Video Hangover: “ZZ Top & The Magic Spaceship”

Every week, we dig in the archives for videos that we find noteworthy, memorable, or just unbelievably stupid. And then, Jon McMillan breaks ‘em down for you. Why Video Hangover? Because when you watch as many videos as we do, you’re going to feel it afterwards.

“Sleeping Bag”
“Rough Boy”
ZZ Top, 1985

Once upon a time there was a car, and that car turned into a spaceship.

“Sleeping Bag”
If you’re ever in trouble, hit the Z key and ZZ Top will show up to mildly inconvenience your enemies
At the beginning, “Sleeping Bag” is all about money. By the end, it’s all about the car. In the middle, we have an attempted break-in, a wild chase through the woods, and a monster-truck rally featuring some gratuitous Bigfoot-style car-stomping. The guys from ZZ Top play the role of guardian angel to a young couple on the run from burglars. Like the bearded Wonder Twins, they use crazy hand symbols to make a bridge and a tent that help foil the bad guys. And, like the regular Wonder Twins, they’re ultimately not that helpful. I’ll give them the bridge, but theoretically they could have conjured up a helicopter, or a park ranger, and saved themselves the trouble of crashing their custom car into some kind of massive earth-mover. Instead, the bad guys get away (with what looks to be anywhere between $35 and $500), and everybody has to sit around and hold a memorial service for the car (3:19). Which seems like a total waste of time until the car is inexplicably reborn in Egypt, as a spaceship. A spaceship? Yeah, you’re right — this video makes no sense.

“Rough Boy”
If your fetishes include automobiles, legs, and beards, then this is the video for you.
Now, I’m no scientist, so I don’t know whether a tricked-out hotrod traveling through the vacuum of space would accumulate enough dust to be considered dirty in the traditional sense. But, in a video featuring a walking table, lingerie, and the disembodied heads of ZZ Top, is realism really the issue? Check out the way the car slides into the carwash (:36), or the breast-shaped button at :41. The beads of water rolling oh-so-slowly across the hood at 2:49? This is soft-core pornography for the redneck-via-Ridley-Scott-set. Not a lot of room in the middle of that Venn Diagram, but, to ZZ Top’s credit, they didn’t skimp on the effects. The set design is pure Blade Runner, and the floating blocks (imagine a flat-screen television where the only thing you can watch is ZZ Top, in 3D), with their cryptic flashing messages (“Walk,” “Give/Take”), strangely mesmerizing. Too bad the song sucks — otherwise the video could have been a classic.

Technically, these videos were part of a space-car trilogy, but not much happens in stages — unless you count a live ZZ Top performance on a satellite.

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Tags: ZZ Top