By Shaneli Mirpuri
Today’s society revolves around pop culture, and a large part of it comes from the music videos that accompany the songs to which teens spend hours listening.
Unfortunately, most music videos these days tend to have little meaning, and those that do simply tend to revolve around sex and money. Some videos, such as “The Other Side” by Jason Derulo, depict very little outside of the fact that sex sells.
However, there are music videos that send out positive messages to their audience, especially to teenagers.
“Firework” by Katy Perry, which is centered on hopelessness, and “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor, which deals with acceptance, both send out inspiring messages that everyone has the potential to accomplish something positive in their lives. This emphasis on self-worth has been increasingly essential over the past few years, especially in an age when many teenagers and young adults are oppressed or condemned by society for being different.
People constantly put each other down to make themselves feel better, and these two music videos are sources of inspiration for people who feel hopeless to stand up for themselves and are afraid to feel different.
Avicii’s hit single “Wake Me Up” takes this message one step further. The video emphasizes not letting other people’s judgment bother oneself. It establishes that everyone has somewhere where they belong and will not be judged any longer, though it may take some time to find such a place.
The video also has a message of how essential it is to keep one’s childhood alive, which can provide an inner joy and spark creativity within an individual. Keeping one’s inner child alive is an important message to teenagers since most of them want to grow up quickly and lose their last bits of innocence.
Another popular example of a music video with an important message is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s collaboration of “Same Love” that spreads a positive message about gay rights across the music industry and the nation. The song also marks one of the first times a male, mainstream hip-hop artist has rapped about homosexuality, let alone marriage equality, in a positive way.
The music video of “Same Love” follows a man from his birth through adolescence to his meeting of another young man whom he falls in love with, gets married to, and grows old with. The video emphasizes that gay rights are also human rights and that people of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community should be treated equally.
Earlier this year, Beyoncé’s “Pretty Hurts” video won the 2014 Video Music Award (VMA) for Best Video with a Social Message. The video stars Beyoncé as a hopeful pageant queen that is constantly put down by both the judges and the models backstage. All of this results in her taking weight-loss pills, becoming bulimic, and getting plastic surgery in order to become the perfect woman society desires.
“Pretty Hurts” shows what society does to women by constantly insulting women’s body image and putting looks first, eventually lowering women’s feelings of self-esteem worldwide. This concept is not new, but this video is one of the few times the drastic consequences of negative self-image have been stated explicitly in a music video.
In the middle of the video, Beyoncé is asked, “What is your aspiration in life?” and she cannot answer it properly because all she has ever wanted is to be pretty and skinny. After she stutters over the question, she realizes how corrupt the system is and simply answers that she wants to be happy.
Regardless of everyone’s central goals in life, the ultimate goal at the end of the day is simply to be happy with oneself.
Though each music video is completely different in terms of style, genre, and meaning, all of these videos promote the same message.
Society should not be emphasizing sex, money, or body image, but rather emphasize that everyone deserves and can achieve happiness regardless of background, sexuality, or appearance.
Music videos like these allow people to have positive thoughts about themselves and the people around them while enjoying music with great beat.