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A level Media Studies Fact Sheet

by Dizzee Rascal

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A level Media Studies Fact Sheet

Dream by Dizzee
AS Component 1: child-like backdrop to the video and contrasts with
Investigating the Media the contemporary issues and problems depicted.
A level Component 1: Media Products, An example from Muffin the Mule
Industries and Audiences can be viewed via this link:
Subject Content: Media Language
Focus Area: Representation, Consider the codes and conventions
Media Contexts of media language:
• Dream combines elements of performance and
narrative, typical of the music video form.
PRODUCT CONTEXT »» Two ‘worlds’ are constructed – the salubrious
• Dizzee Rascal is a solo rap artist within 1950s sitting room and the contemporary
the genre of garage/ grime who won city setting, established through the set,
the Mercury Music Prize for his debut props and puppets on the grand piano.
album, Boy in da Corner, in 2003.
»» The video features a female pianist who
• Dream was released as a single in 2004, taken directly addresses the audience, introducing
from Dizzee Rascal’s second album Showtime. Dizzee Rascal and singing some lines
• Dream samples lines from Happy Talk, a from Happy Talk. She acts as a presenter/
single that was released in 1982 by Captain narrator and reacts to the action, arguably
Sensible and originally featured in the musical reflecting the ‘typical’ or ‘expected’ response
South Pacific (a Broadway stage show in of an older audience to rap music.
1949, film version released in 1958). »» Dizzee Rascal performs and
• The video for Dream was directed by Dougal directly addresses the audience, also
Wilson for the Colonel Blimp production commenting on the narrative and
company. Wilson is an award-winning actions of the puppet characters.
director of commercials and music videos. »» The narrative is linear, featuring
disruptions and a resolution that reflects
PART 1: STARTING POINTS – Media Language the dominant message of triumph over
Cultural Contexts: adversity through commitment to a dream.
The video references 1950s children’s television, • The video features many postmodern elements,
most specifically Muffin the Mule, which was aired juxtaposing 1950s children’s television characters
on the BBC from 1946 until 1955 (when it switched with familiar contemporary iconography
to ITV). The BBC programme was presented by such as the nightclub and off-licence, and a
Annette Mills who sang and interacted with a matriarchal older female with a young male
grime artist. This creates a fable-like quality
puppet mule and other characters who appeared
to the video, as Dizzee Rascal tells the story
on her grand piano. The programme was broadcast
of the development of a successful career.
live and was hugely successful, becoming the first
children’s television programme to have its own • The images are highly illustrative, often
featuring a literal interpretation of the lyrics e.g.
merchandise. The actress who plays the female
‘off licence’, ‘young babymothers’. This adds
pianist in Dream bears a clear resemblance to
to the sense that a vivid story is being told.
Annette Mills, the puppet mule is also featured,
and the set is similar to Muffin the Mule.
The use of these references creates an innocent,

A level Media Studies Fact Sheet

Consider how elements of media

language influence meaning: something-new-in-dizzee-rascal-video/
• The period setting of the sitting room is Consider how meanings are established
established through the mise-en-scène of through intertextuality:
the striped wallpaper, floral curtains and • The references to 1950s children’s television,
grand piano, connoting a middle-class especially the use of direct address by the
environment that contrasts dramatically with pianist, ironically position the audience
the contemporary setting of the narrative. as children being told a story. The puppet
The stereotypically socially deprived, inner- characters are interwoven into the narrative
city environment is constructed through the e.g. Muffin the Mule operating the sound
set and props on the piano (e.g. off licence recording desk and the Lord Charles puppet
building with letters missing, graffiti). in the pram – this juxtaposition potentially
• There are many props that reference childhood: creates a sense of surprise or unease,
»» Pastel coloured building blocks at the provoking the audience to think about the
beginning and end of the video. narrative and messages in the video.
»» Musical box from which Dizzee Rascal • Dizzee Rascal also intertextually references
emerges – and returns to at the end of Captain Sensible, who recorded Happy Talk in
the video when it is covered in stars, the 1980s, when he says ‘This is too sensible for
connoting his success as a music artist. me, man’ as he climbs out of the musical box.
»» Toy police car and helicopter. • These references could create a
»» Puppets – Muffin the Mule, sense of nostalgia and pleasure for
youths, policeman etc. viewers who recognise them.
»» The use of this iconography of childhood
Consider theoretical approaches:
establishes a sense that the video is a
fable with a clear moral message. This, Semiotics – Barthes
coupled with the juxtaposition of the • Many of the images illustrate the lyrics but
1950s references, helps to distance the connote deeper meanings in relation to the more
audience – there is little attempt to create abstract notion of working to achieve a ‘dream’.
verisimilitude or the illusion of reality – it • The idea of ‘myth’ relates to the use of
is clear that it is a constructed narrative. iconography such as the ‘hoodie’ which,
• Dizzee Rascal begins to use the microphone over time, has become recognisable as
prop at the point where he talks about a symbol of youthful rebellion.
discovering music and gaining air time.
Structuralism – Levi-Strauss (A level)
The microphone connotes power – Dizzee
Rascal’s voice can now be heard (literally • Many binary oppositions are evident, most
and metaphorically), and this signifies a prominently that of the young black male v
move away from deprivation and rebellion older white female which reflects the idea of
towards achieving his dream and becoming hierarchies of power in society. The female
a respected member of society. is physically bigger than Dizzee Rascal, due
• The use of simple props and iconography, to the difference in scale, and she shows
such as the nightclub signified by the disco disapproval of the anti-social behaviour and
ball and dimmed lights, constructs distinct approval of the positive actions. Despite
and recognisable settings to illustrate the Dizzee’s success, she arguably retains the
lyrics and communicate meanings. power as he gets back into the box at the end.
• Other oppositions include youth v police/
Consider how developing technologies authority – with some sense of resolution as they
affect media language: all dance together towards the end of the video.
• The video makes use of green screen • Anti-social behaviour v hard work and
technologies to allow Dizzee Rascal to dedication - the central message of working
perform on the piano and interact with the hard to achieve a ‘dream’ reflects a dominant
puppet characters. The following article gives ideological message that hard work offers
further information about the process: an ‘escape’ from social deprivation.

