Though there are clear issues with a lot of music videos, there are also ways in which the music video can actually be a force for good.
Music videos are becoming more popular as an art form. Take Sigur Rós’ set of short videos for their newest album, the most iconic being ‘Fjögur píanó’ featuring Shia Labeouf, lollipops and a lot of poetic imagery surrounding butterflies. Though perhaps pretentious at points, the whole set of videos commissioned are beautiful and artistic.
Most important is the way music videos connect with an audience, especially music videos with a message – regardless of it being good or bad. This is clear from the media hype surrounding Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’, and Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’ – both videos set off so much debate and discussion both online and in person.
They provide ways for people to express ideas in a way that’s friendly to the general public. Even if videos are sometimes tasteless and offensive in content, the discussion around them is mostly productive and is, in most instances, a silver lining to the raincloud that the video may bring.
Media in general is a powerful tool, and I can’t seem to be fully opposed to videos that provoke such a strong, impassioned reaction from almost everyone.
Music videos can be used as a beautiful art form: a way for artists to visually interact with their audience and craft their distinctive persona. However, as the media’s need for ‘shock factor’ grows, their primary function becomes apparent. Music videos are just another form of advertising.
The scantily dressed (if at all, depending on the version) girls in ‘Blurred Lines’ aren’t the first to realise taking your kit off gets YouTube hits. Everyone from Justin Timberlake in ‘Senorita’ to The White Stripes ‘I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself’ featuring Kate Moss pole dancing, have realised that sex sells.
Glamourising taboo issues like promiscuity is a way of getting viewers’ attentions and essentially, earning the dollar. Other questionable subjects have been featured in music videos, such as Madonna’s provocative portrayal of Christianity in ‘Like A Prayer’ or Nirvana’s tactless depiction of the Ku Klux Klan in ‘Heart Shaped Box.’ The recent Disclosure video ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ has been banned due to their referencing of drugs in their video. This could indicate that the shock factor crammed into a two minute video is going too far.
We don’t need to humanise our music videos. I don’t want Miley Cyrus to jump off her wrecking ball and moan about the weather or period pains. She’s human yes, but she is a celebrity. They do reinvent themselves and push extremities. They are called artists, after all.
Boobs, bottoms and the horrible amount of violence that is, unfortunately, present in society should not be glamourised. Music is a form of art and escapism. So, as an artist, let us escape from girls being objectified and drugs being labelled as ‘cool’ and go Salvador Dali on that shit.