Working with remixes was a completely new experience. I’ve only ever made one video before this, and it was during my freshmen year of college. My friend was far better at the technology than I was so she handled most of the editing for it. I usually stay away from new technology because I get rather frustrated if I don’t immediately know how to use it.
Working with my remix was particularly challenging because I had to decide which parts of the clips that I wanted to use that would make the most impact on the viewer. Unlike in writing, I couldn’t textually explain my message to the viewer. They have to interpret the video themselves to understand the point I am trying to make. I think to grasp a metaphor when watching a video viewers sometimes have to think even deeper than they would if they were reading a written piece. I believe this is particularly true with the various videos I incorporated to achieve the falling metaphor.
I struggled with having my video be too literal. My writing is very literal, and I usually don’t need to think associatively. At first, when I was using the extended version of “Another Brick in the Wall”, I was trying to match the lyrics with exactly what was happening on the screen which made the piece rather confusing and distorted my message since the focus of the video was unclear. Even in my second draft of the video I still left clips of teachers abusing students in it which, after my classmates viewed it, also created a lack of clarity about the intended message. Having the clips of teachers made it seem like the video was denouncing education, not positing the marketers as the teachers. For my next few drafts I took all of the clips of the teachers out and focused primarily on commercials to deliver my message.
Since my piece relied primarily on song as its only audio I had to ensure that the song I chose, “Another Brick in the Wall”, would be appropriate for the video. The song lyrics combined with shots from the actual music video lent my remix the credence it needed. At first I had wanted to include audio from many of the commercials since I felt like some of the statements that were being made were excellent examples of the consumer mentality I was attempting to communicate in the first half of the video. However, though their statements were reflective, they distracted from the song and made the whole piece appear very chaotic. As a writer it was difficult to rely on just visuals to deliver my message since I’m so used to explaining my message, usually in great detail.
I did enjoy parts of creating this message. I liked stringing together clips to create a montage of footage. It was similar to writing in that, like many of the sentences that I write, I had to decide where to put each clip and make sure that it flows with the clip before it. The video is similar to my written pieces in that it has an introduction, climax, and conclusion. However, instead of relying on words I had to use videos to create the narrative.
Movie Maker did not work well for me. I’m not sure if it was because I was using the 2.6 version which is supposed to be for Windows XP or if it is just a terrible piece of software. Nevertheless it continuously stopped running and was unable to save my video to my computer at the end. Though I’m glad I did get to my video up via screencast I’m very disappointed in its quality which is much choppier than it is when viewed in Movie Maker. I have never encountered these difficulties when writing a piece. Composing this video was much frustrating than any written pieces I’ve completed.
Overall I was much more pleased with my final product than I have been with my traditional writing pieces because I felt like I gained a much better understanding of a new piece of technology. Because of the subject matter of my piece and its medium I felt like I had accomplished something much more compelling than some of the writing that I have completed.
The message that my remix is delivering is that marketing is pervasive in this country and that it starts at an early age. From infancy to adulthood Americans are taught to be consumers. My video puts forth the idea that people should revolt against the didactic tools that are being used in commercials and advertisements to teach children to consume. I believe that remix exemplifies the type of citizen empowerment that is described in Richard L. Edwards and Chuck Tryon’s “Political Video Mashups as Allegories of Citizen Empowerment. It relies heavily on intertextuality to relay its message, combining commercials, film clips, news footage, home videos, and even still images. It “generates new meanings through the juxtaposition of the original source materials” (Edwards and Tryon, para 1). I think it is example of both a political commentary and political protest. It also encapsulates the qualities of a subversive remix video as defined by Jonathan McIntosh in his essay “A History of Subversive Remix before YouTube: Thirty Political Mashups Made between World War II and 2005” (para 8)
I chose well known commercials and film clips within my remix so that viewers could access their own background knowledge to make interpretations. I believe that these choices reflected Edwards and Tryon’s idea of what makes a critique successful.
“In mashups, this collision typically requires the users to be familiar, at some level, with both texts included in the juxtaposition in order for the critique to make sense. They also place emphasis on the role of the user to construct the meaning of the mashup for themselves, requiring them to make the connections, or add new video footage to create even more intertextual collisions and new meanings.” (para 23)
Not only are users making intertextual associations between the videos that are included in my remix they are also making associations between other examples of advertisements that they have seen before as well as the effects they have seen on people as a result of them.
The commercials in my videos were not just limited to toys. There were several clips of car commercials were marketing to both children and adults. such as the Mazda commercial which advertised its car as being Truffula tree friendly and concluded by encouraging people to go see The Lorax. I chose to put that clip at the particular point in the song where the children are singing “Teachers leave them kids alone” to make it appear like the two fish are the teachers. I chose this clip because I’ve noticed that in recent years many products that used to just be advertised to adults now also advertise to children, which suggests that marketers realize how much sway that they have over their parents. An example of this would be that many car commercials offer free DVDs with the purchase of the vehicle.
In the Toyota Highlander commercial with Riley Thomas Stewart the commercial operates under the premise that children will not be considered “cool” if their parents are driving them in an “uncool car”. There are actually a series of highly popular Toyota commercials that feature Riley Thomas Stewart’s “cool” message”. I only included the part of the commercial when Thomas is touching the car in my video because I thought that it exemplified the reverence that marketers wanted children to feel towards this vehicle. I slowed the clip down to make the message even clearer. I think that choosing this almost worshipful scene in the commercials as well as slowing it down, “transforms the original messages embedded in the source material, as well as the source material itself” (McIntosh, para 8). The commercial is no longer delivering a message about the car but about our the fervor in which we pursue cars as well as the news technology associated with them.
