From MTV to YOUTUBE- unruly cinema?

Usha Sharma

There was a time when sound was added to image to give it more value and definition. Then there was image to give the sound more definition. When MTV started broadcasting music videos in 1981 we thought we knew them, but no longer (Carol Vernallis). Since the 80’s and the 90’s there has been a rapid change in the quality of the music videos and then with the launch of YouTube, the genres and the definitions of cinema have been completely diffused. YouTube is home to billions of videos a day with every person on the planet watching at least 1 clip per day. (1)

It is true that YouTube has now closed time and expertise boundaries, with anyone who can upload a video and get a certain number of views, will get instant fame and attention. It may be short-lived, however the wait and the effort required  earlier to get noticed is no longer. Is this then the “promoter” of unruly cinema? The new generation is now not really concerned with the quality of the cinema but is I feel just demanding stimulation in short bursts. They are not looking to engage with the video but just need a kind of distraction for a short time. The censorship issues with YouTube is also a grave concern and I also feel, the music videos have lost their touch with reality as we see semi-clad ladies singing “feminist” songs which is confusing. Are they endorsing the liberation of women or are they adhering to the rule of the “male gaze”? (laura Mulvey)

“Vernallis puts it in another key text, Unruly Media: ‘At one time we knew what a music video was but no longer […] We used to define music videos as products of record companies, in which images were put to recorded pop songs in order to sell songs. But no longer’ (2013: 10-11). The evolution from Vernallis’s unashamed celebration of music video aesthetics as a distinct format a decade earlier in Experiencing Music Video (Vernallis, 2004) is clear in Unruly

Media’s discussion of the music video in the context of the ‘mixing board aesthetic’ (2013: 4ff) of YouTube clips and new digital cinema which for her have become inseparable from music video itself. Nevertheless, as contributors to this current volume show, the net needs to be cast wider still, not only in terms of connections with broader histories and practices from high art video to global popular culture, but also in terms of an ‘audiovision’ or ‘audiovisuology’ that has the capacity to destabilize what we thought we knew about music video, even in its ‘classic’ MTV period. “ (2)


1: (page 127)



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