Schizophrenic aesthetics in music videos about the LRA atrocities in northern Uganda
Dokotum, Okaka O.
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This article examines the use of what I term ‘schizophrenic aesthetics’ in memory construction and the search for justice, peace, and reconciliation in contemporary music videos about the LRA war. I seek to establish how the deep memory of trauma is packaged in videos that have disturbing content due to the use of B-roll and stock footage of war, yet they are also highly entertaining through their use of music, dramatic performances, and erotic young female dancers often referred to as ‘queen dancers’. ‘Schizophrenic aesthetics’ is used in this article in reference to both the trauma represented and the syncretised and disjunctured form of the music video in a postmodernist context. The heterogeneous clash between the oral and written words on the one hand, with the images on the other, is examined as traumatic subject matter is interrogated in the context of brisk entertainment. These song videos are produced by a younger post-war generation of artists who problematise postcolonial African trauma using diasporic music forms like hip-hop and reggae. While examining the subject matter of these videos, a parallel analysis shows the complex relationship between the message of the songs, performativity, and the cinematic apparatus. This article deploys schizophrenic aesthetics to examine how the wordscape, soundscape, and imagescape of the selected music videos collaborate to convey the poetic message and essence of the songs and how memory is constructed in a post-war context as therapy and entertainment.