The producers of the video of Lionel Richie’s “Hello” clearly thought they were being clever and edgy, with their fantasy of a romance between a blind woman named Laura and her teacher Lionel. The video was voted the worst music video of all time in a poll of 8,000 music fans by UK TV music channel The Box, and it’s easy to see why. From Pitchfork, an excerpt from I Want My MTV: The Uncensored Story of the Music Video Revolution:
BOB GIRALDI: For Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” I came up with the idea of a blind girl and Lionel as a teacher. “Hello” is one of the top videos ever, still to this day.
LIONEL RICHIE, artist: I just figured that the video would be a simple love story. And then Bob leveled me to the floor when he said, “Here’s my big pitch. You’re a teacher, and you’re gonna fall in love with a blind girl.” I admit, I hesitated for a moment. But you don’t hire Picasso and then tell him how to paint.
The funniest story about “Hello” is that I kept going back to Bob over and over again saying, “Bob, that bust of me does not look like me.” “Bob, the bust does not look like me.” Finally, Bob came over to me and said, “Lionel, she’s blind.”
However, we just think the video is creepy and ridiculous. Lionel follows Laura around, coming within inches of touching her hair at one point, and even calls her just to hang up. These are completely inappropriate behaviors, especially coming from a teacher, yet she’s smiling at receiving the calls and grateful for the attention.
The portrayal of blindness is inaccurate; Laura is always staring straight ahead, and using an ID cane as a mobility cane. But it’s the ending that’s truly bizarre. Laura has magically created a bust of Lionel, despite not having a clue what he looks like! Is it just so she can creepily feel up his face? (Blind people do not actually do that, unless they’re being socially inappropriate themselves.) These two are obviously made for each other.