Screening Prompts: Vids & Vidding

How do these vids depict the role of the viewer/producer? Where is the audience in these vids? What is the work of the audience? What is the work of the vid?

How do these vids deal with the vexed question of gender in the producer/spectator relationship–and in the source text itself?

How do these vids address their viewers? As spectacle? As narrative? As both? Think in relation to the screenings from the first half of the semester.

Do these vids encourage/invite teleparticipation, and if so, how?

How do these vids compare to the youtube remixes we watched last week–in terms of all the above questions?

12 thoughts on “Screening Prompts: Vids & Vidding

  1. Sofia Zinger

    From the vids that we watched in class, it is clear that the creator has one of two assumptions. Either they believe that whoever is watching the vid is a fellow fan of the same show or text that they are using in their art, or they believe that the viewer has never seen the text and is appreciating the making of and the editing of the images as they are put together. For the latter audience members, the vids are mostly a spectacle, with cool transitions and rhythmic cuts. Meanwhile, for the people who have seen the show, the vids have more of a narrative effect and, in particular, a nostalgic context.
    Take, for example, this vid of Lost made by a fan:
    Had the viewer never seen Lost, they could definitely have still appreciated the vid due to its cool images and possibly for its music. The vids are different from the remixes we saw in this way because the remixes may not have been as easy to fully comprehend without their context, since they were so topical. We do not need to know the emotional value within the text of Lost to enjoy the vid. We are presented with cool images that are edited together well and flow smoothly to create an enthralling effect without requiring knowledge of the subject matter. It’s a similar situation to regular music videos: the videos may have a story to them, but they aren’t locked within a context that cannot be breached by an unknowing viewer.
    If the viewer of the vid in the link above had seen the first three seasons of Lost, it would be a completely different story. As opposed to being enthralled by the aesthetics and editing, they would be more invested in the context of the actions in the world created by Lost. There would be a nostalgic quality in the viewing that an unknowing viewer would not appreciate. Thus, there is more of a narrative appreciation from these viewers as opposed to the appreciation solely as spectacle by the other group.

  2. James Stepney

    After watching the vids from our prompt I noticed how much work I was doing in order to follow the many messages being relayed. For the duration of the semester thus far we have been examining how film, television, and the internet invite the viewer to interact with the medium and its messages. Here, these fan videos directly call attention to its targeted audience (tech savvy millennial generation) to cipher meaning from relatively familiar images and audio tracks. If anything, I feel the vids using Star Trek as a bridge to subvert the actual text of the source content to create a new text is rather impressive and does more when including theories regarding audience participation and spectacle. With that said, the responsibility of the producer also becomes even more significant due to the fragile nature of the viewer investing as much time he/she does while figuring out what is being portrayed. In brief, these channels to demonstrate teleparticipation from its audiences serve homage to the knowledge of those who are within the cultural context of the project.

  3. Kenneth Grinde

    The idea of a love/hate relationship has never been so perfectly embodied as it is in remix culture. As we explore the motivation, engagement, and intended messages of remixers and vidders, there is a level of criticism matched only by a level of involvement and understanding. It is a dichotomy in viewership that goes beyond commentary on narrative themes and social norms, and becomes an entirely new paradigm for criticism.

    That is to say, the assumed position of a critic is usually one of avoidance. My sister thinks Entourage is a sexist piece of trash, so she doesn’t watch it. I think Sex and the City is badly written, so I don’t watch that. The standing assumption is one of selectivity within media, especially now with so many choices available.

    But vidders and remixers have taken a new tactic. Certainly there are those that remix out of love and hommage, like the montage of “Lost”‘s Clair and Charlie, for collective commentary like the mixing of “I’m On a Boat,” or for comedic value, like the the Muppets set to anime. But the truly unique cases are videos critiques of Star Trek, or the untimely deaths of female characters in Supernatural or James Bond. These videos show just as much (or perhaps more) interaction with the source text, coupled with a clearly present dislike of the underlying message.

    These vids point to a different brand of dislike than I’m used to, and act as a wake up call for me as a student and a media consumer. Since television and films of all genres have become so prevalent and widespread in the past decade, the standard attitude towards visual media is one of cherry-picking: If something in one show doesn’t suit you, there’s hundreds of others to choose from. Within the current saturation, the attitude seems entirely legitimate, and yet there are fans that disprove it by participation in critical vidding. These fans have the impossible mix of loyalty and disappointment, where there is a level of unconditional love not often foregrounded in the culture established by sites like Television Without Pity. They are not waiting to leave a show at the first cultural misstep: instead they chide with reassurance, ready to stand by a show that in return agrees to change.

