Pop Takes on Sci-fi

Our group came across the realization that pop artists have used sci-fi and speculative fiction elements in some of their most popular music videos. We began to ask, “why would pop artists use sci-fi and speculative fiction themes for their music videos?” I came to the conclusion that the artists use the sic-fi and speculative fiction elements in their videos as an entertaining way to promote social change and get their songs’ stories across. We chose to cover four different music videos from four different artists. We reviewed the videos for Katy Perry’s E.T., Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, Ellie Goulding’s Powerful, and Justin Bieber’s Children.

Katy Perry, in E.T., is recreated and made up to look like an alien. She is seen roaming a dark, desolate, post-apocolyptic looking planet. The main point of this video is to portray a love story, and in this case the love story is between an alien Katy Perry and a robot. Aliens and robots are not of the same “race.” This connects to her lyrics “They say be afraid. You’re not like the others, futuristic lovers. Different DNA, they don’t understand you. You’re from a whole other world.”(Perry) Katy Perry is using sic-fi terms to sneak in issues regarding interracial relationships. People may be critical of these relationships, but Katy’s message expresses that these relationships are often misunderstood, and that all races and relationships should be treated equally. If Katy Perry outright expressed these issues without any sic-fi elements, her lyrics and music video would lack in their creativity and excitement.

I found huge connections between Katy Perry’s E.T. and Major Lazer’s Powerful. Like E.T., Powerful’s manor theme is love. The romantic relationship is between an African American male and a caucasian woman. The relationship in E.T. gives the couple so much power that their love is able to light up the whole dark planet they were on. Similarly, the relationship in Powerful gifts the couple with special powers. They are able to control surrounding objects with their minds. This use of science and speculative fiction in the music video allows for a literal portrayal of the “power” that love can give to a couple. Rather than just talking about the “power” love creates, the figurative power can be seen through their supernatural powers. In Fledging, love is extremely powerful, for each person in the relationship becomes responsible to keeping the other alive. Also, the relationships in Fledging cross all boundaries of race, gender, or age.  These artists are expressing the power love can create and how love should not be discriminated against.

Lady Gaga created Born This Way to serve as inspiration for everyone to stay true to who they are and love their selves, despite gender, race, class, or sexual preferences. At one point Lady Gaga and a male are both depicted to be skeletons. This shows that within everyone is simply a skeleton, we are all the same underneath and nothing else should matter. I truly feel Kamala Kahn in Ms. Marvel: No Normal would have loved this song. Kamala’s main issue is accepting herself and finding confidence in who she is. Kamala’s race, religion, and appearance cause her to doubt herself and envy others. Lady Gaga’s music video may appear hectic and random at first glance, but underneath all the craziness is tons of symbolism. Lady Gaga wrote and created the video herself, and took pride in expressing the message of “loving yourself” in a dramatic and eye-catching video.

Justin Bieber’s Children, features an extremely diverse cast of young kids. Children are usually seen as innocent and ignorant victims, yet this song turns towards children as the future generation who is the “visionary for a change.” (Bieber) The children in the video are exposed to a screen which features videos of injustices around the world. As these are just children, they often will break down in the video, looking scared, hurt, or upset. But, between any break downs they put on brave faces and unite together. When they unite together their dancing takes on an empowered fighting feel.

Justin Bieber’s Children, had to have been my favorite music video to study. It reminded me a lot of Big Hero 6, in the fact that the cast was young people and their drive to become super heroes and fight was because of past social injustices that affected them. In Big Hero 6, Hiro, like these children in the music video, often gets emotional and looks like he gives up hope but then continues to fight for the greater good. This music video also reminds me a lot of the Hunger Games, as it is also young people who becomes catalysts for change. Children puts emphasis on the importance of children, for they are the future generation and their power can be used for the greater good.

In conclusion, pop artists use sic-fi and speculative elements for a few different reasons. They use them to take the harsh edge off of serious issues. They also use them to make their lyrics or videos more relatable to mass audiences, by using common sci-fi tropes. They also use them to simply make their videos more entertaining and dramatic.

Works Cited

Big Hero 6. Walt Disney, 2015. DVD.

Butler, Octavia. Fledgling. New York: Grand Central, 2005. 306. Print.

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

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.


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