Multimedia

Femslash goggles: Fan vids with commentary by creators

Julie Levin Russo

The Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington, United States

[0.1] Abstract—This gallery opens with a curatorial essay offering a metaphorical theory of vidding as an AR technology and contextualizing femslash fan vids. The selection of works with artist notes includes "Come On" by here's luck (2002); "These Two Arms" by Killa (2006); "Vitalum Vitalis" by hollywoodgrrl and ohvienna (2014); "Past the Feeling" by Anoel (2013); "Lightning Field" by bradcpu (2012); "Gimme Sympathy" by beerbad (2014); "I Do Adore" by kiki_miserychic (2014); "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Mithborien (2015); "Hurricane" by Laura Shapiro (2010); "Hands Away" by chaila and beccatoria (2011); "The Coming Out of Quinn Fabray" by jarrow (2011).

[0.2] Keywords—Audiovisuality; Augmented reality; Lesbian subtext; Queer spectatorship; Queer technologies; Vidding

Russo, Julie Levin. 2017. "Femslash Goggles: Fan Vids with Commentary by Creators" [multimedia]. In "Queer Female Fandom," edited by Julie Levin Russo and Eve Ng, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 24. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2017.1026.

1. Introduction

[1.1] Consider, if you'll indulge me, the mobile game Pokémon GO, a worldwide phenomenon that has players walking, running, biking, and driving around their environment with smartphones out to catch, collect, train, and battle cute critters. (This reference is perhaps not as tangential as it seems if you factor in the popularity of 'shipping Candela and Blanche, the female NPC leaders of teams Valor and Mystic.) Pokémon GO is arguably the first killer app in the medium of augmented reality (AR), which was already breaking as a consumer trend in 2009, when Wired defined it as "an intersection between virtual and physical reality, where digital visuals are blended in to the real world to enhance our perceptions" (Chen 2009). Mobility in the guise of handheld or head-mounted devices has been key to AR's alluring capacity to "reveal" an imagined world that's coextensive with our real one. That world might be pragmatic (an informative data overlay) or fantastical (an ecosystem of cartoon creatures), but tying navigation in the app to movement through material space has been a common characteristic. Engaging technology with our bodies is a baseline level of interactivity, but beyond this, there may be varying degrees of control over the virtual layer: accessing information with a few taps, capturing pokémon and building a personal inventory, manipulating holographs with the hand tracking functions on the prototype Meta 2 headset. And crucially, AR is usually configured as a visual mediation, augmenting what we see. The oblong window of a phone screen, with the camera pointed out, has been the most widely accessible optical interface for AR, doing an end run around the cyborgean fantasy of wearable computers. But goggles are hotter than ever in tech companies, and in 2016 it doesn't seem far-fetched that a more affordable version of Google Glass might catch on as quickly as the Apple Watch. Like attaching the digital to your hand, seeing the virtual through your eyes is an old dream of the future, but in the immortal worlds of 30 Rock's (NBC, 2006–13) Dennis Duffy, Beeper King, "Technology is cyclical."

Side-by-side stills of Dyna Girl speaking to wrist mounted ElectraCom screen and Dana Scully dressed in AR headset and gaming gear.

Figure 1. Dyna Girl (left; Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, ABC, 1976–77) and Dana Scully (right; The X-Files, Fox, 1993–2002) using technology. [View larger image.]

[1.2] Fandom has its own technoutopias, bricolaged from consumer devices and science fiction's imaginary. In Fanlore's (http://fanlore.org/) entry on "slash goggles," the earliest reference to the term is from 2007, but I suspect the phrase was in circulation years before (the author of the cited LiveJournal post uses it without explanation). I wrote previously that "this witticism evoking the image of specialized eyewear (my literal pair are always big, round, and pink) is a metaphor for a queer mode of viewing that interfaces with television's contradictions, excesses, gaps, and fragments" (Russo 2015, 458) to unveil its homoerotic subtext. Today's debates over the wearing of slash goggles seem to take them as corrective lenses: to their proponents, they're a fix for the myopic heteronormativity of mainstream representation; to their detractors, they're blinders that excuse a lack of LGBT visibility (see Fanlore). But I like to think that the original inspiration for these goggles was not spectacles or protective sports gear but rather the geeky trope of the AR headset. Beyond adjusting our view of the screen, with our goggles, we can access phantasmagoric strata of the text, and what's more, we can interact with them. We can see the given image but simultaneously the navigable fannish reality that adheres to it. AR turns reality into a remix.

