tishaturk: (TV: Buffy)
[personal profile] tishaturk
I'm starting to think about the paper I'm writing for Film and Film Culture--no actual reading or writing yet, just some back-burner pondering. This post is sort of a warm-up for beginning that paper; I want to try to articulate a few general thoughts about TV and movie vids. I'm particularly interested in the reasons that vidders make (and viewers watch) TV and movie vids, and in the conditions that govern viewer responses to them.

Fans seem to be drawn primarily (though not exclusively) to the long form of visual narrative, to the intratextual complexity (and extratextual camaraderie) that a regular ongoing narrative enables, and so it's not surprising that vids based on TV dominate fannish vidding and vidwatching experiences. But most of us also appreciate the possibilities of movie vids, and not just for movies that inspire extensive fannish activity or draw on existing fannish infrastructure (Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, comics-based movies, etc.); witness the perennial presence of movie vidshows at VividCon or the new community [livejournal.com profile] bigscreenvids. Movies can be tricky to vid--there's a lot less source in a two-hour movie than in even a half-season of a prematurely cancelled show--but movies often have more viddable shots: gorgeous cinematography and spectacular scene-setting are more common in movies than TV shows, for obvious budgetary reasons, and so movies often present aesthetic possibilities that most TV shows simply can't.

Movie vids seem, in my admittedly limited experience, to be more accessible than TV vids for viewers outside a fannish context. This is partly, I think, because of the familiarity of movie trailers, which are superficially similar to vids in various ways. I suspect it's also partly a matter of cultural osmosis: non-fannish viewers are more likely to have at least a passing acquaintance with or at least awareness of the source if that source is a movie (partially because of trailers). But I wonder whether accessibility is also a matter of content: often a passing acquaintance with the premise of the source is all one needs for a movie vid, whereas the nature of TV narratives and especially our common modes of fannish engagement with TV narratives encourage TV vids that reward deep knowledge of context. Vidders can make context-dependent TV vids knowing that someone will get the details and be thrilled about them. Movie vids tend not to rely on the same detailed knowledge of the source that TV vids do (although they may well reward detailed knowledge by yielding additional layers of meaning).

I don't want to overstate or overgeneralize this difference; obviously both context-dependent and context-independent vids are made with both types of source. It is absolutely possible to make very deep living-room-style movie vids, and certainly most movie vids benefit from having seen the movie. But I do think that movie vids tend (tend!) to be more easily parsed by someone who doesn't know the source, and in particular to be more easily parsed by someone who is not reading in a fannish context or in the ways that fans routinely practice. This is not to say that such viewers will love the vid or automatically have an epiphany about how awesome vidding is; I just mean that they stand a better chance of developing some sense of what's going on.

I think in some ways movie vids are often less accessible for fans than TV vids are, because most movies don't have a fandom already in place--which is to say that we usually don't think about movies as intensely or collaboratively as we do about TV, and for some of us the fannish cultural-osmosis-knowledge about TV shows we don't watch may be stronger and more pervasive than the general cultural-osmosis-knowledge about movies (though of course this will vary enormously from individual to individual). Movie vids may be pretty or impressive; we may enjoy, admire, and respect them; but typically they don't hit us where we live in quite the same way that TV vids do (though there are exceptions, especially for movies that do have thriving fandoms), and it's that emotional hit (especially the shared emotional hit) that seems to characterize what fans want out of vids. Which is to say: What makes a vid work for a for a non-fannish viewer is not necessarily the same thing as what makes it work for a fannish viewer, and in fact what it means for the vid to "work" for those two audiences may be quite different.

I don't think it's accidental that Luminosity/[livejournal.com profile] sockkpuppett's "Vogue" has made perhaps the biggest splash outside fandom of any single vid so far. "Vogue" is accessible partly because 300 was hugely promoted and discussed, but also because the central theme of the vid requires very little context or content knowledge: it's all right there on the screen, all those nearly-naked men, the homosocial being queered right before our eyes. You really don't have to know the movie--the vid arguably repudiates the very idea of there being a fandom for this movie, even as it emphasizes the slash potential on which many a fandom has been founded. The vid is also accessible because it's funny; [livejournal.com profile] sockkpuppett refuses to take the movie seriously. The vid might even be described as a parody, and while that description would, I think, be an oversimplification, one can think of it in terms of that category--the same category into which we might put the once-ubiquitous "Brokeback Penguin" and "Brokeback to the Future" trailers and their ilk--and I think that very familiarity gives non-fans a framework within which to understand the vid.

I saw "Vogue" before I ever saw 300; in fact, until I decided to propose a paper on "Vogue," I had no intention of ever seeing 300. Such refusal-to-see is one possible response to texts that seem likely to bore or annoy me, and (as a feminist and highly opinionated cultural consumer) I take this option more often than not; life's too short to volunteer for being bored and annoyed. Vidding offers the possibility of another kind of response: re-seeing the text, and giving other people the chance to re-see it with us. One of the interesting things about the reception of "Vogue," for me, is how many of the comments say something to the effect of "Finally, a reason to be glad I sat through that godawful movie." [livejournal.com profile] sockkpuppett could have posted a critical review of the movie, or a rant about the movie, and no doubt she would have had a lot of readers nodding along. But the vid allows us to convert our anger, boredom, etc. into glee. It would be possible to laugh at the movie without the vid, but for fans the vid turns that laughter into a community experience.

