The White Stripes go Red, White, and Political all Over
The music industry has seen many changes since its inception; changes in taste, form, and distribution have all contributed to the creation of the multi-billion dollar enterprise it is today. One major step music took to gain influence was the addition of an accompanying visual message; this was done by taking songs and turning them into music videos. Most, if not all of us remember the golden age of these videos from 1981 to about 1997, also associated with the rise of musical television or MTV. The video up for discussion today is Icky Thump by The White Stripes, it does fall outside the realm of the golden age, being released in 2007, but is no less poignant in its message and influence. We all know that mass media, especially television, film and music can have a huge impact on the way individuals think about and perceive the world around them. The internet age we are currently living in provides messages the ability to travel faster and with a wider range of impact than ever before. Simply put, media isn’t just a personal experience anymore, or one held within the walls of a state or a nation, it is a global phenomenon that can shape and inform the ideologies and beliefs of millions. Thus, it is more pertinent now than ever, that we truly understand the messages we create and share and the effects they potentially can have on their viewers. Research question / thesis -
With the popularity of music videos, and their high accessibility, it was only a matter of time till the artists themselves used them to promote their own ideologies, thus distributing a new form of social commentary to the masses. This is exactly what The White Stripes have done in their 2007 video Icky Thump. From the release of their first album in 1997, The White Stripes have established themselves as one of the most unique and important bands of this generation. Their words, especially those of lead singer and guitarists Jack White are extremely respected and adhered to, not only just by record executives but also by their millions of loyal fans. The video for their song Icky Thump both lyrically and visually seemed to attack the United States’ policies on Immigration, definitely causing more than just a few raised eye brows and frantic phone calls I’m sure. Thus I have set out to discover just how Icky Thump is confronting its viewers with a hidden political agenda. I hypothesize that the Icky Thump music video actually being used by the artist as a means to confront it’s viewer with the bands disagreement with America's immigration policies. Research / literature review -
Much research has been done in the arena of music’s effect on its consumers, but not much can be found in the specific case of Icky Thump. So in order to further understand and discuss this White Stripes masterpiece, we will have to investigate past research done on the topic of music video messages being used as mechanisms of persuasion as well as interpretations of Icky Thump itself. To begin we will first focus on the history of the White Stripes, then move onto the impact of music videos and their ability to create persuasive and or more impactful meanings and messages; and finally we will discuss previous interpretations of the song and the context in which it was created.
The White Stripes formed in Detroit, Michigan in 1997 and have been a musical sensation ever since. Their ability to create an original mix of Blues, Punk, and Garage style rock music with just two members helped them rise to fame with their first self titled album released in 1999. Jack and Meg White have since released six studio albums, Icky Thump being their final album before they disbanded on February 2, 2011. Previous to the controversial content of Icky Thump, the bands only political song was “The Big Three Killed My Baby,” an ode to the three major car companies in Detroit who were knowingly...
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