M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Two: Communication as Structure – part 1

This is the first of the two lectures dedicated to analysing  applied communication from a  structural perspective. The lecture uses techniques drawn from visual analysis, semiotics and narrative theory to explore music videos, interviews and discussions of Madonna and Lady Gaga’s marketing and branding strategies.

M84MC.02– 10 Oct 2012

Homework – due 17 Oct 2012

Individually, pick either Lady Gaga or Madonna, and find three of her interviews from different media (audio, video, in print). Apply a narrative analysis: what narratives are present? What is told, what is not? What formal techniques are used? What personas does she build? How she constructs and represent her “authentic” self? Post your work as a comment to this blog entry.


COMMENTS TO STUDENTS’ ASSIGNMENT: Lecture 2-comments to assignment

12 thoughts on “M84MC (2012-13) Lecture Two: Communication as Structure – part 1

  1. Kelebonye Bagai

    Madonna’s Interview with Harry Smith:
    She present herself like a real mother though she says there are probably 25 Madonnas. She is also not happy about her daughter smoking. though she held a cigarette on the stage herself. She also presents herself like a mature person, different from the Madonna the artist on stage. She is the Madonna who has seen it all.
    She also says someone has to write about what she knows. We see in her a melancholic character who is not happy because of her love life.

  2. Deroche Jennifer

    Lady Gaga Oprah Interview: Artist Discusses Going Silent, Motherhood and Finding a Husband
    This interview is based on a personal narrative with anecdotes. It is a direct narration (the narrator talk directly to the reader) with a direct speech. The story takes place in the past but also in the future.
    Lady Gaga talks about her childhood (when she started to learn piano), her musical influence (Whitney). She also talks about her future: find a husband, have kids (a soccer team). Gaga said: “I want to experiment that but not yet” …
    In this interview, she is authentic. She does not build any personas. She has a pink dress and a light make-up. During the interview, she is with her mum Cynthia Germanotta. The interview takes place where Stefani Germanotta grew up.

    Lady Gaga Billboard Magazine Interview
    This interview is based on her success, it is a contemporary narrative. It is a reported speech, the journalist summarized and retold the story. The narration is direct because the narrator talks directly to the reader. The story takes place in the present.
    She talks about her song “Born this way”, which is the 1000th No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. She needs to make empowering song with lyrics and melodies very poignant, very gospel, very spiritual. Her goal is not to gain new fans but to write for the fans she has got already.
    In this interview, she does not play any character. She is Lady Gaga in a “soft version”.

    Lady Gaga joins Rich Clarke in the Capital studio to celebrate the release of new album, “Born This Way”
    Capital Fm interview is based on a personal narrative, her inspirations and feelings. It is a direct narration between Lady Gaga and Rich Clarke. The story takes place in the present, as an album promotion in the radio.
    She worked very hard on this album. She is very proud of her. The album “Born this way” is between reality and fantasy world. It is about magic of life, a celebration between the death of her innocence (when her grandpa died) and renaissance.
    In the interview, she is authentic and talks with her heart about something important for her.

  3. Teodora Grigorie

    Video interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_RBPNXWgsAc
    The first interview I chose to analyze is taken in Ellen DeGeneres Show. Lady Gaga was invited to talk about her new accomplishments and to announce her world wide tour. During her speech, we can see a different Lady Gaga than we are used to watch in her videos, a more natural one. She presents a modest persona, sending the message that she is not different from the rest of the people. Even more, we can also meet the actress-wannabe persona, the song writer persona, the singer persona and the ordinary woman persona, who pays her taxes like the rest of us.
    The narrative in this interview is selective, because Lady Gaga shows only the positive pieces in her success and also she treats her success with modesty. The narrative line follows a discussion about her dream of staring in a movie, then presents her nominations for important Grammy awards, the autobiographical video “Marry the Night”, her pictures book special made for the funs and, in the end, her new tour and the usual aspects from her day to day life.
    Lady Gaga uses humor as a technique, for making the conversation more attractive and for showing, sarcastically, that an artist life is not always as glamorous as it seems. She represents her “authentic” self as a person who fought many years to become who she is today and as a woman who is not afraid to “marry” her struggles.

