Ariana Grande’s “Break Free” music video uses computer generated images and effects to draw audience attention to the absurdities of the science fiction genre, while also utilizing associative montage to link Grande’s music and sexy nature with the ability to escape from reality. The music video begins with a scrolling introduction that sets the science fiction tone for the video, alluding to the Star Wars’ introductions. The voice over reading that the following is “authentic” coupled with the unauthentic background, and eerie sounds illustrates the power that visuals and sounds have over text. In other words, when the actual music begins and a desert-like, extraterrestrial landscape with a large, hovering moon is shown, there is no doubt that the following visuals have been manipulated. The landscape has a red tinge to it, which is interesting to note due to the fact that according to Palmer who wrote on the “Ecological Valence Theory of Human Preference,” people prefer the color blue because they associate it with useful and positive objects such as clean water. Additionally, according to Falk’s “Evolutionary Influence in Human Landscape Preference”, people prefer savanna-like landscapes to all other kinds of landscapes (including desert).  Knowing viewers’ landscape and color preferences, the video designers strategically utilized a dessert-like landscape and warm colors to insinuate that this fictional world is one run by “bad guys” and one that “good guys,” like Ariana Grande, should want to escape from. Viewers are soon introduced to the monsters that are keeping Grande’s friends captive in this extraterrestrial world. The monsters have large eyes, a crucial element of neoteny, which also includes baby-face features like a round head. As supported by University of Tokyo’s Jun’ichiro Seyama’s findings, the video effectively uses the monsters’ neotenous eyes, because audiences prefer neotenous elements on characters that are more unrealistic like monsters compared to characters that are more realistic like human beings. Other unrealistic elements like the computer-generated flying robot and the post-production effect of rockets shooting out of Grande’s chest, mock the absurdity of the science fiction genre. Absurdity has been proven to help audience recall and since Grande is a relatively new pop artist, the makers of the video want viewers to remember her, her music, and her sex appeal. There is an element of cause and effect montage here, as the video insinuates that Grande’s sexiness can defeat a large monster and later allows her to break from chains that bind her to defeat the bad guys. The slow motion effect in conjunction with the overhead angle of shots showing her undressing and dancing alone illustrates this theme of sexiness. Thanks to Grande’s sex appeal, she is able to defeat the monsters, rescue her friends, and get beamed up into a space shuttle. The Beats product placement also benefits from associative montage, as the brand is linked to Grande’s appealing physicality and supernatural power. Grande’s creative team utilized visual principles related to landscape, special effects, and computer generated imaging to play within the science fiction genre and associate Grande’s sexy appeal and pop music with her ability to ultimately “Break Free.”



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