Music Videos as an Arena for Social Change
The big question that we wanted to focus on throughout our presentation was, “Why do you think pop artists use sci-fi and speculative fiction themes for their music videos?” I felt that this topic and specifically, this question, was very relevant because over the past couple years, more and more artists have chosen to include science fiction themes and settings in their lyrics and music videos. The focus on science fiction allows pop artists to engage audiences and promote social change on issues such as love, power, evil, equality, etc.
Katy Perry’s music video for E.T. takes place on an apocalyptic planet where there is no light and a lot of destruction. She roams the planet, dressed as an alien, and seems to be alone, until she comes across a robot. She falls in love with the robot and when she kisses him, she not only gives him life, but also gives life to the planet. Perry’s character fell in love with someone who was not like her. She sings about “a different dimension” and says to the robot, “you’re from a whole other world” (Perry). Therefore, Perry is speaking to issues about race and equality within love. Perry proves that her love with a foreigner was powerful enough to give life to an entire planet. Having the video take place in outer space helped Perry to convey her beliefs that love has no limits, especially not gender, race, ethnicity, or any differences for that matter. Powerful by Major Lazer and Ellie Goulding also revolves around equality in love and relationships. This video features Major Lazer, an African American male, and Ellie Goulding, a while female, who have a love that allows them to control inanimate objects with the electricity and power their love creates. All of these artists use their songs to address the importance of equality in relationships.
In Born This Way, Lady Gaga also focuses on equality based on gender, race, and class. Gaga stresses the importance of staying true to oneself. She sings, “I’m beautiful in my way ‘Cause God makes no mistakes” (Gaga). Not only should we accept ourselves, but we should also accept others for who they are. In one scene, Gaga is dancing with a male and both are dressed in the exact same clothes with the exact same makeup, signifying equality among men and women. The main dance scene features people from many different races, but they are all performing the same dance moves. These ideas are very similar to the lessons that Kamala Khan learns in Ms. Marvel: No Normal as she learns to accept her religion and her family’s beliefs as her source of strength. In both Born This Way and Ms. Marvel: No Normal, the authors employ speculative fiction themes in order to teach their audience about accepting oneself and others for the way that they were born.
Justin Bieber’s new song and video, Children, also focuses on different races and equality among them. Bieber uses this video to talk specifically about the attention that our society needs to be paying to struggling children. He sings, “What about the children? Look at all the children we can change” (Bieber). In the video though, he only features children, all of whom come from different backgrounds. Moreover, these children are the ones who seem to be motivated to make change. Therefore, Bieber shows that children have the potential to make change within our society because they have the most room to grow. Similar to Big Hero 6, Ms. Marvel: No Normal, The Shadow Hero and other texts we have reviewed in class, the main characters are children who promote changes within themselves and their societies. Therefore, Bieber uses this post apocalyptic setting to address diversity, equality, and the pressure for social change within our society.
All of these various pop artists employ science fiction and speculative fiction in their songs and music videos in order to engage their audiences and raise awareness for social issues present in our society such as, equality, diversity, love, self-acceptance, etc. These issues are relevant because they have been the recurrent themes of many science fiction and speculative fiction works throughout time, and they are especially important in our present society. Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Major Lazer, Ellie Goulding, and Justin Bieber are just a few of the pop artists today who chose to use their fame, along with science fiction themes as a platform to speak about social change.
Big Hero 6. Walt Disney, 2015. DVD.
Justin Bieber. Children. 2015. YouTube. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
Katy Perry. E.T. N.d. YouTube. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
Lady Gaga. Born This Way. N.d. YouTube. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
Major Lazer Feat. Ellie Goulding. Powerful. N.d. YouTube. Web. 14 Dec. 2015.
Wilson, G. Willow, and Adrian Alphona. Ms. Marvel: No Normal. New York, NY: Marvel Worldwide, 2014. Print.
Yang, Gene Luen, Sonny Liew, and Janice Chiang. The Shadow Hero. N.p.: n.p., 2014. Print.