Dream video


About the video

This a music video for the song ‘Dream’. It is by Dizzee Rascal, a solo rap artist within the genre of garage/grime. Dream was released in 2004.

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Dream samples lines from Happy Talk, a single that was released in 1982 by Captain Sensible and originally featured in the musical South Pacific (a Broadway stage show in 1949, film version released in 1958).

The video references 1950s children’s television. Most specifically, it references Muffin the Mule, which was aired on the BBC from 1946 to 1955 and then moved to ITV. It was presented by Annette Mills who sang and interacted with a puppet mule and other characters who appeared on her grand piano.  The actress who plays the woman in Dream looks very similar to Annette Mills. Dream also features the puppet mule and has a similar set to Muffin the Mule.

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Notes 1

There are many contrasts and binary opposites between the woman and the teenager in the video.The woman is older and wearing smart clothes, whereas the teenager (Dizzee) is young and wearing bright-coloured casual clothes. The woman is middle class and spends her time at her pretty looking home where she plays a piano so she is fairly wealthy. Dizzee is lower class and spends his time out on the streets with his friends, who commit crimes. The woman is part of the older generation, who view teenagers as troublemakers. However, Dizzee first appears out of a music box, which symbolizes his innocence. The woman is well-spoken, whereas Dizzee uses slang. The woman represents the 1950s and plays/sings 1950s classical music, whereas Dizzee represents modern day and sings modern day rap music. The woman is quite isolated, whereas Dizzee is quite sociable. 

Dizzee first appears in a music box, symbolizing not only his innocence but also the difference in wealth between him and the woman, as she owns an expensive piano. 

The woman is constructed as a stereotypical 1950s white, middle-aged, middle class woman. This is shown through the mise-en-scéne of her upright posture, formal jacket and hairstyle.

The inclusion of an older woman in a rap music video goes against the stereotypical view of music videos, as usually the people shown in them are young (in their 20s).

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Notes 2

The puppets show the effects of peer pressure.

Dizzee doesn’t join in with what his friends are doing (committing crimes).

The music video visually shows Dizzee’s success by showing his album, and the lyrics show that he has worked really hard to be successful.

The woman is uncomfortable with what she is seeing but shows acceptance towards the end of the video.

The woman and Dizzee have equal screen time.

There is a lack of interaction between Dizzee and the woman.

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Barthes’ theory of semiotics can be applied to the advert. Many of the images shown illustrate the lyrics but also connote deeper meanings (working to achieve a ‘dream’). The idea of ‘myth’ relates to the use of iconography such as a hoodie which has become recognisable as a symbol of youth rebellion.

Strauss’ structuralism theory can also be applied. It shows binary oppositions e.g. young black male vs older white female. It also shows anti-social behaviour vs hard work and dedication- the central message of working hard to achieve a ‘dream’ reflects a dominant ideological message that hard work offers an ‘escape’ from social deprivation.

Hall’s theory of representation can be applied. It constructs the puppet characters as stereotypes to exemplify the way in which these social groups are often represented and to demonstrate that these stereotypes can misrepresent individuals from these groups.

Gilroy’s theories of ethnicity and postcolonial theory can also be applied. The construction of the white matriarchal children’s TV presenter and the young black male ‘rascal’ is interesting to explore in relation to postcolonial theory, especially in the social and historical context of the 1950s and increasing ethnic diversity in Britain. The narrative embeds positive messages and values, constructing a representation of a successful rapper and subverting negative stereotypes. However, the female can be seen to be in control, especially as Dizzee Rascal is diminutive, arguably depends on her for ‘endorsement’ of his album and returns to the box at the end.

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