They took the credit for your second symphony
Rewritten by machine on new technology
And now I understand the problems you can see
Lights! Camera! Drones!
Through the previous three episodes of Carole & Tuesday, the theme of technology replacing the heart in music (and more widely in culture) was made abundantly clear. Episode four emphasizes the idea even more, but it does so through humor and the track on which the episode title is based, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles (1). That song laments the changing of technology and the loss of the past, a feeling I think that every generation must feel (I’m certainly feeling that way now). More specifically, the song was inspired by a shift toward electronic music, an idea which Carole & Tuesday takes to an extreme in a future where traditional singers and songwriters no longer exist.
For those unaware, the song is also a part of music history, primarily because it was the first item that aired on MTV, just past midnight on August 1, 1981 (2). And video is the central idea in this episode. Our group of four—the girls, Roddy (3), and Gus—continue to fumble along, attempting to find a shortcut to stardom, now attempting to create a music video they hope will go viral. Short on funds, they an inexpensive A.I. robot to create the video for them, though the group has to assemble all the pieces needed for him to direct, film, and edit.
This episode was hilarious. Everyone wants something different out of the video (see the slideshow below and jump to the footnote to see if you got all the references) (4), so the A.I. unit, IDEA, tells them they can have it all. And the final output? It’s in the “so bad it’s good” category—I was sure that the video would accidentally be released and go viral. The suffering that Ertegun and Roddy go through was was a high point as well, and IDEA himself is terrific—to be honest, at 19 woolong, I’m not sure you could expect much more than a beer-guzzling, pad-crashing, fanservice-watching robot (5).
In the midst of humor, though, there’s heart here. Gus meets with his ex-wife, whom he convinces to help the group with hair and makeup, and tells her why he’s working so hard to help Carole and Tuesday:
There are plenty of talented people that never make it. They can’t put their talent to use, suffer, and quietly disappear without being noticed by anyone. I don’t want them to end up like that.
In truth, Gus has never felt more like Jet Black than in this episode. I immediately thought of “Ganymede Elegy” and Jet revising his old flame. In that episode of Cowboy Bebop, the gruff cop is able to move forward from a relationship he hadn’t been able to quite let go; here, Gus is forced to move on though at first it seems a flame may be rekindling. But with a sense of purpose, you get the idea that Gus is okay with that. No more living in the past for him—he’s ready to march forward.
I hope we get more of this heart as we move forward. I’m looking for something meaningful and significant out of this series. This was a good episode, and the music and animation have been a joy, but Watanabe is capable of much more—let’s see if Carole & Tuesday becomes a great series, or if it simple remains a really good one.
(1) In retrospect, this song is perhaps the most obvious choice for an episode title in this entire series.
(2) MTV went on the airwaves, by the way, one day before I was born. And now you know!
(3) Roddy is surprisingly nerdy and weird around girls, feeling awkward in their apartment and especially when Carole tells him this:
(4) It’s funny how the ideas move from those related to famous music videos to movie blockbusters. Here’s what I saw in the references: “Thriller,” The Bodyguard, Avengers, West Side Story, I have no idea, Armageddon, and “Take on Me.” Any idea what Tuesdays is referencing with the car and sunglasses? Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn come to mind, but I imagine them wearing sunglasses, not the man.
(5) Some more IDEA screenshots: