notes from the dark streets

A new creative commons? …Kicking the bullies in the jewels. polishing the diamonds with a good swift spring of the leg. There are the possibilities of an artistic creed of pessimism, however it appears to negate the undeniably fruitful manner that life can be conducted. There is a certain joy in finding parallel myths all around us that can be expressed parody, pun and paraphrase, destroying myths and degrading their self-centered importance as the authoritative and guiding principle of Western thought.It is a hopeless but imperative involvement in the face of life’s debasement and ultimate dissolution. A hidden death which forces a stand on the issue of living.But, we are born for social fullness; if the skies were parchment and the waters ink, we could have an eternity to record our understanding and make an effort to earn our portion of peace and to cast significance upon our existence which would otherwise be starved and trivial. We use what we have at our disposal…

Read More: ---Check out this brilliantly made remix of the classic old ‘Wonderful Copenhagen’ poster, made by Camilla Brodersen. A remix that so accurately visualizes the political shift in mentality that has happened in Denmark over the last 5-6 years.---

Intro: …What once seemed new, now is just one more inert, material shell, to be accumulated in drawers and on shelves, while its purchaser seeks the new once again. Spleen results from a backward turned glance that perceives and suffers the indifferent weight of obsolete objects, and its experience may even turned forward again and felt at the heart of the new. Already, at the glint of fashionable beauty, the object breathes the staleness that will soon set in around it. Thus, even in the kaleidoscopic procession of new objects, spectacles, fashions, there is the return of the same: the obsolete, the tasteless, the faded. As Benjamin writes in a fragment of the Baudelaire study, “The devaluation of the human environment by the commodity economy penetrates deeply into the poet’s historical environment. What results is the ‘ever-selfsame.’ Spleen is nothing other than the quintessence of historical experience.”  Against the overwhelming and repeated experience of spleen, Baudelaire seeks to seize the new, a struggle that elevate the artist and poet into the hero of modern life. This heroism. Baudelaire’s new, Benjamin emphasizes, is not a formal or objective newness, but an abstract, subjective temporal difference that intensifies the moment to free it from the melancholy sameness of spleen. “Baudelaire’s work,” Benjamin writes, “is not concerned with the attempt, decisive in all the arts, to engender new forms or to reveal new aspects of things; its interest is in the fundamentally new object, whose power resides solely in the fact that it is new, no matter how repulsive or bleak it may be” ….

From Henry Jenkins interview:

Jonathan McIntosh: Most people engage with mass media stories in a subtle and complex way – we both love it and are critical of it. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit this now but I didn’t really understand this tension very well before I learned about vidding. I think that part of the resistance to vidding I encounter from other political remixers might be related to this point. They may be uncomfortable with the fannish and or sympathetic relationship that vidders have to their source because self-conscious political remixers often have a relationship of ridicule or animosity to their source. Political remix video can be a blunt tool that uses ridicule as a way to expose hypocrisy, illuminate tropes, and talk back to power – but it is a little harder to use the form in more subtle ways …

Read More: ---Chevron recently released their new “We Agree” ad campaign. The TV and print ads equate the concerns of ‘real people’ to those of the multinational oil corporation, illustrating their solidarity with costumers’ and our interests in stopping environmental degradation often caused by the industry. More over, the “supermajor” oil company channeled the wheat-paste, street-artist look typically associated with low/no budget activist posters rarely found in glossy magazines and on network TV commercials. So clearly something’s up. An oil company appropriates the look of a social justice campaign for one reason and one reason only: greenwashing.---

Learning about vidding really gave me permission to embrace my fannish-side as a political remixer instead of hiding or being ashamed of it. It would have been impossible for me to conceive of making either “Buffy vs Edward” or “Right Wing Radio Duck” without the positive influence of vidding on me and on my work. In both I rely on my fannish (and therefore sympathetic) view of one pop culture icon (The Slayer and Donald Duck) which I use to critique another popular culture character or story (Glenn Beck and Twilight/Edward Cullen)….

…We are living in a culture that increasingly speaks in an audio-visual-video language. Videos which remix, transform, quote and build-on pieces of our shared popular culture are not only valuable to the larger social discourse but are actually an essential part of full participation in society. I absolutely agree that remix is a basic right of communication – it’s the right to communicate using the language of the new media landscape(s). This right extends to all genres of DIY video that appropriate fragments of mass media pop culture including vids, AMVs, machinima, lip-syncs etc.

Read More: the week went on and Sebastian seemed to get closer to L.A., there were more e-mails and even some videos chronicling his trip, and numerous references to tussles with the law. At one point, Ms. Duick received an e-mail from a motel manager demanding she pay for damages Sebastian had caused while staying there one night. It was only days later that Ms. Duick received a final e-mail containing a link to a video which explained the entire thing had been a virtual punking: It was, in fact, an ad campaign for the Toyota Matrix. But this week the news broke that Ms. Duick may get to execute her own punking, after a California court agreed she could proceed with a $10-million (U.S.) lawsuit against Toyota and Saatchi & Saatchi L.A., the agency behind the campaign, for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, false advertising, and other misdeeds. She alleged that the “stalking” caused her difficulty in eating and sleeping, and prevented her from going to work.---

As you point out, political remix video in particular should be one of the most protected transformative genres because of the unambiguous political commentary and critique. However, despite what should be fairly obvious fair use and free-speech arguments, these works still tend to be very vulnerable to takedowns filed by irritated copyright holders. The widespread use of automated content ID bots for removing videos from media sharing sites like YouTube has been catastrophic for remix video makers. This practice has brought about huge increases in the number of fair use works being zapped into the void by baseless copyright claims. When a creator’s remix or entire channel is deleted, not only are all their videos lost, so are all their comm

subscribers and playlists.