A level Media Studies Fact Sheet

PART 2: STARTING POINTS – Representation face connotes her stereotypical British

reserve – she does not like this invasion
Social and Cultural Context
of her personal space and is not used to
The representation of the white, upper middle encountering antisocial behaviour.
class pianist reflects 1950s Britain when people in »» She reinforces dominant messages
positions of power tended to belong to hegemonic and ideologies, smiling her approval on
social groups. Dream is also interesting to consider the positive elements of the narrative,
in the context of the post-war period in Britain for example holding up Dizzee Rascal’s
when many people from the Caribbean, as well as album and singing ‘just do it’.
from India and Pakistan, moved to Britain to work • Dizzee Rascal is constructed as a rebellious
and British society was becoming more ethnically young black male through the dress codes of
diverse as a result of this period of immigration. red tracksuit with a ‘hoodie’ top and trainers.
The 1950s references create a sense of distance »» He appears to be a stereotypically defiant
and allow the audience to view the video as an youth who challenges authority at the
allegory and understand the use of quite extreme beginning of the video, reinforced by the
stereotypes as a way of exploring contemporary lyrics e.g. ‘reckless with no shame’.
issues. For example, police brutality may be »» As the narrative progresses, a more positive
considered as something that would have occurred representation of Dizzee Rascal is
more frequently in the past, but there are cases constructed as he describes his strong sense
of this happening in contemporary society. of purpose, hard work and achievement.
»» Later in the video, following Dizzee’s
Dream is also interesting to consider in the context
transformation, the youths also partake of
of the early 2000s when it was released, in relation
more creative and less destructive behaviour
to concerns about antisocial behaviour amongst
(e.g. kicking a football, break-dancing),
inner-city youths. The decision by Bluewater
establishing him as a role-model.
Shopping Centre in Kent to ban ‘hoodies’ in
2005 received widespread media coverage. »» This positive representation of a young
‘Hoodies’ have been worn by hip hop artists black rapper challenges many negative
since the 1980s and have become to be associated stereotypes of this social group.
with rebellion and antisocial behaviour. The • Positive messages and values are embedded in
following article gives some further background the representations e.g. the power of pursuing
information on the topic: https://www.theguardian. a ‘dream’ is connoted when Dizzee Rascal is
com/uk/2011/aug/09/power-of-the-hoodie inside the recording studio and the policeman
is battering on the window, but cannot reach
him – perhaps suggesting that music offers
Consider the way social groups are represented a ‘protection’ from the harsh realities of the
through processes of selection and combination: outside world. Similarly in the nightclub
Representations of gender, age and ethnicity. scene, the puppet characters, including the
• The pianist is constructed as a stereotypical policeman, dance harmoniously, connoting
1950s white, middle-aged, middle- the power of music to bring people together.
class woman through the mise-en-scène • Many clear stereotypes are constructed through
of her upright posture, formal jacket with the ‘puppets’ to create recognition and humour,
large floral brooch and hair style. and also convey messages and values:
»» She fulfils a matriarchal role and uses »» Youths are constructed as irresponsible and
quite a patronising mode of address having no purpose in life – skateboarding,
(‘Hello boys and girls’), especially as she spraying graffiti, stealing the TV.
introduces Dizzee (‘he’s such a rascal’). »» The Scots character (red hair, tartan) is
»» This creates humour, especially as the video constructed as a drunk with a lager bottle.
progresses and reaction shots reveal her shock »» The police officer is constructed as a brutal,
and disapproval of the actions of the ‘youths’. baton-wielding white male, beating a youth
»» Her horror as the helicopter flies past her in a style that references ‘Punch and Judy’.

A level Media Studies Fact Sheet

The puppets are attached to strings, linking Theories of ethnicity and postcolonial
to the notion that this story is a fable, but also theory - Gilroy (A level)
suggesting hierarchies of power and control – • The construction of the white matriarchal
they are conforming to stereotypical, possibly children’s TV presenter and the young black
pre-ordained roles. This raises questions male ‘rascal’ is interesting to explore in
about key issues in contemporary society relation to postcolonial theory, especially in
such as crime, antisocial behaviour, underage the social and historical context of the 1950s
sex etc. and how these can be tackled. and increasing ethnic diversity in Britain.
• The narrative embeds positive messages and
values, constructing a representation of a
Consider theoretical approaches: successful rapper and subverting negative
Theories of representation – Hall stereotypes of ethnicity. However, the female
can be seen to be in control, especially
• The video deliberately constructs the puppet
as Dizzee Rascal is diminutive, arguably
characters as stereotypes to exemplify the way in
depends on her for ‘endorsement’ of his
which these social groups are often represented
album and returns to the box at the end.
– and to demonstrate that these stereotypes can
misrepresent individuals from these groups. • While the story suggests that 21st century
Britain is an inclusive and multicultural
society, the repeated shots of the TV presenter
looking shocked and her patronising
tone towards Dizzee Rascal imply that
society is not yet fully integrated.