    Print interview: http://www.timeout.com/london/feature/1112/lady-gaga-interview
    The written interview I chose to analyze appeared on timeout website and it was conducted by Peter Robinson. Different from the previous interview, Lady Gaga appears here as a suffering, insecure person, who warships her fans and always listens to their opinion. The narrative line follows her back through her school years, when all the bullying began and continues with the explanation of her success and her message for people union, and it closes with Lady Gaga’s image about herself. She wants to convey the fact that she’s not hiding anything, but on a deeper analysis we can discover that Gaga is hiding her weaknesses. In this interview, we can find parallel plans technique, one with Gaga being bullied in school and one with Gaga using that experience in her songs. Moreover, Lady Gaga builds different personas, namely the singer persona, the fighter persona, the artist persona, the scared child persona and non-Christian persona. She constructs and represents her “authentic” self by trying to demonstrate her real personality, who has a lot of things to offer but is still different from the other singers. The main subject she puts in the interview is that success doesn’t save you from the feelings of insecurity.

    Audio interview: http://ladygaganow.net/?p=5030
    The audio interview I decided to analyze was aired on Virgin Radio, when Lady Gaga had a concert in Montreal. The narrative line follows different subjects, Gaga explaining her ball concert, her relationship with her grandmother and her Italian background and ends with describing the story of her songs. The interviewer considers her an anthem writer and she explains that all her songs are trying to change perceptions and open up the minds. She brings many personas in the interview, such as the granddaughter persona, the performer persona, the song writer persona and the video director persona. She constructs her “authentic” self by trying to be sincere and giving very complex answers. Even more, the entire interview uses the direct speech technique, because Lady Gaga talks straightly to the journalists.


    video interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EaZiaEDLNQ&feature=related
    on the video Madonna wears a blue dress with the landmark golden hair, sexy and beautiful.She said her new cause that to be a director. she direct the film showing true love. because she said full in love in her mind. She said she like the feeling been a mother and with her children together.now she has a boyfriend who only 24 years old,she wants the partner and need love.
    print interview http://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/madonna/#video_18478
    In the magazine, the image show a sexy Madonna,she dressed a black leather coat and heel shoes,golden hair is her symbol. She make-up the dark colour and one of the picture she is smoking.It is showing her cool and sexy. But the words show her full in love with children and charity.She working in Africa twice a year, hleping many children and focus on the education.She is a very kind woman.
    audio interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMAXBZgpLmc
    Madonna talking about her music and her kids. The storytelling personality the people working,runing,dancing trough living room,bathroom and office building. it is basic on want world slowly come to the end. People with us and have a good time. She said her 3 children like dancing. They gave her son a gift bring from Australia. She talking about her music and the favourite song. She is a mother,she is a singer and she is a woman.Because of her real thinking and her children to show herself.

  5. xinlinlee

    audio interview:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMAXBZgpLmc
    Madonna talking about her music and her kids. She said the storytelling with personality, people working,runing,dancing everyday trough living room bathroom and office building.It is basic want world slowly to end. Hope have people with us and have a good time.She said her 3 children like dancing and doing well. They gave her son a gift which is bring from Australia. She talking about her music and work. She is a mother,a singer and a people in the socialty.

    video interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbjpvSqtu3M
    Madonna wears a blue dress and the golden hair are charming and beautiful. She talking about her new film,she to be a derictor in the film and showing the love story.She said full in love in her mind.they ask her real love story about her now boyfriend. one 24 years old man. She like the feeling been a mother and need a partner.talking about her job and life. It is her,Madonna.

    print interview: http://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/madonna/
    The images showing the sexy Madonna. She dressed a black leather coat and the heel shoes showing her long leg and good body.One of the picture showing that she smoking, looks very treason. The golden hair is her symbol. She make-up strong and dark colour.look her sexy and cool. But the words showing her going to Africa twice a year and help many children there. She focus on the education about developing countries and hlep child go to school.She is a very kind mother and doing charity. It is different between pictures and words. Showing the different Madonna.

