fanvid (vidding)

Vidding involves creating a music video from the footage from one or more video sources, generally mainstream franchise movies or tv shows, to explore material from the source in a different way from how it was presented by the creators. The vidder may explore a single character across different films, promote a minor character or motif to the main subject of the music video, create a new or different erotic pairing between characters, criticize or celebrate the original text, or point out an aspect of the TV show or film that they find under-appreciated. In remixing the original, the video is often stylized, distorted, rotoscoped, or otherwise changed visually, as well as in terms of narrative and context.

The majority of vidders are women. Vidding goes back to the 1970’s and the VCR. Female fans would “dub” back and forth between two VCRS to create new footage and then finally replace the soundtrack with a song. These were actually among the earliest music videos!

In Summer 2009, an issue of the scholarly publication Cinema Journal featured an “In Focus” section of articles on the subject of “Fandom and Feminism: Gender and the Politics of Fan Production.” This provided a fascinating, theoretically informed, and politicized look at the phenomenon of vidding. One pair of articles, for instance, discussed the specifically feminine nature of vidding, and argued for an against whether vidding should remain part of an alternative “gift” economy, where women share their re-imaginings of male-created stories among each other as a non-commercial creative act, or whether women should be trying to monetize and cash in on their creativity as men have traditionally done.

“Vogue” is one famous, respected and viral example of female vidding from 2012, by one of the most celebrated practioners of our time, luminosity.

In this re-cut of footage from 300, the underlying eroticism and choreography of the visceral battle sequences and the more explicit homoeroticism from the movie are forefronted in a music video set to the 1980s “gay anthem” of Madonna’s “Vogue.” This video arguably re-edits the movie for a straight female and gay male sensibility, showing the aspects of the film that spoke most to luminosity.

More explicit forms of this kind of “queering” are found throughout the remix work of Slash subculture.

The final article in the journal talks about another famous fanvid, “Us” by Lim. “Us” artfully stylizes and recombines footage from the Star Trek franchise, Batman Begins, The Matrix, Pirates of the Caribbean and V for Vendetta to create an accompaniment to Regina Spektor’s beautiful song of the same name. This is a fanvid that is about vidding and fan culture itself, and also about the new power of consumers, particularly women who have traditionally played a far smaller role in the authoring and control of mainstream culture, to redesign the products of that culture to their own tastes and interests, using remix.

Viewed within Lim’s beautiful vid, Spektor’s song with its references to us “living in a den of thieves” seems to comment on how mainstream culture steals our realities, dreams, and humanity to make its slick consumer products; but stealing like this is “contagious,”  and we consumers have now learned the joy of stealing back the elements of those mainstream products to tell our own stories with them.