Introduction and Conceptual Framework
      by Ashley Grisso  



In Breakin' It Down: Girls and Music Video I explore sexual identity by exploring relevant research, developing pedagogy, and then videotaping, describing and examining the outcomes of this instruction in two forms, a documentary and my Master's Thesis. After an extensive study of feminism, liberatory pedagogy and media education, I developed a curriculum to encourage girls to delve deeply into accessing and evaluating gender stereotypes in music videos. Ethnic, racial and cultural identity are equally important and significant to interpreting popular music and its performance. Yet, my ability to appropriately stimulate and direct discussions with impressionable young people about such issues as racial and cultural injustices is not yet fully developed. Nevertheless, I developed a framework through which to begin to broach such subjects.

The project's theoretical underpinning emerged in a parallel course with the application of the curriculum designed to describe and evaluate how girls negotiate meaning from music video messages. Through close examination of pedagogical and media theory, I began to make sense of my observations as a cultural educator teaching Breakin' It Down, an extracurricular media literacy program. In my thesis I blended several theoretical frameworks to form what I call "postmodern feminist cultural studies." Cultural studies serves as the reference point for contextualizing the setting, the pedagogy and the research data.

Cultural studies is filtered through the lens of postmodern feminism. Postmodernism allowed me to explore the power and impact of the visual images in popular culture as vehicles to more fully explicate video aesthetics, for example the currently popular application of rapid montage imagery. My media literacy curriculum called for the deconstruction of music video images, the process embodied a postmodern methodology of breaking apart the pieces of a medium that are by definition fragmented. The theoretical backdrop of feminism underscores the issue of subjectivity as I observed and interpreted it. Young people, people of color and females are often underrepresented in research and in the concert of voices fighting to be heard in all arenas of the U.S.

In the complete thesis document several additional areas of literature are reviewed before research methods are introduced.