Star Image Case Study

Posted: October 13, 2012 in Uncategorized

Star Image:

Star Image is the identity the star/artists have that promote themselves, their individuality and what their music stands for. It’s how they connect to their fans and differs with every artist. In class we did a case study of Lady GaGa and looked at her history, her debut album and the success of her other albums after, her social networking sites, and articles published about her star image that are both critical and celebratory. We were then set the task to research an artist of our own choice in more depth.

Slipknot:

  • Individual
  • Controversial
  • Gothic
  • Intertextuality with the horror genre
  • Close to Rock/Metal conventions
  • Aberrant

Key information:

Slipknot is an American Heavy Metal band from Des Moines, Iowa. They were formed in 1995; the band was founded by percussionist Shawn Crahan and bassist Paul Gray. After a very turbulent start the band eventually settled on nine members; Sid Wilson, Paul Gray, Joey Jordison, Chris Fehn, Jim Root, Craig Jones, Shawn Crahan, Mick Thomson, and Corey Taylor.

Slipknot is well known for its outstanding image, aggressive music style, and energetic and chaotic live shows. The band had a meteoric rise to success following the release of their self-titled debut album in 1999. The major rise to fame and the non-stop touring led to the hatred and aggression in the 2001 follow-up album Iowa which was their heaviest album, consisting of angry, misanthropic songs, due to the stress of fame. That album further increased the band’s popularity. After breaking for their first hiatus, Slipknot returned in 2004 with Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) and once again in 2008 with their fourth album All Hope Is Gone, then a live album, 9.0: Live, one compilation album, Antennas to Hell, as well as four live DVDs.

The lead singer Corey Taylor also fronts another band called Stone Sour, and wrote an autobiography about his time spent struggling to fame with Slipknot, and how he and the band dealt with the overnight popularity and demand they were met with once on the alternative scene. It is called ‘Seven Deadly Sins’.

Genre and lyrics:

Slipknot’s genre is hard to place, however it mainly falls into heavy metal due to subject matter, sound, image and representation. They’re lyrics are reflective of their ideology on society and how they see their own fame, for example:

Blood’s on my face and my hands, and I,

Don’t know why, I’m not afraid to cry,

But that’s none of your business.

Whose life is it? Get it? See it? Feel it? Eat it?

Spin it around so I can spit in its face,

I want to leave without a trace,

Cause I don’t want to die in this place.

Here is an example from one Slipknot’s songs off Iowa, their most hate-filled album about their own fame and how their lives have been dedicated to their music and band, not being able to take any time away from it to breathe and recuperate from the stress of touring. The song is meant to be about self-loathing, and not being able to fulfill the needs of other people constantly, even those close to you. The main message being that all people have a horrid side, and that it’s part of human nature despite how you try to avoid being that way, extraneous circumstances may change that if you’re under stress/hard times.

Everybody’s so infatuated.

Everybody’s so completely sure of what we are.

Everybody defamates from miles away.

But face to face, they haven’t got a thing to say.

I bleed for this and I bleed for you,

You look at my face like I’m somebody new.

TOY-nobody wants anything I’ve got,

which is fine, because you’re made of,

Everything-I’m-NOT.

 

If you’re 555, then I’m 666,

If you’re 555, I’m 666,

If you’re 555, then I’m 666.

(What’s it like to be a heretic?)

If you’re 555, then I’m 666.

(What’s it like to be a heretic?)

 

Here is an example of another message slipknot carry; it’s called The Heretic Anthem and uses biblical references ‘555’ being the number of man, and ‘666’ being the number of the beast. There’s an intertextuality with the bible and religion here, which indicates that the members of the band have a certain view of religion, and the individual, of being different and not a product of institutions like those of religion.

So break yourself against my stones,

And spit your pity in my soul.

You never needed any help,

You sold me out to save yourself.

And I won’t listen to your shame,

You ran away – you’re all the same,

Angels lie to keep control…

My love was punished long ago,

If you still care, don’t ever let me know…

If you still care, don’t ever let me know…

Here are the lyrics from a song called Snuff the song title itself connotes addiction, and the lyrics represent the break-up of a relationship. This is one of Slipknot’s more human songs, which introduce a side that’s more relatable and ‘real’.

Fan base:

Slipknot’s fan base is extremely loyal. They wear the nonogram on band merchandise. The nonogram has nine points, which relates to the original number of band members, and is combined with the pentagram shape, which is related with Satanism, however, this could be used by the band to push boundaries and question the ideology of religion within society. Slipknot is also known to have energetic and explosive live shows due to the enthusiasm of the fans and their excitement to see the band live and feel the experience of their music.