Looking back over this post, it occurs to me that the real distinction might not be between TV and movie vids but between vids for source texts that have extensive and elaborated fannish activity and source texts that have smaller or less active fandoms (which also allows for change over time as shows gain fans or go off the air and the popularity of a particular movie explodes and then wanes)--a distinction that maps only partially and incompletely onto the TV/movie difference.

I should mention, too, that I know I'm oversimplifying by categorizing possible audiences into "fannish vidwatchers" and "nonfannish viewers." There are plenty of fans who just don't get vids, and plenty of others who come to like them eventually but take a while to get there; and there are people who aren't involved in media fandom but who know quite a bit about other aspects of remix culture; and there are people who aren't in fandom but whom we might describe as proto-fannish: they may not know much about fandom, but they're savvy readers of media texts, and when shown vids (especially vids for shows they like) they grasp the concept and understand the appeal pretty quickly. So we've actually got... not so much a continuum as a graph where X = fannish tendencies and Y = interest in DIY video, and individual people may be anywhere on that grid.

Which makes me think about Jason Mittell's thoughts on "Vogue" and Scooby Road, which I haven't engaged at all in this post. Mittell claims that Scooby Road is a better introduction to vidding than "Vogue" for someone who's an "outsider," who isn't, to use a phrase he borrows from Luminosity, a "contextual fan," but in fact his post suggests that Scooby Road works for him precisely because it enables him to position himself as an insider and to be a contextual fan: he knows Buffy, he loves Abbey Road, he's found a vid that celebrates things he's already inclined to celebrate. And that speaks, I think, to the way that fandom is a matter not just of seeing in similar (or at least related) ways, but of wanting similar (or at least related) things. Mittell dismisses most of the vids on Kristina Busse's list of recommended vids, saying that they left him "underwhelmed," which is fair; I've been underwhelmed by plenty of vids, and I love vids, plus, while I think most of the vids Busse recommends are terrific (at least the ones I've seen), I have reservations about some of them as intro material for non-fans. But I think that it's a little disingenuous to suggest that Scooby Road is necessarily a better introduction to vidding than "Vogue" (or many of the other vids on Busse's list); it was better for Mittell, it might have been better for me had I not already been sold on vids, but that's hardly a definitive sample. As a counter-example, I think of a proto-fannish colleague of mine who would, I suspect, find Scooby Road profoundly boring because she isn't interested in Buffy and isn't a Beatles fan, but who took to [livejournal.com profile] sockkpuppett's Highlander vid "Ability to Swing" like a duck to water because she is 100% on board with the premise that Duncan's hotness should be celebrated.

Which brings us back, once again, to the balance of context and content.

Date: 2008-12-03 03:17 am (UTC)
ext_841: (obsession (by coffeejunkii))
From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com
Very interesting post! I've been wondering about Jason's reaction quite a bit, because I always believed that movie vids were a great intro (for all the reasons you mention), that early vids in a fandom were a better intro (I mean, by the time we get to Scooby Road, we're not just dealing with 7 seasons but also with hundreds of vids as intertext), and yet he completely disagreed.

Except that he's maybe not a good representative for non-fan...as a TV scholar, esp. one heavily invested in serial and complex narratives, he's already fannish about Buffy--even if he may not be in our corner of fandom.

I've actually been fascinated by discussions between my film scholarly trained friend and myself, where her background creates a very different viewing position (and a different vidding aesthetic, I think).

So, yes, I think that personal context and likes and dislikes play a huge role--but I'd still stand by your initial thesis, namely that texts with lesser fannish context are easier accessible. (Pimping vids, for example, unless they play with a lot of fannidh tropes, translate well).

One last thing: I've had an ongoing conversation with Laura and others about Lim's Us and its accessibility. I think it's eminently accessible and she always felt it wasn't. And I think we were dealing with different layers of the vid--one that resonated for academics who might not get any of the references but who got the central conceit...

Lastly, I think the same is true in fic. There are stories that are so deeply within the fandom, referencing events and fannish occurrences and playing upon fannish tropes that it's nearly impossible to explain to an outsider. Otoh, there are stories that read almost like non fanfic in the way they don't tie into a fannidh interpretive community. And then there are what a friend of mine calls crossover hits: stories that are deeply embedded in the community, but whose other layers make it accessible to fans in other fandoms or even outsiders...

Date: 2008-12-08 05:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
...early vids in a fandom were a better intro...

I see your point here, though I'm not entirely sure I agree. Then again, things may have changed since I wandered into fandom; during S6 of Buffy, early season vids were pretty hard to come by (most of them had been made on two VCRs!) and so I (and many others) came in on vids made from S5 and S6. So I think I'd qualify your point by adding "or vids that are self-contained"--as in fact many vids are; plenty of vids don't demand much in the way of inter- or meta-textual knowledge, though they may demand significant familiarity with canon.

...he's already fannish about Buffy--even if he may not be in our corner of fandom.

