Theorist Andrew Goodwin

Posted: September 14, 2012 in Uncategorized

Andrew Goodwin is a contemporary media theorist who has written a book on the study of the music video. The title is Dancing in the Distraction Factory (1992). It was the first book to discuss the music video as a media form. It defines certain characteristics and features that help to create a successful music video. There are five features Goodwin discusses:

Genre: – Goodwin outlines the fact that music videos should demonstrate certain characteristics that suit the music’s genre. For example, Rock bands should have a performance element in their video and girl Pop bands should have a somewhat choreographed dance routine they perform together.

Sound and Vision: – Goodwin theorises that there should be a clear relationship between the lyrics of the song and what the audience sees as a visual experience. There are four subdivisions in this category:

Illustrate – this is where the music video has a literal translation of the song’s lyrics as visual representations are shown on screen at the same time.

Amplify – This is where a part of the lyrics is taken (usually a key meaning in the song) and repeated to manipulate the audience into putting certain emphasis on part of the song.

Contrast – This is where the visuals directly contrast the lyrics. For example, if the lyrics were talking about romantic lovers seen, the music video would possibly be showing something grotesque.

Disjuncture – This is where the meaning of the song is ignored, so for example in Taylor Swifts – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, the band are dressed as animals which has nothing to do with the lyrics.

Notions of Looking: This involves voyeurism  scopophila and the inclusion of windows, televisions and mirrors where those in the video are watching or featured in, as part of Goodwin’s theory includes the ideas surrounding the need to watch or be watched. As a type of voyeurism  just watching the music video itself is part of ‘Notions of Looking’ as you’re watching the star.

Star Image: This is the inclusion of the star’s concepts, self-perception, ideals/messages the star upholds for their fan-base and themselves, as well as their unique marketing style within the video.

Intertextuality: This is the reference to other media products within the video as a form of media shorthand to quickly communicate an idea or stereotype when conveying a point/message.

Benefits of the Music Video as a Media Form

It offers the audience a chance to indulge in escapism from what they’re experiencing especially if the music video caters to their interests and dreams or depicts something they wish they could do,  for example in Kill The DJ by Green Day, at one point, the band are riding through the desert on motorbikes.

The music video as a form also allows the audience to see the artist up close, which gives the audience a chance to relate to them and feel like the bridge between artist and fan is smaller than it is in reality. Also, if the music video deals with an everyday issue that people face throughout life, seeing the artist in a video that deals with this allows them to relate to the audience and empathise with them.

Finally the music video as a form has become somewhat expected and desired by fans world-wide due to developments in technology that enable this to happen. This expectation of the audience leads singles and promo videos to become a necessity.

Disadvantages of the Music Video as a Form

Images and scenes detected in some more controversial music videos can be taken the wrong way. This is no fault of the artist, but entirely the fault of the fan base. If a certain theme or taboo is featured, this can be misinterpreted by some fans.

The intimacy that shortening the gap between fans and artist can also backfire as some people can become utterly obsessed with the artist and objectify them, thinking of them only as the band, not people. The emphasis on the artist’s star image can also be a disadvantage, because it aids the ‘obsession’ element some fans take too far, and can even promote superficiality, as the fans become more interested in the image than the music.

Some aspects of a music video such as ‘visual pleasures’ and theory of ‘The Male Gaze’ by Laura Mulvey can over-sexualise things to a younger audience, and indirectly influence the younger generation that this is what they are to be attracted to and look like. However, this is something that all media forms, not just the music video, have to deal with/overcome.


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