The variety of mediums available for social commentary has exploded leading to the ever increasing range of content thus bringing to light some of the emerging powerful influences like social life, people’s behaviour and people’s worldviews. Technology has brought in new forms of discourse which are diversifying and allowing for divergent and exploratory voices which are contributing to visual sign systems surrounding the gender identity.
Music video is one among the visual texts that exposes both male and female to daily, year in and year out, help shape understandings of social inequalities or equalities as far as gender is concerned; the texts are therefore eminently suitable for teaching on social justice in contemporary contexts as far as cultural issues are concerned. The gendered differences and representation identifies both feminine and masculine meaning in textual units and in genres. For instance, Soap operas extensively use indoor and close up shots, slow pacing together with soft music, multiple characters with plots as a sign to what may be referred to as feminine texts. Masculine texts use outdoor and wide-shots, fast pacing with hard metallic music, single character representing a hero and more focussed plot development thus the structure represents of gendered meaning via technical features precisely bringing out the social construction of gender.
Below is a music video text inform of a certain song -“Barbie Girl” featuring “Barbie” and “Ken” to bring out the music video theme to bring out a illustration. This song and video work to both construct and deconstruct our common mythology surrounding Barbie, and, in fact, engage in the destruction and resurrection of Barbie herself. Relaying a day in the life of Barbie in a very bubblegum pop-style, the narrative circles around a fictionalized Barbie and Ken as they enjoy the delights of their plastic lifestyle. In one of the final scenes, as “Barbie” and “Ken” party with their similarly plasticized friends, dancing around the plastic pool, Ken accidentally pulls off Barbie’s arm. With a look of feigned surprise, Ken does a double-take as he peers down, slack-jawed at the arm in his hand, while Barbie covers her mouth in mock embarrassment. Ken, then, is showcased in the foreground of the next shot, looking slyly into the camera as he sings “Come on Barbie, let’s go party,” beckoning her towards him with her very own arm. We, the viewers, are allowed in on the joke, and the condescending nature of this backhanded invitation is not lost on us. Barbie, meanwhile, rests at the edge of the pool in the background of the shot, unable to join in the festivities and instead lamenting the loss of her arm. In response to Ken’s invitation, Barbie is only able to voice a meaningless “Ah ah ah yay,” or “Oh-o-o, Oh-o-o.” Unable to face a version of her made less complete by the loss of her arm, Barbie quickly reunites with Ken and once again assumes the whimsical roll that she has fulfilled for the majority of the music video. As Ken tenderly kisses the arm that he has restored to its rightful place on Barbie’s body, Barbie gushes, “Oh I’m having so much fun!” to which Ken replies, “Well, Barbie we’re just getting started.”
This scene illustrates the reliance of the female body on a male counterpart, and the stereotypical feminine weakness in the face of the more aggressive male. Ken uses Barbie’s body against her, in much the same way that a collective psychology of American society allows for thousands of girls to starve, diet, and berates their own bodies into submissiveness in patronage of a collective ideal of the Barbie-like body. Issues such as representations of the body lend themselves particularly well to visual modes of discourse. In the music video, the neon colours, exaggerated movements, and cliché-like scenes indicate a whimsy in sharp contrast to the deeper meaning of the text. Critical analysis must acknowledge that rather than subtracting from deeper issues, the “pop” sound and visual artifice enhance the contradictions and negations of a cultural text mired in impossibility and fantasy yet internalized as a realistic attainment in much of the culture. Such methods highlight significant and far reaching suggestions in terms of the role of gender in this mass-market society, and even untrained observers can note the discrepancy between the seriousness of message the video relays and the seeming triviality of the cultural artefact used as a subject.
Music videos often complicate issues of textual versus visual art, as they frequently utilize both auditory text and visual representations of that text to achieve a much directed, very specific end. The novel marketing idea of music videos, conflating the realms of television and radio, is said to have been largely successful becauseof the accessibility that these videos encouraged .While there are numerous videos that do not prescribe to those ideals, “Barbie Girl” is one that utilizes such easily accessible tropes to further a larger agenda. The video opens with an updated “Ken” inviting “Barbie” to join him for a ride, a prospect which she seems all too delighted to entertain. At the outset, the “Barbieness” of Barbie no longer lies in her long, blonde hair or her stark immovability, but now rests in the plastic scene in which we find her, in her flippant enthusiasm, and in Ken’s naming her, “Hiya Barbie, wanna go for a ride?” this music video employs a consciousness of inclusionthrough naming, asserting that the female isdefined by what she is named, rather than what she is not.
In conclusion, music video voices confusion and place of the concerned in the society, the video, in an equally compelling manner, calls our attention to the stereotypes to which we subscribe when we think of Barbie and allows us to watch the ridiculous unfolding of the scene that we secretly pine for. Both of the textual modes utilize a discourse of discovery and subversion, thus questioning ones place in society and waiting for others to give voice to that place.
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