Yeah, that was my sense as well; he may not be part of our web of communities or be familiar with our ways of seeing or our modes of interaction, but he knows the show, so a vid that lets him plug back into what he likes about the show will do the trick. I have plenty of students like this too--they know nothing about organized fandom, but they LOVE Firefly or BSG or whatever, and if I show them the right vid, BANG, they get it. The question is, which vid is the right vid? And of course there's no single simple answer.

I've had an ongoing conversation with Laura and others about Lim's Us and its accessibility. I think it's eminently accessible and she always felt it wasn't. And I think we were dealing with different layers of the vid--one that resonated for academics who might not get any of the references but who got the central conceit...

I'm always fascinated by the varying opinions on that vid. Personally, I would not have expected it to be accessible to non-fans--partly, perhaps, because *I* don't find it particularly accessible; it seems to be celebrating a type of fannishness in which I don't participate and a type of fan I don't feel myself to be, not to mention shows that don't much interest me, and so I find myself feeling excluded rather than celebrated. (It doesn't help that I find the visual metaphor--the central conceit, as you put it--to be entirely backwards, which means that I spend the entire length of the vid gritting my teeth.)

And yet Jonathan Gray and others have assured me that their students/acquaintances/etc. have found the vid accessible and compelling. Shows what I know! But I think this discrepancy also raises the question of whether "resonance" necessarily translates into meaning or interpretation. I think it's possible to have resonance without meaning, or vice versa: I can see perfectly well what "Us" is attempting to do, and I understand that in many cases the attempt is successful, but for me it isn't; it is comprehensible, but it doesn't resonate.

Date: 2008-12-08 08:25 pm (UTC)
ext_841: (csi (by seava))
From: [identity profile] cathexys.livejournal.com
I've been thinking a lot since I read your response about the early vid issue, because it always seemed like such a self evident fact to me...but I think you may be right--it may be less the other vids and just the lots and lots of footage available at that point.

And yet, i don't think that a S6 vid could innocently use particular early Season shots...I'm thinking of Killa's LKBV The Way You Are which works, I think, in part not only because the moments are melodramatic (and highlighted by music) but for me it worked because I'd seen every one of those clips in tons of shipper vids....

Date: 2008-12-03 03:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] deathisyourart.livejournal.com
When it comes to movie vids being sometimes more accessible than television vids to those unfamiliar with the text I think you have to also take into account that with a movie vid there is often the re-telling of an entire story, whereas, with a television vid it is more likely to be the a smaller subset of the entire story. So, for a television vid someone who is unfamiliar with the text may have to fight between the need to parse what story the vid is telling and the bigger story the show is telling.

which is to say that we usually don't think about movies as intensely or collaboratively as we do about TV
This is the strongest argument in this post for me, because as a fan I want to delve into a source text, take it apart and see how it ticks (which would make my definition of being a fan sound an awful lot like Sylar), but with a movie constrained to a 2 hour runtime, the layers are more often than not going to come from an actor's performance than the plot or narrative.

Date: 2008-12-08 05:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
I think you have to also take into account that with a movie vid there is often the re-telling of an entire story, whereas, with a television vid it is more likely to be the a smaller subset of the entire story.

This is an excellent point, and one I hadn't quite articulated for myself; thank you for mentioning it! [livejournal.com profile] millylicious mentions something similar downthread; she observes that "because of the limited source, movies don't allow [us] to play with the narrative as much." One of the implications, I think, is that most movie vids really are like trailers in some significant ways--whether the vidder thinks of the vid that way or not--and thus they map more neatly onto a familiar genre, whereas TV vids are almost never very much like, say, the show's opening credits sequence, let alone the "next week on ____" teasers. So there's the tension that you mention between the vid's story and the source's story, but there's also a tension of genre.

...the layers are more often than not going to come from an actor's performance than the plot or narrative.

That makes a lot of sense to me--especially in light of the fact that movies tend to make a splash in fandom either because 1) they're in the genres that we gravitate towards, or 2) they star actors whom we know in other contexts. (I'm thinking especially of Wilby Wonderful and Hard Core Logo and various other Six Degrees of Due South projects that seem unlikely candidates for fannishness except for the part where they star hot Canadians.)

Date: 2008-12-03 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kassrachel.livejournal.com
often a passing acquaintance with the premise of the source is all one needs for a movie vid, whereas the nature of TV narratives and especially our common modes of fannish engagement with TV narratives encourage TV vids that reward deep knowledge of context.

Yes, absolutely. This is something I've been thinking about as my (generally non-fannish but deeply LOST-obsessed) sweetie has started watching more vids with me. I hadn't entirely been aware of the extent to which I watch TV vids with a whole set of contextual TV lenses -- and also a set of contextual fannish vid lenses -- firmly in place until I started watching occasional vids with someone who has neither of those frames of reference built-in.

Date: 2008-12-08 05:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
That's really interesting! Do you mean that you've been watching LOST vids together and getting different things out of them even though you're both obsessed with the show? Or have you been watching vids in general? What sorts of vid-grammar (or fan-grammar) stuff do you know that he doesn't?