    Any assumption that Internet consumers are passive or fickle is debunked by this dichotomy, and it leads to a new kind of conversation between creators and audiences. Namely, audiences are now able to play back to creators their perceptions. And whether they come across as critical or complementary, the videos are at their core an acknowledgement of hearing something, and repeating back for confirmation. Even if immense changes are not immediately enacted, such engagement is constantly reminding creators of their power and responsibility, and offering a guiding hand from the masses.

  4. Mary-Caitlin Hentz

    Remixes construct meaning through the same essential principals that rule the concept of soviet montage: contrasting, disparate, or separate images are placed in a specific order to illicit a response, feeling or narrative structure. Just like the Russian film schools had to learn editing from chopping up pieces of old D.W. Griffith films, so we too have recognized the value in deconstructing and reconstructing preexisting media.

    Remix culture has existed forever: the same narrative tropes, characters and themes are recycled throughout entertainment and literature, the same notes and chords and progressions utilized in musical composition: the importance and validity of remix as its own form of creative expression resides not merely in the restructuring of the material, but the subsequent conversion of meaning and social relevance.

    A remix can only work within the limitations of its source text, but with modern technology and video sharing sites like youtube, the source text is practically endless. Even when walls are reached one can infuse the source text with original images, concepts and art; for the term remix doesn’t mean extrapolation and expansion and new creation is barred.

    Remixes interact with their viewers on a personal level, they make assumptions about the cultural contexts which we are privy to, our societal influences and our technological awareness. Remixes encourage input, community and perpetuation of new ideas and ways of thinking. There are living breathing feelings, captured moments in time that are more analytical than narrative – posing questions and challenges to the viewers preconceived notions of the source material and making active viewership a must.

    Vids on the other hand form a smaller, more selective community. The process is tedious and physically technological, requiring a great deal more manual labor and materials to maneuver. Vidding also seems to hold a highly gendered position in the arts, skewing overwhelmingly female: viding allowed the renunciation of hetero-male dominated filmic narratives, by calling attention to the absurdity of the male gaze and turning it on its head (as seen in the Spock and Captain Kirk vid.)

    Furthermore, vidding seems to talk to the audience whereas remixes seem to inspire a dialogue – Vids, more complicated and tedious to create have a much shorter time span to relay their messages and concise editing and clear narrative seems to be their aim.

    In relation to one another, the remix is a clear evolution of vidding culture, a reincarnation with wider limits and lower qualifications to participate.

  5. Ralph Acevedo

    Although there is some overlap and ambiguity, there do seem to be significant differences between vids and remix videos in general. Vids are remix videos in the sense that they take footage from source material and rearrange it in order to convey new meaning. However, vids tend to be of a more personal and emotional nature; they are usually made by fans of the source text (usually a television show or movie). According to Francesca Coppa, The music usually serves to underscore, highlight, or support the remixed footage in order to convey feelings deeply felt by the fan about the source text, operating along the lines of a music video. The highlighting of the emotional relationships between characters of a narrative seems to be a typical trend in the practice of vidding. Here, the viewer expresses their investment and their own unique take on a text to the producer, who may or may not listen. Remix videos, on the other hand, seem to be more politically oriented, using music as much as video and still photos to convey anti-establishment meanings or to overtly comment on a show. The Tasting Rachel Ray remix video is a good example of a video that criticizes or mocks its source text instead of celebrating it. However, the Golddigger/Gone with the Wind and Geisha vids seem to offer more commentary than fan appreciation. Likewise, the Buffy vs. Edward remix seems to be in the realm of parody but does seem to convey a sense of affection for the source texts (at least for Buffy).

  6. Mark Whelan

    When these remixes and vids were first introduced into our class discussions, the initial gut reaction I had was that we were examining films made by fanboys and (forgive the implied insult) TV geeks who were producing nothing more than flashes of their favorite science fiction content set to cool music. However, given the extensive reading and analysis from the first half of the semester I found it impossible to maintain this much-too-simple attitude and was able to apply concepts that we had talked about in early cinema to the read/write content that we have watched in class. Watching the vid “Still Alive” is not just about seeing how the narrative of “Supernatural” treats women, but also how female audiences continue to follow that narrative.