  6. Banke Asiwaju

    Radio interview: http://ladygaganow.net/?p=5030
    The Radio interview was carried out by Freeway Frank and Lisa backstage at the bell centre in Montreal and was aired on April 26th 2011 on Virgin radio. In this interview, Lady gaga talks about her fourth return to perform at montreal and how much she likes the city. The interview had some elements of humour when she talked about her blind grandmother being able to tell when she wore pants or not because of her white skin and her little knowledge of Italian. She described her overwhelming appreciation to the fans for the continuous support and believing in her. She described her concert as not an ordinary concert but a cultural party. She attributed her song writing style to “anthemic” leaders of the 70s and 80s and her fans positive reaction to anthemic songs and how they react to identity and religion. Lady gaga referred to New York her home town as her religion saying “my religion is concrete”. When asked about her latest song Judas she explained that she was trying to tell a story using religious iconography that people recognize as a metaphor and an analogy for pop culture. She explained the video depicted modern day Jerusalem and what the disciples would be like if they were around today. She told the young people facing forms of bullying not to conform to what people want them to be but to try as many things as they can till they find until they find something that makes them feel strong and fearless. The narrative was personal because she mentioned things from her private life. Lady gaga’s character in this interview was caring and sympathetic as she advised people that were facing tough situations. The interview made use of flash back and repetition.

    Visual Interview: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dz6TYQ4Ln8E
    The visual interview was narrated by Barbra Walters on 20/20 on ABC news. It was a quick but hard hitting interview. The interview was done in an empty studio with the two characters sitting on stools opposite each other. Lady gaga presented a gentle and falsely modest persona in my opinion. She wore a black skirt suit and had curly blonde hair. She had none of the theatrics associated with Lady gaga so the interview appeared more real. She mentioned she felt like a freak as a child to show she had a normal childhood. When the interviewer asked her blunt questions about her sexuality and if she was really transgender. She said they were not true in a calm and articulate way. The interview dealt with issues in her past like her father’s reaction to her performances.

    Magazine interview: http://www.ladygaga-source.com/article-sunday-mirror-newspaper-exclusive-interview-with-lady-gaga-89343928.html
    The interview was done by Sunday mirror after the BBC children in need event in Manchester. The picture that accompanied the interview was of her with blue hair and black leather underwear. In this interview, she tries to give off a domestic persona by saying she likes to relax by watching cookery shows and cooking Italian meals and she doesn’t mind cleaning toilets. She showed gratitude to Madonna, an older musician who she is frequently compared with and said she has a lot of respect for her.

  7. Rehema Nakalema

    I chose to do Madonna, she has been around for so long yet her effect can still be felt as it was when she had just started out. She is as energetic as she was back then if not even more though her goals have changed a bit, in an interview with Leno; The Tonight Show Jay Leno,1994 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8KMTc-s6wA she is comical and sweet and she has a very lovable personality, she jokes a lot and pretty much takes over the show. She speaks freely and Leno only jumps in occasionally however,as she is in control, she avoids certain questions such as being a material girl.She just comes off as sweet. She also doesn’t talk about her love life. Her authentic self is seen in the way she jokes about everything and how she leads the interview showing she loves being in the spotlight.

    I followed it up with a radio interview with Sophia Kruger in 2008, she is still funny,she talks about her album and how the whole production process comes together. She also talks about her children and mentions their love for dancing and her marriage and even offers advice such as “learn to say sorry even when its your fault” and “always write good letters”. She sound mature but she is still humorous and entertaining. In fact,she doesn’t take on many personas rather she tries to stay true such as when she talks about her children. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMAXBZgpLmc

    In a print interview with Gus Van Sant, we see a Madonna that seems to have evolved. She is a former divorcee wife,she has some adopted children as well and she is venturing into the film industry. She is mature,focused and still so entertaining.For me i find her authentic self as that girl with a lot of humor. She is careful not to show her true self so much preferring to keep the audience guessing especially in the first interview with Jay Leno.Generally in all interviews, its her point of view. She expresses herself freely and tells a story as opposed to just answering questions that are thrown at her. In the interview with Gus however, she brings out the philanthropist in her. She mentions her work with charities and talks of her adopted children,its not really her authentic self because she is marketing her work here so the worker in her comes to light more. All in all, she is engaging and an entertainer and i find that to be her authentic self. http://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/madonna/print

  8. Francien Broekhuizen

    Narrative analysis interviews Madonna

    For the interview I used interviews that were a part of an American television-program and an interview on a website. All the interviews took place around the time of the release or making of her new film W.E. and her concert during the Superball which was in March 2012.

    Analysis of the interview
    With the analysis of the interview I found different aspects that construct the identity of Madonna which I will outline in the following section.

