MTV

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Somewhat perversely, it might be expedient to begin by pointing out that this paper is not about the music video per se. There will be no close textual analysis of individual clips. Eminent pop philosopher Elvis Costello once said that "writing about music is like dancing about architecture. It's a really stupid thing to want to do" (quoted in Goodwin, 1993: 1). Conscious that 'accidents can happen", this paper is concerned with the institutional as opposed to the purely textual; with the processes of production and reception (although it should be noted that it is perhaps inevitable that such a consideration will touch upon the channel - if not the videos themselves - as "text" in its most socially-engaged sense). The focus here, then, is on those organisations which broadcast music videos, on Music Television (MTV) in particular, and on the possible impact of what has become a truly global phenomenon. There is a common perception that American products dominate the world's markets. Coke and Pepsi slug it out across continents. It would appear that there is no place on earth where one cannot purchase a Big Mac. In his book Superculture, Christopher Bigsby offers this assessment of America's global dominance: American corporations shape the physical and mental environment, influence the eating habits, define the leisure pursuits, produce TV programmes and movies: devise, in other words, the fact and fantasy of the late twentieth century (Bigsby, 1975: 4). The perceived threat of globalisation has prompted fears and resentments not dissimilar in temper and tone to those by-now familiar reactions to the threat of Americanisation. Globalisation is sometimes seen as a force that will erode or, worse still, dissolve cultural difference and variety. Yet, the presence and pervasiveness of American-made goods does not necessarily signal the death of the local, regional or national. As Frederic Jameson notes, late modern or postmodern capitalism has led to a more disorganised set of relationships between trading nations. Thus, it is one of the characteristics of the dreaded "P"-concept - postmodernism or, perhaps more accurately, postmodernity - that it leads to uncertainty and paradox, as opposed to certainty and confidence. As a kind of postmodern capitalism, globalisation reflects this. For with it, the act of cultural transfer becomes more problematic, the flow of goods and ideas so much more difficult to "police". Economically, globalisation refers to a shift in capitalist practice. Today's multi- nationals talk of "global marketing strategies" and securing a "global market share" - corporate- speak which alludes to a kind of capitalism sans frontieres.

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