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

Thursday, 10 November 2011

M.LANG: Deconstructionism, pomo, DMode eg

Here's a term that will pop up frequently when analysing vids (and is linked to pomo): DECONSTRUCTIONISM
I'm going to use an eg of a Depeche Mode vid for No Good...

ACT: Depeche Mode
TRACK: It's No Good 

YEAR: 1997
DIRECTOR: Anton Corbijn
GENRE: Electro-Pop/Dance
(both fe/male gaze, 2ndary 35-44 aud from 80s + aspirational tweens + younger teens [10-14])

Gahan ironically dressed as a 70s lounge lizard
Now, postmodernists argue there is no essential reality, everything is clouded as we view the world through symbols which represent symbols ... There is no such thing as quality; a Kylie Minogue lyric and a Shakespeare are of equal merit - there is simply no objectivity from which we can make such judgements. That poses issues for standard concepts such as genre. Being postmodern, some postmodernists would of course disagree with this depiction, as nothing can be truly defined!
As for this song and video, its difficult to pin down what we're referring to when we say the text:

The music video for "It's No Good" was directed by Anton Corbijn, depicting the
band as a low-rent lounge act at a number of sleazy gigs. An alternate video was recorded for "It's No Good" in 2001 as a screen projection for the Exciter Tour.
On May 15, 1997, the band went on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and performed the song, a recording made available at The official Depeche Mode website. It was the first time they performed a song on an American TV show since 1988, when they performed "Strangelove". The 'Hardfloor Mix' of the song was featured briefly in the Friends episode, The One with Joey's Dirty Day. "It's No Good" was also used in an episode of Nash Bridges.
Chevelle covered "It's No Good" on 2002's "Wonder What's Next Deluxe Version". [wiki]

The Wiki also lists various official remixes; there are countless unofficial or bootleg remixes out there, not to mention live mixing by club DJs which may not be recorded. The Wiki doesn't mention that the diegetic sound from the video is kept on the version on the Greatest Hits CD/DVD pack. (I'm sure you can find similar examples of to show the complexity of your text)

Here's the vid:


In describing deconstruction, Derrida famously observed that "there is nothing outside the text." That is to say, all of the references used to interpret a text are themselves texts, even the "text" of reality as a reader knows it. There is no truly objective, non-textual reference from which interpretation can begin. Deconstruction, then, can be described as an effort to understand a text through its relationships to various contexts.[3]
The term "deconstructionism" is sometimes applied as a title for Derrida's school of thought, but Derrida is more often classified as a post-structuralist


In 1988, while discussing the reception his famous assertion that "There is nothing outside the text," Derrida gave the following description of deconstruction
One of the definitions of what is called deconstruction would be the effort to take this limitless context into account, to pay the sharpest and broadest attention possible to context, and thus to an incessant movement of recontextualization.

From the Wiki, which features links to many other thinkers you could browse through (perhaps recognising some that you cover in other subjects).

The director (note: not necessarily the band) is playing around with our familiarity with a whole range of codes and conventions, poking fun at them, using them in an ironic way. Fine - its humour, its entertainment; that works to help sell records.
But there's more going on - at least, as far as a postmodern thinker would perceive it.
According to a postmodern analysis or framework, Corbijn is urging the audience to see that nothing is real, everything is surface; 'reality' is an endless sea of symbols in which there are no values to anchor any meaning.
The convention of highlighting the singer in music vids is followed, but in such an OTT and absurd manner that the intention is to deconstruct, not merely reconstruct yet again these tired codes.
Glamour itself is deconstructed with the ironic 70s lounge singer outfit.
The bored, disinterested scantily clad dancers, leered at by singer Gahan, are another clear deconstruction of the tired cliches of male gaze
And so forth!
Austerlitz goes through many examples of this, and regularly makes the point that bands in doing this are having their cake and eating it...
Can you find such examples from YOUR genre to apply these ideas?

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