    There is undeniably a balance of spectacle and narrative in these vids/remixes similar to that present in early cinema but possibly taken to a whole new extreme. These vids have a message and they are telling a narrative. Whether it be about Lex Luther, Scarlett, or Sam “slash” Dean these vids have a narrative carefully constructed by the artist, and diligently analyzed by the viewer. The message however is fused into the spectacle naturally by the medium. We have discussed how one of the major criteria for these vids is that they are professionally edited, visually exciting, and set to effective music. These are all elements of spectacle. Unlike many of the early films that we watched in the first half of the semester, we do not have films that are purely narrative or purely spectacle, or where we have a narrative that pauses for spectacle. For these vids and remixes the two are inseparable.

    What makes all of this work is the element of audience participation and self-reflection. Now one way in which this functions is that if you are watching a vid about a particular show it is probably because you are a vidder yourself and a fan of that show. Right away this engages you as both a fan/viewer/critic as well as an artist/participant. But what brings this audience engagement to a higher level is that the tools that vidders are using to create both narrative and spectacle are actual pieces of the subject matter and therefore provide commentary of the audience. By showing a series of clips in rapid secession of the show “Supernatural,” you are illustrating what an audience of that show watches, and are using the medium of vidding to comment not only on the show itself but also on the audience for continuing to watch that show.

  7. Jamal Davis

    Fanvids serve as a source of narrative spectacle for the community of viewers that engage with the original material source. Fanvids, vids, or songvids take original material and create a new product by putting different clips together with an overlying song in the background (Coppa, 2008). This process creates a special relation to the content that the producer saw and wants to share with the greater community that watch the given show or film. It is important to recognize that Fanvids are not like remix videos where the viewer doesn’t need to know the material to enjoy the video.
    The audience is in the video remembering how they experienced and thought about the original content that they are now seeing. The goal of the Fanvid creator/producer is to evoke the fans connection to the material and through editing and song choice create a different meaning to the characters, events, or show as a whole. The fan viewership is crucial because it is this very audience that will bring life and engagement to the creators’ material from taking their previous knowledge and using that to see the original material in a different way.
    By the producer creating a new context for the show to be seen in the Fanvid has provided an alternate mode of engagement for the fan community. It has created a possible side story for viewers to recognize in upcoming episodes or encouraged them to go back and watch past seasons with this new concept in mind. However, at the same time this mode of fandom as spectacle. The spectacle lies in the images and the producers’ choice of images and song not the editing. Since the viewer is aware of the videos clips that are being referenced it is a chance for them to enjoy a different perspective from a fellow fan. The work of the video has served as a mode of spectacle and narrative for the shows fan community by the producer evoking an alternative mode of experiencing the original material.

  8. Brendan Mahoney

    Fan made vids address the viewer in a distinctly different manner than the “conventional” Youtube video most people seek out on the video-sharing site. Youtube stalwarts like “Charlie Bit My Finger” address the viewer like a short story might: as a casual viewer seeking to be quickly entertained, however mindlessly. Vids, however, operate differently: more akin to a critical essay or academic journal article. Academic papers are usually created with a specific audience in mind, an audience that can be assumed to have some if not extensive knowledge about the subject at hand. Vids, like academic papers, require some familiarity with the source text and often the music associated with it as well. Often, a broad media literacy as well as involvement with the viding community is required for the appreciation of “multivids” like Lim’s celebrated vid “Us.” While “Us” can be seen on Youtube along with “Charlie Bit My Finger,” it is a nuanced discussion of fandom, copyright laws, and the creator-consumer relationship.

    Contrast this to remix videos, which could easily (though incorrectly) be lumped into the same category as vids. Remix videos function like spectacle. Take, for example, rebelliouspixel’s remix “Buffy vs Edward: Twilight Remixed.” No prior knowledge of either source is required to see the evolution (or devolution) of the mass media’s depiction of women and vampires. The same is true for appreciation of naomileib’s remix “Tasting Rachel Ray.” The fetishization of food is apparent whether or not the viewer is a fan of $40 a Day or not.

    While there is nothing wrong with these remix montages, to think of vids as the same is to miss their inquisitive and critical purpose. Vids are created with a focused audience in mind, often to create narratives only this focused audience would understand or care about. The viewer is also asked to draw connections and “study” the vid, not just passively enjoy it. To fully understand the vidder’s thesis, a viewer must use the content of the vid, the editing choices and the lyrics of the chosen song to make inferences and glean meaning. All of this is in addition to prior knowledge of the source text. While the term “internet video” may bring to mind pointless, idiotic entertainment, vids (which were actually created before the world wide web) are in fact a highly efficient and insightful form of critical analysis. This may not be readily apparent to all, but when one thinks about the experience a vid assumes of its viewer, the brilliance and intelligence of a good vid is much more obvious.

