Music Video and the Politics of Representation

Music Video and the Politics of Representation

Music Video and the Politics of Representation

Music Video and the Politics of Representation

Synopsis

How can we engage critically with music video and its role in popular culture? What do contemporary music videos have to tell us about patterns of cultural identity today? Based around an eclectic series of vivid case studies, this fresh and timely examination is an entertaining and enlightening analysis of the forms, pleasures, and politics that music videos offer. In rethinking some classic approaches from film studies and popular music studies and connecting them with new debates about the current 'state' of feminism and feminist theory, Railton and Watson show why and how we should be studying music videos in the twenty-first century. Through its thorough overview of the music video as a visual medium, this is an ideal textbook for Media Studies students and all those with an interest in popular music and cultural studies. Key Features
• Provides a framework for how to describe and analyse a music video.
• Uses case studies from internationally well-know artists, such as Kylie, Shakira and Beyoncé to explore issues of representation of gender, sexuality and ethnicity.
• Draws on classic and contemporary videos from a range of musical styles, from Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera to Gorillaz and Metallica.

Excerpt

Music video is a significant and interesting form of contemporary popular culture, one which is widely circulated, complex and important. This claim is, however, a potentially controversial one. For it is easy, as many critics have done, to either dismiss music video as a worthless by-product of capitalist business practice or, worse, to ignore it all together. Graham Fuller spells out this situation in ‘A Good Music Video is Hard to Find’ in claiming that ‘the search for the art and artistry of the music video goes on but the consensus is that El Dorado or Santa Claus will turn up first’. He goes on to say that, since the inception of MTV in 1981, ‘what critical evaluation of music video there is relegates it to the trash can of popular culture’. This kind of reaction to such a fascinating subject is, however, both predictable and perplexing. It is predictable in that the instrumental logic of music videos serves to direct attention towards a range of secondary commercial products and away from their own formal and aesthetic qualities, yet also perplexing in so far as the recent resurgence of academic interest in popular culture might have been expected to embrace the vibrancy of such a ubiquitous cultural product. These responses, to either dismiss or ignore, are, of course, the recto and verso of long-standing discourses concerning value and distinction, two sides of the same coin which continue to define music video as a kind of ‘throwaway art … the Kleenexes of popular culture’. It is the contention of this book that they warrant much more sustained and detailed consideration.

Music video’s raison d’être as a promotional device has had a number of significant consequences for the way it has been studied and conceptualised.

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