When recently writing about seeing Purple Rain for the first time and deciphering the backwards lyrics in “Darling Nikki,” I overlooked the common thread between these two stories: a cheap little Toshiba RT80S boombox.
Purple Rain was a visual marvel. The fashion alone was unlike anything we had ever seen. And beyond that, The Kid’s bedroom and dressing room (and for that matter, his motorcycle) were esoteric pieces of art that filled every inch of the screen with the film’s unique aesthetic.
Needless to say, while this 14-year-old from the suburbs was mesmerized, I found it hard to relate to Prince’s sexy purple paisley world. I mean, just look at this screen shot:
I sat in the movie theater thinking that between the ruffles and the candles and the lace and the dippy dippy wave of his ‘do, there’s nothing in this film that reminds me of my… wait! That’s my Toshiba RT-80S boombox! The one in my bedroom, right next to my Mickey Mouse record player! I was just listing to Air Supply’s Greatest Hits on that boombox yesterday!
(As an aside, yeah, I’m sure you have fond memories of your 80s boomboxes, too, but mine actually had “80S” in the model number. Checkmate.)
It was only a quick glimpse, so I desperately wanted to get a closer look at the stereo to confirm it was the same one I had. C’mon, Kid, don’t you think you were being a little hard on Wendy and Lisa? Don’t listen to your terrifying hand puppet. You do need those girls and their stupid music. Just play their tape, will ya?
And, to my delight, he did…
It’s hard to explain how thrilling it was to see my personal artifact in this universe. I wouldn’t have been any more stunned or tickled if Chewbacca had been wearing my Little League uniform in Return Of The Jedi. I didn’t want to get greedy, but I was hoping for at least one more shot of the boombox. And sure enough, a few seconds later, the film cut away from The Kid listening to Wendy and Lisa’s tape to the tape player itself…
Huh? That ain’t Lake Minnetonka, and that ain’t my Toshiba RT-80S. And while we’re at it, did someone just turn out the lights in the dressing room? Good job, guys… you were this close to the Acadamy Award for Best Picture.
That’s probably a clip from a scene taking place in The Kid’s candlelit bedroom, but this glitch was exciting to me in its own right. We didn’t have the internet around to track continuity errors back then, so for years I took a bizarre pride in knowing this useless piece of trivia. I even felt a tiny twinge of pride when I discovered that as of today, Boomboxgate still hasn’t been mentioned on IMDB’s Purple Rain Goofs page.
The boombox would move around a bit during the film, as a portable stereo is wont to do. It’s visible in the corner of the screen when Prince first makes out with Apollonia, but for some reason I was distracted at the time and didn’t notice it in the theater.
It makes a final appearance in my favorite scene of the film, where a grieving Kid keeps rewinding and replaying Wendy and Lisa’s “Slow Groove” before playing it on the piano himself.
Any thoughts on 80s boomboxes? Continuity errors? Chewbacca? Post ’em in the comments.