Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Pat Benatar - Love is a Battlefield
The best way to support the idea that a music video is indeed a short film is to look at the typical structure of the video in correlation with the audio. While is seems form that most music videos include the artist singing their own song, many also include a parallel story that, while it may relate to the theme of the song, may have no direct connection to the words being sung.
An excellent example of this is in Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield.” The song is about the how hard love can be. The music video, however, is about a girl who leaves her family behind because of their close-mindedness (we are left to infer). This story has its own narrative structure. The girl leaves home. Then we see her living life the way she wants, but uneasy with her past. She writes letters to her brother who she left at home. We also see her father, who told her never to come back, seeming to regret his decision. The end is left inconclusive. As she walks away, we are left to believe that she is living with the decisions she has made.
The entire story we get simply from the visuals (and the few lines of dialogue added). It then becomes completely separate from the song itself. It is as if the film could stand on its own. The song supports the message, but the film does not rely on the song to exist.
We had talked about in class the sort of grammar that exists in film. For instance, we are okay with the voiceover in trailers because we come to expect this convention. I think that the singing artist in the music video is also a sort of grammar that we come to expect. Interestingly enough, when people watch musicals, many cannot get past the fact that a character bursts into song, and everyone around them magically knows the song as well and they all dance together in perfect accord. We hear this criticism all the time. However, when it comes to the music video, this phenomenon seems lost on people. You never hear anyone question, in a video such as this where there is a story happening, why this character (the artist has become a character in the film) breaks into song, and is part of a random group of dancing people. It seems that we have accustomed ourselves to the formula of the music video, and we can suspend our disbelief.