[1.3] AR is a generative framework for elaborating on my proposition that vidding in general—and slash vidding in particular—"is a technology of seeing…a literalization of fans' ocular prosthetics, rendering as montage the strategies of active viewing that are animated by love" (Russo 2015, 458). Existing somewhere between the reality of simply watching (even with corrective lenses in place) and the virtual reality of an original universe, vidders augment their source with a layer of interpretation that wouldn't be visible to the naked eye. Unlike AR goggles, though, slash goggles in this guise operate through sequential editing rather than through superimposition in real time. Sergei Eisenstein, pioneer of the theory and practice of montage, understood moving images as juxtapositions up from their most basic unit: a succession of still pictures intelligible as motion only to the human optical and cognitive apparatus. At every level, conflict between elements produces dynamic effects for the viewer—graphical, emotional, intellectual. Eisenstein's dialectical concept of montage, and indeed of any creative medium, resonates with today's interfacing of the material and the virtual: "The logic of organic form vs. the logic of rational form yields, in collision, the dialectic of the art-form" (1949, 46).

[1.4] Eisenstein edited his own films, but as Francesca Coppa has pointed out (2011, 124), the industrial history of film editing is yoked to women's labor—women whose names (like Yelizaveta Svilova, wife and collaborator of another famous Soviet director) are too often forgotten. Svilova appears at the editing bench in the iconic metafilm Man with a Movie Camera (dir. Vertov, 1929) and her image is reappropriated in Counteragent's metavid "She Blinded Me with Science" (2009). This piece is a tribute to another editing virtuosa and frequent femslash vidder, Charmax, and Counteragent's supercut foregrounds motifs in her work that show women asserting agency over representation, from Morgana's visions and augury on Merlin (BBC One, 2008–12) to the vidder's signature in the credits. Coppa writes that film and video "technology has enabled the female gaze by giving women…control over visual media" (2009, 112). Today, with digital hardware, software, and source material at their disposal, female vidders have new tools to "see parts—tropes, movements, frames—within larger narratives that are presented to them as unified and complete, and they reassemble them into coherent wholes of their own devising" (110). The sequential juxtaposition of analog photographs has given way to a different series of fragments: the algorithmic sampling and data compression of digital video. Like film editing, computer programming was initially a female-dominated field, so we shouldn't be surprised to find that women have fashioned an AR hack like slash goggles.

Color photograph of 3 pairs of variously colorful sunglasses atop a TV set.

Figure 2. Slash goggles, perhaps. [View larger image.]

[1.5] For Coppa, the liberatory principle of editing's cut and suture is not merely formal: fragmentation is deployed fetishistically as a means to enjoy the erotics of bodies and narratives through a "female gaze" (2009, 112). This private gaze has been collectivized as "vidders have taught each other to see…by showing us exactly what and how she sees" (Coppa, 2011, 124). Tisha Turk has built on similar ideas to explain why fans may connect to vids not only on the basis of an investment in the canon but on the basis of an investment in vidding itself as a technology of vision: "Shared understandings and mutual interests transcend specific source material: vidders and vidwatchers are fans of particular ways of seeing, ways of reclaiming or talking back to mass media" (2010, 90). Although vids are often framed by scholars as a species of audiovisual essay, Turk and Johnson caution us not to forget that creative fans are writers as well as readers, and while vidders "are audiences, they also have audiences" (2012, ¶1.3). An emphasis on the reception of vids points to their foundation in what Turk has identified as a community or ecology that relies on "advanced interpretive practices of vidwatching" (2010, 94). Through a set of conventions developed collaboratively over several decades, "vids require audiences to process many different kinds of information, including the visual content of clips (what's happening in the frame), the context of clips (what's going on in the original source), and the juxtaposition of clips within the vid (why one clip precedes or follows another)" (Turk and Johnson 2012, ¶3.3). This interpretive intensity can pose challenges when it comes to circulating or presenting vids to an uninitiated audience. Below, you will have the opportunity to peruse a series of commentaries by vidders about how they approached their work that reveals some of the sophisticated labor of the gaze as simultaneously reading and writing, looking and cutting.

