DIY Video 2010: Political Remix (Part Two)

This is the second in an ongoing series of curated selections of DIY Video prepared in relation to the screening of DIY Video 2010 at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and organized by Mimi Ito, Steve Anderson, and the good folks at the Institute for Multimedia Literacy. The following selections were curated and commented upon by Jonathan McIntosh, who describes himself as “a pop culture hacker, video remix artist and fair use advocate.”

Music Videos

Music Videos – Vidding, AMVs and many political remix videos use music and lyrics to complicate or even subvert conventional understanding of a particular series of images. Music and lyrics can significantly change the tone or emotional register of otherwise familiar images, and lyrics in particular can provide a complicated counter-narrative to common-place visuals.

Star Trek: Too Many Dicks

Sloane’s first vid is a hilarious visual critique of the 2009 Star Trek movie re-boot. Sloane takes the popular ironically sexist song, “Too Many Dicks on the Dance Floor” by Flight of the Concords and edits together clips of the largely male Star Trek cast to critique the male dominated storyline. Sloane says of her vid “I was disappointed that J.J. Abrams had dramatically rewritten so many elements of Star Trek canon – and had largely ignored women. I was surprised how many people didn’t seem to think that was a problem, or even that the issue existed.” This video also serves as a strong argument for the use of cam recordings for visual criticism and critique. Cam or bootleg recording of current theatrical releases make it possible for fans and critics to make their critiques in a timely fashion while films are still fresh in the collective consciousness of the public. If vidders and political remixers have to wait for a DVD release to make their visual arguments then the window for sparking public debate and discussion might have largely passed.

Video Games: Too Many Dicks

Inspired by Sloane’s Star Trek Dance Floor vid Anita Sarkeesian of FeministFrequency.com appropriates the same “ironically sexist” song to critique the male domination, hyper masculinity and glorification of violence in popular video games, using source material from 39 different game titles. Once paired with the misogynist lyrics, the games’ imagery of guns, swords and chainsaws become hilarious phallic metaphors for patriarchal power inside virtual worlds. Anita also uses the lyrics to highlight two games as alternatives (both with women of color protagonists) that help counter the genre’s male dominance: Portal, a first person action puzzle game which utilizes mostly non-violent problem solving strategies, and Mirror’s Edge, a less-violent adventure game involving the navigation of a dystopian city maze.

Club Iraq

A warning before viewing: this remix contains clips of military personal using explicit language, mimicking sexual acts and otherwise being racist bullies. The video will most likely leave you feeling at least slightly ill.

“Club Iraq” is a very disturbing and powerful remix from the Wreck and Salvage video art crew. It combines 50 Cent’s famous song “In Da Club” with audio of Bush’s invasion speech mixed with scores of home videos uploaded to YouTube by US soldiers stationed in Iraq. The juxtaposition of the song with the amateur footage of US soldiers acting like immature boys and saying horrific things about the Iraqi population makes for a sickening, depressing yet poignant remix video. Wreck and Salvage provide us with a behind the scenes view of US military operations never seen in corporate media. These troubling and deeply unflattering home videos (and the thousands like them posted online) were a PR disaster for the Pentagon and are likely part of the reason the Military banned myspace and YouTube from military bases in 2007.

Supercuts
A supercut is an obsessive video montage created by meticulously collecting every phrase, action or cliche from a television show or movie and then editing those clips together into one single video. This can be a powerful way to reveal or highlight something otherwise missed during casual viewing.

The Price is Creepy

In this remix, Rich Juzwiak illuminates the sexist behavior of the famous TV game show host Bob Barker form the The Price is Right. Rich collected and placed back-to back a series of short clips of Barker making patronizing and downright creepy comments to female contestants. Rich’s use of 1970’s era episodes of the popular game show demonstrates the potential power of the supercut remix genre perfectly with this remix.


