Modern Media: What happened to reality?

In an age of glam, glitz, and flashing booties, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype associated with these “alluring assets.” We don’t notice the true intentions that are tied into the products and celebrities we’ve come to know and believe, because they are hidden behind the images that large corporations want us to see.

Thus, a war has begun: a war between the mainstreams and hipsters. As perfect consumers, the mainstreams support the superficialities of celebrities, exemplifying the notion of “seeing is believing,” while hipsters make a conscious effort to defy those standards.

But maybe these hipsters have a point after all?

Fueled by natural pessimism, the hipster cause, at its roots, is not to degrade the status quo, as many believe, but to merely rid it of its ostensible truths and to shed light onto the underdogs of the world. There are many instances of fallacious media representation, and it’s not only the hipster’s job to be aware of these faults, but of all consumers of contemporary media.

Maroon 5 recently released a music video for their latest single, “Sugar,” which sparked controversy as to the authenticity of its plot. The band set out to crash three weddings, one of which I happened to be at. As a guest performer for Audrey Magazine & KoreAm Journal’s 13th annual gala, Unforgettable 2014, I attended a soundcheck the day before the event at the Park Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, the same venue as the first wedding in the video. Take my word for it because I saw it all.

The front entrance was blocked by camera crew, hauling in huge cameras and wooden flooring. The hotel’s gargantuan staircase was filled with crew members, PRs, and other members of staff. The music booming from the room in which they recorded was not that of live music as depicted in the video, but constant loops of the pre-recorded single instead, which is the method used in traditionally dubbed music videos.

If this was a so called “wedding crash,” wouldn’t they have preserved the enigma of the situation, kept it low-key and free of huge setups and camera equipment? The reactions of the brides and grooms are terribly faked, the shots too well taken to have been executed on a single take, and something so obvious that is impossible to refute – old Asian people don’t dance to pop music at weddings! And please, what are the chances that three weddings, all of different cultures and races, are conveniently timed around the 1302km² area of Los Angeles and filmed within 24 hours?

I could go on about the fraud of this music video (by the way, America’s Next Top Model: Cycle 14 runner-up Raina Hein was a bride for one of the weddings, and she herself has said that she is not married!), but there is a larger point to be made here. With incidences such as Maroon 5’s, the Justin Bieber photoshop scandal, and even the Milli Vanilli debacle in 1989, how is it possible that we still believe what the media portrays?

We have to understand that industries are no longer what they used to be. For music, it is not about the talent anymore; it’s about having a story to sell, a gimmick, all for the sole purpose of making a profit. Even shows like “The Voice” which try to convince you that it is simply about the talent are run by producers who decide which contestants get airplay or even get to perform at the blind auditions (yes, some people get cut even before they get to sing for the judges).

My point is not to denounce the talent of Maroon 5, but simply the motives with which they present themselves. It may not have been their decision to plot the music video. As with every band, there is a corporate record label backing them, but it is clear that they have lied to sell a wonderfully fake story. We, as everyday patrons of mass media, must be aware of what is fiction or fact, for pleading ignorance only adds to the corporate profit margin.

In the words of one of the last true artists of this generation, Jason Mraz, “What a beautiful mess this is.”

Watch the music video for “Sugar” here:

Author: Howard Chan

Howard Chan is a Senior and the Entertainment Editor for The Eye. This is his second year as a journalist and eighth year at SAS. In his spare time, Howard enjoys singing, making videos, and going to the gym. chan34365@sas.edu.sg

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