[1.6] Obviously, in keeping with the theme of this special issue, the collection below takes femslash as an organizing characteristic: these are vids which might help to define the specificities of femslash goggles as a transformative apparatus. (I am forgoing my attachment to the more alliterative "girlslash goggles" in favor of the dominant term.) Moreover, the pieces have some additional commonalities. All are structured around an F/F pairing, which is not the only typical format of femslash vids—there are examples that focus on threesomes or moresomes ("Take Me to Church" [Root/Shaw/The Machine] by LithiumDoll, 2015), on queer kinship networks beyond the couple ("Hera Has Six Mommies" by Tallulah71, 2008), and on multifandom media tropes ("I'm Your Man" by Charmax, 2008). On YouTube, many popular vids parallel multiple 'ships to celebrate ("Yours" by 10fireflym) or critique ("LGBT Fans Deserve Better" by fearlesssummer) the state of LGBT representation in mass media. In contrast to the archival and archetypal function of such multifandom tributes, each vid in this compilation presents a narrative arc particular to a specific relationship, serving as a story at least as much as an argument. Also, none of the pairings here is strictly canonical, so the vids are less directly celebratory or critical of mainstream portrayals of queer female characters than many femslash fandom hits—although the vidders' work does encourage us to interrogate how we define canonical sexuality in the first place.

[1.7] Like vidding overall, femslash vidding is inextricable from the participatory dynamics of distinct communities, relying on and contributing to shared emotions and interpretations around media texts. And, like vidding, people are often fans of femslash in general as a collaboratively defined genre that reaches beyond any single fandom. Coppa and Tushnet observe that, in the era preceding YouTube, it was typical for female vidders to distribute their work individually on password-protected Web sites, but they mention in a footnote that "some Xena and Buffy vidders founded centralized public vid listings" (2011, 132n4). These early online fandoms were formative for femslash as a collective project, and videos developed as an anchor of that project as the technical infrastructure progressed. Eve Ng researched vids made in 2003–4 by fans of Bianca and Lena (Lianca) on All My Children (ABC, 1970–2011) that were announced and discussed on message boards (primarily by queer female fans). Ng proposes that "fan cultural forms such as the Lianca music videos constitute re-articulations that are what fans want in queer narratives" (2008, 105). In this case, they serve as a protest against and reconfiguration of problematic developments in the couple's on-screen relationship. At the same time, these works have a tendency to reproduce the more normative tropes of romance, including "romantic love as redemptive power" (114), long-term monogamous commitment, and the idea that true love is necessary for happiness. When watching femslash vids, then, it is important to contextualize them as part of a conversation about the ways lesbian romance is visible (or invisible) in the media, one which offers critical analysis of representation but still looks for our culture's dominant language of love.

[1.8] This is to say that, from Xena/Gabrielle or Bianca/Lena to the present day, femslash's political dimension relies not only on narrative and visual interpretation of our media reality but also on the capacity of technologies like vidding to deploy augmented realities that reflect desired images of queer women. The creators featured here all participate in vidding fandom and participate to differing degrees in femslash fandom. Their works have a general appeal insofar as they present recognizable stand-alone stories, and some premiered at vid convention VividCon or slash convention Escapade, where femslash is in the minority. (An annual femslash con, TGIF/F, launched in 2016.) Nonetheless, you will read about how these vidders are speaking to particular fan communities and making explicit interventions in heteronormative texts. One of the most exciting aspects of this collection is the range and complexity of female-female relationships represented, extending beyond conventional romance to explore unrequited love, power dynamics, antagonism, casual sex, and other ambiguities. These pieces also exemplify a continuum of different relationships to canon—highlighting, "fixing," or fully constructing certain aspects—and the vidders explain specific editing strategies that they used to transform the story that we see. Given the figure of goggles as an emblem for slash, it is appropriate that women looking at women is a primary motif in evidence here—the paradigmatic "eyesex" that has been pivotal to subtextual queer reading since the dawn of cinema. Most vids excise dialogue and emphasize close-up shots of the face, foregrounding and heightening this interplay of gazes. Coppa has observed that there are "vids that feature, and even eroticize, women, often from a lesbian perspective," but more often "fans tend to be critical of the eroticized female image" and use vidding to "experience the pleasure and power of not being seen" (2011, 125–26). At the same time, it's plausible that "lesbian, bisexual, and queer women make up a large, possibly majority, percentage of vidders," complicating the dominance of "vids featuring men as the object of the gaze" (129n5). It is my hope that this collection will further displace the focus on male characters as a privileged fascination, demonstrating in part the scope of fan creativity directed at women. In femslash vids, we can see vividly the cultivation of what we might call a lesbian gaze, embodied both in the visual intensity of the relationships on screen and in the looking operations implied by the vidding activity itself.