  9. Rajwinder Kaur

    Vidding is not only a practice; it is also a discourse. There is the practice of making a vid, which constitutes finding the right scenes and music and finally editing both together coherently. At the same time, vidding is a discourse, which allows for a conversation about the messages vids highlight (or neglect) to exist. The comment button is key here. Where it was once the role of op-eds, academic journals and media critics to respond to texts, now anyone that is a member of a particular text’s community can respond. In fact, it is important to recognize the vid itself as a response to the text that spawned a specific community.

    The vidder is not only a fan of a text, but he/she is also critically engaging with it. Vids are essentially visual essays that use pieces of the same visual medium, other texts and additional music to critique or highlight aspects of the text (Coppa 2010). Isn’t that what conventional essays are as well? Traditional essays use written language as their medium to highlight and critique aspects of a text. Outside sources are used and are more often than not necessary to further solidify and argument. The difference between a visual essay and a conventional one is that the former is watched while the latter is read. Both, however, require critical thinking on behalf of the producer and the “reader.”

    Take for example the Lex Luther/Superman Bad Romance vid where Lex and Clark’s relationship is highlighted. Not only is it brought to our attention, but otherwise ignored aspects are foregrounded that are suggestive of a homosexual relationship. The vid depicts continuity between several Superman texts, such as comic books, cartoon shows, and the TV show Smallville. It is important to note that all these texts were created at different time periods. Therefore, the consistency of this theme throughout space and time reinforces the vidder’s position that a homosexual relationship exists between the said male characters. This is no mere slash fan fiction. Set to the tune of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance, this relationship is seen through the lens of the lyrics. The images are in harmony with the tempo and rhythm of the song, showing that this is a carefully planned work—in fact, this blueprinting of a filmic piece alludes to the auteur theory.

    The audience is, all the while, asked to make meaning of both the correlation of the images to each other and to the music. With conventional essays, the writer (unless writing in abstractions or employing literary devices for a particular effect) is almost required to present their argument in a straightforward, concise manner. The reader, as a result, reads and digests exactly what the writer has sought to present. On the other hand, with vids, the audience has space to interpret the images and sounds. Words have a way of telling on what to do; the audience is not participating until after the reading is done—whether this occurs at the end of an entire text or just a sentence. With a vid, it’s a constant invitation to participate, to make your own meaning of the vidder’s work. This is sheerly because a vid speaks to you, but not at you.

  10. Toren Hardee

    During the last couple of weeks, without realizing it, I had sort of forgotten about the first half of the semester, and now I’d like to try to connect the main ideas from this period to our early Hollywood unit. I think the question to unite these is that of, “what are these texts putting on display?” and the issue of spectacle and narrative.

    An easy assumption to make would be that the films from our screenings in the first half of the semester have a much simpler relationship with their audiences than the remixes and vids that we’ve watched in the past two weeks. We did a good job of revealing that this isn’t necessarily true; that there are subtleties there to the producer/audience relationship as well, and the films we watched—films like The Purple Rose of Cairo and Prix de Beauté—are especially well-suited to this. Still, in considering remix videos and especially fan vids, I find there to be some very complex dynamics at work, in terms of who the intended audience is, and what is being put on display.

    In vids—some more than others—there is a degree to which the audience itself is being put on display in the vid. “Us” by Lim is the perfect example: in many ways, it is a vid about audiences, with the prototypical audience member being, well, exactly the type of “viewer” who would make a video just like this one. In a sense (and this is true of other vids we watch, especially ones like “How Much Is That Geisha In The Window”), it is a demand by the audience that they be heard and considered, directed at the producers of the texts being reworked. But the way I see it, there are really three audiences at play here: the producers, at whom the video is directly, explicitly aimed at; the members of the vid’s fan community, for whom the vid is implicitly intended; and outsiders, casual viewers (my position with most of these vids), who may not be familiar with the source texts and the complex dynamics at play.