Date: 2008-12-08 06:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kassrachel.livejournal.com
It's become clear to me, watching LOST vids with him, to what extent these years of fannish vid-watching and vid conversation have trained my eye and my brain. I showed him a constructed reality vid (pairing Jack from LOST with Cameron from House) which he found vaguely interesting but far too fast; clips were taken out of context, because of the constructed reality inherent in the narrative, and he found that (and the very tight cutting between tiny tiny clips) hard to follow.

I showed a friend of mine (also a LOST fan, with a degree in film) the LOST vid I've been working on for [livejournal.com profile] muskratjamboree, and he was thrown off by the way I begin the vid (with a shot of each of the main characters who's going to get a verse dedicated to them; I come back to all of them again in the instrumental bars at the very end of the vid, too.) He found that cluttered and confusing. Meanwhile, everyone I know who's a watcher of fannish vids who's previewed that vid has agreed that I'm making use of a fairly standard vidding convention -- if you see three characters, each getting two seconds of focused screentime, before the lyrics begin, you assume that they're each going to be touched-on in the vid. I hadn't thought of that as a vidding convention, but apparently it made no sense to him at all until I explained it, and so far my fannish viewers have found it quite intelligible. *g* That's fascinating to me.

Date: 2008-12-12 04:23 am (UTC)
ext_108: Jules from Psych saying "You guys are thinking about cupcakes, aren't you?" (Default)
From: [identity profile] liviapenn.livejournal.com

if you see three characters, each getting two seconds of focused screentime, before the lyrics begin, you assume that they're each going to be touched-on in the vid. I hadn't thought of that as a vidding convention, but apparently it made no sense to him at all until I explained it, and so far my fannish viewers have found it quite intelligible. *g*

Without having seen your vid, I can say I'd probably be able to follow this-- it's the vid equivalent of the opening credits for a tv show, where if you see someone get a "hero shot", then that person is a main character on the show, obviously, and will probably be showing up at some point in the episode. So showing your vid's "main characters" in the beginning (even if you then don't immediately do anything with them) is readable as mimicry of the opening theme of a show.

Date: 2008-12-03 04:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mranderson71.livejournal.com
Thats an interesting take on TV/movie vids. TV vids are definately in the overwhelming majority, and I do agree that all that extra source is very appealing in terms of what people are able to do with it.

I am more of a movie buff than an avid TV watcher but I actually prefer to vid movies for the exact opposite reason - because there isn't so much source. The time involved not only with refamiliarizing myself with multiple seasons is daunting enough, but then to rip all that source makes it equally painful, as pre-prod is easily the most hated part of vidding for me. If I had access to a vidding gimp to do all that hard slog for me I would definately do more TV vids.

Lots of source is handy though I will admit, & at least with trilogies (Matrix, LOTR) & sagas (SW) they offer quite a bit more footage than your usual stand alone stories.

Date: 2008-12-08 05:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
Your response is pretty much exactly the opposite of what [livejournal.com profile] millylicious said downthread! Which is interesting, but also a useful reminder that, yeah, different vidders approach vidding in different ways. When I wrote that "Movies can be tricky to vid," I was thinking along the same lines as Milly: more source = more ways to play with the narrative. But clearly I might just as easily have said "TV shows can be daunting to vid," because of exactly the prep time and pre-production that you mention.

Sequels and trilogies and sagas do seem to be the best of both worlds in some ways--and now I'm curious just what proportion of movie vids are made from those groups of movies as opposed to standalones. I think it helps that science fiction & fantasy movies are especially likely to come in trilogies or other groupings, and those are the types of movies that a lot of us gravitate towards as fans anyway.

Date: 2008-12-03 05:02 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] millylicious.livejournal.com
I'm of the tv-vidding camp - not because I have no interest in vidding movies, not because I haven't tried. I have tried numerous times to vid movies and every single time, fell flat on my face. I guess a lot of this relies on the fact that I'm very narrative focussed, in terms of retelling a story or crafting a new one, and because of the limited source, movies don't allow me to play witb the narrative as much. You have 2 hours, perhaps almost three (sometimes just over one) or a usually very straight forward narrative and playing with elements of it is difficult, so much so that you often find yourself just retelling the movie's narrative, not your own.

But the appeal of limited source and the source itself (as you said, the scenery, the shots, it's all very viddable) is definitely there and perhaps it's why I'll keep trying until I've found a way of vidding movies that works for me. I know it's possible, I've seen tons of great movie vids (although, I have to say that a majority of movie vids focus on movies with sequels, where the amount of source is far bigger), but I haven't yet found the angle that works for me.

Date: 2008-12-08 05:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
I think it's fascinating that your response is almost exactly the opposite of [livejournal.com profile] mranderson71's!

...because of the limited source, movies don't allow me to play witb the narrative as much.

Yeah--this is exactly what I was thinking of when I said that movies can be tricky to vid; they're especially tricky if you're trying to play with those elements, as you say, to avoid just retelling the movie.

... majority of movie vids focus on movies with sequels, where the amount of source is far bigger...