Computer screen labeled Timeline showing complex interplay of multiple streams of data, including 5 video streams and 5 audio streams, horizontally across the screen.

Figure 3. Section of editing timeline for "The Coming Out of Quinn Fabray" (2011) by jarrow. (This video is included in the collection below.) [View larger image.]

[1.9] As the scholars cited have also stressed, however, vidding is not merely visual but also audiovisual, and music is an inextricable component of the form. The music video has been remarkably persistent as a schema for fan works, but in contrast to the commercial format, the song illuminates the images rather than the images illuminating the song. Turk, especially, describes the varied and fundamental roles music plays in vid making and vid watching, writing that "the song and its lyrics provide narrative and emotional information that the audience must decode…by adding music, vidders re-narrate source texts: the new music functions not merely as a soundtrack for the images but as an 'interpretive lens' [Coppa] through which to view the re-cut and re-sequenced clips" (2010, 95–96). Beyond offering interpretive cues, "music is the throughline of a vid…[and] thus a crucial factor in whether the audience experiences a vid as a coherent whole" (2015, 167). Song choice also carries, in large part, the affective tone and impact of the vid (in Internet vernacular, the "feels"). Ng found that Lianca videos were usually set to pop ballads where "both the lyrics and the melody tend to conform to cultural understandings of emotionality," which was a crucial tool to "facilitate a unique intensity of media engagement" (2008, 110). Turk expands on this concept by explaining that "pop songs work on a logic of emotional identification…encourag[ing] us to insert ourselves into them as the 'I' or the 'you,'" so they can function "to give shape and voice to the emotions of fictional characters" (2015, 171). Perhaps most importantly, "choosing a song is, for most vidders, generative—of the vid itself and of the vidder's process for making that vid. Vidder creativity is produced through interaction with music" (Turk 2015, 165). Indeed, in many of the commentaries below, creators describe the importance of a song to the development of their ideas and approach, and it's apparent that vidding as a mode of fannish engagement is often intertwined with music fandom. Turk cites Michel Chion, who terms the audiovisual principle synchresis: the idea that we will necessarily perceive sound and image as interrelated. Vid editors and vid watchers collaborate to realize the dialectical potential of this "audio-visual counterpoint" (Eisenstein 1949, 55), a particularly innovative multisensory rendition of AR.

[1.10] Please enjoy the following videos with an awareness of how their various juxtapositions—source and interpretation, representation and desire, watching and transforming, characters and editors, images and music, and sutures across cuts—contribute to the seamless yet lush textures of vidding as a distinctive and interactive mode of seeing. In the tech community, there is a tradition of presenting teardowns: stripping consumer devices down to parts to better comprehend their technological and economic constituents. Scott Torborg and Star Simpson, who did the first teardown of Google Glass in 2013 (http://catwig.com/google-glass-teardown/), wrote that disassembly is important "in an age when more and more of our technology is made inaccessible to the people who use it, to either understand, repair, or reuse" (see also the EFF's "right to repair" topic: https://eff.org/issues/right-to-repair). Speculative technologies are also embedded in systems their users don't fully own or control, and so, as a corrective to this opacity, you could consider this project a collaborative teardown of Femslash Goggles as an AR apparatus.

2. Acknowledgment

[2.1] Thanks to kiki_miserychic for invaluable assistance with the conception and organization of this project.

3. Works cited

Chen, Brian X. 2009. "If You're Not Seeing Data, You're Not Seeing." Wired, August 25. http://wired.com/2009/08/augmented-reality/.

Coppa, Francesca. 2009. "A Fannish Taxonomy of Hotness." Cinema Journal 48 (4): 107–13. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/cj.0.0136.

Coppa, Francesca. 2011. "An Editing Room of One's Own: Vidding as Women's Work." Camera Obscura 77 (26): 123–30. http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/02705346-1301557.

