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

Monday, 10 September 2012

Postmodern intertextuality: Robert Palmer

I've seen this referenced in The Simpsons too, and many other shows/vids too - its sufficiently widely used to be described as a meme (a widely referenced cultural event, text or idea); as Andy used it as an example, here's how the intertextuality works in Bowling For Soup's 1985 video.

Wheatus, Blink 182, Weezer and similar pop-punk or alt-rock bands have all created postmodern videos centred on ironic intertextuality with classic TV shows or stereotypical depictions of a past time period with a modern twist.

Bowling For Soup appear to mock the casual sexism of the original video (from around 0:35 in):

They dress up as the glamourous models, the obvious humour ensuring they can maintain a macho, laddish image despite appearing in drag.

In a rather more ambiguous (or polysemic) style, the distributors of WT hit rom-com, Richard Curtis' Love Actually, created a chart hit with Bill Nighy in his fictional role singing Christmas is All Around. Is it simply sexist, or is is ironic and mocking sexism?

The reading of the original, from 1985 as the Bowling For Soup song title suggests, isn't necessarily that straightforward either. If it was intended simply to identify Robert Palmer with glamour and sex appeal, then it appears utterly preposterous to the contemporary viewer - but that doesn't necessarily reflect typical audience (especially youth) reaction when it was originally released. There are lots of shots of Palmer smiling (or smirking? again, its polysemic) - is he meant to be in on the joke ... is his original video actually sending up/pastiching the ever-increasing use of attractive models we saw with mid-80s pop videos? Or is it simply a crudely sexist video bluntly objectifying women, with its shots, for example, of legs in isolation?
Your take on this may well be dictated by your age!

Bands like BFSoup and Weezer didn't invent such explicit interextuality - the music video has always borrowed liberally from other media and from earlier music videos. Weird Al Yankovic has made a successful career out of lampooning hit songs, such as 1988's Michael Jackson spoof, Fat:

Remember, we saw similar traits from films too last year, eg: Psycho's Sam Loomis referenced through Halloween's Dr Loomis and then both through Scream's Billy Loomis.

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