Artists use music video’s to visually show the meaning behind of the song and how they want it to be portrayed. Some music video’s use socio-cultural codes to construct the visual narrative and structure of their work. For example the music video of Christina Aguilera’s song ‘Beautiful’, ‘packed with a message of holding one’s self up against criticism from the outside.’¹, shows the insecurities people have with what society portrays to be beautiful. Such as showing characters throughout the video struggling with body image, sexual preference and bullying. The characters develop throughout the video, showing that they accept themselves for who they are and understand the meaning of inner beauty. Music videos are created for multiple purposes, the main is to promote the artist. Another purpose is to express the artist’s intentions of the song visually instead an otherwise audio medium. Such as in Christina Aguilera’s ‘Beautiful’ music video, the use of the multiple story lines and sequences about the characters struggles and developments, show the songs meaning of inner beauty and self-acceptance. The video opens with self-image related sequences of individuals, such as a young girl looking in her bedroom mirror and a young boy lifting weights with the walls covered with pictures of bodybuilders around the room. The cultural codes showing through these characters are the struggles with anorexia as well as with body image. The young girl is shown to be anorexic and unhealthy because of the exposed ribs being shown and the worn out, pasty complexion on her face. As she examines herself in the mirror she views herself from different angles, showing her feeling her undernourished body, in particular the exposed bone that is showing from being underweight. The young boy is small and thin and is shown lifting weights in hopes to gain more muscle and look more like the pictures on his walls. His walls are covered with pictures of bodybuilders, possibly showing what he thinks he should look like to fit in to society. Later it shows him looking at himself in the mirror, disheartened by what he sees. At the end of the music video it shows the young girl breaking the mirror as she punches it through, as if saying that she doesn’t want to be anorexic anymore. It also shows the young boy looking in his bathroom mirror, showing that his body shape had changed slightly. A smile then came across his face, being happy with what he sees. These sequences show how the characters struggled with their body image and how they saw themselves and what they believe they should look like to fit in with society and their peers, but also how they came to accept themselves for who they are. The video continues to show other sequences of other characters, showing examples of socio-cultural codes such as problems with self-esteem and what society portrays to be beautiful, as well as bullying. The music video shows a young African- American girl ripping out pages of a magazine showing only white models. The magazine images may also be showing how you should look to be categorised as beautiful, ‘Society’s expectations colour our beliefs about the ideal body image and sometimes this creates problems or causes harm². She is shown to be throwing the ripped pages into the fire, not wanting to see what society believes to be beautiful. Another scene shows a young girl being physically bullied by her peers and shows her being pushed down to the ground. The scene then goes to show her sitting at a glass table with her reflection, showing the cuts and bruises on her face caused from her peers. This character was possibly bullied because of her appearance, and how she was different from her those who were bullying her. Another sequence shows a stereotypical ‘goth’ male sitting at the back of the bus and other passengers moving away from him. The passengers may have moved away from him thinking he could have been dangerous because of his appearance. This shows how...
⁴ Sal Cinquemani, November 2, 2002, Slant Magazine
⁵ glaad. February 28, 2003. http://web.archive.org/web/20030818043825/http://www.glaad.org/media/release_detail.php?id=3283
⁶ Hollow Verse
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