Messages and Values:

  • Opposing Religious ideology
  • Challenging ideas about commercialism and society
  • The hardships and ecstasy of the process of making, and the performance of music
  • The pitfalls of society and how that can morbidly affect people
  • The challenging of hypocrisy in society
  • The understanding and exploration of the viler emotions; hatred, possession, betrayal etc.

Slipknot’s star image is all about their perception of their music. Slipknot is well known for their use of masks and matching uniforms as part of their star image. The band all have aliases which are simply numbers, however only fans would know this. Their use of their star image is more to do with their trade than publicity for the band, and when questioned the lead singer, Corey Taylor, supposedly said that the masks ‘were a way for the band to become more intimate with the music, and forget who they were outside it’. The band states that their image is a response to commercialism, Corey Taylor also said ‘they are a product’ with their jumpsuits being the same, and the use of masks to conceal their true identities. This image is consistent with Slipknot, and in this photograph we can clearly see all band members in their masks. They are also dressed all in black jumpsuit uniforms, with exactly the same logo on the sleeve. Each mask is individual which separates the band from one another, showing the small differences between the uniformity of society, however they still conceal the real face.

The setting of the photo shoot is ambiguous yet appears urban, deserted and internal. This holds connotations of claustrophobia, the sound of the music, and the surroundings upon which describes them as a band in the best way. Urban holds connotations of dirt and filth in the way cities have homeless population and sleazy underbellies, in which dodgy deals, such as drugs deals are known to take place for example, underground car parks, and places of similar underground locales.

The lighting used in the shot, is one of artificial nature as well as using the natural light to create different messages in the shoot. The light used to highlight the bands faces, creates a shadowy effect upon the band member’s faces, this holds an intertextual reference to horror movies, and the well-known image of teenagers holding torches beneath their faces whilst telling horror stores. This can be interpreted as a message about their job itself, and their music. They are telling horror stories, but these stories aren’t about fictional monsters, but the monsters inside humanity and in effect themselves. The natural looking light is there to show time of day, and cast shadows behind the band, which adds to their already intimidating façade.

This photograph is again sporting the same consistency seen with Slipknot. It is an earlier photograph; however the star image is still there. They are all wearing matching jumpsuits, although these are red in colour, and hold more of a jail connotation. This represents them as criminals, and places them on the more dangerous and unstable end of the human spectrum, again this shows them challenging what is meant to be ‘acceptable’. The masks appear, however they’re different. Slipknot is known to change their masks, yet, their numerical aliases stay the same. As you can see however, these masks are a less developed style of the ones above and the ones below, yet some have changed completely. This could be to do with the rise to fame and the access to better resources for their star image. Again the jumpsuits have matching motifs on their sleeves, which represents the band as being ‘the same’ or ‘a product’, it could be interpreted that their star image is a visual metaphor for their messages and values.

The outside and urban locale of this photograph, just like the photograph above holds connotations that relates to their star image. Being outside, with a blue sky, represents a sense of freedom and unstop-ability about the band, with the urban setting used to create a feel for their music, urban, industrial with an air of filth and grime about it.

The positioning of the band members at the forefront of the picture is also quite important in terms of messages and values. The fact that one of the band members in weighing the other one down, could be representative of the aspect of human nature that needs to put someone down to feel better, or move up in life. As well as, the band member gesturing shooting another of his band members in the head, could be representative of the darker side of human desires.

Here, Slipknot’s star image with the masks and jumpsuits is consistent, but what made me choose this photograph to analyse, is the idea of intertextuality that is chosen here to represent the band, and the effect used to create meaning behind the star image.  The locale is reminiscent of haunted hotels, or older buildings that are rumoured for having skeletons in their closets. This is interesting because it not only makes the band look intimidating but could be interpreted as an allegory of their old selves and what they have transformed into now, their fame and their own ghosts, or similarly it could hold a connotation of the frightening and the unknown, giving them a mystery which is different to that in their other photographs I have analysed. Also, the effect of super-imposing the same image yet reversing it, so that the mirror image is placed on top of it creates a strange, almost confusing and disorientating effect on the image for the viewer, and it also relates to the shadowy ghost-like connotations the building in the mise-en-scene of the setting represents. This adds to the star image yet puts a twist of mystery behind them and strengths the horror within their image.

Video Analysis of Duality: Star Image of Slipknot

What elements of Slipknot’s Star Image are being explored in the video?

