YouTube and Ageing: The Same Old Story?

Gardner, Abigail S (2016) YouTube and Ageing: The Same Old Story? In: YouTube conference, 23- 24 September 2016, Middlesex University. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

YouTube hosts the music video for PJ Harvey’s most recent single release ‘The Community of Hope’ (2016). Shot by Seamus Murphy, the video shares screen space with official music videos from Harvey’s 23 year career. This paper asks what is at stake in that relationship between her past and present, examining the link between YouTube and ageing within popular music performance and fleshing that out by through two concepts; repetitive circularity and the flat archive. YouTube’s flat internal chronological architecture complicates the linearity of the ageing process within popular music. Focusing on PJ Harvey’s music videos, it traces out the collisions between early and recent music video performances to argue that the ‘nowness’ of Harvey’s (middle)ageing body is haunted (Fisher, 2014) by her earlier performances. This juxtaposition of the past and present affords a degree of circularity in terms of how to place a performance in linear time and is a process that aligns to pop’s cyclical character (Reynolds, 2011). This has implications for how performers such as Harvey remain mediated by their youthful past as they mature where they are never free from their former selves/versions. Writing on pop music and feminism within neoliberalism, Robin James (2015) considers the role of repetition within current popular music forms claiming that it is now a key structural component of popular music; I take her argument and trace it across to the terrain of YouTube and ageing to consider the impact of repetitive circularity on Harvey’s ageing body. To locate this process within a specific space, I draw on Robert Gehl’s (2009) work to trace out YouTube’s role as a repository and archive and suggest that there could be something important in the positioning of Harvey’s younger self alongside her present in YouTube’s ‘flat’ archive. For Gehl, YouTube is ‘Wunderkammer’ a decontextualized, chaotic and flattened cabinet of wonders that is not an archive in and of itself. Archival status is afforded internally within YouTube by bloggers who taxonomise the videos and create meaningful narratives. Exactly what types of narratives of ageing in particular are afforded by this flatness and circularity is what constitutes the core of this paper’s inquiry.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Media
Research Priority Areas: Innovation, Design and Technology
Depositing User: Abigail Gardner
Date Deposited: 25 Oct 2016 11:08
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2016 12:50
URI: http://eprints.glos.ac.uk/id/eprint/4124

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