Music videos are so 80s/90s, right? They belong with the era when MTV screened wall-to-wall vids instead of 'reality' TV? Try telling that to the millions who bought Gangnam Style; were they really simply loving the music? 1.6bn (and still climbing) have viewed the video on YT, not to mention the many re-makes (school eg, eg2), viral ads + celeb link-ups (even political protest in Seoul) - and it doesn't matter how legit it is, this nightmare for daydream Beliebers is making a lot of money, even from the parodies + dislikes. All this for a simple dance track that wouldn't have sounded out of place in 1990 ... but had a fun vid. This meme itself was soon displaced by the Harlem Shake. Music vids even cause diseases it seems!
This blog explores every aspect of this most postmodern of media formats, including other print-based promo tools used by the industry, its fast-changing nature, + how fans/audiences create/interact. Posts are primarily written with Media students/educators in mind. Please acknowledge the blog author if using any resources from this blog - Mr Dave Burrowes

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Rammstein: Sonne (industrial metal eg)

ACT: Rammstein
TRACK: Sonne
YEAR: 2001
DIRECTOR: Jörn Heitmann
MAIN AUDIENCE: Male, 15-24/34

Rob posted on this in August and I thought I'd add a few comments; interesting choice! I know the track well but had never seen the video.
Here's the vid first of all:

A few initial points:
  • perf. through lip-synching, but without a translation its hard to say whether its narr or concept!
  • fairly fast-paced editing, with some long takes though
  • colour and lighting a key consideration
  • vid can only be understand if we grasp both the precise genre and target audience
  • skilful cross-cutting is key to the preferred reading
GENRE/AUDIENCE: Loosely, its heavy metal, but more specifically its 'industrial' (or industrial metal) - other comparable bands would include Rage Against the Machine and Nine Inch Nails. The typical audience for this would be male youth: 15-24, but comfortably extending to 15-34 (25-34 = 'mature youth'). Industrial metal goes beyond the traditional guitar/bass/drum/vocal line-up to incorporate recorded, synth-processed sound, and is also seen as 'dark' - a world away from the 'hair metal' of Bon Jovi, Motley Crue and other giants of mainstream metal.
The crashing sledgehammers, and the sparks that fly up, are a neat signifier of the genre within the video.

GENDER: The youth male audience ensures that the Snow White depicted is heavily sexualised to fit the male gaze: the tight top, thick, bright red lipstick and the long take which lingers on her suspenders. They've taken an archetypal signifier or icon of (Disney) innocence and purity and flipped it to fit with their darker vision.

We can argue that a secondary female audience is also being engaged though: Snow White is the dominant character, shot in low angles as she first advances towards the seated miners, who go on to effectively worship her and later carry her body as they might a god(dess) or deity.
Again, the band (and/or video director) are being playful with their gender signifiers (playfulness being a hallmark of the postmodern style), in a manner that a more mainstream act is unlikely to risk. The genre is stereotyped as macho, testosterone-fuelled and mindless, yet here is an act willing to counter the traditional imagery of the tough, rugged male (the miners working underground) with scenes of submissiveness: the miners/'dwarfs' queue up to be spanked!

SEXUALITY: The band has created much more explicit videos (see notes below on the video for their track Pussy). We see in this video the difficulty in ascertaining a preferred reading in our postmodern age: is this video typically brainless male gaze material (a feminist reading), or a more nuanced vid wherein the woman is dominant, clearly in control and expressing her sexuality (a post-feminist reading)?
Editing ensures we read the sexual angle to the spanking: we cross-cut from a long shot of SnowW with a miner over her knee being spanked to a miner queuing up and clearly eager to be next - a very subversive image of masculinity.

INTEREXTUALITY: The Snow White reference is clear enough, even if it is utterly transformed through the Rammstein prism. What might be less obvious (depending, as Stuart Hall would always point out, on who is watching the vid, and what knowledge/values they have) is the seeming nod to German expressionism, a film movement, or the Alien films (which very unusually had a female lead).

COLOUR: A simple enough point: the director has taken great care with the colour palette. The shots in the mines aren't simply black and white; the notes of silver and blue (from the sparks) help infuse a sci-fi, Aliens-esque feel. Later, we get match cuts of SnoW's ruby-red lips and oversized red apples, the latter ensuring we get the idea of her lips as a temptation (the Adam and Eve myth of the forbidden fruit). You can see similar care taken over colour in many Anton Corbijn music videos, and films such as Don't Look Now, in which a young girl's red coat is a key feature of the film.

