Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Media Shaping Messages

Get Down Analysis - Jamie & Alissa

The media has become one of the most powerful forces in today’s society. We are constantly surrounded by the medium- whether it be through the internet, on the billboard walking to school, or even the tunes we chant to while studying. When listening to a song, people do not generally focus on the implicit message, but rather its beat and social popularity. However, these lyrics often impact us on a subconscious level, and most of the time, it is difficult finding what the message of the song really is.

Boy Band B4-4

The song we have chosen to analyse today is Get Down by B4-4. Let’s start of by looking at the lyrics of this pop hit from the year 2000. The opening verse of the song reads “I will take you places that you only think about when you’re asleep at night. Let me take the time to understand and I will set your spirit free.” Though this line is not very explicit, it definitely sets the tone for the song, and tells the reader of the lyrics that it is about a sexual interaction. These types of lines, with clear innuendo, continue throughout the majority of the song, with phrases such as: “let’s treat our bodies right,” “no pressure to go all the way,” and “I wanna know every inch of your body.” In the realm of all music, these lines are pretty clean; however as we reach the bridge of the song we come to a line that spells it right out for us. “Gonna make you come tonight...over to my house.” This line is clearly making a sexual reference, because if you wanted to tell someone to come over, the order of the words would be “Gonna make you come over to my house tonight” showing us that the singers are well aware of the message they are sharing. But perhaps the most clear set of lyrics in the song is the chorus, repeated four times. It says: “if you get down on me, I’ll get down on you. I will do anything that you want me to. It’s a game of give and take to make it through. If you get down on me, I’ll get down on you tonight.” Now rather than just a general tone of sexuality, the lyrics show us the song is specifically about oral sex. In addition, the way the lines are phrased indicates a sense of male control in the sexual relationship; if the woman performs the sexual favours he asks for, then he will reward her in return. This theme is also shown by the closing line, “I will be the one to love and comfort you from now until the day I die,” which after all the sexual references kind of hints that the man is saying this romantic things in order to get the physical ones he wants. Overall, these lyrics present the message of explicit sexuality and male dominance in physical relationships. 

Music easily gets stuck in our heads before we even understand the underlying meanings

With that said, from listening to the catchy, upbeat tune of song, you may never really know what it is really about. The opening tune resembles the whimsical and tinkering sound of a baby monitor, telling the listener that this song is cute and targeted towards kids and tweens, the first way that the message of the lyrics is altered. All the verse are dance music with a steady happy beat, indicating a tone of celebration and fun. And most importantly, the chorus is extremely catchy, just from listening now I have it stuck in my head and will probably be singing it all day! From just listening to this song, you get so caught up in the youthful and joyous music that completely dissuades you from realizing what you are really singing along too.

Moreover, to further hide the sexual message in this song, the message delivered from the music video appears to target a younger generation, ultimately contradicting to the song itself.When reading the lyrics, one would think that this song was about a man pursuing a woman for sexual activities. However, the first image in the music video is a young boy in a dingy neighbourhood with a homeless man. The boy walks up to a garbage can, where he finds a view finder, and this toy opens his eyes to an “idealistic” world. At this point, our group thought that the image of the music video would change to a more sexual message, but in fact it does the opposite. The image, although begins with a group of women at a beach, appears to be the only somewhat objectifying image of women in the entire video. The video quickly changes to a more masculine tone, focusing primarily on the boy band. The overall tone of the music video is very youthful and innocent, and accurately covers the sexual message of the song all together. Although the video accurately shows men trying to impress women, the tone is not at all sexual nor inappropriate, unlike the lyrics to the song. However, there are some implicit sexual undertones in this video that can only be identified when listening to the lyrics and watching the video at the same time. For instance, the boy’s reaction to this world is nothing less than infatuation. This appears to be a new experience for him, which ultimately relates to a new sexual experience, and the idea of a new sexual experience is evident in different parts in the lyrics, such as with “I'm not the type to change your mind, If you wanna take it slow. No pressure to go all the way. There are other places we can go.” In addition, when the song goes “I want to know every inch of your body so I can set your spirit free”, the music video demonstrates a slow-motion image of the boy getting a Slam Dunk, which compares to the idea of “scoring” when having sex. These messages are hard to notice when watching the video for entertainment, and the video comes across to the audience as fun and exciting, which is how the media prevents the audience from realizing the actual message of the lyrics.

A shot from the Get Down video

These hidden messages are everywhere around us – songs, speeches, movies. The media loves to hide the truth from audiences when it is negative just to ensure they don’t lose business or money and keep everyone’s image intact. As consumers, it is our job to question the content we are receiving, and take the time to decide if it is a representation we agree with, no matter how biased the media may be.

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