In Duality, Slipknot’s close relation to their loyal fan base and opposition what is acceptable within society is being explored. The whole video consists of a performance based narrative, and only in parts amplifies the lyrics that are in the song. I believe this holds two major points about Slipknot’s star image that is being explored in this video. Firstly the idea of going to rock and metal concerts is looked down upon within society, and it is associated with people who aren’t going anywhere with their lives, much like the contempt for tattoos and piercings that older generations feel. However, this video is one giant rock concert, in a different venue and all different types of people are shown in the video, of both genders, all ages attending. A lot of their own individual lives have been, obviously kept ambiguous, but the main point seems to be the opposition of this stereotype surrounding fans of this genre. Secondly, it also shows Slipknot’s close relationship and respect for their fans, and of course the common ground shared between the band and the fans that connect them through their music. Throughout the video, the fans are destroying their surroundings to get to the band, as well as in love for the music, this to me appears the be not only an amplification of the lyric ‘pain’ but the common ground of anger and hatred that they share. It could also, be taken as a way of showing, if the lead singers interpretation of the song is consider, that everyone in their life comes to a crossroad, and that this connection is made with them and their fans, showing their realness as people.

How is the mise-en-scene constructing this star image?

The setting of the video is in a home, which could be seen in two ways, the home could be a visual encapsulation of this common ground the band share with their fans, as it is where the ‘gig’ and the destruction take place, or it could be interpreted as the band’s opposition of a constricting household or upbringing as the fans break in, then break it apart, before crowding the band. The four walls seen as a visual metaphor for this constriction and in the video, there are shots of the walls and floors of the house crumbling away as the music intensifies, a good example would be a shot of two of the fans falling through the ceiling of the landing.

Within the video there is the lyrics ‘you cannot kill what you did not create’ scrawled upon the garage of the house they are filming. The illustration of this lyric directly speaks volumes about the bands beliefs and what they represent in terms of their opinions on society but also how they feel about their own lives. Paired with the lyrics ‘my future seems like one big past’ the lyrics could be interpreted as a message about a crossroads in life, about whether to go on the way you are or change, to something new.

What is the video saying about Slipknot’s relationship to their fans?

In relation to the star image of the closeness between band and fans, there are multiple shots in which slipknot merchandise is filmed on the ‘fans’ within the video, and the slipknot ‘S’ upon the backs of various band members, which creates a visual connection between them both. Also there are also various shots of the lead singer singing to the fans, and with them, and also shots of various bands members interacting with them as they play. As well as the aforementioned common ground they share.

What is Slipknot saying about commercialism in society in this video?

Again all the band members are in their masks and matching jumpsuits, sporting their already well know ideology about commercialism, and idea that they are ‘a product’. However, I believe this is extended throughout the video through the use of the setting. The fact they the video is filmed in a home could connote the idea of our upbringing which has been mentioned, but paired with the Slipknot’s ideas of commercialism it could be interpreted that this video could imply the idea that we are a product of our environment, and that as civilization and society develops the way it does, it creates more and more vile environments for children and teenagers as they mature, which creates a deep rooted hatred and ill-feeling towards the places they are meant to revere, like the home as we all are a product of our upbringing.

Evaluate the overall ideology presented in the video:

Overall the video explores a small niche of Slipknot’s star image, but it explores it in detail, the rare fact that the video is all performance and no clear different narrative is strange, different yet effective, in itself a metaphor for the band. It also defines closeness to fans that no many videos have, as the band isn’t on a stage but are on the same level as the fans. This again speaks volumes about Slipknot’s star image, and their relationship to fans. Lastly, the deeper concepts of the video are in the subtext of the video. It’s ambiguous and subtle, which is open to interpretation, much like most of the bands videos, and this too promotes the consistency within Slipknot’s star image, this would include the aspects of commercialism and being ‘a product’, the opposition of society’s mainstream ideology etc.

Lyric analysis and meaning:

I push my fingers into my eyes – this is the action someone may do when they have a headache that won’t go away. It could be indicative of decision and crossroads that require so much thinking it starts to become painful and irritable.

Tell me the reality is better than the dream

But I found out the hard way,

Nothing is what it seems! – this could be indicative of the heart and head ache of having to come to terms with the fact that a lot of things in life consist of fronts and acts that people put on to get what they want, a statement in itself about humanity and their star image of opposing it’s hypocrisy.

I’ve got to say what I’ve got to say

And then I swear I’ll go away

But I can’t promise you’ll enjoy the noise – again this could be a representation of how Slipknot views and their messages and values to those who hear of it. That they’ll speak out about what they believe in, not caring about how it’s received regardless of whether people agree or not before they’re ready to leave the scene.  That’s if the lyrics are taken in a literal sense, it may have a more personal or autobiographical meaning that’s hidden to the fans.

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