Coppa, Francesca, and Rebecca Tushnet. 2011. "How to Suppress Women's Remix." Camera Obscura 77 (26): 131–38. http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/02705346-1301566.

Eisenstein, Sergei. 1949. "A Dialectic Approach to Film Form." In Film Form: Essays in Film Theory, edited and translated by Jay Leyda, 45–63. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace.

Ng, Eve. 2008. "Reading the Romance of Fan Cultural Production: Music Videos of a Television Lesbian Couple." Popular Communication 6 (2): 103–21. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/15405700701746525.

Russo, Julie Levin. 2015. "Many Copies: Cylon Television and Hybrid Video." In New Media, Old Media: A History and Theory Reader, 2nd ed., edited by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun and Anna Watkins Fisher, 150–60. New York: Routledge.

Turk, Tisha. 2010. "'Your Own Imagination': Vidding and Vidwatching as Collaborative Interpretation." Film and Film Culture 5:88–111.

Turk, Tisha. 2015. "Transformation in a New Key." Music, Sound, and the Moving Image 9 (2): 163–76. http://dx.doi.org/10.3828/msmi.2015.11.

Turk, Tisha, and Joshua Johnson. 2012. "Toward an Ecology of Vidding." In "Fan/Remix Video," edited by Francesca Coppa and Julie Levin Russo, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 9. http://dx.doi.org/10.3983/twc.2012.0326.


4. "Come On" by here's luck (2002)

Video 1. "Come On" by here's luck (2002). Video source: Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB/UPN, 1997–2003). Audio source: Tegan & Sara. Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/176621. Password: faith.

[4.1] When I started this vid, I'd been vidding for about 6 months. Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB/UPN, 1997–2003) was the only show I'd vidded, and the only one I had any interest in vidding. I wasn't planning to make a Faith/Buffy vid, but this song grabbed me and wouldn't let go. Tegan & Sara's This Business of Art is full of songs that could be about Faith; in fact, the vid I made right after this one was a Faith vid set to "Superstar" from the same album. But the lyrics of "Come On" gave me a hook: the first line, "you've got your lights turned so they can see you," immediately suggested the scene from 4.15 "This Year's Girl" in which Faith stands outside Giles's window looking in at Buffy. That lyric/image combination ultimately gave me the flashback structure of the vid.

[4.2] I don't ship Faith/Buffy in the sense of believing that they will (or should) end up together or thinking that the characters were sexually involved offscreen, but I do find their relationship fascinating. As I see the show, Buffy quickly becomes the most important person in Faith's life—the one person Faith thinks might understand her—and in turn Faith wants to be the most important person in Buffy's life. But she's not. Buffy likes Faith (and is also a little envious of her), likes being important to Faith, likes Faith's attention; but she has other friends too, other things in her life besides being a Slayer (as well she should!). It's not hard to read that dynamic as a queer woman in love with a straight friend who is never going to reciprocate those feelings but really likes the attention.

[4.3] One of the things the vid highlights is the moments of connection between Faith and Buffy that Faith interprets as promises of friendship, companionship, devotion—the parallel between Buffy kissing Riley and Buffy kissing Faith is especially important there. It also highlights the ambiguity in their relationship, which the ambiguity of the song's chorus really helps with. "Come on, come on, come on"—come on and do what, exactly? I staked the vid on its meaning two different but inseparable things: Faith's goading Buffy to fight with her and daring Buffy to connect with her erotically. That moment where she's got Buffy against the wall and for a second you're not sure if she's going to hit her or kiss her? And then later she does kiss her, and then she runs away? That's it, that's the vid. Well, that and the fight scenes, which are the most technically impressive thing in the vid (and took a long time to get right—seriously, I was so cranky).

5. "These Two Arms" by Killa (2006, Escapade premiere)

These Two Arms from Killa Beez on Vimeo.

Video 2. "These Two Arms" by Killa (2006). Video source: Xena: Warrior Princess (Renaissance Pictures, 1995–2001). Audio source: Still on the Hill. Link: http://seacouver.slashcity.net/vid/thesetwoarms.zip.

[5.1] I heard this song played live on our community radio station, and knew instantly that it had to be a Xena: Warrior Princess (Renaissance Pictures, 1995–2001) vid. Though I'd never participated much in Xena fandom beyond reading some fic and making one other vid, I'd deeply loved Xena's sixth season when it aired, with its lush visuals and the overwhelming love story between Xena and Gabrielle unabashedly front and center. Hearing this song 5 years after the show ended, it evoked those images and feelings so powerfully, I couldn't resist.

