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: NG3 - The Anthem (2003); post-feminist?

Costume and lack of 'big hair' denote accessible; aud can identify with?
NG3 -

Dir: unknown, 2003.


A simple video with a linear narrative, using movie signifiers (especially titles). Lyrically centred on women
Filmic titles are used
standing up to men and demanding respect, it can be read as hypocritical or assertive depending on whether or not you buy into the post-feminist position. Key to it, either way, is that the performers costume and appearance ensures that young F viewers could identify with the trio.

1ST SHOT (see screenshot above):
Fade up into a simple ML 3-shot, cut to the 1st beat of the track. The location is a 'grand' hall, but the 3 F performers are fairly plain in terms of clothing (leisure/sports wear) and general appearance - hair tied back rather than scaffolded using enough hairspray to euthanize the ozone layer.

Men are represented as passive objects...
While there are signifiers of conventional sexiness (tight tops, cropped to reveal their mid-riffs), and the make-up is thickly applied, the image would seem to be geared towards accessibility - ie, the audience, especially tween to teen girls/young women, can identify with these performers (yes, once more we could apply the U+G theory here!).

...BUT do some costumes and gaze undermine feminist pitch?
This is a post-Spice Girls video, so the exploration of themes around women being in control are unsurprising. Whether this is convincing is another matter.

The setup is the 3 arriving at a country hotel, and finding men treating 'their women' disdainfully, with a lack of respect - we are even treated to a blunt signifier of prostitution, with money on a bed. Presumably due to the influence of this liberated, confident trio, these women rebel and tip food and drink over the
Eg1 of humiliating males...
men's heads/into laps. Men, especially towards the end of the video, are portrayed as passive and decorative.

Voyeurism is very specifically denoted through CCTV shots and even a POV from the hallside of one of the women reclining on a bed and looking directly back at the doorman, who is crouched, peeping through. We then see him half-stripped and being humiliated by a pair pouring champagne on the floor while he cleans up at the foot of a bed.

The message is hammered home by animating, in time to the letter-by-letter singing, the word RESPECT. This is hardly the war cry of Aretha Franklin though (hear it here; a linked clip from The Blues Brothers is embedded at the end of this post), and the self-fondling, crotch-thrusting dance moves leave scope to be read as exploitation or post-feminist assertive femininity/sexuality. Can you protest against male gaze by inviting male gaze?! If you would answer yes, you have some sympathy with the post-feminist position.

This shot sums up the tension between feminist pretensions and classic male gaze, even if the voyeur is humiliated (eg1)

Alongside the simple signifiers of bling/wealth (the expensive costumes of the non-band female characters, their jewellry, the champagne bottles), we get film-style block titles, all in upper case and in sans-serif red, aside from the band' logo, presented in bling-worthy silver, graffitti style.

Women united
There is a simple linear narrative, with the 3 band women checking in, causing an outbreak of female assertiveness and rebellion, and rendering all men as passive and/or pathetic. A figure who could be read as a classic sleazy (the facial hair - thick moustache - the key signifier here) male manager stereotype ends up getting a drink tipped over him.

The use of ELS, including high angles in halls where the 3 perform, helps provide some verisimiltude for this filmic approach (MS to CU being the dominant shot range of smaller screen TV, eg soaps).
Voyeurism/male gaze is an explicit theme. Is it problematic that the women being spied on smile? (cf. keyhole shot, above)

At only a few seconds, its brief, but we do get a diegetic outro of the performer posed to jump for a photo at the very end, after we've seen a letterboxing wipe reveal the 3 outside the hotel.
Letterboxing wipe; note Ms are passive

What would Jim Morrison think...
 Here's another Aretha Franklin point of reference:

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