I could go on, but I think thats enough for now!

I can't remember precisely who made this point (ConorO?) in a class discussion, but the point was made that this German band hold an ideology which is opposed to American cultural imperialism (dominance; hegemony) through such devices such as Disney, and thus the video was more than a sexualisation of Snow White to attract a male audience. Its as much a two-fingered riposte to the Americanisation of so much of European culture (with music video, and MTV, ironically key footsoldiers in this ideological campaign!)
Whoever made it, that was an excellent point well worth sharing!

Some web research into the track/band:

This is about the indulgences of life which can take a hold of you and destroy you even when it seems to be a good thing at first. Like the sun, which has the ability to nurture and give life, it also has the ability to scorch and kill. "Sonne" is German for Sun.

The chorus line "Hier kommt die Sonne" is German for "Here comes the sun."
In the music video, the band members play the 7 Dwarves. They mine gold, which Snow White then crushes up and snorts like cocaine - at the end of the video she overdoses. (thanks, lorne - Toronto, Canada, for all above)
In an interview with the German magazine Rock Hard, Paul Landers confirmed that the song was written especially for the Klitschkos, who later refused to use it (as they found to be too "heavy") and instead settled on Tina Turners "Simply the Best."

At one point, the band thought of making a video, in which they'd play the crew of the Enola Gay dropping the bomb on Hiroshima. First there would have been the refrain ("Hier kommt die Sonne...") and then they'd show the explosion. They also wanted to show how after years the crew committed suicide, as they were mentally broken when they realized what they had done. (thanks, Thomas - Hamburg, Germany, for above 2)
[DB note: the Klitchskos are 2 Ukrainian brothers who are heavyweight boxing world champions] The director is known for a challenging style, and has helmed a number of previous Rammstein videos ('Sonne, Ich Will, Mutter, Amerika, Ohne dich and Keine Lust') and worked with the band again in 2010 on the Haifisch video.

The band has a history of controversy and playing with gender representations:
In October 2004, the video for "Mein Teil" ("My part") caused considerable controversy in Germany when it was released. It takes a darkly comic view of the Armin Meiwes cannibalism case, showing a cross dressed Schneider holding the other five band members on a leash and rolling around in mud. The controversy did nothing to stop the single rising to No. 2 in the German charts. Meiwes (who was convicted of manslaughter in 2004, then retried in 2006 and found guilty of murder)[38] brought suit in January 2006 against the band for infringement of rights to the story.
The band's own views of its image are sanguine: "We like being on the fringes of bad taste", according to Paul H. Landers, while Christian "Flake" Lorenz comments "The controversy is fun, like stealing forbidden fruit. But it serves a purpose. We like audiences to grapple with our music, and people have become more receptive".[39]
The video for "Mann gegen Mann" ("Man against Man") from their fifth studio album Rosenrot may have caused some controversy, as most of the band members are naked in the video. The lead singer Till Lindemann is wearing what can best be described as "latex underwear". In addition, there are multiple naked men in the video, with clearly visible buttocks, though genitalia could be seen at 32 seconds into the video on Christian "Flake" Lorenz through the arm of the guitarist (Richard Z. Kruspe) and below the keyboard. The video has been played uncensored on MTV in Europe. The video has been rated FSK 16 in Germany and therefore can be played on television only after 10 PM. It is the second Rammstein video after "Stripped" which includes nudity.
The video for "Pussy" was released September 2009. It features graphic scenes of nudity along with women engaging in sexual activity with body doubles of the band members. It is the third Rammstein video to include nudity.[40]

The video for Pussy caused particular controversy. The video was a surprisingly straight-down-the-line piece of softcore porn of a type common for metal bands, but not expected from more intelligent, challenging acts such as this. Just as Chris Cunningham has done with videos for Aphex Twin (see the DVD in F6/library), the single's sleeve displayed a rather more incisive slant on gender, depicting the band as nude females, a potentially risky move for an act with a mainly young heterosexual male following. You can see both the video and sleeve at
You can watch more Rammstein vids here.
The band had also worked with David Lynch, notoriously wacky film director of Blue Velvet and perhaps the greatest TV drama ever made (JC would concur with me on this!), namely Twin Peaks.

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