Sunday, 7 August 2011

SP - Deconstruction: Micheal Jackson - Beat It

Song: Beat It
Genre: Rock
Director: Bob Giraldi
Year: 1983
Audience: Over 25's 

"Beat It" is a song written and performed by American recording artist Michael Jackson, and produced by Quincy Jones. It is the third single from the singer's sixth solo album, Thriller (1982). Following the successful chart performances of the Thriller singles "The Girl Is Mine" and "Billie Jean", "Beat It" was released on February 14, 1983 as the album's third single. The song was promoted with a short film that featured Jackson bringing two gangs together through the power of dance. A commercial success, "Beat It" was awarded two Grammy Awards and two American Music Awards and was inducted into the Music Video Producers Hall of Fame. "Beat It" (along with the song's music video) propelled Thriller into becoming the best-selling album of all time. The single was certified platinum in 1989. Rolling Stone magazine placed "Beat It" in the 337th spot on its list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. "Beat It" was also ranked 81# in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time". In the decades since its release, "Beat It" has been covered, parodied, and sampled by numerous artists including Fall Out Boy, Fergie, "Weird Al" Yankovic and Alvin and the Chipmunks. The song was also featured in the National Highway Safety Commission's anti-drunk driving campaign. (Source: Wikipedia)

Micheal Jacksons Beat It is a mixture of both a performance based and a narrative based music video. The performance element features all the way through the music video and are usually just shots of Micheal Jackson. When these clips are used they are of him lip-syncing the lyrics to the song and doing his famous dance moves. However the majority of the music video is a narrative based idea. The whole idea behind the music video is  that Micheal Jackson is bringing two gangs together through the power of dance. They have cleverly mixed the performance and narrative ideas together as at the end the two are blended together. The two gangs which are heavily used in the narrative sections are brought together by Micheal Jackson who is used in the performance sections. We know that this is a narrative music video and not a concept one is that the lyrics link with what the actors and charatcers are doing. It is not a completely random idea and there is a stroyline that links in with the lyrics.

The first sequence of shots in this music video is all about the two gangs. It is basically an introduction for us to the two gangs and the leaders within them. From the very start we can tell the setting is in America. Along with most Micheal Jackson music videos they are all mainly set in his home country of America. We can tell this from the very first shot as it is set in a cafe and it is stereotypical for that time period. Not just this but the more local setting tells us alot about the two gangs involved. One gang is first filmed in a pool room and the other in a bar. This is the start of the violence as both gangs start to make a move to the place where the confrontation is going to take place. We can also tell, not just the setting, but the time period from the clothing. It is very typical for the 1980's in America. It was up to us to assume these are the gang members but we can obviuosly see that they look more menacing than the normal human being. Also, when watching the music video you can tell they have a sort of exaggerated walk which is steroetypical nowadays of gangs and more threatening people. 

The whole video is filled with short and sharp burts at the start of the music video of Micheal Jackson lip-syncing the words of the song and doing his famous dance moves. These are the performance elements of the music video. Towards the end of the music video the music video is basically a performance video. There is alot of variation with these shots because he is not stood still at any point in the video. Sometimes in performance elements bands may be stood still playing their instruments with the froontman lip-syncing. The majoriy of the shots for these types of performnce shots are mid and close up shots. However for this particular video, by Micheal Jackson, he is always doing his dance moves so shot variety is key. Another common code and convention in music videos is fast paced editing and in Beat It by Micheal Jackson it is certainly the case. However for some shots there are some really long takes. This is because the choreography means the dancing will be filmed in one long take. For most of the music video the audience are able to watch this music video over and over again and never get bored of it. This is mainly because of the Micheal Jackson factor. His dance moves are jaw droppingand very rarely get old.

Shot variation is also used with the gang members. There is quite alot of time to kill when it comes to geting the gangs from their first setting to where the confrontation is meant to be taking place. I picked out these two shots because i thought they are really good. They are extremely similar but exremely effective. It is well known that groups of people are alot more threatening than people on their own. Another factor that makes the gangs look threatening is that they are out at night. The light is limited and makes the shot dark and hard to see some of the gang members. In the music video the shot pans from the first gang (the top picture) to the second gang (the bottom picture). This gives us the impression that they two gangs are going to clash at the end of the alleyways. It seems that the setting the gagngs are meeting is outerskirts of a major city in a poorer area where violence might be quite frequent. I get this impression from the barb wire in both of the shots of the gangs. It also looks like the two gangs are out of the way behind the back of some buildings where there will be no police or anything like that. No-one to see what they are doing. We feel that they are going to clash any second.

At the very end of the music video the two gangs do clash. We fully expect  a brawl to start especially when the two frontmen of the different gangs produce knives. However, Micheal Jackson arrives on the scene to save the day. For millions around the world Micheal Jackson is a hero and an idol. People look up to him and in this music video he becomes even more of a hero as he manages to stop a mass brawl from starting and unites the two gangs together through the power of dance. This is when the famous Micheal Jackson dance moves come in to there own. With his world famous red jacket he begins a 1 minute and 10 seconds worth of brilliant dancing. The whole gang and narrative part of the music video is forgotten and it is all about Micheal Jackson. Once again he has saved the day and back in his prime he could do no wrong and this is proven in this music video.

Here is the music video Beat It by Micheal Jackson

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