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Wacky Wednesday: Sheena Easton Beats Defender. Literally.

Scottish singer Sheena Easton exploded onto the pop music scene in the 1980s with a ridiculous number of back-to-back chart-topping hits, went on to record with some of the biggest names in music of the day (including Kenny Rogers and Prince), performed the title song to the James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only”, and racked up literally infinitely more Grammy nominations and wins than anyone reading this article. Given these circumstances, is it any wonder she could also kick Defender‘s ass? She, uh,  goes about it a wee bit differently than Billy Mitchell or Doris Self might have though. Make sure you’re ready for a shocking look at a forgotten 80’s song on this installment of Wacky Wednesday, then hit the jump.

So just to set the scene, we’re talking about Sheena Easton in 1983, when “Almost Over You” hit the airwaves in music video form. For those of you born after 1997, there once was a time when you didn’t need internet to get music on your television, you just needed a cable subscription. And for those of you born after 1983, here’s the video so you can study for the graded sing-a-long later:

It starts like every bittersweet love ballad in pop music history: the lone singer, seated at her piano, composing a spontaneous song to the departed douchebag who took her heart when he hopped the fence for greener pastures. You feel sorry for her, you really do, because her loneliness and grief are such that merely glancing at a photo of her ex-lover shatters the glass in the frame.

In Dragon Ball Z terms, her power level is “who gives a shit?”

Now if you’ve only heard this song on the radio, you could be forgiven for thinking Sheena’s the one who was wronged here. Unfortunately the music video makes it all too clear the reason this guy’s out painting the town with other ladies is because his ex- is secretly the Sensational She-Hulk. We can reasonably assume she’s in his apartment, since flashbacks during the video show him at the piano, composing songs for her, and the place looks like the minimalistic sort of bachelor pad kept by a guy too busy with work and life to accumulate much in the way of personal objects. Well, except for those two pristine arcade machines over by his patio window.

Wait, WHAT?!

OK, this guy does have a hobby outside of bar-hopping. He collects arcade games, a pastime sharing more common DNA with classic cars than, say,  comics or baseball cards. You could take $100 to a comic shop in 1983 and come home with well over a hundred funny books straight off the rack, or seventy packs of Topps and enough bubblegum to give you jaw cramps for three months. But in 1983, a hundred bucks wouldn’t get you the PCB for an arcade machine, much less the entire cabinet with a working monitor. You might have been able to cut a deal to rent a previously-owned machine for one month with that hundred, but the joystick would be loose, the marquee would be covered in cigarette burns and beer sloshings, and coin slot 2 would be jammed with chewing tobacco, bubblegum, and fart dust. Yet Sheena’s ex- has two pristine arcade games, and we know he enjoys them, because the video shows him playing Sinistar. Twice.

With a raging bladder infection.

With a raging bladder infection.

He’s probably got the dip switches set to ‘Free Play’, but c’mon, the guy’s shooting rocks and concentrating really hard. He digs his arcade games, and he was probably going to buy Mad Planets or Gyruss next, just to carry on the “shooting things in space” theme he had going. Or maybe he already did and something happened to them. Because the next thing we see Sheena Easton doing, after lovingly caressing the games and reminiscing about how her ex-boyfriend enjoyed playing them, is (to the serious retro gamer) the equivalent of urinating on an altar to Cthulhu then taunting the Old One, “What are you going to do about it?”

“Hang on a minute, love, can’t we talk about this?”

Now if you’ve never touched an arcade game in your life, you need to understand something. Defender was often found in bars where it would interact with a never-ending conga line of drunks, one quarter at a time. It was a hell of a lot cheaper than hiring a prostitute, yet still ended with you feeling sweaty, euphoric, and ultimately screwed after only a minute or two on average. (Defender originally had only six levels, something even its own programmer Eugene Jarvis considered excessive because nobody in the office could pass level three.) The cabinet is solid wood. The monitor alone weighs in the neighborhood of 40 pounds–Defender sported a widescreen monitor way before your Macintosh did–and the weight distribution was deliberately uneven to deter one-man moving crews, because alcohol-fueled assholes are not known for their gentle treatment of inanimate objects. An intact Defender cabinet weighs in excess of two hundred and fifty pounds. Sheena Easton, in case you can’t tell from the video, might weigh half that much while soaking wet, holding a barbell in each hand, after having consumed a hearty meal. Plus Defender used a couple of AA batteries to save the high score table in case the machine came unplugged, so that’s a few more ounces in it’s favor. Soloing a Defender machine without a corncob pipe, can of spinach, and jolly self-referential limerick should be impossible.

None of that matters to Easton though, who not only shoves this thing across a carpeted floor like it’s the wardrobe trolly off which she grabbed her outfit pre-shoot, but also places Physics itself into a submission hold by tilting the Defender machine up and over a metal porch railing using nothing but her bare hands and presumably some of the telekinetic energy she unleashed on that picture frame a couple minutes earlier. Physics, utterly unprepared for this skulduggery, taps out a few seconds later, and the results are basically what you’d expect:

Pictured: The only time I ever cried writing a caption.

Pictured: The only time I ever cried writing a caption.

So there you have it: evidence it was not only perfectly reasonable, but also absolutely necessary for Sheena’s ex- to get as far away from her as possible. When a Scottish pixie brutalizes one of your multi-thousand dollar investments like a toddler playing “throw the stuffed bear over the side of my crib”, that’s relationship code for ‘GTFO NOW BRO!’

But maybe we’re coming at this from the wrong angle. We only see her ex- in flashbacks, and he only plays Sinistar, almost like…well, almost like the Defender machine wasn’t even there. Indeed, further inspection seems to indicate it’s not even turned on as she walks by it. Wait a minute–could Sheena Easton have murdered this guy? Is the whole video some sort of strange fantasy world she’s living in where he’s not around because she pushed him over the railing? Is Defender a coping mechanism so she doesn’t have to face the truth? Doesn’t it seem like pushing her ex-boyfriend (who weighs nowhere near 250 pounds) off that upper floor terrace would be more on-par with what Sheena’s capable of given her size? Did she pick Defender as her subconscious substitute because it was an act of self-defense in her mind? Suddenly this video got way darker than any simple pop ballad from the 80’s not written by Sting should be.

Ball’s in your court, readers. We’ve got some seriously Silent Hill 2-level stuff going down here twenty years before Silent Hill 2 is even a thing, and it looks awfully misty around that lake, just sayin’. Prove us wrong, internet. Prove us wrong.

Michael Crisman

In 1979, Michael Crisman was mauled by a radioactive Gorgar pinball machine. After the wounds healed, doctors discovered his DNA had been re-coded. No longer fully human, Michael requires regular infusions of video games in order to continue living among you. If you see him, he can see you. Make no sudden moves, but instead bribe him with old issues of computer and video game magazines or a mint-in-box copy of Dragon Warrior IV. If he made you laugh, drop a tip in his jar at http://paypal.me/modernzorker (If he didn't make you laugh, donate to cure his compulsion to bang keyboards by sending an absurdly huge amount of money to his tip jar instead. That'll show him!)

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