Music’s Judgement

Second Paper, due February 17, on CANVAS 5:00 PM Eastern Time; approx. 5 pages, double-spaced. In this paper you will be applying a semiotic analysis to three music videos to discuss how various forms of identity are signified, and whether the videos reinforce stereotypes, challenge stereotypes, or do a bit of both. Choose three out of the eleven videos posted below — or you may pick one of your own choosing and two from the list below — and depending on what is depicted in each video, analyze how race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or age are signified and depicted. What signs are used, for example, to signify an individual or groups of people? Be sure to distinguish between the signifier and what you think is signified. How do the camera angles or movements work to convey values, attitudes, and the intent of the video? Do the videos contain negative stereotypes, objectify people, or challenge stereotypes and objectification.

Also, there has been a great deal of debate recently about the problems of cultural appropriation–the often inappropriate act of borrowing or stealing elements of another culture, typically by members of another and more dominant culture, and twisting using them to your own ends. Cultural appropriation uses the objects or elements of a non-dominant culture in a way that doesn’t respect their original meaning, give credit to their source, or reinforces stereotypes. [There’s a video posted below as well about this.] Do you think any of the videos you chose have done this and if so, what is your reaction? How do you think the pleasure of the music, including the lyrics, might shape one’s reactions to the visual depictions, in finding them stereotypical or not? And what might be some of the consequences of the representations in the videos you chose?

Videos to choose from:

Michael Jackson, “Black or White”

Coldplay, “Princess of China”

Avril Lavigne, “Hello Kitty”

Duran Duran, “Hungry Like the Wolf”

Cam’Ron, “Hey Ma”

Twisted Sister, “We’re Not Gonna Take It”

Miley Cyrus, “We Can’t Stop”

Ariana Grande, “Seven Rings”

Lizzo ft. Cardi B, “Rumors”

Breland, “My Truck”

Harry Styles, “Watermelon Sugar”

Video on cultural appropriation: [Links to an external site.]
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