Aussie Masculinity – Always a Winner

establishing shot of neglected industrial estate

Pete Murray’s popular song, Always a Winner, has been cleverly transformed into an entertaining music video by Mark Ralston. Released in 2011 the narrative music video, of some three and a half minutes, explores stereotypical expectations of Australian masculinity within the crime thriller genre.

Always a Winner would be a suitable related text for the ESL Module A Experience through Language – Elective 1: Australian Voices. There are effective links with JC Burke’s novel The Story of Tom Brennan. Read more on my TESOL Music Video page.

As will be discussed in my upcoming presentation for the HSC Enrichment Seminars in Dubbo in early June, this music video is also suitable related material for Standard Module A Experience through Language – Elective 1: Distinctive Voices. Specifically, Always a Winner links effectively with Marele Day’s novel The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender.

Use the following points in your analysis – aim to write two or three paragraphs. Remember, when writing about a multimodal text such as a music video, you must discuss all three elements: lyrics, music and film.

Write your own analytical paragraphs using these specific features, techniques and examples:

  • crime thriller genre reveals a linear narrative using several cliches: balaclava wearing thugs, violence, a car chase, elegantly gowned female captive, heroic triumph in lover’s kiss
  • song opens with a drum roll and guitar before first person lyrics hail the audience ‘Hey, see it my way’
  • screen wipes from black into an establishing shot of abandoned industrial setting
  • slow motion used during fights with mix of shots cutting between mid, long and close ups – the choreographed nature of the physical violence adds a playful tone

POV as hero surveys opponents

  • first person nature of lyrics reinforced via point of view shots through windscreen during chase, with colloquial language such as ‘yeah’and  ’gonna’, together with the collective pronoun ‘we’ allows us to be part of the persona’s perspective – we understand and easily recognise the situation
  • brass instruments herald the chorus with repetitive phrase ‘Always a winner’ referencing the Australian urge to bet and back a winner
  • as this quintessential Australian idiom is heard, we see the car chase and are drawn into the hero’s quest
  • close up of spinning tyre and quick cuts between hero and villain during cliche car chase increase tension

spinning wheels and cliched car chase

  • during the initial fight sequence, the persona’s suit jacket is removed; we later see the white singlet and slick dark haired hero – this ‘chesty Bond’ is an iconic image of Australian masculinity
  • the lyric ‘pick your style and pick your place’ occurs during this first physical encounter implying personal choice of violence as a solution, and challenge to enemy

hero loses suit jacket in fight

  • humorous tone highlighted in the use of boxing-like dance steps used by the persona to size-up his female opponent, before felling her with a ‘boomerang’ shoe
  • close up of Murray reveals his surprise capture by another female foe

skilled female opponent surprises hero

  • guitar solo and strobe lighting flicks between shots as the tension builds during hero’s captivity
  • close ups reveal his restrained hands, focussing on his predicament
  • he calmly overcomes his obese, comical captor and tracking shots document his escape through graffiti daubed passageways
  • wry facial expressions are revealed in the final confrontation between the persona and mob boss suggesting a cockiness and acceptance of the inevitable resolution – eyeballing males represent the ability to grudgingly respect a rival

male opponents size each other up

  • final shot of kissing hero and heroine fades into black as music fades

denouement

How can you link this to The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender? Remember to consider the audience, purpose and context of the text. Consider the main characters and how language is used to bring the audience into their world. The setting of the music video echoes Claudia’s negative perspective of the city: a neglected and worn urban environment – a specific example could be the presence of graffiti in both texts. Consider how our expectations of the stereotypical gender roles are challenged in the music video.

What could you add to this paragraph?

Gender roles are examined in this music video through the sardonic mood created by playfully allowing the female captive to land the final blow. The villain, played by Marin Sachs (intertextually referencing his role as a detective in Blue Heelers) displays a wry inevitability in several close ups. Murray’s stoic quest to rescue his love is evidenced through his perpetually neat hair that survives several physical confrontations. His transformation from respectable suit to ‘chesty Bond’ reveals his determination to succeed, mirroring the ideals of Australian masculinity: a fit and focussed winner.

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