Rhetorical Analysis of a Music Video
The subject of marriage equality has been, and still is a controversial topic in today’s modern society. On October 10th, 2014, same-sex marriage was legalized when a United States District Court Judge decided, in the case of General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper, that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Since then, the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal has been increasing. Right now in the United States, same-sex is legal in 36 out of 50 states. Over the years, there have been numerous public figures and celebrities who have stated that they support gay rights. Songwriting team Ben Haggarty, also known as Macklemore, and Ryan Lewis have joined the pro-gay rights group of public figures.
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On October 2, 2012, Macklemore and Lewis uploaded a music video to YouTube entitled “Same Love”, based on the song of the same name. The video was posted at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hlVBg7_08n0. The high-quality colored video received thirty-five thousand views within hours of being uploaded. The video was also chosen to be featured during YouTube’s pride week. Since its release, the video, and song itself, has become a popular and well-known for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. During the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, Macklemore and Lewis performed “Same Love” while Queen Latifa took the stage and acted as wedding officiator for 36 engaged couples. Madonna, in a white suite joined in and began singing her hit classic “Open Your Heart”. The performance, for sure, created Grammy Award history. During the entire ceremony, the “Same Love” music video played in the background.
The video, itself, was shot by directors and videographers Ryan Lewis and Jon Augustavo. Trica Davis and Honna Kimmerer, both served as producers for the video. The cast of the video included Brooklyn Thornton, Jaida Kimmerer, Robert Braxton, Mia Clapp Perferti, Josue Gonzalez, Rory King, Rosie Cole, Kendall Kapsner, Tina Tsiakalis, Thomas Collins, Jay Somerville, Sarita Valdez, Shelton Harris, William Pontius, Jairemie Alexander. Songwriters Macklemore and Mary Lambert both have nonspeaking cameos in the music video, as part of the wedding party and guests. The video is shot in several locations including the Center for Birth and All Pilgrims Church, both located in Pennsylvania.
The video follows the life of a main male character, starting with his birth and ending with his death. We first begin to see the main character of the video struggle with his sexuality during a scene in which he is at a party playing spin-the-bottle with a group of friends. When the bottle lands on him, he begins to panic. He is very scared as he has never felt like this before. The video shows that he is embarrassed, so locks himself in his room. His mother is concerned for her son, so goes to see what is wrong with him. The young man becomes hostile as he does not want to tell her about his feelings. Fast forward a few more years in the main character’s life, he is now a successful business man in a successful relationship with another male. The main character has brought his boyfriend to a dinner, in which he is going to come out to his parents. During the meal, the main character tells his father and mother that he is, indeed, gay. The father exits the room, the mother follows him a moment later. A few scenes later, we see the main character and his boyfriend get engaged while walking along the shores of a beach. The audience can tell that this is one of the happiest and most emotional moments of the main character’s life. The video then jumps forward to the wedding. It begins by showing the participants, including the two grooms, getting ready for the ceremony. We see the two characters being pronounced a married couple and, also, see the wedding reception. This includes several different shots including the main character dancing with his mother, the grooms cutting the cake, and the guests holding sparklers to celebrate the newlyweds. The final scene of the video shows the couple, much older now, in a hospital room. The main character is lying in a hospital bed with his husband, by the bedside, holding his hand.
Even though neither one of them is gay, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, both, grew up around gay adults. Ryan’s uncle is gay and has been living with the human immunodeficiency virus, otherwise known as HIV. Macklemore’s uncle Johnny and godfather are also gay. A photo of Macklemore’s uncle is actually shown, with his partner, at the end of the video. The couple, according to Macklemore, serves as a model of a commited and loving relationship. In fact, the photo of the couple also serves as the cover art for the single. (Lambe) There are several subjects relevant to the LGBT community and individual who are struggling with their sexuality discussed in this video. One of the first themes the audience is sees is gender stereotyping. Toward the beginning of the video, the main character, as a child, is seen climbing trees and playing football, however scenes of girls playing with dolls and selling lemonade are also shown. These are all examples of gender stereotypes that exist in today’s society. Children are constantly taught that some activities or toys are only suitable for boys, while some are only suitable for girls. While growing up, children take these gender roles with them. There is a popular saying which is “Children learn through example,” which means that children are constantly watching the world around them and get their opinions and beliefs from their parents, teachers, etc. Children also learn from the things they see on television and hear on the radio.Look at children’s toy commercials, girls playing with dolls, cooking sets, or dress up clothes and boys playing sports, battling superhero action heroes, and racing miniature cars.
Another subject matter the video touches on is the struggle of “coming out” to one’s family. Even though the main character waited until he was an adult to tell his parents of his sexuality, it is still a very difficult and emotional thing to do. A large fraction of family members tend not to be supportive of their children’s announcement that they are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. During the video, we see the main character come out to his parents. After he does this, the father leaves the room and is not seen for the remainder of the video, not even at his son’s wedding. Unfortunately, unlike the video, that disapproval is often expressed in terms of verbal, emotional, and/or physical abuse. Numerous studies have shown that almost half of all LGBT youth who come out to their families are forced out of their homes or choose to leave due to harassment, abuse, and rejection. A few years ago, a study of homeless LGBT youth was taken and found that nearly forty-three percent of those teens were homeless because they were rejected by their families due to their sexual orientation. In some cases, after coming out to their parent, teens are forced out of their home. About thirty-two percent of the homeless LGBT youth had experienced physical, emotional, or sexual abuse (Durso 4).
During the video, the main character and his boyfriend become the victims of an antigay remark while walking down the street. This is a vivid example of the bullying that occurs in and toward the LGBT community. Antigay hate crime can range from a high profile murder case such as Matthew Shepard, a gay college student who was brutally beaten, lashed to a chain link fence and left to die, to everyday occurrences such as insults, threats, and sexual violence. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, almost half of all the hate crimes committed in 2013 were because of the victim’s sexual orientation (FBI 1). In today’s world, bullying has become more and more frequent due to social media and the anonymity it provides people with. The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, also known as GLSEN, published a report stating that, when surveyed, LGBT youth were nearly three times as likely as non-LGBT youth to say they had been bullied or harassed online (GLSEN).
Durso, L.E., & Gates, G.J. (2012). Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth who are Homeless or At Risk of Becoming Homeless. Los Angeles: The Williams Institute with True Colors Fund and The Palette Fund
General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper. United States District Court. 10 October, 2014. Print
Lambe, Stacy. “The Making of Macklemore.” The Making of Macklemore. 9 May 2013. Web. 31 Jan, 2015. http://www.out.com/entertainment/music/2013/05/07/macklemore-ryan-lewis-gay-anthem-hiphop?page=full
Lewis, Ryan. “MACKLEMORE & RYAN LEWIS – SAME LOVE feat. MARY LAMBERT (OFFICIAL VIDEO).” Online music video. Youtube. Youtube, 2 October, 2012. Web. 25 January, 2015
Marra, Andy. “GLSEN’s “Out Online: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth” First National Report to Look In-Depth at LGBT Youth Experience Online.” GLSEN, 10 July 2013. Web.
United States of America. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Hate Crime Statistics, 2013. N.p., Fall 2014. Web. 31 Jan 2015
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