Leon first showed me this video a long time ago and I thought the song was pretty cool.
But I only took a closer look at the video again courtesy of tstar, because she posted it on her blog with some very interesting statements.
If you visit her page, you’ll see my queries asking her to clarify what she meant.
I find her statements interesting, possibly because I’m doing EL4221: Narrative Structures this semester, and one of the requirements is for us to do a group project that discusses whether language is necessary for narrative to take place.
My group is still in the midst of the project, but if I had to do this project on my own, I’d probably do it on this, ‘cos tstar’s post made me realise that many interesting things are actually taking place here:
- The narrative of the lyrics on their own.
Language here is represented by the lyrics, and the lyrics as they are sung are clearly describing a narrative. So I think it is clear enough that in this case, narrative does require language before it can take place.
- The narrative of the video/book considered on its own.
There is no language here, in the sense that there is no textual or verbal signifiers here. But apparently, there is still narrative – story and discourse are still conveyed to the audience as the pages of the book are flipped, no? But it can also be argued that it is the audience that has created the narrative because of our desire to make sense of what is essentially just a bunch of pictures placed together in a certain order. So this is really a tricky area that is quite problematic to discuss.
- The third layer of the narrative of the video vis-à-vis the lyrics.
The third layer of the narrative of the video vis-à-vis the lyrics.
This, IMHO, is the most interesting. The lyrics have their own narrative. The video has its own narrative (which we assume for now that the audience will create on its own if we turn off the sound and just see the picture book being flipped). What happens if we combine the narrative of the lyrics and the video, both of which have seemingly unrelated narratives? It seems as though something in between two narratives is created, because the video reinforces the meaning of the song and vice versa. But is this a third narrative i.e. does the emergence of new media like Youtube create new possibilities for research into narrative structures? What I mean is…
- This is not the official music video.
The official music video is here, and it has its own similar but ultimately separate narrative that Death Cab for Cutie or its music company may have wanted to depict instead. Youtube and viewer created videos show the possibility of creating separate narratives with or without language, or reconstructing narratives with or without language using 3G technology, as viewers establish different modes of meaning within and without the song. Moreover, the ‘rabbits’ video has garnered more hits than the original music video. Does this have an indication on audience receptivity toward narrative?
- Different derivations of meaning.
tstar’s “feel [that] at some points [the video] does not entirely relay correctly what the song is trying to portray” gives the idea that the song has a fixed narrative and the video takes away instead of contributing to the narrative. Perhaps this is a subjective point, but again, it points to the spectrum of possible meanings that a narrative that uses language in the aural but pictures in the visual can stimulate. So perhaps it is also necessary to consider narrative, language and meaning together. This is reinforced by her penultimate (I have learnt how to use the word correctly, hansel!) statement: “I’m still in the midst of decoding the lyrics of the song”.
Don’t forget the director’s comments on the video:
I want to end this post by saying that I hope that I don’t receive any comments on this post that go along the lines of “hahaha you think too much”.
I think that 99% of the time, people who use that phrase are themselves guilty of not thinking enough and if Lee Kuan Yew had his way, they would be exterminated from the face of this earth – I am not suggesting and will never agitate for that to happen, BTW.
Lastly, to display some semblance of humanity (lol) and prove that I am really a human and not just someone interested in the academia of rabbits bouncing around in music videos: I was really sad after watching the video because it was so painful, but I’m glad it provided some food for thought.
P.S. Please check out Watership Down if you have managed to digest all this information thus far.