I have been accused by some people who don’t know me too well that I am far too literal of a person and don’t pay attention to figurative meanings. On the contrary, I am quite interested in such matters, but at the same time I think paying attention to literal details is vitally important to understanding the deeper truth behind them. By nature I tend to be somewhat absent-minded, and so I make a special effort to pick up on details that are important and that allow me to make sound intuitive judgments.
At times, it can be greatly amusing and rewarding to pay attention to literal details. For example, some videos are based on intriguing and subtle puns. One excellent (non-musical) video, for example, talks about what we are driven to do using the metaphor of driving a car as being driven to fulfill your purpose on the earth . Paying attention to details in some circumstances, when the details are included purposefully, can richly increase one’s understanding of deeper points. As a writer I tend to include my details to make sly inside jokes or ironic reflections as well as connections with the rest of my works, rewarding the attention of the reader without trying to beat others over the head with what I am saying.
Sometimes, though, I appreciate it when literal details are brought out in a less subtle manner, though, for amusement. Since my sense of humor tends to be dry, punny, and often silly, I have found that a growing trend to make “literal” music videos leads to satisfying and immensely funny examinations of videos, making fun of the way in which music is marketed and promoted by bringing attention to the often-silly details, showing how badly people are dressed, how extras don’t pay attention, how continuity errors in clothing and location are extremely common, and how some people just can’t dance with any sense of rhythm at all.
It is surprising just how many of these mistakes make it into finished music videos. For the expense of music videos one would think that more attention would be paid to a consistent narrative flow as well as making sure details like clothing and the people one is around would be kept. I guess when one takes a lot of shots in a lot of different places and tries to blend them together a lot of details just get dropped, because it’s mechanically done rather than organically done from the ground up. This is especially true because music videos tend to use a lot of cut scenes and montages rather than longer scenes.
It is intriguing as well to note that music videos far more than songs reveal the personality of the people making the videos. For example, listening to the song “You Spin Me Right Round (Like A Record),” does not feel awkward at all, but watching the video is extremely so. Watching a literal music video makes songs look a lot more creepy as their effects take on sinister importance, especially in the way that music videos often sideline the rest of the band and focus mainly on the lead singer, hurting band chemistry to sell a face for the music.
As a result, literal music videos and their proliferation tell us that the audience for music videos (people like myself) have gotten much more sophisticated than they were originally. Before, music videos could be made with a lot of effects to cover bad dancing or acting by musicians and it would be enough to be a popular and immensely successful video. Now, though, fans are paying more attention to the effects and being more critical about them, which removes some of the magic but makes it less iconic and powerful, which is a good thing. Our society is far too image-based as it is. Pointing attention to the man behind the curtains can only make us more wary of how images try to manipulate us and inflame us in negative ways. And we are all the better for that knowledge, however hard-won.