Hip-Hop in THE GREAT GATSBY Musical Narration and African American Representation
Sas, D. van
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The presence of African American music on the soundtrack of THE GREAT GATSBY cannot hide the fact that the story ultimately revolves around a white man’s own construction of identity and how he ultimately fails to achieve his goal. Yet the music significantly contributes to the film’s narration of its events and characters. From the above I would like to dilute the following research question for this thesis: What does the narratological function of African American music reveal about the representation of African Americans in THE GREAT GATSBY? In order to answer this question this thesis first of all aims to explore the following sub-questions. Firstly why is music relevant in the analysis of film’s narration? As part of the total narration of film it is pertinent to ask how music contributes to the overall narration. Secondly how does musical narration relate to issues of ethnicity and difference? These questions will be explored in the theoretical section of this thesis. For the analysis the focus shifts from the general to the specific. The analysis departs from these theoretical insights in order to answer the question how African American hip-hop fits within the rest of the cinematic discourse. And how the use of hip-hop in THE GREAT GATSBY narrates specific sequences. There will be a strong focus on the opening of the film, since, as I will show, openings can be read as a manual of sorts. To conclude the thesis will circle back in order to understand how the manner in which hip-hop narrates is related to representations of African Americans.