Video Review: Kim Carnes “Bette Davis Eyes”

In a room, someone lying on a box, covered with a black sheet, with their arms up as a shadow of Bette Davis turns in the background. A window is open and the breeze causes the curtain and black sheet to flow.

Kim Carnes removes the sheet and remains on the box while the Bette Davis figure smokes a cigarette and lets the ash from it fall.

At a costume party, Carnes perform the song. She reaches back and forth to the microphone, throwing her head back. She points to the right.

A show of black-gloved hands are raised. On stage, Carnes adjusts hers, with the addition of a silver sequined cuffs. The partygoers in front remove the black sheets from their bodies. The women slap the men’s face while a brazen white light flashes on Carnes’ face.

The partygoeres then tap the bottom of the floor with the both hands. The brazen light flashes on Carnes’ again and pauses. The women slap the men briefly and disappear.

In the empty venue, she continues to sing, pointing to the camera.

The parttygoers return, dancing to the song. On stage, she puts her hand over her eyes. The partygoers raise their gloved hands again.

Back in the room, Carnes is covered in the black sheet as the shadow of Bette Davis swirls her arm. After raising the parygoers raise their gloved hands, the women slap the men again.

On stage, Carnes looks upward, moving her one arm around and around, her image freezing. She puts her hand over her eyes again. The partygoers bend to their knees, tapping the air. Then, they return to tapping the floor, moving towards the stage. Carnes points towards them the shadow of Bette Davis smokes a cigarette and the exhales the smoke.

Carnes sits with the sheet over her body as the shadow of Bette Davis puts a hand in the air.

Rating: 3/5

According to the video, Bette Davis is to be feared as much as she is to be admired. Kim Carnes thinks of her while in her room, envisioning her gracing her walls. However, as a shadow, she is an intimidating figure with feisty gestures, not caring what others think. She has already earned respect.

The costume party, though, brings an obsessive aspect to it.  Carnes believes she has the spirit of Davis in her. The partygoers, unemotional and harsh, move in robotic time to the music. Carnes is trying to control what’s going on around her. Everyone, including Carnes, seems ethereal, as though they are in some purgatory. It doesn’t seem real.

The video is best when it stays on Carnes in the room. Davis remains an unattainable figure as an inscrutable aura fills it, which Carnes hopes will seep into her.

Director: Russell Mulcahy Year: 1981


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Pam Avoledo Administrator
Pam Avoledo spends her time binge-watching classic teen dramas and stands firm in her pro-Leyton stance. She also received her journalism degree in 2006 from Oakland University. Her work has been published in the White Wall Review, Sledgehammer Lit ,Greatest City Collective, 45 Magazine ,Fevers of the Mind, Daily Drunk Mag\'s Kirstofia anthology. and forthcoming in Scrawl Place

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