That's my sense too, though I have no data to back it up, only general impressions. It would be really interesting to try to compile statistics on how many movie vids work with series vs. standalones, although I don't know how it could possibly be done. It helps that many of those movies with sequels are science fiction and fantasy, which are genres that many fans tend to gravitate towards anyway.

Your point about finding ways to do more than just retell the movie makes me wonder whether that could be one value of special effects in movie vids: maybe effects could give vidders additional ways of changing or defamiliarizing the source, essentially expanding the amount of footage there is to work with.

Date: 2008-12-08 12:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] millylicious.livejournal.com
[livejournal.com profile] ferdalump has done especially lovely work with combining tv footage and movie footage using heavy effects to insert new character in shots - in her constructed AUs, she manages to use footage completely out of context, while telling very clear narratives (I'm especially fond of 'Come Undone', because of how clear the story is - it's almost like reading fanfiction). It's a completely different use of movies though, because other than key elements which can generally be found in the shots she uses themselves, she doesn't use the movie's context or narrative at all - same about the tv footage.
Edited Date: 2008-12-08 12:47 pm (UTC)

Scattered & tangential

Date: 2008-12-03 03:55 pm (UTC)
ext_6428: (Default)
From: [identity profile] coffeeandink.livejournal.com
- Mittel led me to Louisa Stein who references Jenkins, and they all remind me that there is considerable academic resistance to "Women's Work"'s critique of Supernatural--identical, in fact, to the fannish resistance to the critique, slightly disguised, if only to the resisters, by their conviction that as academics they stand outside the relationship between art object and viewer. I think there's some of that slippage in Mittel's analysis of his response to "Scooby Road"; he both centralizes and misses the import of his contextual knowledge in his understanding.

Reading that over, I'm afraid it sounds hostile to academic analysis of fanwork, which I hope you know I'm not! I am just skeptical of academic analysis which is not aware of its own partial and subjective nature, of the constraints of its own knowledge and relationships to power.

I have to admit it's puzzled me, how much more popular "Vogue" is than "Women's Work," when "Women's Work" strikes me as a much more significant work. Maybe people are more comfortable with women's laughter than women's rage. Or maybe my sense of humor is just off.

- After watching "Ring Them Bells" I thought I might be able to watch Kill Bill; that seemed like a level of violence I could handle, even if just barely. Then someone -- [livejournal.com profile] laurashapiro? [livejournal.com profile] nestra?--told me "Ring Them Bells" was Kill Bill with all the violence cut out, and I ditched that plan.

- I love a lot of the vids Kristina lists (I have significant issues with "Us," especially when treated as a paradigm of fannish activity), but so many of them seem saturated in particular fannish reading conventions that I wouldn't recommend them as beginner vids. In particular, she likes recommending meta vids -- which I think of as a very small subset of vids (although not unimportant!), and which, even if the intellectual argument gets across, will not convey the key emotional argument to a nonfannish audience and/or teach the audience how to read more typical vids.

Re: Scattered & tangential

Date: 2008-12-08 04:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
...considerable academic resistance to "Women's Work"'s critique of Supernatural...

Really? Huh. I have to say I'm surprised by that. I mean, I'm sure you're right, but I haven't actually seen any of the resistance you allude to; the resistance I saw was all fans being protective of their beloved show, and to be perfectly honest I didn't see a lot of that; most folks whose comments I saw were ultimately on board with the vid. I'd be interested in links if you've still got them.

I'm afraid it sounds hostile to academic analysis of fanwork, which I hope you know I'm not!

I do not think of you as hostile to academic analysis, no. And I share your concerns about analyses that don't register subject positions, which is why I found myself facepalming at a few of Mittell's generalizations.

I have to admit it's puzzled me, how much more popular "Vogue" is than "Women's Work," when "Women's Work" strikes me as a much more significant work.

I guess a career in literary studies has trained me not to expect any sort of correlation between significance and popularity. I think you're right about our collective comfort levels with women's laughter as opposed to women's rage, but I also think the phenomenon is not just gendered. Humor, or at least entertainment, seems to be what most non-fans expect from mash-ups in general; "Women's Work" is, to put it bluntly, not fun to watch (and I hope you know I don't mean that as a criticism), whereas "Vogue" is a lot of fun.

Plus, I really do think there's a context factor. 300 was a big movie; I was aware of it before it came out, which given my tendency to live under a rock when it comes to movies is really saying something. Supernatural, by contrast, is not a big TV show, which is something that people in fandom seem to forget about because it does have a large (and loud) fannish following. I think that "Women's Work" is, in theory, comprehensible to someone who has not seen the show, and I think that it encodes a misogynist phenomenon and a feminist frustration that are by no means limited to Supernatural. But I also think that, for someone unfamiliar with the show, the tension between the vid's narrative and the show's narrative (where are those cute demon-fighting boys?) may not be immediately apparent--and here we go back to my points about narrative in a previous post.