[5.2] The ending of the show, though—what a betrayal. Not just Xena's death, but the way they killed her, the undermining of everything the character represented, and the trick they played, making us think Gabrielle would be able to save her. Of all the shows to go there, we never thought it would be this one. So, given the chance to rewrite the ending with the vid, I had to take it. Gabrielle kisses Xena, saving her life, and the story ends there—your basic fan fix-it.

[5.3] I've always been a fan of the surprise POV-shift vid structure, where one character's POV is represented for the first two verses, then the POV switches for the last verse. Not only does it help create build within a song that might not have its own, but it's also useful for showing how a relationship affects growth in one or both characters. Since that's exactly the way the Xena/Gabrielle dynamic evolved, with Gabrielle losing her innocence and eventually taking up bladed weapons and fighting alongside Xena (and embracing that choice), the refrain of this song and its themes were a perfect fit.

[5.4] Side note: At the time, my particular fannish vidding community was still debating the aesthetics of when and how often to use dissolves in vids. This might have been considered excessive. And it might be interesting to note that I made this for a long-running M/M slash con vid show, at which femslash was a fairly unusual occurrence. I'm not positive, but I think only one femslash vid had aired there previously, some years before.

[5.5] And finally, to my knowledge, this vid represents the only time a song's creator has ever found one of my vids. As it turned out, the band members were huge Xena fans, and they loved it. Lucky for me!

6. "Vitalum Vitalis" by hollywoodgrrl and ohvienna (2014, VividCon premiere)

Vitalum Vitalis from hollywoodgrrl on Vimeo.

Video 3. "Vitalum Vitalis" by hollywoodgrrl and ohvienna (2014). Video source: American Horror Story (FX, 2011–). Audio source: TBC aka Instamatic. Link: http://sync-slaying.livejournal.com/38348.html.

[6.1] The third season of American Horror Story (FX, 2011–) dealt with a coven of sassy young witches with a variety of powers all vying to be the Supreme (new leader) by performing the Seven Wonders (witchy trials). Two such witches emerged as the primary femslash pairing within the fandom: Misty Day and Cordelia Foxx (played by Lily Rabe and Sarah Paulson, respectively). During one of the tests, Misty Day was lost (in her own personal hell where she was stuck resurrecting frogs forever) and Cordelia, who previously thought herself the weakest of the witches, turned out to be the Supreme. This is how the story concluded, and fans of Misty/Cordelia were livid. Going by the show's own rules, Misty's demise didn't make any logical sense. She possessed the power of resurgence and had previously brought herself back from death. Meanwhile, the Supreme has to command all Seven Wonders, one of which is Vitalum Vitalis (the power to balance the scales between one life force and another). Misty Day had to literally go poof so that there was no body to be resurrected! And instead of making them a canon pairing, Ryan Murphy & Co. gave us another Big Gay Tragedy. Well, we weren't having it. Hence "Vitalum Vitalis" became what is known as a fix-it vid.

[6.2] Since an obsession with Stevie Nicks was such an integral part of Misty's character, we pulled from ohvienna's Misty/Cordelia fan mix the perfect song: a mashup of Fleetwood Mac's "Rhiannon" + Sia's "Breathe Me." For the structure of the vid, we wanted to show how Misty and Cordelia's individual paths cross. Once together, their combined energies were like a breath of life, which was visualized by the time-lapse imagery of the blooming flowers. We pulled from outside sources to add some oomph to the one existing scene from the show. Layered underneath was, of course, the subtext that Misty and Cordelia's love was also blooming.

[6.3] After Misty does the ritual that sends her to her frog hell, it was important for us to show Cordelia actively trying to save her but ultimately proving helpless in the matter. As Misty's body turned to ash in Cordelia's arms, we cut to the previously established imagery of Misty burning at the stake. In the show, this scene was used to visualize Misty's power as she brought herself back from a combusted state. But in the vid we reversed it, showing instead what really happened to poor, sweet Misty in that fire. For us, this was the fix-it. While her soul was trapped in hell, her physical powers of resurgence were rendered ineffective, and thus her body would naturally revert to the state it was in had she never been able to resurrect herself in the first place: she would burn and turn to ash, just like she did in Cordelia's arms. And that is why poor Cordelia cannot bring sweet Misty back even with Vitalum Vitalis. This is still heartbreaking, but at least it makes sense!

