him? Does he maybe by her some flowers and chocolates, or write her a romantic poem? No, instead he simply decides to follow her around everywhere, showing up at her ballet class, when she’s meeting friends for lunch somewhere, following her around as she runs between classes, and generally stalking the hell out of her.

Now bear in mind that she’s blind. I’d reckon that makes her fairly easy stalking material if you’re that way inclined. Mr Reynolds is quite the ruthless bastard when you stop and think about it. Stalking any of his pupils would be bad enough, but to pick a disabled girl who has no chance of ever spotting him and to then begin a pretty aggressive campaign of obsessive surveillance is simply evil and twisted. Who the fuck is this guy? Is the prison story he gives them to improvise on at the start actually drawn from personal experience? Has this guy done time for this kind of stuff? He’s surely a sex-pest and a danger to society, and yet somehow he’s managed to get himself a teaching position! Bad news. Yet, the worst is still to come…

“Hello, is it a worryingly persistent and scarily obsessive stalker twice your age you’re looking for…?”

hello2

The apex of Reynolds campaign of harassment comes at 3.45. Laura is at home, in bed and doing a spot of night-time reading. Suddenly the phone rings. It’s Mr Reynolds who has somehow obtained her number. Seeing as he never actually speaks to her you have to wonder where he got it from. I can only conclude that he has obviously abused his staff position at the college to raid her personal records (let’s face it, he probably got her address, date of birth, maybe a photograph too…). This is taking things to a whole new level of creepiness, and it’s probably only a matter of time before Reynolds is breaking in to her house and stalking this poor girl in her own home. After a long silence Reynolds finally breaks cover. “Hello” he sings/says.

This is a little better, yes, start a conversation with her, talk to her and get to know each other a little. Maybe share a joke or two, tell her that you would like to do something normal like go for a drink with her or maybe a walk in the park. Now you’ve established contact you can stop stalking and start talking.

So what does he do next? HE ONLY GOES AND PUTS THE PHONE DOWN ON HER! Imagine it. You’re a young blind girl, living alone, it’s late, the phone rings and you answer only to hear some guy breathing on the other end, then after a long silence he says one word to you and puts the phone down. Imagine that happening every night for a month. Yep, we’ve no reason to imagine this was an isolated incident. I think it’s time Laura called the cops and had them put this dangerous pervert in prison where he surely belongs. But no, there’s a dark twist in this tale, one that only becomes apparent on deeper inspection….

“Hello, is it a pernicious nightly campaign of telephone harassment you’re looking for…”

Hello3

What is maybe the most memorable scene from the video begins at the 4.35 mark when Reynolds, alone at a piano, is called by one of his students to see what’s happening in the craft room. When he arrives Laura is sat in front of a clay bust she has obviously spent some time working on. “I’ve wanted you to see it so many times” she tells him “but I finally think it’s done”. She turns it round and what Reynolds sees is himself (a loosely approximate version, if we’re being kind…) staring back at him. Yet she’s blind, how could she know what he looks like? She would have had to have spent many hours touching his face to build up a mental image from which to work. Yet these two have never so much as had a proper conversation so how could this be? Unless…wait… can you not see what’s happening here???

Laura has obviously turned the tables on Reynolds and has been stalking him, breaking in to his home whilst he’s asleep (her smile after the phone call ends is not a romantic one but that of someone confident of cold-hearted revenge) spending hours touching his face, maybe even sedating him slightly to do so. This is getting dark. Then, right at the end, he finally says ‘Hello’ again and you realise that these people are actually enjoying this!

Hello4

They’re now in such a messed up place that there’s no helping either of them. They’re stalking each other, and have probably been doing it for ages, for kicks as part of some weird love game. There is nothing good or healthy about this, it’s fucked up in the extreme. That’s it, I can’t take any more of this sickness, I’m never watching this again. I’m out of here……………………………..

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5 thoughts on “A Stalker’s Tale: Darkness in the heart of Lionel Richie’s ‘Hello’…

  1. OK..easily one of my favorite posts from you guys! You hit the nail on the head. The video is pervy and stalk-ery. And the word choice? “Is it me you’re LOOKING for”? Seriously? And what exactly does he “See” in her eyes? I mean all the signs are there. He should have been arrested. And what does he love? The fact that she is oblivious to his creepy god-like presence in her life? And if he hasn’t got a clue how to “Win her heart” after following her around and why does he have to “wonder” about all those things – he’s EVERYWHERE! this guy is like Jason of Friday the 13th fame, but at least Jason had the decency of going after folks who could run away from him…or run upstairs and get themselves trapped..but I digress. Don’t…even…get me..started about that statue? It is awful at best. You are correct she may be just as crazy as the teacher, I mean she probably enjoyed the stalking…who takes all that time to sculpt a weirdo-stalkery-teacher-old enough to be her father?? Hel-lo??

  2. I hadn’t thought about it but all the references in the lyrics to looking and seeing just add the the cruelty this man is inflicting on her! And yes, they’re definitely as screwed up as each other. And I guess that makes them a pretty good couple, hahaha, albeit a highly strange one! Thanks for your comments!!!! 🙂

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