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Dancing in the Distraction Factory

Dancing in the Distraction Factory: Music Television and Popular Culture

Copyright Date: 1992
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Dancing in the Distraction Factory
    Book Description:

    This first comprehensive, integrated analysis of MTV provides new ways to understand television and popular music narratives. ”A smart book: it will have an impact on the debates surrounding popular culture.” --Susan McClary

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8429-8
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Andrew Goodwin
  4. Author’s Note
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxiv)

    WatchingMTV 10on a November evening in 1991, I sat and pondered the problem of how to introduce this book—or, rather, the issue of towhomit is addressed.MTV 10was an hour-long celebration of MTV’s tenth anniversary, screened in prime time on the ABC TV network. In this show MTV invaded the network space that it had implicitly critiqued for a decade, in an orgy of self-celebration that could leave no one in any doubt as to which of the two institutions (ABC or MTV) thought it owned our past, our present, and our future. The...

  6. ONE Silence! Academics at Work
    (pp. 1-23)

    Notwithstanding Elvis Costello’s warning, in this book I will indulge in the stupidity of attempting to write about music —and its relation to the iconography of popular music. I am concerned as much with theauralcontent and logic of music television as with its visual aspects. As I shall argue in this chapter and the next, we need to locate music television within its contexts of production and consumption in order to construct plausible critical analyses; both sites demand an engagement with sound and its organization — respectively, with the music itself and with the music industry. This introductory chapter...

  7. TWO From Anarchy to Chromakey Developments in Music Television
    (pp. 24-48)

    Accounts of music television that begin by telling us that music video was “invented” in a given year (or that imply such a position by using a chronology that starts with the moment of birth of MTV) miss out of an important step in thinking about this topic, namely, whatis“music television”? It is essential that we engage this question because it encompasses many other issues regarding the nature of music video texts, and in particular the relation between their economic status and ideological significance.

    I begin this chapter, therefore, by asking two different kinds of questions. First, how...

  8. THREE A Musicology of the Image
    (pp. 49-71)

    In a fascinating effort to consider the sound-image relation in popular music, John Corbett (1990) suggestively begins the task of applying film theory to pop through an engagement with the ideas of Laura Mulvey (1975, 1989). The “problem” that Corbett confronts neatly illustrates my thesis about the limitations of certain kinds of text analysis, since its core is the notion that pop music constitutes “a set of objects that produce their own visual lack,” leading to the psychoanalytic observation that “it is the lack of the visual, endemic to recorded sound, that initiates desire in relation to the popular music...

  9. FOUR The Structure of Music Video Rethinking Narrative Analysis
    (pp. 72-97)

    Rodowick references the issue of sexual difference, but his comments hold equally well for the effort to link realism with (bourgeois) class ideologies. However, the narrative analysis of music television has tended to evade the critique of antirealism/naturalism, by suggesting that empirical differences in the music video text require analysis that moves on from the assault on classic “realism.” While that is often (although by no means always) empirically correct, it has directed narrative analysis away from the necessary revision of its essential formalism — by which I mean a tendency to equate narrative organization with meaning and reception. In the...

  10. FIVE Metanarratives of Stardom and Identity
    (pp. 98-130)

    Having identified the narrator of the pop song as a crucial site of fictional construction, I now wish to document and delineate some of the ways in which star-texts intersect with video clips. The argument here is not so much cumulative as a series of parallel explorations in how the audience objectifies, and identifies with, star identities. Having established the centrality of understanding the star’s persona(s) as an element in reading video clips, I will look at a variety of ways (by no means exhaustive in scope) in which music television is expressive both of a common rock and pop...

  11. SIX A Televisual Context: MTV
    (pp. 131-155)

    So far, I have been concerned with developing an understanding of the promotional video clips themselves, by locating them in the context of the pop music industry and its aesthetic forms. In order to complete a textual analysis, however, it is important to consider the distribution of the clips via broadcast and cable television. I have already discussed (in chapter 2) some of the elements that contributed to a rapprochement between rock music and television. Here I want to consider the important contextualizing elements of television itself and probe further some of the issues touched on in chapters 3, 4,...

  12. SEVEN Aesthetics and Politics in Music Television Postmodernism Reconsidered
    (pp. 156-180)

    Music television is no more a coherent object than is “rock and roll” or “pop music.” It is impossible, therefore, to identify an all-encompassing politics or aesthetics of music television. In the main body of this thesis I have been concerned with stretching the limits of analysis in a particular way, so that the critique of music videos takes into account a variety of extratextual discourses and practices. In this chapter, however, I will concentrate instead on the specific elements introduced into popular culture by music television itself, as a particular cultural form. Rather than attempting to enforce a unity...

  13. Concluding Thoughts
    (pp. 181-188)

    This book addresses two constituencies, one an academic grouping, the other less campus-bound. Rather than summarize and rehearse the arguments of the book as a whole, I want to end by making some comments of a more general nature on the political and social significance of music television, taking into account some of the more public concerns of the second audience. (Of course, I am well aware that many of us feel at home in both camps. If only one could take that for granted at all times.)

    Before reengaging those issues, however, I want to clarify what I am...

  14. Music Television Time Line
    (pp. 189-198)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 199-216)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 217-230)
  17. Index
    (pp. 231-238)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 239-239)