“Never Catch Me” is a recent hit musical collaboration between Producer Flying Lotus and Grammy-nominated Rapper Kendrick Lamar, but the mise-en-scene of the video is a product of Director Hiro Murai’s Imagination.
Every individual shot reflects the concept of death in the minds of children and adults in at least an indirect manner. However, the video as a whole ends up teaching the audience much more about present life than the afterlife. As the music begins to play, we see somber onlookers, all adults, who have come to pay their respects to a boy and a girl, immobile in their coffins, that have lost their lives at a very unlikely age for an unknown reason. If it weren’t for the upbeat instrumental and vocals and the beautiful setting of the church, then the combination of the slow camera pans, dim lighting, and dark colors would make the video unbearably depressing. When the faces of the children are finally revealed, they spring up out of their coffins and begin a 2-part choreographed dance sequence, broken up only by a blissful, slow motion sprint through the shaded halls and rooms of the church and outside. As the mourners continue to look forward as if nothing is happening, the audience becomes aware that the children are heading to the afterlife. The choreo ends after the children dance in the midst of other children that are playing jumprope who are also presumably dead, then our main characters jump into a hearse and drive off into the sunset.
The music video does an outstanding job of using emphatic slow motion and montage to make clear the juxtapositions between the uplifting music along with the huge smiles on the dancing children’s faces and the dull expressions and visuals of the church and their relation to death. The people perched in the pews, although they are alive, seem to have absolutely no life in them at all; they are crying, have their heads down, and are obviously under a lot of stress. The two dynamic dancers, however, seem more alive than they ever could have been as they prance through the church and outside with the utmost joy, communicating that they are happy to have passed away. Unlike the people who are alive, they no longer have to deal with the pain that is in this world and can move on to paradise. In reality, younger people don’t consider the issue of death with as much gravity as adults do simply because they can’t comprehend it as well as more mature adults can, and “Never Catch Me” touches on that idea, especially because adults are the only ones seen in the pews. Yet, the title itself seems to suggest that children have the right idea about death, although they may not realize it; life is rough, and all people suffer in it. If one cannot know true joy until he or she has suffered, then it only makes sense that true joy can only be achieved in the afterlife. The slow motion effect and montage superbly portray that the children are happy to have reached the afterlife, so much so that they will keep running, just to ensure that the tribulations of the world will never catch them again.
Elements of visual composition, such as camera angles, significantly affect how viewers interpret advertisements and identify a want or need for the products therein. In music videos, the most commonly used angle is direct address, the horizontal angle of the artist speaking directly to the viewer. Director Ben Winston uses an arguably more persuasive but less commonly used horizontal angle in One Direction’s “Night Changes” music video: subjective camera. Analyzing this visual device in practice and in theory can increase our understanding of how both the artist’s and intended audience’s needs are effectively met.
Instead of casting female leads, Winston casts every fan of the group through subjective camera. The entire video was shot from the viewer’s perspective as if they are interacting with the band. In the behind the scenes footage, we see how each scene was composed and executed as each group member looks directly into the camera and interacts with it as if it were his significant other. This method is especially effective considering its target audience, adolescent girls, who dream of personal interactions with the group. It also adds to the humor of each scene that takes a turn for the worse as the night indeed changes. One minor continuity flaw (3:23) disrupts the image as Liam Payne reaches for the subject’s hat from a height different than when he wraps his scarf around her (0:37-0:38). In the former, he gives a slight off-camera look above so the subject now appears to be taller than him as opposed to the same height as she is in the latter.
In general, subjective camera makes media more exciting (Reeves and Nass) and this is especially true of the romantic scenarios depicted in the music video. It also reinforces fans’ parasocial relationships (relationships viewers form with media characters and celebrities) with the members of One Direction. It also serves as a unique selling point for their brand image since their fans can view them (and their music) as more personable and inviting which could lead to increased album and ticket sales. In this sense, the music video heightens fan identification with the group as an effective advertisement for their new album and upcoming concert tour.
Digital media are now everywhere. Increasingly our entertainment options, work flow, and even interpersonal communications are delivered digitally and on-demand. The increased pervasiveness and integration of digital media into our daily lives open the possibility of combining the benefits of high-reach media-based interventions with individually oriented, “tailored” information. “Tailoring” refers to the process of adjusting the form and content of a message to fit certain characteristics of the message’s audience. Traditionally, tailoring was done ahead of time, during the design and production of messages. For example, commercial advertising spokespersons would be selected to match the gender or age of the intended viewers. With the advent of digital media, however, tailoring can be done instantaneously, at the time a particular individual is actually viewing or listening to a message. I am exploring the potential for this type of tailoring in my own research. With the rapid development of digital-tailoring technology, tailoring a program to the specific demographics, needs, and interests of the viewer is becoming both more sophisticated and less expensive. But what are the most important components to tailor a message on? To answer this question, I conducted an experiment that manipulated the visual and textual content of a website with a national sample of Americans. I found that tailoring increased the effectiveness and that there was a dosage response. I also found that by tailoring on ethnicity (that is, by showing a single photo of a same-ethnic-background spokesperson), one increases the effectiveness of the message. These results reinforce the persuasive efficacy of tailoring and help explain the role that visual ethnic cues play in enhancing the persuasiveness of a message. In the future I hope to further examine the components of tailoring, particularly in conjunction with technological advances that permit instant tailoring.