Thursday, 2 May 2013

Theories in relation to my coursework

If you have seen my AS blog from last year you will have seen that a majority of my theorists consisted of people such as Claude Levi-Strauss, Vladimir Propp and Ferdinand DeSaussure. And though these theories can be applied to my A2 coursework there are plenty of other theorists who as of yet have not been mentioned or have been mentioned in quite a lot of detail but shall be reiterated during this post.

Andrew Goodwin

Andrew Goodwin, who will henceforth be known as Goodwin, is one of the main theorists I have been focusing on. He identified 6 conventions that apply to all music videos. These are also known as conventions. These conventions consist of a relationship between the lyrics and the visuals, a relationship between the music and the visuals, genre-related conventions/iconography present, multiple close up shots of the artist in order to satisfy the needs of the institutions, voyeurism of the male or female form and intertextual references to other media texts are present. The conventions I conformed to are as follows:

Moments in which I conformed to these 5 conventions are:
  • Links between lyrics and visuals: The narrative of the music video is based on the lyrics of the song. 'Daddy i'm falling for a monster. Somehow he's scaring me to death' The three girls are all in love with a 'player' who represents the 'monster' and they're all terrified that he's been cheating on them. 'Figure, figure there's no working you out whatsoever.' The girl (myself) stares at Ben curiously as he is hiding his phone. 'You got a black heart.' Ben looks down at his phone and see's a text saying: 'You got a black heart' etc.
  • Links between the music and visuals: There are instances in which the clips needed to be timed properly in order to fit in with the music. Examples of this would be when the chorus starts, the beat changes and so does the shot. 'Figure, figure there's no working you out whatsoever. Only one way I can sum you up all together. You got a black heart!' The shot then rapidly cuts to a performance shot of the three girls standing in a field. The chorus commences.
  • Genre related conventions: Our chosen genre was pop and therefore we had to conform to the conventions of pop. These conventions include things such as - bright lighting, costume on trend with the fashion hype, young artists, an element of love included in the narrative, references to the artist's song title and there tends to be intervals of synchronised dance routines.
  • Multiple close ups of the artist: Throughout the course of our music video there are many close ups of the artists involved to satisfy the needs of the audience/institutions. These shots are included predominantly during the performance shots (The first chorus), the 'big reveal' scene (The final chorus) and during the photobooth sequence (The opening seconds).
  • Intertextuality: Now the intertextuality in our music video isn't as noticeable as it should have been. These were subtle hints towards certain famous films. These three films were 'Lord of the Rings', 'Harry Potter' and 'Star Wars'. These all come together during one of the performance shots where Livvy and I were demonstrating the youthful side of pop by having a 'stick fight'. My character waves her stick as if it were a wand (Harry Potter), Livvy's character swings her stick as if it were a light saber (Star Wars) and Sarah chases us both us with her stick as a staff (Lord of the Rings).

Roland Barthes

Roland Barthes, who exactly like his neighbour Goodwin shall henceforth be referred to as Barthes, may strike you as familiar if you have viewed my blog last year. Roland Barthes was not only a media theorist but also a french literary theorist and philosopher. Barthes developed an idea on symbolism within all forms of visual media known as 'Signs and Signifiers'. In our music video we put a lot of emphasis on this idea of 'Signs and Signifiers' and made sure there was more than once shot that included symbolism.

Here are some of the signs and signifiers included within our music video:
  • The cardboard figurines of the three girls holding matches in front of the house to indicate that later on in the music video they were going to set alight to Ben's house. Ben's house being symbolic of his 'black heart' in which he has kept them all trapped in. Although we have left the use of fire down to the audience's interpretation it could be argued that the use of fire is to represent the anger of which they all feel due to his actions (the colours in fire are often related to anger. Red being the colour of blood and therefore rage is related to being blood thisty a.k.a angry). It could also be argued that it is a clever way of linking the lyrics and the visuals together as in most fairytales the only way to destroy or kill a monster is to use fire. This is also shown in television programs such as Supernatural where in order to kill a ghost you must salt and burn the bones of the body in which the ghost once inhabited.
  • The photos coming out of the photobooth. The most obvious point i'm about to make would be that this sequence of shots is representative of the nature of Ben's relationship with all three of these girls (essentially establishing Ben as the villain from the beginning) due to the closeness of each couple. Ben is leaning forward in the shot, taking up more of the room and therefore becoming the more dominant character in the shot. Again this establishes him as the 'oppressive male'. Another point I can make is that the photos that come out of the photobooth are foreshadowing Sarah's character's impending discovery of Ben having more than one girlfriend. It is through the use of the photo of my character and Ben's character that the argument between Sarah and Ben commences and the reveal of his real nature is made.
  • The zooming in shots of Ben's/Hannah's phones could be to signify the phone conversation between the three girls that happens later. Ben's phone is one of the most important aspects of mise-en-scene within the music video as it is through the use of the phone that Ben communicates with all three of the girls, that Sarah then discovers the truth about him that she then passes on to the two others and provides links between the lyrics and the visuals. ('You got a black heart' text mentioned earlier).
  • The weather changes between the narrative shots and the performance shots. Admittedly this is due to the fact that our music video was filmed during a long period of time so that three seasons passed (Winter, Spring and Summer.)but this can also be related back to symbolism. This is demonstrated during the first verse as Livvy and Ben are shown walking down the street with snow in the background so we can safely assume that it is Winter (this is then re-established through use of the Christmas tree in both the argument shots between Ben and Sarah and the date shots between Ben and myself) however when we watch the performance shots of all three of the girls it is bright and sunny so the audience knows that it's Summer. This is symbolic of how cold Ben is towards the girls during their lone scenes with him or in general. The cold weather is to show the misery that each girl feels in their relationship with Ben despite the fact that they 'love' him whereas when the girls are together performing the weather is summery because they are more confident without him and that the colour of their lives has been brought back so that they're happy.
  • The black clothing worn in the performance shots. This is to symbolise Ben's lasting effect on them even though he is out of their lives. He who has the 'black heart' has now infected them and they wear black to show that they too now hold 'black hearts'. It could be interpreted by the audience as them taking on Ben's characteristics of being 'black hearted' and that the girl's will now go and repeat his actions within their next relationships because of the influence he had on their lives.
  • The green clothing Livvy wears. The colour of Livvy's shirt in her lone shot with Ben is green to signify the emotion of jealousy as Livvy's character represents that emotion. She may not necessarily be an actual character but a personified emotion being played out during the music video coming from one girl. This is why Livvy's character is shown getting mad at Ben for 'checking out' Jess (the girl who walks past) as she is jealous of his behaviour.
  • The red clothing Sarah wears. The colour of Sarah's plaid shirt is predominantly red and that is to signify the emotion of anger as Sarah's character represents that emotion. Again she may be a personification of one girl's emotions about her relationship with Ben but it is not established within the music video. This is why Sarah's character storms into the room screaming at Ben as she is angry at him for taking a picture with another girl. This is closely linked to jealousy.
  • The blue clothing I myself wear. The colour of my dress is blue and that is to signify the emotion of sadness as my character represents that emotion. It has already been mentioned twice that we may be personifying these emotions within these shots of one girl in particular but it is not made clear. We could also be representing the stage of emotions that this 'one girl' is going through from jealousy to anger to sadness. This is why my character looks so distressed when she receives the phone call from Sarah about Ben's deceit. All three emotions are closely linked together.

