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Representation - Page Text Content

BC: Applying Goodwin's theory of analysis Goodwin's theory of music video nalysis is based on the following points: There is a relationship between the lyrics/music and visuals Specific genres have their own music video style/iconography Close ups/motifs used frequently Star image developed Voyeurism/male gaze is used Intertextual references Little Mix - 'Wings': Little Mix used the majority of Goodwin’s theory of music video analysis, the constant use of close ups in order to develop a star image, links between the lyrics and video (the song is based on the idea of strength, which is clearly noticeable through the visuals - e.g the use of militaristic dance routine at the end has definite connotations of strength) and the link between the music and visuals (consistent cutting to the beat and blurred effects as the song slowed down slightly). However, there are no elements of Laura Murley’s ‘Male Gaze’ theory, perhaps because the band is deemed to young, suggesting a primarily female target audience. B.o.B - 'Magic': There is a relationship between the music and the visuals, the visuals cutting to the beat of the song, as well as an amplified relationship between the lyrics and the visuals, as Goodwin suggests. The use of close ups is very evident in this video and builds up the representation/star image of the artist vert well. Also, the use of the ‘Male Gaze’ is evident, but does not have the conventional effect on the artist, as he simply ignores it, showing how they have turned the expectations of the genre on their head, not perhaps what Goodwin suggests.


1: The power of representation There is a certain amount of responsibility placed in the hands of media institutions when it comes to representations, as how they present different social groups has the ability to influence how society views them. More often than not, media institutions will provide stereotypical representations of social groups, amplifying traits commonly associated with them. This ‘re-presentation’ can often have tangible effects in reality, for example homosexual men are often presented throughout the media as loud, lovers of bright colours and overtly sexual, a stereotype which people have now come to expect and associate with them. In music videos, representation is very powerful, as the film-like production values a lot of them take on has the ability to instill a certain presentation of people in the viewers mind. For example, the highly controversial “Born Free” by M.I.A., which depicts the genocide of red haired people by a SWAT team, some critics hailed it’s representation of oppression and political turmoil, others criticised it’s violent and hideous representation of Government forces and weak, expendable representation of red-heads as ‘the enemy’.

2: Little Mix - 'Wings' (pop) This shot is made up of separate shots of each band member, each against a different background, looking straight at the camera. The fact that they are each in their own corner of the screen shows independence, but the variation in backgrounds highlights the different representations of different types of people in this video. For example, the girl in the top right corner of the image has blonde hair, fair skin and has been placed against a pink, flowery background - giving connotations of a stereotypical youthful, very feminine girl. Also, the bottom left corner shows a curvy girl with big hair, against a background of boom-boxes, clearly representing her as a diva - perhaps because she is curvy? The second image shows two of the girls against their two different backgrounds, again highlighting their specific representations - interestingly they have decided to place the black girl against a street style graffiti background, giving her something of a ‘street feel’, a stereotypical representation of black people amongst media institutions. In the third image we see again the pinks, flowers and pretty blonde girl themes coming together to form almost a ‘young princess’ representation, common to the genre of pop as a whole - Katy Perry being another key pop star represented in this way.

3: The fourth image shows a tight, compact group that the band is represented as, stood together in bright colours, in front of a group of men dressed in black. Not only does this show a certain superiority and power over men, but it shows their youthfulness and strength. The pink/purple interpretation of the Union Jack in the background also highlights the bands feminine representation, in spite of the army of men in black stood behind the girls. In the fifth image we again see the group as a unit, but the enhanced colouring, making it seem more blue, combined with the harsh special effects and almost warehouse-like, underground setting gives an edgy, rough kind of feel to it. This gives the fairly feminine group a youthful and contemporary feel and, combined with the clothing varying from snap-backs to short shorts, a diverse feel. The sixth image is key in highlighting the diverse feel I mentioned earlier, the masculine pose and the use of a snap-back combined with the short shorts and low cut contrast directly with the other girls unique styles. Also, the street style, often used in stereotypical representations of black people, is very evident here, again giving a sense of diversity. The seventh shot is a variation of the fourth shot, which I added in because I think whilst the fourth shot showed the ‘togetherness’ representation, commonly associated with female pop groups, this shot shows the ‘independent’ representation, more commonly associated with female solo artists. I think it is interesting that they have this in there, but it seems to fit in with the consistent imagery of strength that flows throughout the video, as they are stood tall in front of a large group of men. Also, the slightly militaristic feel that this section of the song has, with the band members marching in an army style, gives off the sense of strength again and a representation of strong, youthful women. This image shows another one of the four separate representations provided of each girl - the bow ties in the background of this image giving something of an alternative/indie feel to it, the bright colours or the background and clothes however giving her a popstar representation. The ninth and final shot shows, as it does in most pop bands music videos, a strong sense of friendship, youthfulness and unity - the band members with their arms around eachother giving a clearly close representation.

