Analyzing Music Videos -
Some Student Work
Integrating U. S. History with Educational Technology
Deborah T. Aufdenspring
New Technology High School
(These examples of student work came from an assignment that was introduced
by the Analyzing Music Videos - Assignment web
Note: Due to platform and application conflicts, this collection
of student work isn't quite ready yet. There are only snippets (but interesting
ones) below. Because much of the interesting student work for this project
was done in multimedia, I'm beginning to think I should just give a description,
with or without screenshots, of the students' work and then a downloadable
file of that work.
Sorry. Come back for more soon.
Most students watch music videos - rock, rap, country, Christian, whatever.
Our class looked at selected music videos for images that reflected or negated
students' view of The American Dream. This was done at the beginning of
our course, Integrated U.S. History and American Literature..
Videos analyzed included pre-selected songs from artists such as Billy Joel,
Garth Brooks, Van Halen, Bruce Springsteen, Vince Gill, Metallica, and even
Rage Against the Machine. In addition, students could suggest their own
videos, but the videos had to meet community standards for decency and language,
have relevance to our course outline, and be pre-approved. Students were
also told about copyright issues
Initially, captured still images (with questions) from four videos were
presented by teachers to students on an (internal) school intranet web page
so that students could see what the process of analysis included. Some videos
were extremely rich in historical images (i.e., We Didn't Start the Fire
by Billy Joel and Freedom by Garth Brooks), some had fewer images, but more
punch (i.e., Born in the USA by Bruce Springsteen).
Students worked in groups and as individuals.
Students commented on the lesson:
"I'll never look at videos the same way again," said a number
of students after their analysis.
"There's really a lot to think about in the good videos," said
"That was cool," said still others.
Teacher's note: There are bits and pieces of two music video analyses
below. The songs were Leningrad by Billy
Joel and One by Metallica. The analyses
were done as formal presentations to the whole class. The presentations
depended heavily on multimedia content. I haven't succeeded yet in being
able to get the full text onto this page, let alone the multimedia parts.
But, until I can, maybe you can get some idea of the possibilities of analyzing
music videos for historical and social content.
For the sections that are missing or chopped due to porting problems, or
because they were presented orally in class, my apologies to you and to
the students. dta
Leningrad - By Billy Joel
This video focuses on children - children growing up in the United States,
and children growing up in the USSR/Russia, in the time of World War 2 in
the 1940s to those growing up in the 1980s. At the end of the video it shows
the theme of the video - reconciliation.
Candice Tipett - Video Explanation
Kevin Bates - Start of World War 2
Vince Seruelo - What Happened at Leningrad
Vivien Chua - End of World War 2
Sophie Metz - Main Theme-Reconciliation
Billy Joel decided to record this video after the birth of his daughter.
He dedicated it to children hurt by the war. In Leningrad Russian life was
full of so much sadness, which is why most of the footage that you will
see about Leningrad is in black and white. The clips about the U.S are in
color because it symbolizes the love and the togetherness that America has,
and also because the U.S isn,t full of so much corruption. At the end of
the video you can see what the theme of the video is. At the end, Billy
Joel meets a circus clown from Moscow that had entertained his daughter
and made her laugh. The two talked and became friends and they reminisced
During World War 2, the event that happened in Leningrad was titled the
900 day siege. In August of 1939 the Germans and Russians signed a non aggression
pact. Then in September of 41, the Germans sent an invasion into Russia
and Leningrad was one of the main targets. The citizens were completely
cut off from the rest of Russia. There were very few supplies, and little
food. What made things worse was the severe winter. The weather did help
the Russians because it stopped the German advance. The destruction you
see in the video is the city of Leningrad after all the bombings and attacks
by the Lufwaffe. Even through all this the people stayed strong and never
gave up. Thousands were dying of starvation and disease. People even had
to drink soup made from boiled leather wallets and ate bread made, in part,
of sawdust. Finally, in January of 1943, the blockade was broken, but it
took another year to drive the Germans completely out. For its role in the
war, the city of Leningrad was honored with the title of "Hero City".
The entire siege lasted from 41 to 44. The death toll was counted at approximately
a million deaths.
1. Music Video - "Leningrad" by Billy Joel
2. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, "World War 2"
3. Microsoft Bookshelf, computer refrence library
4. Macintosh Resouces :
5. San Francisco Chronicle,
6. Encyclopedia Britanica
7. Salisbury, Harrison E., 900 Days
8. World War 2 Encyclopedia
One - by Metallica
Table of Contents
The Story Behind One
World War I
The Metallica ONE video is based on the movie JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN
by Dalton Trumbo. The movie in turn is based on the book JOHNNY GOT HIS
GUN by Dalton Trumbo.
Dalton Trumbo's JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN is a controversial anti-war story
of a soldier who lost his arms, his legs, and most of his face in a World
War I from a shell. Trumbo's soldier is Joe Bonham who comes from a patriotic
background. The boy works in a bakery, supports his mother and sisters after
his father's death, he is in love with sweet Irish girl, and enlists in
the army because it's the thing a young man did for his country. He's sent
on a patrol into war grounds to bury a corpse that was stuck on barb wire
in front of his trench. A bomb lands close to him, and he wakes up in a
The army is convinced he has severe damage to his cerebellum. They decide
to keep him alive to learn from him. But he can think, and he figures that
he is injured. He is a prisoner of his mind. Joe has flashbacks and fantasies
driving him crazy. He exists in a living hell. He can't distinguish between
reality and his dreams. Joe has fantasies of his youth, his father, his
best friend, his girlfriend, and Jesus Christ. Eventually he finds a way
of communicating with a nurse through Morse Code. She informs the soldiers.