A Whole Day Of Tony Hayward’s Obfuscating In Four Minute

In the wake of the gulf oil disaster people all over the Internet worked to creatively counter the public relations machine unleashed on us by the company formally known at British Petroleum. There were hilarious logo re-designs, the very entertaining BPGlobalPR spoof Twitter feed and a swarm of videos remixing BP commercials. Here Ben Craw uses a supercut to reduce many long hours of C-Span hearings down to 4 minutes. We see BP CEO Tony Hayward refusing to answer question after question and giving intentionally ambiguous responses over and over again to the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Synchronized Presidential Debating

Ever wonder why watching the 2008 presidential election debates gave you a funny feeling of déjà vu each time? This re-cut debate video from 236.com (now part of the Huffington Post) might provide some insight. Rather than placing each clip back to back, this supercut uses carefully synched CNN footage from all three presidential debates to highlight the repeated use of well rehearsed talking points by both candidates.


Identity Correction

Identity correction is a term popularized by political pranksters the Yes Men for their many impersonations of corporate officials – when applied to remix video the term refers to re-editing of corporate or government public relations efforts to make them more truthful.


The Red Stripe

YouTuber freeyourpixels offers a short yet eloquent critique of the US Marines “Red Stripe” online advertising campaign. The remix uses still images, commercial clips, new text and precise match-action editing techniques to perfectly mimic the style and tone of the original ad while highlighting the often brutal imperialist history of the US Marine Corps.

World Economic Forum Spoof Videos

The Yes Men spoofed the 2010 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland with an official looking but erroneous website. As part of the project they created a series of re-dubbed video interviews with global economic, government and corporate leaders. In each video, leaders appears to speak in strikingly honest terms about real global economic problems and solutions. The re-dubs succeed in presenting us with a brief look into a possible alternative world. The remix of Patricia Woertz, CEO of the Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM), apparently did not sit well with the agro-business giant because they quickly filed a takedown notice through YouTube. Luckily for us the video is still live on vimeo and elsewhere.

ADM CEO Patricia Woertz
(1:10)
Davos Annual Meeting 2010 – ADM CEO Patricia Woertz from World Economic Forum on Vimeo.

Klaus Schwab (1:03)
Davos Annual Meeting 2010 – Klaus Schwab from World Economic Forum on Vimeo.

Queen Elizabeth II of England (0:52)
Davos Annual Meeting 2010 – Queen Elizabeth II of England from World Economic Forum on Vimeo.

Transformative Storytelling
Transformative storytelling combines existing narratives to create new stories often keeping the popular character’s original personalities intact while placing them in new contexts and situations. These are particularly popular when they build on the sympathetic use of fictional characters or narrative and utilize them to critique another source.

The Dark Bailout

Matthew Belinkie remixes one of the most famous scenes from The Dark Knight to present the Joker’s take on the big bank bailouts. The gangsters in the blockbuster Batman film are re-cast as taxpayers watching President Bush’s September 2008 speech urging Americans to support the $700 billion TARP bailout of Wall Street. Through the Joker, Matthew expresses the widespread public anger at the massive transfer of wealth from Main Street to Wall Street.

Jake Gyllenhaal Challenges the Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize

An ambitious remix project by artist Diran Lyons who creates a new narrative critical of President Obama’s foreign policy. Diran pulls footage from two films starring actor Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko & Jarhead) and combines it with news footage of the US President. As Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize, Gyllenhaal’s character becomes disillusioned with Obama’s seemingly hypocritical pro-war rhetoric, escalation of the war in Afghanistan and the failure to pull all troops from Iraq.

Buffy vs Edward: Twilight Remixed

Lastly I have included one of my own remix videos. It’s a remixed narrative in which Edward Cullen from the Twilight Series meets Buffy the Vampire Slayer at Sunnydale High. It’s an example of transformative storytelling serving as a visual critique of Edward’s character and generally creepy behavior. Created by re-editing and re-combining clips from the Twilight movie and scenes from 36 different television episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Seen through Buffy’s eyes, some of the more sexist gender roles and patriarchal themes embedded in the Twilight saga are exposed.

Jonathan McIntosh is a pop culture hacker, video remix artist and fair use advocate. He blogs at PoliticalRemixVideo.com and is a member of the Open Video Alliance. He also facilitates workshops with youth that utilize remix video and a crucial media literacy tool. His latest remix “Right Wing Radio Duck” along with the rest of his work, can be found on his website RebelliousPixels.com.