Evaluation Question One
The media concepts of genre, narrative, institutions, representation, audience and overall media language can be applied to my media coursework – my music video for the indie/electro artist ‘Alex Clare’ single of ‘Up All Night’, as well as the digipak and magazine advert which accompanies it. In my music video, a man dressed in a way which is generic to the indie genre itself, for example the bakers cap, trench coat and Doc Marten’s boots. The male protagonist awakens during the middle of the night and leaves the house to meet his friends behind his partners back. However, little does he know that the female does in fact know what is happening but does not want to believe what is going on. The male then proceeds to unite with his friends as they set off on a night of excessive drinking in an attempt to fulfil the excitement and relief of escapism. Despite this, the woman sits awake at home and reflects upon their torrid relationship, which in turn stimulates the emotions of anger and despair. Furthermore, the male character soon comes to realise the disruption that he has caused and feels let down in himself and tries to make his way back home. Along this journey, his friends mock him and heap pressure on him to continue acting in the dark themes of the overall video. Meanwhile, throughout the entirety of this process we see how time is progressing by the hands of a clock spinning and this again is another main influence and theme throughout my video.
Essentially, my music video is in the ‘Illustration’ genre-category of music video, established by Goodwin. Rather than performance, my music video is entirely narrative and though the artist does not feature -or a band at all-, the music is linked to the visual action as the actions of the characters are synced with the lyrics. For example, the lines “she saw me sneaking out the door” and “wasting all my time” are matched with visuals that correspond to the lyrics, thus amplifying the ideas of Goodwin and reflecting how my music video conforms to some generic conventions of music videos. I believe that my music video is an ‘amplification’ of the lyrics to the song and not a complete disjuncture. Although, my music video does not conform with Goodwin’s idea that lip-syncing is essential in music videos and mine does not contain a sense of repeatability either.
Nicholas Abercrombie describes genre boundaries as being ‘shifting and permeable’. My music video could be interpreted as adhering to this as on the outset it appears to be an escapist fantasy that many people from my desired indie genre target audience may want to lead. However, the genre can be blurred when the video is perceived as an account of a man’s corruption into drug-taking and hamartia. Thus the genre is split between fantasy and social-realism – if perceived as a video revolving around alcoholism. A moment where both the fantasy and social-realist genres collide is apparent during the protagonist’s ‘point of no return’ and the final corruption where the parallel narratives are scene side by side- the womans anger and the man’s excessive drinking-.
Music videos of a narrative format, conventionally follow a structure of beginning, middle and end – also known as Todorov’s narrative structure of equilibrium, disequilibrium and new equilibrium. I decided that I would conform to this structure as leaving the audiences without an end or climax may have made for an unfulfilling watch. However, there is not much of a strong equilibrium to start, as the first shot is of light being shined onto the character as the commanding and booming first beat of the song begins. The equilibrium is almost immediately broken and establishes Barthe’s ‘enigma code’. The mysterious opening compels the audience, and leads them into wanting to fill the gaps in their knowledge and discover what the protagonist is up to.Disequilibrium occurs when the female protagonist abruptly opens her eyes before the male has even left the house, and is aware of what is happening. This is highlighted through the shot reverse shot between the storylines showing the man enjoying himself whilst the woman is in despair. In relation to Propp’s character theory, the protagonist is male which then conforms to his theory, although there is now no love interest or reward for his actions which would disprove his theory. The corrupting force of alcoholism in my video is perceived by my target audience as being a positive and sense of escapism, however in this case it is portrayed as the villain as it leads to the dramatic downfall of the protagonist. Thus, the music video subverts the traditional roles of characters in accordance to Propp’s theory.
Laura Mulvey claims that the cinema positions the audience as male and that the ‘male gaze’ objectifies the female character on screen. This is not true in my music video as the audience empathise with the female character as a result of the actions of the male. Mulvey’s theory can be particularly linked to mainstream and hip hop genres which routinely portray scantily dressed and aesthetically pleasing females, often dancing behind the male performer in a suggestive manner. In my music video, females are not portrayed in this way, at least in not such a blatant and callous way – this can also be said for the majority of indie music videos, which often turn a blind eye to the desire for sex, power and wealth exuberated by hip hop musicians, and in this case place a greater focus on escapism and the sense of being free from the everyday struggles of life.
It is evident that my music video attempts to immerse the audience in this microcosm by the use of intimate and eye-line matches that position the audience into the same situation as the actors. Throughout the video the camera seems to stalk the main character and the fast paced cuts adhere to the wild lifestyle that the protagonist is living, whilst also relating back to the idea of including the audience in the narrative so that the emotion of empathy is easier to establish as a relationship is built between the audience, the song and the actors. Furthermore, the theme of time remains constant throughout the video with the timelapse of the clock being of vast importance as it clearly reflects how the male character is having a good experience wasting his time with alcoholism, whilst ruining the daily pleasures of a relationship that he takes for granted.
The Magazine Advert
The magazine advert conforms to conventional magazine adverts in the indie genre. Many of the real-world products I analysed either portrayed the band of promotion, or some kind of a conceptual message. I decided that due to the fact my artist does not have a strong presence in the rest of his products- due to the fact that he shies away from personal gain-, I would keep to a generic theme for the indie genre of maintaining to be artistic, whilst also being simplistic. I also conformed to other magazine adverts by providing outside opinions and star-ratings for the album. I provided a five-star rating from NME – a trusted source of indie music. I also included the new-technology features with mentions of iTunes and internet.
The digipak conformed to the conventions of my music video by continuing the theme seen on the magazine advert and in the music video – it had very much an escapist feel, with the use of photographs outdoors – and also the strong influences of the indie genre where less is considered to be more. There was also a cover with a personal credits page, as well as all the necessary institutional details and a message to the fans thanking them for their support. The front cover is typically the most visually attractive cover on a digipak and so I decided to conform to this by choosing a photo which conveyed album themes as well as show off mise en scene of a modern day clash with the authentic and natural landscape.