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The Scream (Never Say Never)

“The vibrations in the air not only affected my eye, but my ear as well because I really heard a scream, and then I painted The Scream." Edvard Munch never intended to send an ambiguous message with his reputable painting. The concatenation of this distinct onslaught of psychological sight and sound reverberate through his brushstrokes so that viewers can not only see but hear the image before them. As the template for my image, The Scream (Never Say Never), this value still holds. This, along with additional coded iconic messages, meets with underlying non-coded iconic messages to make for an image with meaning in its connotation and denotation alike.

The coded messages given off by the image are supremely driven by the cultural context given by image references. The Scream is a widely known painting by Edvard Munch, and Justin Bieber has become a teen pop icon in the United States. With this contextual background, the viewer immediately makes a connection between a painted image and songs in his mind. It is this coded nature of the image that allows for the perception of multiple appealed senses that Munch describes. The viewer can hear Bieber singing out of the image, which is further suggested by the presence of musical notes. The expression on Bieber’s face also gives the viewer a sense of him actually screaming or belting out his song.

Even further, the orange and blue hues of Munch’s original painting with their deep contrast make for an eerie and even surreal setting. This can lead the viewer to hearing Bieber’s song with distaste. The viewer may even sympathize with the elusive figures to the left of the painting that stand in direct reception of Bieber’s scream. Like any image loaded with connotation, there are a vast number of interpretations a viewer can make with the varying levels of significance in the elements given.

Though Justin Bieber’s scream may be loud, it is severely muted when fenced in by the parameters of visual denotation. Once we remove the elements of fame and the emotional appeal of specifically juxtaposed hues, we see a boy, two fuzzy figures, a bridge, some musical notes, and a swirl of colors. The purity of this setting gives the viewer a simple message that the boy is singing on a bridge in the direction of two other figures. This objective perspective, according to Roland Barthes in his essay, "The Rhetoric of the Image," makes the image innocent. The viewer is no longer attacked by the wretched voice of Justin Bieber or spooked by the intense color scheme.

An objective understanding of the image may detract from Edvard Munch’s intention behind his artistic process of producing The Scream, but it provides the building blocks of an image that explodes with interpretation. Scott McCloud illustrates the union of these concepts in “The Vocabulary of Comics” when he writes in a speech bubble, “This is not my voice.” Likewise, this is not Justin Bieber’s scream. Once the viewer breaks down the image to a simple placement of objects the viewer can no longer hear the scream. He is instead knowledgeable of the portrayal of a scream. In this way, the viewer is swayed by methodically mixed messages to inevitably fall under Munch’s spell but perhaps with a softer blow. “I'm looking forward to influencing others in a positive way.” Justin Bieber hopes to lighten the mood at least.

Attribution: image by Flickr user oddsock, Creative Commons Licensed. image by Flickr user JOnasIsMyMiddleName:), Creative Commons Licensed.

Musical notes are stock images.

Brief Description: 

I combined Edvard Munch's The Scream with Justin Bieber's airbrushed screaming face to illustrate the purpose of my blog. I wanted to unite an image with music, which I quite literally did.


I laughed out loud when I first saw this the other day. Very realistic!

I really like this it is pretty cool and realistic.

I love it. Hilarious!

I LOL'd. Excellent. :)


Love the analysis of the Bieber craze in juxtaposition with the Scream, the Never Say Never movie may only get 2 1/2 stars from the critics, but I give your image 5 stars!

Thanks! I'm hoping my success here surpasses that of the Biebs. ;)

I tried using the The Scream html code to italicize, but it didn't work. Does anyone know another italics code?

Whoops, that didn't work either. Basically, I need the html code for italics. K thanks.

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