In addition to The Lorax car commercial several of the other clips that I chose also used dual advertised. The Pull-Ups commercial advertised both the diaper and Toy Story 3. The Lego commercial advertised both Legos and Cars. I chose these clips along with the clips of advertisement based video games (Burger King, Chex, Pepsi) in order to further demonstrate the various angles that marketing takes.
I included clips from a trailer of Children of the Damned and various zombie movies in order to exaggerate the negative effects of marketing on children. The reoccurring clips of children’s eyes helped to bring attention to the visual nature of advertisements.
I made sure that the remix contained clips of celebrities marketing to children because some of the most effective advertisements are celebrity endorsed. I began the Miley Cyrus clip when the song repeated “Teacher leave those kids alone” because I feel that celebrities are often role models for children and teach them more than their actual teachers in school. I believe that this inclusion of celebrities advertising products supports McIntosh’s assertion that subversive remix videos “comment on, deconstruct, or challenge media narratives, dominant myths, social norms, and traditional power structures—they can be either sympathetic to or antagonistic to their pop culture sources, sometimes both at the same time” (para 8). It is the social norm for celebrities to endorse products, and my remix challenges this notion as well as comments on the morality of it.
I chose rather literal film clips when it came to the lyrics “All we are is just another brick in the wall” because I think that they made the message more powerful. They showed that the advertisers were just building larger company empires with each commercial. Each child was just another brick in their wall. I chose to have the building brick clips fade into each other in the How to Build a Brick Wall clip and the Great Wall of China clip to show the enormity of what is being built by each advertisement. Though the building and brick clips did appear literal I tried to think associatively when I chose them. I used popular images such as Mickey and the Looney Tunes’ Big Bad Wolff to help create tension.
For my still images I used several video effects to create movement and tension within the image. I used ease in, ease out, fade out to black, and film aging. These effects made the images appear much more poignant than if it I hadn’t used effects. They help to draw viewers’ eyes to the stillness of the image and what is being represented. As Hall points out in his book This Means This, That Means That: A User’s Guide to Semiotics “The stillness of action, then, creates both narrative tension and expectation” (168). The “consume or die” photo leaves the viewer expecting some type of revolt. The baby Mcdonald’s photo is intended to make viewers feel uncomfortable and expectant of a change.
I only chose to include the audio for two clips, Grover’s The Monster at the End of this Book and the NBC footage of the Berlin Wall coming down. They both acted as excellent turning points within the remix. The turning points provided “a significant contrast between that which happened before a set of events and that which will happen after them” (170). I felt that Grover’s piece was a powerful end point to the commercial montages. The fact that it was a children’s book helped to elucidate the metaphor of the brick wall and add tension to the remix. The Berlin Wall footage contained dialogue that I felt could explain what was happening when the children began revolting. It helped to mark the turning point in the video and suggest that the walls of commercialism were coming down. I did not include audio from any of the other video clips because after watching the remix with the commercial audio included I found that it created “noise” which detracted from the overall meaning of the message as Hall describes (28).
I paid particular attention to the movement in the montages I created. For instance one montage features several clips of people running. I also paid attention to the clips’ relation to one another. I put the Furbies clip after that of the Cabbage Patch doll news footage to show that this type of hysteria over dolls is still occurring.
In order to demonstrate the idea of revolting I used footage from several popular films and shows—Beauty and the Beast, Shrek, The Simpsons, and Jumanji. I felt that the Jumanji clip was particularly powerful, not only because of its “no sale” content, but because it showed a child revolting whereas the other clips contained adults or furniture as in the case of Beauty and the Beast.
I incorporated several videos of buildings falling as well as one of children falling after playing Ring around the Rosie to achieve the metaphor of commercialism falling due to children’s refusal to accept the mentality they are advertising. Using the property of transference that Hall describes the falling metaphor lent a persuasive angle to the idea of revolting (38). Because a remix is much different than a straight forward video or written text I did struggle with how to effectively show the fall of consumerism. I think my struggle demonstrates Edwards and Tryon’s assertion that “It is important to remember that since mashups rely on found footage, that original footage will always act as a constraint in the final product, no matter how cleverly the juxtapositions are conceived” (para 20). Viewers still have to create their own interpretations of the final product. I cannot just explain to them what feelings the remix should evoke.
I ended the film with the message “Complacency is our worst enemy” and an image of a baby covered in advertisements in order to demonstrate what can happen if viewers accept the consumerism mentality that has been engrained in then since birth. Again, the stillness of the final image contributed to the overall eerie quality of the persuasiveness of marketing.
Edwards, R., and Tryon, C. (2009). Political video mashups as allegories of citizen
. First Monday, 14(10).
Hall, S. (2007). This means this, this means that: A user’s guide to semiotics. London: Lawrence King.
McIntosh, J. (2012). A history of subversive remix video before YouTube: Thirty political video. In Fan/Remix Video, edited by Francesca Coppa and Julie Levin Russo, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 9.
Here’s the link to my video. Since it wouldn’t save to my computer I had to record it through Jing and put it on screencast.com. Make sure to let the video load before you try to watch it.
Jing only records 5 minutes of video so I could not include my source list within since it would add almost an additional three minutes to it. Here is a Microsoft Word attachment with my video source list.