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Sometimes something as simple as seeing a music video can impact the rest of our entire lives. When I was six years old, I saw the music video for Meat Loaf‘s “I’d Do Anything for Love,” directed by Michael Bay. I didn’t know who Bay was and had never heard a Meat Loaf song, but I was utterly transfixed. Gobsmacked, staring at the television as if it were injecting candy straight into my veins, I tried to piece together what was happening on screen. I would later steal my dad’s Meat Loaf cassettes, playing the 12-minute song over and over until it was burned into my subconscious. My life-long love affair with vampires, monsters, and other tortured creatures that go bump in the night had begun, and all because my parents put on VH1 one morning before school. 

Beauty And The Beast, But Better

In the video, Meat Loaf plays the Beast, a Phantom of the Opera/Dracula-esque character who lurks around his decrepit mansion and lusts after a beautiful woman (Dana Patrick) that he finds in a garden. There are some similarities to the Dracula story in both the garden and a trio of female vampires that crawl out of the bed and onto the Beast’s bride, but otherwise he seems to be his own character. He’s chased by police into his cemetery mansion entrance, where one of them is killed when Meat Loaf drops a chandelier on him. The rest of the video follows the Beast and his beauty as they fall in love, with the Beast using some magic to really wow her. In the end, she kisses him and he turns back into a human man, then they disappear into the night.

At this point in my life, I had already seen the Disney version of “Beauty and the Beast,” so the tragic romance of a beastly man and a beautiful woman was already something I understood. The moody, gothic atmosphere of the music video was something else, however, and I adored it. There were no singing bits of silverware, no bright colors, only a man haunted by his own loneliness and lots of candles. What interested me most about the story, though, was the way it connected to the song. The lyrics “I’d do anything for love, but I won’t do that” were a puzzle, but the music video seemed to say that the thing he could not do was turn his love into a vampire. The idea of an immortal person loving someone so much that they couldn’t bear to curse them with immortality ignited my young mind, and sent me looking for any kind of vampire or monster fiction I could devour. From “Bunnicula” in elementary school to the works of Anne Rice in middle and high school, I became obsessed with supernatural stories. I started writing my own vampire stories in the third grade, and that led me into writing other things. In a way, my early love of supernatural fiction led to me becoming a writer, and is the reason I’m here, doing this, now. 

A Complicated Legacy

In his later years, Meat Loaf would unfortunately start espousing some pretty awful conservative takes and became increasingly difficult to respect. That doesn’t change the fact that his music, and especially his music video, had a profound impact on my life because of the direction it pushed me in. It’s entirely possible that I would have discovered my love of vampires later in life, through some other media, but by becoming obsessed so young, it really helped form my tastes and set me on the path to being the weird, monster-loving nerd I am today. My feelings about Meat Loaf’s legacy are complicated, but I will be forever thankful for some of the things he contributed to my life, whether it’s this music video, playing a sweet bus driver in “Spice World,” or rocking out in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” May he rest in peace. 

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