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Applying Narrative Theories

Barth, Todorov, Levi-Strauss and Propps theories of narrative and characters within narrative are applied to music video You Belong To Me by Taylor Swift
by

Team JAR

on 9 November 2013

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Transcript of Applying Narrative Theories

Taylor Swift- You Belong With Me.
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Barthe's Theory Recap:
5 codes of narrative:
Action
Enigma
Semantic
Symbolic
Cultural
Propp's Theory recap:
Stock characters are found in all narratives from silent movies to thriller films, and even music videos. Taylor Swift's music video has three main 'stock' characters.

The hero- The geeky girl

The villain- The popular girl

The 'princess/damsel'- the boy

However it isn't in typical fairy tale style where the male character rescues the female character, instead the hero and the villain are females and the 'princess' is male. This plays with the standard stereotypes and mixes them up.

Applying Barthes five codes:
The five codes are shown in this music video:
Enigma- The audience ask themselves if the 'geeky' girl and the boy will get together, this makes them want to continue to watch the story build.
Action- The boy speaks on the phone which is inferred to be his girlfriend.
Semantic- signs such as the glasses and the books imply that she is a 'geeky' character. Whilst the red car suggests that the 'popular' girl is dangerous.
Symbolic-
Cultural-Stereotypes and representations of jocks and cheerleaders.

Applying Theory
I can apply these narrative theories to music videos such as...
My Opinion and what have I learnt?
Applying Levi-Strauss's binary opposites theory.
Opposites that appear in the music video:

Geeks vs Jocks/ cheerleaders



Males vs females



Sporty vs Musicians



Hero vs Villian
Applying Narrative Theories to Music Videos
Todorov's NarrativeTheory Applied
Todorov's Theory Recap:
5 stages of narrative
equilibrium
equilibrium begins
problem found
problem fixed
equilibrium

Levi-Strauss's Theory Recap:
Stock characters
Binary Opposites
Narrative doesn't just appear in books and films, but also appear in music videos. A lot of songs lyrics tell a story within itself so the video narrative goes along with them.
In Taylor Swift's music video there is a clear narrative shown in five stages:

1) it begins with the audience inferring that the blonde 'geeky' character is in love with the boy. EQUILIBRIUM

2) It appears that the boy doesn't feel the same way. EQUILIBRIUM DISRUPTED

3) The audience find that the boy has a girlfriend. PROBLEM FOUND

4) The geeky girl goes to the school ball and makes herself look less geeky by physically removing her glasses. PROBLEM FIXED

5) The geeky girl and the boy get together. BACK TO EQUILIBRIUM
This gives a false impression to girls that beauty matters and you can only be beautiful from the outside. As she removes her glasses and achieves her aim to get the boy. Implying she wouldn't have got him if she stayed 'geeky'
A P P L Y I N G
P R O P P ' S
T H E O R Y
C H A R A C T E R
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This video is interesting, whilst it still has a narrative stereotypical for the pop genre it still is original. I think this is because of the mix up of the characters, where the guy is the damsel and the girl the hero in the video, not the way society normally presents girls and boys to be in books and films. This mix up allows the video to be original whilst maintaining a narrative which the audience expect of this genre.
studying this video has taught me a way in which narrative is shaped in music videos. This is because the narrative has some links to the theories shown. Whilst making our music video we can look how our video links to the theories by looking at our narrative.
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