    More general remix videos seem comparatively simple; many have a reductive political statement about copyright law or fair use—a sort of rallying cry for piraters everywhere—but not much else. Still both fan vids and general remixes both share a love of spectacle. In the fan vids, this spectacle is often some sort of forbidden (or perhaps not that forbidden) romance between two of the characters. And in many remixes, the spectacle is often the very act of remixing, and the technical prowess behind it. This is where I see the main connection to one of my biggest realizations in the first half of the class, which was that spectacle was never really replaced by narrative.

  11. Patricia

    Watching the vids from the different time periods in succession highlighted how vids have increased in their production value and sophistication with time, due to advances in technology. For the Spock vid, the maker had to go directly to the cutting room floor to gather the filmstrip images. Surely, hours of labor were put into the project and yet now, a 10 year old could make something with a much higher production value in half the time. Technology progressed with the coming of the VCR, but even using that was an incredibly tedious task. Programs like iMovie nowadays, allow for anyone to make a vid in a manner that is significantly less complex and much less time consuming.

    The wonderful thing about vids is that audience goes from being a passive viewer to not only an active participant–but a creator. All of a sudden, the viewer has a lot of power because they can arrange and re-arrange the text to generate any meaning that they would like, it is an entirely different way to engage with the medium. For example, if one were a Lost fan and wanted Sawyer and Kate to end up together, one could use actual footage from the show to emphasize that relationship for one’s own pleasure. Vids allow the viewer to create the narrative that they want.

    It is interesting that many of the vids address a particular audience–some of them highlight feminism (as seen in the Gone with the Wind/Kanye’s “Gold Digger” vid) , other address homoeroticism (particularly the Spock/Captain Kirk and Clark Kent/Lex Luthor vids), and even more of them appeal to those who are fans of the romances in the various television shows/films (every other vid…). The vids invite teleparticipation in a very explicit manner–“I am a fan of what you are a fan of. I made this vid! You can make one too!” It is very gratifying to watch a vid and pick up on things that someone who is not a fan of the show would not pick up on. It is even more gratifying to see an element of the show that one particularly loves, explicitly manipulated to create something brand new.

  12. Joshua Aichenbaum

    In looking at the “Something to Talk About” vids I posted on my blog, I couldn’t help noticing trends that commented back upon the “I’m on A Boat” vids we watched in class. In watching these vids, I concluded that part of their meaning is constructed by our understanding of their genre and their originality. We ask, “Is this video accomplishing something new? Is it branching away from generic clichés?” One trend that caught my eye was that both the “I’m On A Boat” and “Something to Talk About” both included Yugio remixes. I am hesitant to deem Yugioh a subgenre as much as easy choice, selected for its assumed comedic value. In other words, it is a Youtube cliché, which is, perhaps, further suggested by the fact there is a Youtube series called, “Another Random Yugioh Video.” What interests me about these videos and the idea of cliché is that originality is dependent upon context. One video may be highly original due to the way it interacts with its source material, while another hardly interacts with its source material and thus is less enjoyable and constructs less coherent meaning for the viewer. In other words, it does not have to be trite to remix a Yugioh vid. In fact, the “I’m On A Blimp” video is rather astute, in that it complements “I’m on a Boat” in its parodic intention. “I’m On A Boat” asks, Why the heck are rappers always on boats in music videos? And “I’m on a Blimp,” asks, Why are Yugioh characters often fighting on a blimp? Does it serve the narrative outside of its spectacle of coolness? Probably not. Therefore, how do these videos create meaning? I would argue that “I’m On A Blimp” constructs meaning by understanding its viewer. The video acknowledges that its viewer does not live in a vacuum and therefore has viewed either Yugioh, “I’m On A Boat,” or both. Since it knows its viewer is knowledgeable, when it meshes its lyrics with parodic image it draws upon the complexity of its intertextual nature and its editing rhythm, and, as a result, is entertaining. It is also important to note that “I’m on a Blimp’s” lyrics are original lyrics created for the video. The video is not merely overlapping the original soundtrack over new images, but is instead creating new meaning by adding new parodic humor. The “Something to Talk About” video, on the other hand, neither intelligently uses its source material, nor creates new material or edits its visuals to compliment the rhythmic and narrative nature one would expect from good vids. For me, a non-Yugioh viewer, I was unable to construct any meaning from its images. Perhaps, a more experienced Yugioh viewer would have had more luck, but I did not. In sum, a successful remix constructs meaning by calling upon its viewer’s generic and paratextual knowledge. It then uses visual and audio synchronism to amplify its message and create meaning, which I thought “I’m on A Blimp” did quite well.

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