Sven E Carlsson (Similar theories to Claude Levi-Strauss)

Sven E Carlsson, though I am tempted to call him Claude Levi-Strauss as their theories are very similar, is this man right here. I am going to assume he is a media theorist as his theory is mentioned on other slideshares so. There he is. With a fine looking beard. Don't say I didn't choose the best photos for you examiner because I did. He has been quoted saying: "That once you put everything into black and white boxes (in regards to film and music videos) then everything becomes the opposite of one another." This is, as mentioned above, almost symetrical to Claude Levi-Strauss's theory on binary opposites. Essentially he is saying that in music videos, television programes and films there is examples of opposites during the whole production.

Does this theory apply to our music video?
Yes, yes it does as shown above with some examples of the binary opposites that are included in our music video. One column represents Ben's character and the other represents the characters of the three girls. The seasons are on there to show when these characters are most dominant i.e Ben is more dominant in the Winter than in the Summer. Primarily because he isn't featured during the Summer shots but he is featured during the Winter shots and that is where he has the most influence over the girls.
The binary opposites in our music video is to show contrast between the characters and the situations. However there are moments of us subverting this theory. Obviously there are many opposites but there are also conventions of these opposites that we have subverted. As Ben is portraying 'the oppressive male' it would make sense for Ben to be featured more noticeably than the girls throughout the entire music video but as the music video's purpose is to show off the artists of the song we would have to show them more often. So symbolically it could be said that Ben is not more dominant and in that sense he is oppressed.

Another point you could make is that we subverted the theory by having our own characters wear dull colours later on and in that sense we have now gone against the binary oppositions as we did not maintain the opposite colours. 

Stuart Hall

Stuart Hall, we shall call him Hall (didn't you see that coming?), is the earliest link to the theory called 'Reception Theory'. This theory focuses around what audiences do to the media - the influence they hold and how they effect institutions decisions.  This is a media theory despite the fact that Hall himself is a sociologist. The two subjects do crossover quite often as demonstrated within this theory. How does this relate to my coursework?

During the pre-production process of our music video we had to undergo a few months of gathering research from our potential target audiences. I had planned for my demographic to consist of females within the age ranges of 10 - 25 so I collected all my research through social media networking sites such as facebook, twitter and tumblr. Later on I resorted to handing out questionnaires around the sixth form common room but only received 8 questions back. Originally I had intended to make a music video within the indie rock genre but unfortunately all the answers I received back seemed to indicate that my audience's preferred choice of genre was Pop. So, much like the theory, I had to put the needs of the audiences above my own. If this were a professional music video it would have been created by an institution with an audience that pander to Pop music videos. If they were to go against their research then they would risk dropping their numbers and losing money rather than gaining a profit.

So it was down to my research that 'Dirty Heart' by 'The Machine Ate Florence' was created.

Questionnaire answers on 'Black Heart' by 'Stooshe' - 

1. Do you like the song?
People who answered yes - 5
People who answered no - 3

2. If you answered yes please state why below.
1. It's quite happy and it makes me want to dance.
2. I love Stooshe. They're one of my faviroute bands.
3. I don't know. I just really like it.
4. It's not boring like rap is.
5. It's upbeat and peppy. (The music) I like the lyrics. I can relate.

3. If you answered no please state below why.
1. It's not my kind of music at all.
2. I prefer rock to pop.
3. It sounds like they're whining throughout.

4. What kind of music video would you expect of this song either:
a) A narrative (storyline) based music video?
b) A conceptual (symbolism) based music video?
c) A performance based music video? 

People who answered A - 4
People who answered B - 3
People who answered C - 1

These answers meant I had to make a Pop music video based on a narrative. 

As for theorists I think that's it. I hope this has been a very big eye opener for you examiner to the amount of work I put behind my research and such.

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