As for the vids on Busse's rec list... Yeah. I too have issues with "Us"--see my comments to [livejournal.com profile] cathexys upthread. I think it's interesting that the vids she recommends are very much not the kinds of vids that got me interested in vidding; like you, I tend to think that metavids are not a great introduction to someone unfamiliar with the form (though here my biases are perhaps showing a bit: with maybe two exceptions, I don't particularly like the metavids I've seen, even if I respect them and find them clever or thoughtful). I got interested in vidding because of unapologetic 'shipper vids and emo character studies and straightforward narratives set to music that I liked. (That's one thing that I think is missing from Busse's rec list: any attention to the music, or to the possibility for strong musical tastes. A vid set to a song one doesn't like is a hard sell for anyone, but especially for a newbie, as I think Mittell's comments should remind us.)

My tastes have since expanded, but I think it's really telling that a lot of us--both vidders and vidwatchers--start with 'shipper and BSO vids, even if we branch out to other types of vids later (and of course not everybody does branch out, nor should they feel that they have to). I find it fascinating that 'shipper vids have become sort of uncool to talk about in the vidding community, even though people clearly enjoy watching and making them; pairing oriented-fic has rather decidedly not suffered the same fate.

Re: Scattered & tangential

Date: 2008-12-08 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] blacksquirrel.livejournal.com
I have to agree re: academic reactions to "Women's Work" - While I don't discount that some academics dislike Women's Work - in my small sample of academics I know and have showed the vid to, all of them were very excited by it as a useful tool for thinking about structures of gendered representations - and a potential classroom tool.

Date: 2008-12-03 09:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jmittell.livejournal.com
Thanks for comments building on my post. I guess I wasn't clear enough in saying that Scooby Road's strength for me was certainly subjective & contextual, as I pre-loved both visual & music sources (with the additional important factor of it being an expertly crafted and inspired work). Plus I do have a general love of "big texts" like serial narratives, huge books, concept albums, etc. So it hit my sweet spot in ways that little else has done.

I didn't mean to claim that it would work that way for any typical "outsider" per se. In fact I've used excerpts of Scooby Road in teaching vidding, and it doesn't connect with most students who don't share my Buffy fandom. Interestingly, they seem to generally like "Us" much better...

As to the broader question of film vs. TV vids, I wonder how different the foci of the two forms tend to be. In my limited experiences, TV vids are primarily focused on character and/or relationships, which fits both the vast resources available for a series and the dramatic emphasis on TV generally. Film vids that I've seen tend to be a bit more varied in approach, potentially because of less long-term character investment as well as limited resources to draw upon.

Finally, how would you categorize work that fits into neither traditional parody nor vidding norms? For instance, Why is the rum gone? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JImcvtJzIK8) or Taking the hobbits to Isengard (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uE-1RPDqJAY) or Remember Sammy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KV3wTxhuSzc). Are these "vids"? Remixes? Is the difference determined by production communities, or reception?

(And since I don't think this post is LJ-locked, would you mind if I linked to it from my original blog post?)
-Jason

Date: 2008-12-08 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
Hi Jason. Let me start by saying that you should of course feel free to link to this or any of my other public posts; that's why I'm writing about this stuff on LJ. I'd love to have more academics outside my fannish circle reading and commenting!

In your original post, you do say that "Much of why this vid works so well for me, besides it just being a spectacularly impressive work of editing, is that I come to it with strong emotional connections to both works - I’ve been a lifelong Beatles fan, and Buffy stands as one of the great works of television art"--but I think it's interesting that you displace your own emotional investment in Buffy onto an "objective" assessment of its greatness. This pseudo-objectivity shows up again when you note that "I also found...the concept album format particularly powerful in conveying the
aesthetics of vidding"; there's no mention of the fact that, as you note here, you "have a general love of 'big texts' like serial narratives, huge books, concept albums, etc." and that the vid is therefore likely to hit your personal sweet spot. And then there's the way you phrased your final recommendation: "If you're a fellow outsider looking to understand the culture of vidding (or just a Buffy or Beatles fan), definitely check out Scooby Road"--as if the fannishness is somehow optional, because the vid will communicate to all outsiders.

Ultimately, what I found most fascinating in your post--and I didn't really engage with it in my own post, so I'm going to do it here--was the comment that "When I watch a single song vid, I often feel that it works to just recapture favorite moments for a show rather than communicate something new or distinctive." I'm still trying to sort out my various reactions to this sentence.

My first reaction was that I don't think there's any "'just'" about recapturing favorite moments; that's a huge part of what a lot of vids do--they consolidate those moments. For a fan, a vid can be distinctive without being "new" in the sense that you seem to mean. As [livejournal.com profile] thefourthvine puts it, "A vid can be the ultimate just the good parts edition (http://thefourthvine.livejournal.com/86583.html)." That's not all vids can do, of course, as TFV's post shows, and it may not be what you personally want out of a given vid, but to say that that's what a vid does is not inherently to say it doesn't work. Combined with the right music ("right" = whole 'nother can of worms which I am not going to open right now!), the pure distilled emotional hit of this kind of vid is pretty amazing. That hit is especially valuable, I think, in cases where the show itself is NOT "a great work of television art"; cutting the show down to the good (or fannishly relevant) parts can be incredibly satisfying--it's a much-valued fannish service.

