Music Video and the Politics of Representation

Music Video and the Politics of Representation

Diane Railton
Paul Watson
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 184
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt1r1zr6
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  • Book Info
    Music Video and the Politics of Representation
    Book Description:

    How can we engage critically with music video and its role in popular culture? What do contemporary music videos have to tell us about patterns of cultural identity today? Based around an eclectic series of vivid case studies, this fresh and timely examination is an entertaining and enlightening analysis of the forms, pleasures, and politics that music videos offer. In rethinking some classic approaches from film studies and popular music studies and connecting them with new debates about the current 'state' of feminism and feminist theory, Railton and Watson show why and how we should be studying music videos in the twenty-first century. Through its thorough overview of the music video as a visual medium, this is an ideal textbook for Media Studies students and all those with an interest in popular music and cultural studies. Key Features* Provides a framework for how to describe and analyse a music video.* Uses case studies from internationally well-know artists, such as Kylie, Shakira and Beyoncé to explore issues of representation of gender, sexuality and ethnicity.* Draws on classic and contemporary videos from a range of musical styles, from Lady Gaga and Christina Aguilera to Gorillaz and Metallica.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3324-1
    Subjects: Music

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vi-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: THE KLEENEXES OF POPULAR CULTURE?
    (pp. 1-14)

    Music video is a significant and interesting form of contemporary popular culture, one which is widely circulated, complex and important. This claim is, however, a potentially controversial one. For it is easy, as many critics have done, to either dismiss music video as a worthless by-product of capitalist business practice or, worse, to ignore it all together. Graham Fuller spells out this situation in ‘A Good Music Video is Hard to Find’ in claiming that ‘the search for the art and artistry of the music video goes on but the consensus is that El Dorado or Santa Claus will turn...

  5. PART I TOWARDS A CRITICAL VOCABULARY
    • 1. SITUATING MUSIC VIDEO: BETWEEN FEMINISM AND POPULAR CULTURE
      (pp. 17-40)

      The video for Pink’s ‘Stupid Girls’ (2006) is organised around a series of pasquinades of fellow female pop stars and other famous women. Some of these are direct parodies of music videos while others satirise images from popular culture more generally. So, for instance, in one of these vignettes Pink lampoons Jessica Simpson’s fetishised performance of car washing in these boots were made for walking (2005) as, dressed only in a skimpy denim miniskirt, bikini top and cowboy boots, she gets (in)appropriately soaked with suds and (over)plays to the camera’s voyeuristic gaze. Similarly, a different scenario shows Pink mimicking Fergie...

    • 2. GENRE AND MUSIC VIDEO: CONFIGURATIONS AND FUNCTIONS
      (pp. 41-65)

      Genre, whatever else it might be, is first and foremost about categorisation, about sorting cultural products into discrete groupings based on similarities and common properties. Moreover, this act of categorisation is always purposeful. In other words, this process is done for a specific reason, whether that reason is socio-economic, cultural or academic. In the first place, from an industrial standpoint, genre performs specific economic functions in so far as it works to organise the financing, production and marketing of cultural products so as to ensure maximum return from investment. For consumers, genre is one of the principal ways of choosing...

    • 3. MAKING IT REAL: AUTHORSHIP AND AUTHENTICITY
      (pp. 66-84)

      The question of authorship in music video, if asked at all, has tended to be posed either around the figure of the director as the controlling creative hand who stands behind the work or else around the figure of the performer as the artistic centre within the work. The first of these strategies for attributing authorship can be seen as an attempt to simply transplant the figure of the film auteur, which is itself really only a reworked version of the romantic definition of the artist, into the field of music video. In other words, following the dominant model of...

  6. PART II SEXED, RACED AND GENDERED IDENTITY IN MUSIC VIDEO
    • 4. MUSIC VIDEO IN BLACK AND WHITE: RACE AND FEMININITY
      (pp. 87-107)

      So far in this book we have been concerned, first, with exploring the current position of music video in both cultural and critical discourse, a story in which its sheer visibility in the former context finds curious reflection through its near invisibility in the latter. Second, we have sketched a broadly feminist and broadly poststructuralist conceptual framework for pursuing the analysis of music video, one that is attentive to its formal and aesthetic characteristics on the one hand, but also sensitive to its specific function and place within the sphere of popular culture on the other. This is the dilemma...

    • 5. THAT LATIN(A) LOOK: PERFORMING ETHNICITY
      (pp. 108-121)

      In the previous chapter we argued that race is not simply the result of biocultural heritage but is rather the product of particular discursive formations which become inscribed upon the body through processes of representation. This, at least in part, explains the confusions in identity set in motion by beautiful liar (2007) inasmuch as its two performers, Beyoncé Knowles and Shakira, appear to both exchange identities and inhabit isomorphic bodies. Even if race cannot be reduced entirely to a set of free-floating signifiers, what this nevertheless does indicate is its arbitrary and contingent relationship to the raced body. This is...

    • 6. MASCULINITY AND THE ABSENT PRESENCE OF THE MALE BODY
      (pp. 122-140)

      The previous two chapters have explored the ways in which feminine identities are both presented and represented, produced and reproduced, in and through the codes and conventions of music video and how, in turn, these codes and conventions are embedded within wider networks of representations which enable and circumscribe the limits of their intelligibility. More specifically, we have argued that these identities cannot be understood as ontological givens, as the result of genetic biology, material physicality and deep psychology, but are rather enactments of being, imitations of behaviour and reiterations of selfhood that are constructed and sustained by discursive means....

  7. AFTERWORD: MUSIC VIDEO GOES GAGA
    (pp. 141-149)

    During the writing of this book, Lady Gaga has emerged as a significant global star. Her debut album, The Fame (2008), spawned six singles and has so far sold more than 12 million copies worldwide.¹ The second of these, ‘Poker Face’, was the best-selling digital track of 2009, selling a total of 9.8 million units globally.² A further four tracks have been released from her second album, The Fame Monster (2009), which topped the album chart in the UK and has to date sold more than 4 million copies. Moreover, MTV recently reported that the online viewing figure for her...

  8. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 150-165)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 166-176)