7. "Past the Feeling" by Anoel (2013, VividCon premiere)

Video 4. "Past the Feeling" by Anoel (2013). Video source: Once Upon a Time (ABC, 2011–). Audio source: Mr. Little Jeans (cover of Arcade Fire's "The Suburbs"). Link: http://anoel.dreamwidth.org/144239.html.

[7.1] When I first heard the song, it instantly pinged me as a Regina vid, specifically focused on Swan Queen [from Once Upon a Time (ABC, 2011–)]. The main chorus repeats the line "I'm moving past the feeling" and this well represents a big part of Regina's story line: how she moves past her hurt feelings over her mother's killing of her first love and the part that Snow White played in that. When Emma shows up as the biological mother of Regina's adopted son, Henry, she becomes the catalyst for Regina to have to overcome her resentment of Emma and again move past her old destructive patterns through the bond Regina and Emma share over their love of Henry. This is an example of a character vid that also functions as a femslash vid by giving the Swan Queen relationship more emotional layers, showing why Regina starts out resenting Emma but grows to form a partnership with her, and why this is so meaningful on both a relationship level and a story level. This arc has led many Swan Queen fans like myself to feel they are a destined, true love pairing on par with the other "true love" heterosexual pairings on the show (like Prince Charming/Snow White) and inspired us to create fan works and interact with the creators to demonstrate this, as I tried to do in this vid.

[7.2] Regina and Emma's dynamic is a great example of the enemies-to-lovers romantic trope, with their initial interactions antagonistic but full of flirting looks, rough touching, and growing obsession with each other that comes across as strongly femslashy—I tried to highlight this aspect particularly in the beginning of the vid. On top of that, their interaction takes on a destined quality, not only because of how both of them came to have Henry in their lives but also because of their magical powers, which help them protect Henry together. I emphasize this in the vid through the choruses, which provide a contrast to Regina and Emma's antagonism by showing them combining their magical powers to work together to save Henry. Ultimately they discover their magical bond as they pool their powers at the very end, taking their relationship to another level. In this vid, I specifically tried to add more cross-dissolves than I usually do in order to highlight this symbolism and to make the emotions and reactions of the characters clearer, as well as to enhance the aesthetics and fit the tone of the song.

8. "Lightning Field" by bradcpu (2012)

Video 5. "Lightning Field" by bradcpu (2012). Video source: Legend of the Seeker (ABC, 2008–10). Audio source: Sneaker Pimps. Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/486197.

[8.1] For me, vid projects always start with a need to communicate specific feelings or emotions. In this case, it was the deep sense of yearning that defined Cara and her relationship with Kahlan in Legend of the Seeker (ABC, 2008–10). Cara was kidnapped as a child, tortured, and brainwashed. She reluctantly joined the heroes of the show in season 2, and we watched as those walls slowly fell. The irony is that much of that happened because of the nurturing relationship she built throughout the season with her sworn enemy, a woman whose touch is deadly to her. As their relationship evolves, Cara goes from begrudging (and unwanted) hero, to friend, to guardian, to self-sacrificial third wheel, to regretful and borderline suicidal. It was a complex relationship and one that was uniquely compelling, in a painfully beautiful way. The point here was just to express that.

[8.2] I tried to do that by grounding the viewer in Cara's point of view. In many cases, that meant framing scenes with storm clouds or flashbacks to her past to show how a look or a touch made her feel, since one of (adult) Cara's defining qualities is that her face betrays very little emotion. In other cases, it meant using metaphors like flowers or a rising sun to show how she sees Kahlan. That extended to the sex scenes between Kahlan and her canon lover, Richard, which I positioned around shots of Cara having sex with another member of their group before sacrificing him and finally herself in order to protect Kahlan. That segment includes an episode in which Cara is secretly dying while trying to conceal her body's decay from Kahlan.

[8.3] I see the vid less as an alternate universe narrative and more about emphasizing what's hinted at in canon. Honestly, I didn't have to do a lot. Everything in the vid happened on screen, often in the same chronological order as the vid. It was just a matter of positioning the most relevant shots next to each other and adding some visual representation of each emotion.