---Read More:

These video removals leave gaping holes in the Internet – and I mean that quite literally. Video embeds on blogs, forums and social networks are suddenly missing. Tweets and links to remixes are all abruptly dead or lead to YouTube’s notorious pink line of death. In the past month alone five fair use political remix videos I had planned on posting to my blog have been removed from YouTube for “infringement”. To make matters worse many DIY video creators I speak with are either not aware of their fair use rights or are afraid to rock the boat by challenging the takedowns. As a result, valuable online conversations and visual discussions are being shut down.

All of this, for me, highlights a larger problem surrounding our creative new media culture which is that it is all taking place in private corporate spaces. There are effectively zero public spaces on the Internet. The online public square has been completely privatized from the beginning. This strikes me as especially problematic because the development of the Internet was primarily done with public funds. And then it was just unquestionably handed over to corporate interests.At the end of the day, it all boils down to corporate power and the pursuit of profits being valued far more than the public good, media literacy or a free and open culture. I see no reason why we can’t begin to create a new and truly public commons with a little good old fashioned imagination and innovation….

…Powerful institutions understand that they have a serious crisis of legitimacy on their hands resulting from widespread public cynicism about advertising. So as genuine DIY videos become enormously popular online, marketers are desperately trying to capture and bottle that sense of authenticity for their own brands. This type of co-option has been happening for decades. Marketers have long been coming in and stealing from various DIY subcultures. But, though advertisers may be able to copy the mechanics of DIY video to mimic the look and feel of low/no budget viral videos, it’s obvious to almost everyone (especially DIY video makers) that these poser videos are made for a very different purpose and with very different messages.

John Heartfield. Read More:

The Jerry Brown for Governor ad you posted which mixed footage of Arnold Schwarzenegger with Meg Whitman may be political, and remix, and video but there is no escaping the fact that it was produced by an establishment politician with a campaign budget of millions. The ad was also shown ad-nauseam on television here in California – to the point where even people that may have agreed with the critique became incredibly annoyed by the video. What the marketers don’t understand is that there is much more to political remix video than the aesthetics, style and production techniques. In my view the most interesting videos in the genre don’t just remix the source material, they also remix the larger dominant messages, power relations and social norms embedded inside that media….

…For me, political remix video has at its core a basic power analysis and a suspicion of powerful institutions. The goal is often to challenge oppressive norms, stereotypes and dominant media messages. Remixes dealing with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, don’t simply follow red/blue lines but rather critique government policy, empire and military power from all sides of the political spectrum.

When it comes specifically to “right-wing” remix videos, many look and feel a lot like amateur commercials in support of existing power structures. The DIY aesthetic might feel subversive but the messages are often indistinguishable from public relations industry campaigns. Sometimes these works take a more extreme tone or position than even commercial media advertising would deem appropriate. An example would be GrouchyMedia who makes pro-war and pro-military mash-ups mostly in the form of music videos. He uses lyrically violent tracks to accompany violent imagery – like the videos “Die Terrorist Die” or “Taliban Bodies” – both of which celebrate killing, revenge and military power….

Read More: 1935 photomontage by John Heartfield depicts a Nazi knife spreading a screaming Jew across a piece of bread, turning his body into butter. The headline describes the image as a recipe of Josef Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister. As might be expected, Heartfield's work got him into serious trouble with the Nazis. In April 1933, Heartfield narrowly escaped arrest by the Gestapo. The artist, who was only slightly taller than 5 feet, climbed out of his apartment window and hid inside a scrapped barbershop sign on a neighbor's ground-floor patio, said Andres Zervigon, a Rutgers University assistant professor who is writing a book on Heartfield. The artist then fled to Prague, where AIZ had already relocated. In 1937, Germany threatened to break off diplomatic relations with Czechoslovakia unless Heartfield's photomontages were removed from an exhibition in the Czech capital. A year later, just before German troops occupied Czechoslovakia, Heartfield escaped to London, where he married and spent the next 12 years teaching and designing books and stage sets.---

…Examples of remix works that reinforce established sexist and patriarchal norms are everywhere online. The LazyTown mash-ups made popular by 4chan and Something Awful are some of the most disturbing in terms of gender. Typically, these works appropriate images or video clips featuring young actress Julianna Mauriello, who at age 12 starred in the hit Nickelodeon children’s television show LazyTown. The most popular of the videos combines Mauriello singing the song “Cooking by the Book” with a misogynist, hyper sexual music video by Lil’ John. It re-edits and manipulates her dancing to make her move in intensely sexualized ways in time to the beat and lyrics.

Though not all the media appropriating Mauriello’s image is sexually objectifying, it is not uncommon for her images to be photoshopped onto hardcore pornography. Not only is this practice horrifying – it also amounts to the virtual sexual harassment of a child via remix. There is nothing subversive in sexualizing a young actress on a television show for young children. We have a word for people or institutions that use there physical, social, economic or institutional power to demean and target those with less power – and that word is “bully”.

The DIY remix video medium is a tool for communication, which can be used for either oppressive or liberatory purposes. At its best political remix video has the potential to transform our relationship with the new media landscape(s) and help us re-imagine our shared sociopolitical systems. Read More:

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Simon Houpt:And now the advertising industry is left mulling whether the recent trend toward engaging audiences in games and other interactive experiences that push the envelope might carry unforeseen risks.

“The trend in marketing is to get people more engaged, getting people to do things rather than just think things,” notes Dré Labre, a creative director with the agency Rethink Toronto. “So ideas tend to start going into the world of punking or alternate-reality gaming and exploring these types of things.” “We need to take into consideration as advertising agencies that people hate advertising,” continues Mr. Labre. “We need to make it likeable, and being punked doesn’t sound like something that would make me like you.” The irony is that the Matrix campaign was a response to the fact that people hate advertising.


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