At the end of the movie Joe wants them to put him in a sideshow where, as
a freak, he can make a living by making people see what happened to him
in the war . If they won't do that, he wants them to kill him. The army
does not do either. The nurse tries killing him but does not succeed because
a army officer walks in on her when she was in the middle of the act. The
irony of it all was that a patriotic young man went off and was wounded
for no great reason. His mind remains the only thing alive in his vegetable
like body. He becomes a prisoner of his own mind who will live that way
until he dies of natural causes or what ever comes first.
by Ali Razi
When Johnny Got His Gun was released, it was considered highly
controversial because of its strong anti-war message. Because of the strict
guidelines set-up for unpatriotic books, and movies during the McCarthy
Era (1940's-1950's) this book and many other books written by Dalton Trumbo
were banned and he himself was sent to prison. Dalton Trumbo was a victim
Censorship is a set of guidelines that is used to take out material that
is believed to threaten the current social, political, or moral views. Censorship
is most often imposed by dictatorial or theocratic governments, or in times
of war. But censorship has been in use in the US for as long as an established
government has existed here. Materials such as, films, books, or school
text have often been restrained because of controversial views concerning
politics, morals, and religious organizations. The United States also has
many censorship agencies that express their view of what is right or wrong,
such as the New York Society for Suppression of Vice, and the Watch and
Ward Society in Boston. At many times industry's self censor-ship has been
put in effect to prevent outside censorship, and/or boycott..
by Cael Gustaveson
Lyrics - Most of this section is lost.
The lyrics describe the way Joe is Feeling in the movie. He has awakened
blind, deaf, mute and in pain.
by Nick Shoults
Some Scenes Include - The pictures and captions from this section
haven't been converted yet.
Joe is having dreams that he can't distinguish from reality these are just
a few of the conversation pieces going through his mind as his mind mixes
memories with illusions. One memory that sticks in his mind is his job at
the bakery , as this memory enters his head he mixes it with an illusion
of people sending him of to war. And the echoing voice of his father's words
comes back to him though the voices of the workers as the began to sing
in unison "keep the home fires burning."
by Marisa Cumpian
World War I
After Germany's second attempt at Paris was ended by the allied counter-offensive,
the war slowly came to an end, with Austria-Hungary surrendering because
of civil wars. After the second Battle of Marne, a revolution erupted in
Germany causing disorder within the German army, which led them to surrender
by signing the Treaty of Versailles on Nov. 11, 1918.
by Cael Gustaveson
James Dalton Trumbo
James Dalton Trumbo born December 9, 1905 in Montrose, Colorado. A journalist
who turned to screenwriting. Dalton Trumbo was one of the most influential
people in film history. During his day Trumbo was the highest-paid screenwriter.
When McCarthy ruled in the 1950's, The House of un-American Activities Committee,
fearing that subversive messages might be coming from within the USA, focused
their attention on Hollywood. They particularly targeted screenwriters.
Of all individuals forced to testify by HUAC, 60 percent were screenwriters.
Dalton Trumbo's name had come to the attention of McCarthy successor John
S. Wood while making a list of Hollywood Communists. Wood had very little
evidence of leftist messages in films, and had resorted to citing lines
that had been scripted by Trumbo.
Eventually, 10 were called to testify. The group became infamous as the
Hollywood Ten; Edward Dmytryk, Joun Howard Lawson, Lester Cole, Albert Maltz,
Alvah Bessie, Samuel Ornintz, Herbert Biberman, Adrian Scott, Ring Lardner
Jr., and Trumbo. They were represented as a group. They exercised their
Fifth Amendment rights by refusing to act as informers against others or
answer any questions about their political affiliations. All ten men were
convicted of contempt. Their appeals were denied. In 1950, they were sentenced
to prison for one year each.
While in prison, Trumbo began the first of more than 3 scripts he would
sell using various aliases. He wrote many of his finest scripts during this
time. One of the most famous alias he used was Robert Rich. Under that name
he was awarded an Oscar for Best Screenwriting on The Brave One (1956).
In 1975, The Academy corrected the credit and gave Trumbo a special Oscar
for his contributions. In 1960, actor Kirk Douglas placed Trumbo's name
on credits of Stanly Kubrick's Spartacus. The blacklist was broken. The
effects of the time of the period in his life were documented by Trumbo
in a book called The Time of The Toad. Dalton Trumbo Became part of "Hollywood's
In 1993, Trumbo was honored with another Academy Award, 16 years after his
death. This time the Oscar was for the screenplay of Roman Holiday (1953),
a film he had made but had released under the name of his friend Ian McLellan
Hunter 40 years earlier.
Johnny Got His Gun
Written in 1938, about an American GI wounded in W.W.I. He is so severely
wounded that his legs ,and arms were amputated. His eyes were blinded and
his ears deafened. He lived through a nearly disembodied brain almost completely
cut off from the rest of the universe. The movie questions the true nature
of life and humanity, and what really matters.
by Ali Razi
Movie "Johnny Got His Gun" Dalton Trumbo
Film Encyclopedia of Baslin
Metallica Web Page http://www.phantasy.com/~hetfield//justice.html
Microsoft Bookshelf Microsoft http://www.microsoft.com/
These examples of student work came from an assignment that was introduced
by the Analyzing Music Videos - Assignment web
Return to your previous page by clicking your browser's "Back"
go to Next Page, or
go to the Site Index, or
Return to Ms. A's Class Home Page