I find myself wondering what counts as "new." A slash vid, for example, might not show a fan anything "new"--she's already invested in that pairing, and what she wants is not newness but the emotional charge of seeing a familiar story played out with a clarity the original show refuses to provide. For a non-fan or non-slasher, such a vid might be "new"; it might also be incomprehensible, or humorous, or simply not interesting. Some slash vids do construct a new story out of canonical footage--I'm thinking here of Killa's "Closer" and Luminosity and Sisabet's "Whatever" as two vids with completely different tones--but many don't; they simply put a particular emotional spin on a familiar (even canonical) story by setting it to carefully-chosen music.

I haven't seen any of the YouTube vids you linked (I tend to avoid YouTube like the plague), so further comments will have to wait until I've watched and pondered.

Date: 2008-12-08 07:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jmittell.livejournal.com
Tisha: thanks for the reply. I think you're taking my prose too seriously! It's hard in a blog post to caveat all of my claims to foreground my own contingency. In a more academic-y article on evaluative criticism and Lost (http://justtv.wordpress.com/2007/10/23/lost-in-a-great-story/), I offer the following paragraph to displace any assumptions that an assertion of value is "objective":

"Claims that evaluative criticism would disempower marginal tastes seem to misread what is meant by criticism and scholarship, as well as overstating their cultural power--while what I write usually reflects what I believe, my scholarly arguments are not statements of fact, but rather assertions to be discussed and debated. In positing the value of a program, I am not offering such a judgment as incontrovertible fact but strong belief, starting a debate with a defensible position that matters only in relation to other opposing positions--in stating that Lost is a great program, I am starting a conversation, not ending one. I don’t yearn for a day in which television studies publishes a definitive canonical list delineating the best of television once and for all, but I relish the opportunity to openly debate the value of programs without suggesting that all evaluations are equally justifiable as idiosyncratic personal taste or simple ideological manifestations. Just because aesthetics can be done in a way that disenfranchises some positions does not require the evacuation of evaluative claims altogether in the name of an egalitarian (and I believe ultimately dishonest) poetics of inclusion."

So when I claim that Buffy is a great work of televisual art, that's not a statement of fact as much as an assertion to be debated (although I certainly believe it to be unequivocally true!). It seems like vids frequently function as similar assertions, saying "this is important/beautiful/powerful and this is why!" There is an implied "... to me" in both evaluative criticism and works of fan creativity, but nothing is gained by articulating that "to me-ness" over and over again (at least, to me...).

And you're totally right that my sentence with the "just" is wrong-headed. A distillation can be powerful & affecting, although I've found few distilling vids that work for me. And newness can be relative as well, positing new interpretations & relationships.

I think my own problem (and it might doom me to never really "getting" vids) is that I consume media first & foremost for narrative. Most vids don't speak to me narratively - if I don't know the source text, I'm confused; if I do, I'm experiencing flashbacks to the original narrative. I think the reason Scooby Road worked so well for me was because I was able to discern a sense of story through the music/visual interplay that wasn't "simply" a rehash of the original, but provided its own intertextual reverberations between songs.

And on a final aside, I thought of another YouTube based remix film vid (http://justtv.wordpress.com/2008/05/23/the-texture-of-remix/) that I find incredibly affecting, but for none of the reasons that I typically do. Go figure!

Date: 2008-12-15 03:41 am (UTC)
alias_sqbr: She's getting existential again. It's ok I have a super soaker. (existentialism)
From: [personal profile] alias_sqbr
Hello, I'm here from [livejournal.com profile] metafandom.

Your tastes in vids sound very similar to my husband, although he doesn't mind vids which retell the original story as long as they have some narrative.

Anyway, he also enjoys constructed reality vids, and we had plans to do a panel combining constructed reality fanvids with mock trailers etc, but had creative differences so didn't. This post inspired me to write up the notes I made. I think it's interesting to note how many are AMVs (I'm not a huge AMV fan), I think anime fandom kind of spans that gap between femaleish-fanvid-fandom and maleish-parody-fandom.

That's my totally-not-qualified-analyse-this-stuff opinion anyway :)

Re: Scattered & tangential

Date: 2008-12-03 09:42 pm (UTC)
ext_2208: graffiti on a wall saying "QUESTION EVERYTHING" (question everything)
From: [identity profile] heyiya.livejournal.com
Great post!

I think that one of the things that often makes the difference for outsiders 'getting' or not getting vidding is whether the vid obviously *changes* something about the story, or critiques it. I've shown a lot of vids to outsiders, and many of them have shared the experience that was mine before I 'got' vidding for myself: they think 'what's the point, it just summarises the show.' But when they see something that gives them a different take on a show or a film they go 'aha!' That's why I disagree with [livejournal.com profile] cathexys that pimping vids are a good introduction to vidding, at least if you're talking about vidding as an art form rather than as a way of being a creative fan of a source text (and that is obviously a very big 'if'). People see what is happening in a vid if they can see the argument, and that seems to be easier when it's a clear narrative or a clear critique that diverges from what the 'obvious' reading is. They don't see the skill of editing so clearly when the vid's argument is celebratory or subtle.