    In all the interviews there comes up some sort of biography. The YouTube clips show how Madonna was in her early career and how she developed; it’s about what she did in the past and what see does now. This shows that Madonna is a person that has a biography we all have and on which one can reflect from its current position. In the written interview this idea is showed as well, but this is more about her personal life and not mainly about her career, she tells about her youth and how she was able to come where she is now and how she was able to find her true meaning in her life. I think this part is very interesting in the light of creating an ‘authentic self’ as Madonna give the reader the idea that when she was younger the Madonna how she is now was hidden in her, it only had to come out. She uses here the words: the lemons had to become lemonade. Another interesting point here is how she tells about the people in her life and how important they are and were to her. By talking about relationships one talks about a certain amount of time in which this relationship involves and what is does to someone, how this other person interacted with the ‘true’ Madonna and what it did to her.

    Madonna also talks about her emotions, this also give the idea that she is a ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ person, as Madonna as a person get touched by things. Regarding her career she talks about what it meant for her to sing in the break of the Superball and that it almost made her crying. What was interesting here is that the interviewer said to her that she almost cried during the interview. Madonna clearly rejects this thought by referring to the notion that she is sure she didn’t as she knows herself better than the interviewer does. This means that there is a ‘real’ Madonna to find which is hidden for the interviewer. She also talks about her emotions in her personal life when she talks about her commitment to AIDS orphans in Malawi and how this relates to her personal life, because she adopted children from that country.

    This part when she tells about her commitment to the AIDS orphans in Malawi is also a good example of how she makes her life as something that is whole and complete. She shows the reader that her lives exists out of different elements, but all there elements are related to each other. This is also the case for her career, as her new album is about her experiences in her life during the last 5 years and how angry she felt at that time during her divorce. This makes that we can see Madonna as whole person who is true, because this gives us the idea that she is not playing a game because all the parts of her life are related to each other.

    However she shows herself as a whole and complete person she sets down a different person in different aspects of her life. This is nicely illustrated by the idea of control about her life. Regarding her career she clearly shows that she is in control of this and that she has the knowledge and the power to rule over her own career. When she talks about her career this is very clear in all three the interviews. This idea of power and knowledge is founded by the facts that she talks about this in a rational way which makes that you trust her completely. On the other hand when she talks about love she puts herself out of control and says that she is romantic and that love is just something that happens to you; you can plan love. I think this idea fits nice into middle (or high) class ideas of contemporary femininity.

    Motherhood and the ‘Good Life’
    This idea is completed by her talking about her family and her husband, as on one hand she shows that she is powerful and individual but on the other hand she says she needs a husband to support her. This need makes that she now has a new boyfriend. When she talks about him she tell a ‘intimate’ story of her and her boyfriend at home which give the idea of a lovely and nice home; the ‘Good Life’. This is further supported by giving the world the idea that her true identity is her identity and her life as a mother. She puts her children on the first place and when she talks about her identity she says she has 25 identities but then she starts talking about her live as a mother which gives the ‘reader’ the idea that this is her true identity.


    I have some questions after doing this analysis and I hope you will be able to answer these.
    – We were ask to look at the used formal techniques, but I wonder what these techniques are? I looked to the slides and my notes, but I could not find the answer.
    – For last week we were asked to analyse the ‘images’ of some video clips and what the meanings were, and I wondered if every video clip has these meanings in it. And when an analysis is done on such a clip I wonder in what extend this analysis is just your own analysis or is it more a general analysis, so are these meaning of a the text a more universal understanding or is it very personal? And when does the analysis stop, with this I mean when are you seeing to many things in it, which are not exactly there? I hope I have written down my questions clearly.

  9. Tereza Krtickova

    1. video interview on „The Ellen Degeneres Show“ 9. 11. 2010

    Madonna is interviewed to comment on the topic of increased number of gay teen suicides resulting from bullying. There is narrative of her feeling the need and responsibility to comment on the situation, to make her own statement. It leans on the narrative of her own experience as a teenager who felt different, isolated and lonely, who did not fit in properly. She was helped by a gay ballet teacher who brought her to music and dancing. She discusses it as well with her teenage children explaining them not to judge people who are different.
    It is a live interview, but they are sitting in studios in different cities. They can see each other on the cameras. She builds the interview on the personas of mother, gay community supporter, conscious citizen of her country.
    She represents her „authenticity“ by wearing decent make-up, her outfit is very simple, black colour, long sleeves. At the beginning she talks about her having lice from her children, representing herself as mother with the issues that everybody can have.

