Intertextuality, Musicals and Love

Recognizing that the creation of all media relies on our ability to understand narrative and that culture works are a dialogue which create a network of semiotics for us to make meaning, the first cognitive comprehension of these ideas came to me in the form of one of my all time favorite movies. Baz Luhrmann’s film Moulin Rouge is very much a musical and cultural mosaic that in exemplifies the idea of remix/hybridity by not only utilizing a plethora of popular music, but by reusing culturally symbolic genres such as the “star-crossed lover” motif found in Romeo & Juliet. To synthesize the rules, genres, and codes used to understand the post-digital cultural production I focused on one of the most popular scenes/songs of the movie: Elephant Love Medley

The term medley itself already contains cultural connotations both as a hybrid of music as well as a cultural connotation music with Broadway and other large scale musical numbers. This particular clip of the movie is more than a reproduction  of grand musical theater but demonstrates the capability of remix culture to connect with the audience in a nonlinear fashion. The hodgepodge of musical nodes to Elton John, The Beatles and Phil Collins all focused on the meaning of the word “love” allows for an unlimited amount of possible interpretations and connections as network theory demonstrates. For example, upon first watching this scene there were cultural interpretations behind the songs in which I recognized, yet the majority of them I did not know the original artist or origination of the song. For me, the songs took meaning based on usage in other media texts of TV and movies where songs such as “I Will Always Love You” was used in a dramatic love sequences or a parody of the dramatic sequences.

Taking the Bakhtinian approach, this digital artefact uses dialogism  to combine a myriad of musical references which are already subjective to the audience in their own right, to create a new discourse and community of meaning. The songs within this one song, alongside the numerous other pop song references such as Madonna, Nirvana and The Police turn the film into more of  the type of tragic love story we are all familiar with, but in a cultural encyclopedia of music that anyone familiar with popular American music can relate with.