Music Video Analysis #3 Macklemore – Downtown

The video for Macklemore’s Downtown was filmed in Spokane, Washington, involving hundreds of extras and the closing of roads. Rolling Stone Magazine has described it as “charmingly ridiculous”, which sums up the video, and the reaction, pretty well. The song and video both have much more in common to the LMFAO song than Beautiful World, in both age (the video was released in 2015) and tone.


The video initially follows Macklemore on his epic journey to buy a moped from a dealership straight out of the 1980s, before switching to a line of Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 11.30.06women who are all eating some form of confectionary. Suddenly, motorbike riders appear, and the focus shifts to the apparent brewing fight between the bikers (one of whom has a fake moose head stuck to his bike) and Macklemore on his moped, and abruptly switching focus again to the group dance-walking through the streets of Spokane. As they walk, most people they pass join their procession. A chariot then appears, made in the style of the American Eagle and pulled by motorbikes. There is a brief face-off between Macklemore and the bikers and the rider of the chariot before the dance-walking procession, now joined by motorbikes and mopeds, proceeds down the main street, watched by crowds and the people in the buildings on both sides.


As is probably glaringly obvious from the previous paragraph, Downtown is probably the silliest of the three videos that I analysed. The entire video is lighthearted, much like the LMFAO video reviewed previously; the only conflict is implied, and hard to instigate, and nobody apparently fights anybody else. The song itself is about a moped riding male competing against a female, who claims that she “runs the streets”, and (I think) their relationship with each other.


The world depicted in the video is, much like Sexy and I Know It, a happy place. The video shows Macklemore literally breaking down a wall of the moped dealership with no apparent negative effects or broken bones, so it is very clear that this world does not operate on the same physical or Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 11.30.51moral rules that ours does. The same style of ‘fighting’ is used, where the two sides only posture at each other with no actual fighting happening, and both sides are in the same procession at the end, so we can assume they came to some kind of agreement. The world shown, overall, is exactly what Rolling Stone said it was: charmingly ridiculous.


The colours used in the video, to begin with, are a key factor in the upbeat nature of the video. Bright colours are everywhere, from the moped right at the start to the costumes in the final procession, adding to the positive feeling. The actors movements are flamboyant and exaggerated, which both shows that they aren’t entirely being serious and that they are enjoying themselves, a feeling that infects the audience after a short while. The environment itself feels positive; although they take trips down back alleys and into drainage ditches, high key lighting and a lack of visual threats keep the mood from feeling down or threatening. The conflict between the characters, as noted, is non-threatening and has a certain playful feel similar to that of several LMFAO videos, where it’s clear that nobody is actually going to get hurt. This is all to add to the upbeat tone of the video.


The video is fairly good when it comes to ethics. As far as representation goes, all the ethnicities and religions that are reasonable for Spokane are accounted for, mostly in the final crowd scene. Nobody is really shown in a negative light in this video, which prevents racism, sexism etc. from happening. Something Screen Shot 2015-11-26 at 11.31.58notable is the rider of the chariot, who wears feminine clothing and hair but also a moustache, suggesting heavily that they are probably transsexual. This could be considered a very stereotypical presentation of a transsexual, with the flamboyant clothing and expression, but basically everyone acts like that in this video, and it fits the role that the character plays.


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