4: B.o.B - 'Magic' (Hip Hop) The first shot shows the artists, lying in bed, room a mess, shoes still on, suggesting he’s been out the night before. This representation of a party animal is typical of his age group, twenty year olds, and often seen in hip hop music videos, but what’s interesting is that they usually show the artist at the party, not after it, as they want to give a clear representation of a youthful and free lifestyle. The second shot is very typical of hip hop music videos, with clear signs of voyeurism and Laura Murley’s ‘Male Gaze’. The fact that there is a woman like this in the artists bathroom gives him the, again typical, representation of being a lady’s man. However, this is usually presented more explicitly in hip hop music videos, so in this we see a slightly different approach to representation, perhaps to appeal to a younger teenage or maybe female audience. The third shot shows the first part of the performance element of this music video, the artist’s look directly down the camera lens and his gesticulations towards the camera all common elements in hip hop music videos, indeed they’re usually use more often than they are in this video, making him seem like he’s talking to his audience and perhaps momentarily removing his celebrity status as he talks to his viewers - represented as a normal guy, in his mid twenties, after a house party.

5: There is a continued theme of the ‘Male Gaze’ throughout this video, and in shot four we can see the most blatant display of it yet. There are several women all crowded round the artist’s swimming pool, wearing very little, a very commonly seen feature of hip hop music videos, the only difference being that the artist does not engage their attention in any way, he simply moves on, giving his representation a twist, meaning he is not presented as the conventional hip hop artist who is constantly engaging the attention of the women that surround him. Also, the locations used, like the pool in this shot, seem very different to the initial shots in his small flat, showing the intentional representation of him as someone who is not rich, does not have the luxurious lifestyle that the viewer would expect, making him more accessible to his audience. The fifth shot shows another section of the performance elements of the video, this time it’s the artist and his collaboration singing in front of a crowd at night. His dark clothing, glasses and gloves almost giving him a futuristic look, almost like some kind of superhero (which would fit the theme of the song), giving him a kind of youthful and superior representation. However, his superiority does not come across as that of a celebrity, as it usually does with hip hop artists - Jay Z being a very good example - giving him, again, something of an unconventional representation. The sixth shot shows one of the artist’s friends in his apartment, asleep on top of one of the beds. This highlights his representation as a party animal, going out and getting drunk with his friends. Something important to note is that, up until this point all of the people involved in the video have been of the same ethnic origin as the artist (excluding his collaboration artist), showing an intentional lack of diversity, perhaps to appeal to a specific target audience, or perhaps to show him a conventional hip hop artist, most of who are of the same ethnic origin. I chose the seventh shot because of the unusual framing of it, the black shadows round the edge of the frame seems to give the artist a shady representation, suggesting something threatening or that he’s hiding something, perhaps typical of many hip hop music videos, but it seems slightly out of place in this one. In the eighth shot we see a continuation of the unconventional lack of interest in the women of the video. There are many women in this shot, dancing etc, who the artist does not engage with and indeed tries to get them to leave. This shows a closed off and slightly weak representation of the artist, his lifestyle is not the aspirational one we are used to witnessing from hip hop music videos. It is perhaps more of a down to earth and real life representation as he does not party every second of every day, he is no invincible and he does need to stop and sit down occasionally. The ninth and final shot shows the artist finally giving in and giving attention to one of the women, but not in an explicit way, simply by having his photo taken with her. This is, again, a less conventional representation of a hip hop artist, as having his picture taken with a woman seems to appeal more to younger generations, who would do that sort of thing. The general view of women as objects, usually found in hip hop, is seen in elements here, but because the artist does not take advantage of it the video has a far wider appeal to both genders.

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  • By: Cat D.
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  • Title: Representation
  • Representation in music videos
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  • Published: over 5 years ago