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

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

DANCE EG: Fragma - You Are Alive (2001, Ger)

1st shot: an Ibiza link perhaps?
Fragma -

Dir: unknown, 2001.



For me, one of the worst promos I've ever seen, though it is very professionally produced with strong cinematography. There is little going on bar the incessant objectification of the vocalist, who we often see running, Baywatch slo-mo style, or dousing herself on the beach wearing sheer clothing, plus the 'exotic' (depending on the viewer of course) setting - which seems utterly incongruous for the track. Also features an attempt to eroticize fruit! We follow the singer through a village, though this is a world away from The Verve video which tracks the singer walking along; our location here is left polysemic, as if anchorage might detract from its exotic 'otherness'. The track itself features a ridiculously long fade-out: 20 seconds!!!
I make some comparisons below to Bond movies and a Lta Ford video....

The cinematography is sharp; variable focus is used to good effect, a particularly suitable diegetic 'effect' given the musical genre

Around half of the video is nothing more than variations on this.

It is basically very generic: scantily clad young woman by the sea. However, that notion has been rendered into a specific meme through the Bond franchise, with recent examples including Halle Berry emerging from the sea, and, in a rather postmodern moment, Daniel Craig doing likewise at the start of Casino Royale - Bond intertextualising Bond within a Bond remake, or a signifier of a signifier - the endless line of signification which Baudrillard dubs a simulacrum.

I doubt this was in the mind of the producers, though I/you wouldn't know without direct access to them, but another possible intertextual reference (but also just as importantly another example of how this basic beachside/in water scenario is used to package and sexualise female performers for the male gaze) comes from this 1990 vid from heavy metaller Lita Ford:

Lita Ford cavorts in the 1990 vid Hungry

Simple but effective framing technique: including leaves/branches/fronds. Another example of tight focus control; a very shallow depth of field here renders the foreground foliage and background out of focus

'Family' shows like the X Factor will feature more explicit material than this, but the incessant focus on the singer's body, including objectifying framing such as this, with the added sexual anchorage of touching, is dull and wearisome

The all-pervading sexuality seems to have included visual puns too

Just as in Baywatch, we have a young woman jogging along in slo-mo. A lot.

A little cliched, but notwithstanding the overall tedium, there is some really sharp cinematography

Again, cliched perhaps, but the cinematography is solid

The racial binary, and explicit otherness of the locals, is dubious, but once more the cinematography is at the very least highly proficient

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