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, 25 September 2014

Baudrillard's 'simulacra': Weezer's Buddy Holly eg

A short post, just reflecting a discussion today on the postmodern philosopher Baudrillard's contentious (but ingenious?) concept of the simulacra, which argues that as we now exist in an endless sea of signifiers, or chains of signifiers with no concrete starting/reference point, we cannot claim to know of any actual 'reality'. So, Disneyland is the real America; the Gulf War, supposedly fought on our TV screens in 1991, never really happened, to take two of his most infamous proclamations.

Its a concept which often and readily applies itself to music video, with many videos influenced by other videos which may have been influenced by other media (especially TV/film) in turn. Weezer's Buddy Holly, directed by Michel Gondry, is an exemplar - it is a representation of a 90s band as part of a 70's TV show about 50's America, which heavily influenced perceptions of that decade (so, the long chain of signification in which any perceivable reality has been utterly lost, and is rendered unknowable)

Below the video I've uploaded a photo of p. 175 from the excellent Money For Nothing, Austerlitz's history of the music video; he describes the video, for example, as 'a pastiche of a pastiche'. We would later see Nirvana and other acts (see Outkast's Hey Ya at the end of the post) copy this idea of inserting the act into an old TV show (and the Beastie Boys, of course, created their own affectionate pastiche of the 70/80s cop show with Sabotage).

Austerlitz on the Weezer vid

Postmodernist French social theorist Jean Baudrillard argues that a simulacrum is not a copy of the real, but becomes truth in its own right: the hyperreal. Where Plato saw two steps of reproduction—faithful and intentionally distorted (simulacrum)—Baudrillard sees four: (1) basic reflection of reality; (2) perversion of reality; (3) pretence of reality (where there is no model); and (4) simulacrum, which "bears no relation to any reality whatsoever".[7] In Baudrillard's concept, like Nietzsche's, simulacra are perceived as negative, but another modern philosopher who addressed the topic, Gilles Deleuze, takes a different view, seeing simulacra as the avenue by which an accepted ideal or "privileged position" could be "challenged and overturned".[8] Deleuze defines simulacra as "those systems in which different relates to different by means of difference itself. What is essential is that we find in these systems no prior identity, no internal resemblance".[9]

See the ProdEval blog for more on this and other media theories.


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