Sunday, June 08, 2008

the joys of the lit review

okay, so i know it's been quite a while since i last posted and for that i apologize. i'm going to try and post once a week or similar from now on.

some updates on my progress:

i won't be attending vividcon in chicago in august, unfortunately. i'm rather upset i won't be able to go, but dems da breaks. so instead, i've registered to go to vidukon in england, coming up in october. i've never been to europe, so i'm really excited about it. the only fun part now is convincing my uni to give me some financial support.

my ethics application has been submitted, as well - it's been about three weeks now, but i don't think the committee have met since i gave it over... fingers crossed, everyone! many of the laws regarding media appropriation and the like are extremely strict here in oz, so i'm a bit worried about what the committee will think of my proposal. i'm using some pretty strict methods to keep the identity of my participants confidential, and i hope that will do the trick for them. but you know copyright law - it can be a sticky, scary mess sometimes.

i did a scary and massive review of feminist literature in regards to film over the past month, as well. it was all rather daunting, but i managed to slog through it and i think i've finally come up with something that's relatively cogent for the vidders. i couldn't find a single theorist or group of theorists which i found to apply to the vidding community and their practices, because let's face it - it is a hugely diverse group with a thousand different perspectives.

and then i realized - that's almost like the academics, isn't it? pick up a recent feminist media/film reader, and each chapter will have a completely different way of reading the same text. for example, sherrie inness's collection entitled "action chicks" offers interpretations ranging from Herbst's view that the lara croft is simply a spectacle created for male consumption, while Brown states that these types of heroines are transgressive as they embody both male and female attributes, and Tung argues that the powerful black female is not offered the same opportunity to be progressive as the powerful white female because it invokes an ideology of savagery instead...

and these different viewpoints reminded me of those of many of the vids i have watched over the past few months. consider luminosity & sisabet's women's work to absolute destiny's i enjoy being a girl to giandujakiss's origin stories to LC's jack.... all these vids are about people watching a show and having something to say about its portrayal of women (whether commending or condeming it). and i think it's really similar to what the academics are saying. it's a struggle over the meaning of the text.

i'm not going to get too far into this (unless anyone would like me to elaborate) because i don't want to bog this post down with theory or anything, so i'll leave that thought there for now.

i have also found some interesting work on film music theory that i am really excited to apply to vidding. if different people can watch the same show and get completely different meanings out it, then we get into a bit of a pickle regarding if a text has any inherent meaning at all, and that sort of postmodern debate. so this applies to the vids as well - if a television text doesn't have an inherent, intended, clearly understood meaning, how can a vid?

i did ponder this, and one answer i came up with was this:

a television show is made by a massive cast and crew, and even different episodes are written by different people. take a show like lost or heroes - could you sit one of the creators or writers down and ask them what their show "means"? it would be a tough question to answer, i think. and the other members of the crew could give really different answers.

a vid, on the other hand, is usually made by a single person (or small group of people). and if you want to know what a vidder had in mind when they were creating, just read their notes or commentary that accompany it. should give you a pretty clear idea, no? also, there is much more contact between the vidders and their audience than there is in terms of mainstream TV texts and their viewers. if i wanted to know what a vidder thought about their vid, i could just leave a comment on their LJ or email them. but i can't just call up eric kripke and ask what was up with season three of SPN (no matter how much i wish i could, lol).

but it turns out the answer to this question (the question of how to interpret meaning in a text) was staring me in the face the whole time.

it's the music! it's in the MUSIC!


how obvious, am i right? i realized with a massive slap to the face the other day that up to this point i had been ignoring the absolutely VITAL ingredient of the music.

lightbulbs went off. i grabbed some film music theory work... and there it is! suture theory. thank you, claudia gorbman & jostein gripsurd!

while a text may have a multitude of potential meanings floating around, the music in film acts as a suture, restricting the possible interpretations down to a more limited number. suturing the text to the emotional or psychological response intended by the creator.


i'm still in the beginning stages of developing this idea, of course, but i think it's a really positive step forward for me. a framework is beginning to appear, and that makes me really, really excited.

feel free to comment, debunk, admire, or laugh at me in the comments if you think i'm way off. at this point, i'm still trapped behind a pile of dry theorists in their ivory tower, and i have to wait until my ethics approval comes down from TPTB to actually test this with some vidders. but here's hoping!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sorry for jumping here, stumbled upon your post while researching stuff for VidUkOn. I'm glad you're coming !!

If this subject of the music/film theory and interpretation of vids etc interest you in particular, why not suggesting this as a panel for discussion there ? (you can do so at the website) You could even moderate it ;)