    2. print interview in The Telegraph 23. 12. 2011

    She was interviewed by John Hiscock about her directing the movie W.E. It is not composed as typical question and answer format, but as a narrative recounted by a narrator (journalist) with embedded direct speeches from Madonna.
    The narrative is about her making new movie W.E.. She talks about her being fascinated by the real story of Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson. Being romantic herself, she wanted to transfer it to a movie screen. She talks how she casted the main characters and found the locations. She as well asked for some advice from her exhusbands Sean Penn and Guy Ritchie (directors).
    She builds the persona of a director, the persona of a woman who wants to be deeply loved, romantic persona, strong persona with a managing skills to get what she wants, persona of a divorced woman who keeps in touch with her exhusbands.
    She constructs her „authentic“ self by using her personal life experiences. Talking about her love relationships and as well about taking advice from her exhusbands.

    3. radio interview on Kiss FM in February 2012

    It is an radio live interview, she talkes on the phone. She talks about her upcoming tour and rehearsing, as well about her upcoming activities (auditions, making videos). There is a narrative about rumours that Britney Spears should on one of her tracks. Another narrative is about the commentator being on her stage in a gladiator skirt unrecognised.
    She builds the persona of a singer, dancer, performer. As well humorous persona who likes to joke.
    She constructs her „authentic“ self by being funny and off-hand, she speaks clearly with no stammering.

  10. Nnamdie Kierian

    tittle: Madonna’s first interview with Ellen
    source: you-tube

    The interview was more like a brief discussion about her performance in her video. she was asked series of questions about her personal life, she also talked about her moment before she goes on stage and how she maintains her shape. furthermore, she spoke about how much time she invest in her production to make it a success, starting from her voice, her dance moves, and her writing skills.

    she mentioned that she is always on a look out for someone she can connect while performing on stage, and try to wear dangerous footwear. Madonna portrayed herself as a performer, singer, and a writer as well as a lady.

  11. Nnamdie Kierian

    tittle:Madonna on Oprah 1998 part 2/4
    source: You-tube
    in the interview, was an interaction section between the interviewee (Madonna) and the interviewer (Oprah) who sat opposite each other in a friendly way. the interview is an old interview, it dates back to 1998. during the interview section, Madonna focused on Fame, Self-Examination and yoga.

  12. Felicia Dearsley

    Narrative Analysis of Madonna interviews.
    The print interview of modanna conducted by Gus Van Sant. http://www.interviewmagazine.com/music/madonna/#page4 In this interview, Madonna was talking about her Malawi project where she adopted two of her kids from, how she has to travel like twice in a year to take care of her project there and how she is working with Jeffrey Sachs the Economist to build a school for girls in Malawi.
    She also talked about life when she was growing, her struggles with her career and how Van Sant’s movie ‘MILK’ reminds her of her movie ‘FILTH AND WISDOM’ and how it brings back memories of her early acting days with a number of artist which she mentioned, and how Richard E. Grant touched her life positively. because while she was growing up, she does not know actually where she fits in gender wise until the day he took her to a gay club, where she felt at home and eventually discovered who she really is. this development she said, thought her how to “turn her lemons into lemonade.”
    The video interview was conducted by Winfrey Oprah. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2TPwEMhM1g it was bassically talking about the controversial video ‘HOLLYWOOD’ where Madonna was seen in a passionate kiss with one of the female dancers. Madonna denied the fact that there was something fishy about it as in her words, “it was just a friendly kiss, i swear to God.” In this interview she also expressed fear for her daughter who came on stage for the first time in that video, because she felt the girl might feel that being on stage is the most important thing in life.she also talked about how she wanted a normal life as a child.
    modonna confessed that she has everything money can buy but believes that “nothing in the material world ever makes us happy.”
    The audio video is her interview with Sonia Krugger. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMAXBZgpLMC Interview, madonna talked about her marriage and how she was able to keep it going then as a travelling artist, a wife and a mother.
    In all the narratives from the three interviews, Madonna does not hide her passion for her family. she always has it behind her back that what ever fame and success she might have achieved as a celebrity, when she’s with her family, she will be a wife and a mother.
    Madonna uses the narrating technique, that is the actual act of recounting the situation within the discourse. In the print interview, she also used the ‘Analepses’ “that is transporting the audiences to the back through flashbacks.” This can be noted when she talked about her past with the interviewer.
    In all her narrations, Madonna builds a persona of this complete family woman at home and the sexy controversial celebrity on stage. And then she constructs her “authentic” self as a normal human being like everybody who has there issues and fears about life.


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