Tuesday, 15 September 2009
GCT - Product Analysis
Mr Brightside – The Killers
I have chosen to deconstruct the music video ‘Mr Brightside’ by ‘The Killers’ because not only do I enjoy the song but I found the video very interesting, quirky and incoherent. I did not fully understand the video and this narrative fuzz caught my interest as it is exactly what I hope to achieve with my own music video. This gave me the opportunity to look at the video in detail, deconstructing it to help me understand the meaning behind it and hopefully gain an insight into the world of making music video and use this information to help me when making my own music video.
The video is predominantly performance based but also includes an intertextual narrative. It is very clear that the video is a music video as it follows many of the typical conventions outlined by Goodwin, for example at the beginning of the video the band are show performing on a stage with the lead singer in front and the drummer at the back. This demonstrates one of the main rock music video characteristics and therefore follows the conventions of the genre. Another conventional trait that the video follows is the clear link between the lyrics and the visuals. An example of this is in the lyrics where the singer sings, “And she’s taking a drag” and at the same time raises his hand as if he were smoking, this is also an example of illustration. The use of the video in an illustrative way is evident throughout the video, another example is when the audience are shown interacting in a intimate manor, whilst this is happening the lyrics “But she’s touching his chest. Now, he takes off her dress” are sung, this reinforces the conventions of the genre for the consumer. This is also apparent during the performance based areas of the music video where ‘meat shots’ are shown of the lead singers face.
Another example of the way in which the video follows the conventions of the genre is the use of females in a voyeuristic way. The women are dressed in burlesque style clothing whilst dancing around in the conventional burlesque way, this strongly suggests the notion of looking and therefore conforms by ‘Goodwin’s’ theory of the characteristics of a music video. Intertextuality plays a key role in the ‘Mr Brightside’ video as the whole video is based on the film “Moulin Rouge” from the art style to the narrative. Obviously this reinforces the conventions of what a music video should be by conforming to Goodwin’s theory, but also creates meaning for the audience who would think about the connotations which are associated with ‘Moulin Rouge’ and apply them to this music video. In this case, it works very well as the narrative in ‘Moulin Rouge’ is very similar to the meaning of the song and exactly the same as the narrative in the video, this technique is used to help the consumer understand the video and meaning of the song. The video does present some challenging ideologies and ideological discourse as the typical ideological view of artists is that they live the life of luxury and nearly always get their own way. In the video however the artists are represented in such a way where things are not going to plan and their lives are filled with jealousy and traitorous alibis. This is apparent through the lyrics “I just can’t look its killing me, And taking control, Jealousy, turning saints into the sea, Swimming through sick lullabies, Choking on your alibis, But it’s just the price I pay”. There is also ideological discourse if you look at the intertextual references as kitsch. Conventionally successful bands are original and if they do copy other texts it is done in a respectful way, in this video however the whole narrative seems to be taken from ‘Moulin Rouge’ and recreated in a way which feels like a worthless imitation, this unconventional way of making intertextual reference can be seen as ideological discourse. More ideologies are shown through the main singers dancing and showmanship. His mannerisms on the stage reinforce the ideologies that rock artists are born performers. Another example of ideological discourse in the video is the way in which the lead singer is represented as camp through the glitter on his face and movement but it is apparent later on in the video that he is heterosexual whereas typical ideologies would suggest that camp men are gay. On another level the video is nearly always going to be a promotional tool for the band, and this is no exception to that, The video blurs the boundaries between music videos, advertising for the band, art with its burlesque styles, the lead singers performances and promotion though adding to their meta-narrative, therefore the video could be considered as post-modern.
The video uses visual techniques very cleverly to provoke certain emotions and convey messages to the consumer. One of these techniques is the use of camera angles. At the very beginning of the video a MLS (Medium Long Shot) is used as an establishing shot of the stage to show the band and then cuts to a MLS of the audience to establish the scene and situation. This technique works very well as it is instantly apparent to the viewer who is the band and who is the audience and lets the narrative unfold smoothly. Another camera technique used is when the lead singer starts to sing, a track in shot is used to draw the watcher in and concentrate on the singer and his lyrics. Another techniques used to keep the viewer focused on the lead singer is to use ‘meat shots’ again and again, as well as being a conventional characteristic of rock music videos this technique keeps the consumer focused on the lead singer. The camera is also used in synergy with the tempo of the song and as the drums start, the camera movement starts; this sub-consciously provokes the feeling of energy in the consumer. Techniques such as editing are also used in building the atmosphere of the video. Suring the opening establishing shots the cutting rate is very slow to match the tempo of the music, as the music tempo increases so does the cutting rate. This connotes the energy of the song through the visual techniques to the viewer. The lighting in the video is a dark shade of red, this would connote luxury, lust, anger and many strong and rich emotions, this and the use of lots of luxurious props such as carpets and golden statues connote luxury and the date the video is set in which is the 1800’s. The use of lots of glitter and shiny objects connotes glamour and this tied in with the women’s burlesque costumes lead to the voyeuristic treatment of women, another convention of the genre. One of the women who feature in the video is not wearing burlesque style clothing and is wearing white instead, this connotes purity and detaches the women from the other women. This visual technique is key for the audience understanding of the narrative as this character is directly involved with the lead singer. This is apparent later on in the video when the lead singer and this woman kiss. The lead singer is also wearing make-up which would add to the glamorous atmosphere.
The band and artist are represented in a glamorous way through their costumes and also by the use of glittery make-up on their faces but the lyrics suggest that they are jealous. This adds to their meta-narrative by showing how still face the common issues like every day people. By showing how they have been successful against the odds they appeal to the audience as this allows the audience to relate to them and would help sell their products because it makes them seem accessible by the audience. The video shows the underworld burlesque styled people as glamorous, happy and successful as many of them are seen smiling and enjoying themselves whilst surrounded by glamorous objects. On the other hand it shows the trustworthy common performers who are the artists as unhappy, this is apparent as the lead singer can’t get his own way and sings the lyrics “Gotta gotta gotta be down, Because I want it all”. This represents the underworld social group as more successful than the artist’s social group which would also be the audience’s social group. This means that the audience can relate to the artist as they feel that they are ‘on the same level’ socially, and ultimately this helps the artist sell their product. This also reverses the common ideologies and conventions that the ‘good guys’ beat the ‘bad guys’ causing more ideological discourse.
The consumption of this video would be primarily through music channels such as MTV. MTV is a good channel to target the target audience though because the social demographic that watches MTV is the same as ‘The Killers’ fans. Because there is both performance based aspects and very cleaver narrative the video is available for consumption by either focused or ambient viewers without the worry of any flicking between channels and losing interest. The focused viewers would be able to recognise the intertextual references to ‘Moulin Rouge’ and this would keep them fixated on the video. On the other hand, the ambient viewers would be able to drift in and out of the video watching the performance based areas and enjoy the art style without thinking in detail about the meaning and purpose of the video.
By using Richard Dyer’s framework it is apparent that in the video the artists have constructed a set of semi-mythological meanings to make up their ‘star’ persona. By looking at the lead singer it is immediately apparent that he is both present but absent simultaneously. This is achieved by showing close up meats shots of his face so that the consumer can form a relationship with him but at the same time this shot is shot in a well lit studio and the singer has make-up on. This means that the consumer is not seeing the ‘real’ artist and therefore he is absent. Another feature constructed by the artists is their youthful sexual magnetism, they are all wearing make-up including the men and there is a lot of interaction between the lead singer and the women which is very suggestive of sexual activities.