Postmodern Boundary-Breaking --
and commercial -- MTV and Channel V's commercials
". . . [postmodern]
cross-over between: (1) the fine arts/avant-garde tradition, (2) the mass-media
[e.g. TV program and commercial, fasion catwalk, film pastiche] (3)
vernacular culture (or sub-cultures), (4) the new technologies (mainly
electronic)" (Wollen 229)
". . . videos are said
to forsake the usual oppositions between high and low culture; between
masculine and feminine; between established literary and filmic genres;
between past, present and future; between the private and the public sphere;
between verbal and visual hierarchies; between realism and anti-realism,
etc." (Kaplan 237)
1. [MTV's] fusion of
high art and popular culture discourses
2. The abandonment
of grand narrative structures . . .in the nonrealist construction of the
video clips and in the MTV text itself
and pastiche . . . blure historical/chronological distinctions, so conventional
notions of past, present and future are lost in the pot-pourri of images,
all of which are made to seem contemporary.
abandonment of rational, liberal-humanist discourse which creates a nihilistic,
amoral universe of representation -- lack of political social engagement
or new forms of politcal resistance (Goodwin 45-46)
Reproduction & Simulation --
e.g. A. reproduction
of live performance -- Bruce Springsteen; esp. "Dancing in the Dark"
A postmodern aesthetic
of appropriation and replication: "As Benjamin 'age of mechanical reproduction
is replaced by our 'age of Electronic reproduction', . . . Reproduction,
pastiche and quotation, instead of being forms of textual parasitism, become
constitutive of textuality. Repetition and citation become the typical
forms of postmodern cultural production. . . . We can expect the production
of both image and sound to become more and more a matter of combining and
altering already existing images and sounds extracted from one or other
information store." (Wollen 230-31)
image culture, implosion
of information, dominance of TV screen -- "With the television
image . . . our own body and the whole surrounding universe become a control
screen. the satellitization of the real, . .. 'hyperrealism of
simulation': the elevation of the domestic universe to a spatial power,
to a spatial metaphor, with the satellitization of the two-room-kitchen-and-bath
put into the orbit in the las lunar module" (Baudrillard "Ecstasy 127-28).
e.g. the use of "outer/computer space" in music videos such as Aerosmith's
"Amazing" and ±i´f©f's ¡q¡r.
"Have we (as Baudrillard
would argue) replaced Marx's 'drama of alienation' with the 'ecstasy of
communication', and Freud's old 'hot sexual obscenity' with 'contactual
and motivational obscenity of today'? Is TV, as Kroker and Cook argue,
'the real world of postmodern culture which has entertainment as
its ideology, the spectacle as the emblematic sign of the commodity
form, lifestyle advertising as its popular psychology, pure, empty
seriality as the bond which unites the simulacrum of the audience,
electronic images as its most dynamic, and only form of social cohesion.
. . the diffusion of a network of relational power as its real product'?
B. reproduction/re-interpretation of old songs -- "True Color" (Phil
Collins); "Time After Time"
"Killing me Softly" (Fugees); "Kung-Fu Fighting"
Parody, Pastiche and the
treatment of history
Al' Yonkovic -- 'Like A Surgeon'; 'Fat' ; 'Eat It'; 'One More Minute';
'Living in the Fridge'
Elements of timelessness: no classic
plot; repetition of the same clips;
history in MTV: 1. programme-identification
and VJ-talk in locating the clips historically;
2. "many MTV slots depend on a temporal
experience for the delivery of pleasure; e.g. MTV Countdown (Goodwin
3. MTV's special broadcast.
at Channel V, Jan.1999
[But how about the sense of history
in the music videos?]
Fragmentation or Unity of Identity
A. examples of
unity -- VJ or the singer(s) as the anchoring presence; story in the
B. flow of signifiers
of personal identity's unity -- ¶ÀµÎÂ@
¡q§Ú¬O½Ö¡rand Peter Gabriel
star-identity Michael Jackson's "Black or White"
How do we deal with the contradictions in
meanings between the lyric and the video, or (sometimes) between
the former's simplicity , and the latter's complexity?
Representation of Gender and Race -- the subject positions constructed
in music videos
is no longer a useful category within which to discuss videos. What
is important is, first, whether or not any position manifests itself across
the hectic, often incoherent flow of signifers which are not necessarilly
organized into a chain that produces a signified, and, second, what are
the implications of the twenty-four-hour of short (four-minute or less)
texts that all more or less function as ads"(Kaplan
Vernacular and the Local --
the showing of women's
bodies: exploitation of women's bodies or sexual liberation?
Palmer's 'Simply Irrisistable', Salt & Pepper
II: Desire/Sex/Power in Music Video" Written, edited and produced by Sut
Jhally --Dreamworlds II combines powerful imagery from some 200 videos
to educate viewers on the impact of sexual imagery in music videos.
II addresses, more powerfully than any other tool available, the impact
how young men and women see themselves (and each other) in terms of sexuality
Shocking and often disturbing, Dreamworlds II allows its viewers to reflect
on images which have such power precisely because they have become so common.
subject positions in
Madonna's videos, TLC's "Waterfall," George Michael's "Outside"
"Kung-Fu Fighting"; ¡q§É«e©ú¤ë¥ú¡r(±öÆAªÚ)
How is the "vernacular or local" presented in popular music videos?
Co-opted or still resistant?
Are there distinct characteristics of Taiwanese, Korean or Japanese
(Southern Allstar); "I Have Seen" (¦w«Ç¬ü©`¤l),
Puffy's ¨Ú¤Ú, the use of the aboriginal in ½ÞÀY¥Ö¡q©M¿Óªº©]±ßA-O-O¡rand
postmodern reading of music videos (or MTV) a-historical?
Does it contradict a materialist study of them?
Goodwin's criticism of postmodern readings:
the neglect of musical coherence, imitation of live performance, lyric
the history of MTV -- from "narrowcasting" and continous flow to
discrete programs (including mini series) and a wider range of music;
the VJ's -- a secure point and their "girl/boy-next-door point of identification"
(55); the VJ talk is "absolutely conventionsal" (56)
'Day-parting" & "stripping" (57) make MTV more similar to the other
Not always nihilistic: MTV's slogans -- some inconsistant and irreverent
-- it takes many different forms and is often presented through visual
jokes. . . . However, there is another cluster of discourses . .
. a group of quasi-political, volunteerist, socially responsible and sometimes
counter-cultural riffs. . . (62-63)
The Other MTV: MTV can be read politically.
four stages: 1) focusing on New Pop in 1983; 2) 1983-1985: heavy metal;
3) 1986-1988: cut-back on heavy metal, widening of the scope and then the
return of heavy-metal in 1987; 4) 1989- expansion [Goodwin sees only three
phases, and predicted the beginning of the fourth phase in 1993.]