Most of the people I've shown vids to are either academics or very invested in critique of different kinds, though (activistishly inclined queer folk, etc), and so possibly this experience says more about my particular milieu than about vidding. As in, critique or satire or queer reading of a show is often more highly valorised than celebration of it. My own taste in vids is shaped by that perspective too, although not exclusively, so that also makes it easiest for me to explain vidding to people that way. One of the reasons I'm so glad people like you and Francesca Coppa are writing about vidding, and that there are things like the MIT documentary, is that I feel like it sets me free to write about my own idiosyncratic take without worrying that I'm misrepresenting the community's history or conventions, because I can point over at you guys and know that those bases are covered while I dive off into my own context and my own agenda. :)

drive-by comment

Date: 2008-12-03 11:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laurashapiro.livejournal.com
I just wanted to say that when I read this before work this morning, I had all kinds of fizzy thoughts, but now that I actually have some time to think, all my thinkiness seems to have departed. :/ But, for the record: I read this, I enjoyed it, and I think you are SMRT.

Re: drive-by comment

Date: 2008-12-08 04:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tishaturk.livejournal.com
Aw, thank you! If your thinkiness comes back, send it over and I will give it cookies and tea. :)

Re: drive-by comment

Date: 2008-12-08 05:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laurashapiro.livejournal.com
I got thinky! But I did it on [livejournal.com profile] cathexys' LJ. I'm not sure if that earns me cookies or not. (:

Re: drive-by comment

Date: 2008-12-12 02:16 am (UTC)
ext_2351: (Default)
From: [identity profile] lunabee34.livejournal.com
And a drive-by comment of my own to say that as a result of this post, I've been checking out Nina's vid recs and I am digging on a lot of yours. :)

Re: drive-by comment

Date: 2008-12-12 04:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] laurashapiro.livejournal.com
Thank you so much!

Date: 2008-12-08 05:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] jackiekjono.livejournal.com
It seems to me that the difference between Vogue and Scooby Road is in how the clips are used. In Vogue, each clip is being used because of what is literally on film at that moment. Scooby Road is all about subtext and emotional resonance.

I would say that Vogue is more accessible generally because it doesn't require outside knowledge and it works in a cooler detached mode that academics are more used to dealing with. Vogue is the only one of Luminosity's vids that I can think of that does not leave me gutted.

Scooby Road is perhaps a better example of why people find this art form compelling. It sets up emotional resonances between the source footage and the music that makes a richer experience of both. It is certainly a more representative example of Luminosity's work and the power of vidding generally.

I suppose which one you choose as an introduction would depend on what elements of the art form you most wish to convey and why.

Date: 2008-12-08 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kiki-miserychic.livejournal.com
Generally, more people watch TV than go to the movies in fandom. TV provides a scheduled amount of input over a period of time. Movies, unless there are sequels, are a one shot. Either you've watched the movie or you haven't. There might be people who have watched the first season of a show, but not the second. The audience for TV vids is larger. I've done movie vids, as well as TV vids. The TV ones have way more of an audience than my movie vids.

The first time I watched Lim's Us I thought, "ummm, ok" and didn't think about it again until there were a thousand recs on my flist. Watching it a second time, I saw the things that I was too dense to see the first time.

My stepdad is a drummer in, like, 5 bands. I showed him a vid that primarily used the drumbeats for the editing cues and he went nuts over it. We had a huge discussion on how some vids are a visual representation of the music. For him, it wasn't a question of what fandom the vid came from, but the editing style.

Action movie vids seem to be the easily accessible. It's an action movie. It's people kicking ass. There isn't a huge question of accessiblity when it's car chases, fights, and guns. Look at [livejournal.com profile] balistik94's vids. Most of them are easily accessible because it's mainly action. Everyone understands the main text of a fist in the face.

Date: 2008-12-12 01:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rivkat.livejournal.com
I am really enjoying the discussion. Your post made me think of two of my favorite vids from this year, the Doctor Who Handlebars (http://flummery.livejournal.com/26300.html?format=light) and the Iron Man Handlebars (http://deejay.livejournal.com/121608.html?style=mine), with honorary mention to the BSG Handlebars (http://kiki-miserychic.livejournal.com/119273.html?format=light&style=mine). I have used the Iron Man one to discuss fair use and moral rights; my sense was that non-fans would find it more immediately accessible, and they did find it easy to talk about. I agree that having less narrative in the source helps: the IM vid is a critique of the movie, not a summary, but because there's less in the movie it's easier to understand that it is a critique without knowing the film because it still draws from the narrative throughline. By contrast, a lot of the shots in the DW vid are chilling--I think it's a more powerful vid--but only because of context (compare "I can make anybody go to prison/just because I don't like 'em"--the IM vid shows obvious retributive violence, whereas the DW vid shows a character being destroyed by a few words that of course we don't see or hear in the vid itself).

Date: 2008-12-12 02:19 am (UTC)
ext_2351: (Default)
From: [identity profile] lunabee34.livejournal.com
As a non-vidder, I have a possibly really stupid question to ask.

Prepare thyself. :)

Why are so many vids being posted to IMEEM? I find it a bitch to watch vids on that site. I never have any problem with Youtube but IMEEM always stutters and takes forever to load and etc and I was wondering if there's something inherently awesomer about that site that attracts vidders. Are there less copyright infringement issues there?

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Tisha Turk

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