9. "Gimme Sympathy" by beerbad (2014)

Video 6. "Gimme Sympathy" by beerbad (2014). Video source: Bunheads (ABC Family, 2012–13). Audio source: Metric. Link: http://beerbad.livejournal.com/359878.html.

[9.1] While not having any canonical F/F relationships, Bunheads (ABC Family, 2012–13) was a show begging to be reinterpreted by femslashers. Literally 100 percent of the main cast were female characters, and the show's focus was always on the growing relationships between girls and women of different generations, coming together and helping each other and finding their own strength. The relationship between dance teacher Michelle and her student Sasha was the highlight of the show for me, as relationships between female characters of different ages who are not related are very rarely given such attention in media. The canonical Michelle/Sasha relationship inspired me and filled me with so much emotion that I knew I wanted to vid them, and in the process take things one step further by presenting them as a femslash pairing.

[9.2] Michelle and Sasha's connection is so evident on screen, and they were given plenty of scenes together in the canon of the show, so it wasn't difficult to imagine an added romantic/sexual element in the relationship. Since it's so easy to see their chemistry visually, I knew I would have a lot of material to work with and subtext to exploit when I made my vid. In vidding Michelle/Sasha, it was not a big stretch to take all the wonderful platonic scenes between them and put them in the context of femslash. I did also edit together several scenes to make them Michelle/Sasha scenes, such as when they're on the phone with each other, which is something I have a lot of fun with when I'm vidding subtextual relationships.

[9.3] Bunheads was a show with a very small fandom, and Michelle/Sasha was never a hugely popular femslash ship, so vidding was the perfect form of artistic expression for me to both process my own emotions about the show and the ship while also creating something fun and accessible for folks who aren't familiar with it. The lack of Bunheads fan works in general, coupled with the lack of a vocal fandom to interact with, really fueled my vidding as an outlet for my love! I hope my vid will inspire lovers of F/F relationships—especially of the teacher/student or mentor/protege variety—to give Bunheads a try!

10. "I Do Adore" by kiki_miserychic (2014, VividCon premiere)

Video 7. "I Do Adore" by kiki_miserychic. Video source: Adventure Time (Cartoon Network, 2010–). Audio source: Mindy Gledhill. Link: http://kiki-miserychic.livejournal.com/229638.html.

[10.1] I watch a lot of cartoons and was pleasantly surprised to find a subtextual femslash relationship on Adventure Time (Cartoon Network, 2010–). While not outright confirmed in canon, Princess Bubblegum and Marceline have been confirmed as a ship in interviews and such. I curated a femslash vid show for VividCon, a convention devoted to the practice and appreciation of vidding, and wanted to create something that would add more diverse sources to the playlist. I have a collection of music I want to eventually vid that I listened to, and when I heard this song, I thought of Princess Bubblegum and Marceline.

[10.2] It's interesting to vid a cartoon as opposed to the live-action source that I typically use in that different illustrators draw the characters with their own individual style. A lot of cartoons tend to have set character looks. The structure of Adventure Time makes vidding minor characters easier than most television shows because they tend to focus on a couple of characters in each episode. I pulled from the Princess Bubblegum and Marceline–focused episodes and additional episodes where they were in the background as part of the ensemble. Toward the end of the vid, I manipulated the clips with the inclusion of a book page titled "How to Kiss a Princess" taken out of context, to give the impression of a more textual romantic relationship without a lot of special effects on the source.

[10.3] I think representation in cartoons is extremely important and making this vid was important to me. Had young me seen this vid and cartoons like Adventure Time and Steven Universe (Cartoon Network, 2013–), I am certain I wouldn't have had as many identity issues growing up.

11. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Mithborien (2015)

Video 8. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Mithborien (2015). Video source: Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel Studios, 2014). Audio source: Lorde. Link: http://archiveofourown.org/works/5263511.

[11.1] While I really enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy (Marvel Studios, 2014) movie, I was disappointed we never got more backstory about Gamora and Nebula—Gamora especially, being one of the core protagonists, but we were only introduced to her after she had already made the decision to go against her family and steal the orb. I also really liked Nebula's line "of all our siblings, I hated you the least," which implied a particularly interesting relationship between them.

[11.2] I actually like them so much that I walked out of the movie theater already planning a fan vid in my head. Sadly, it took me a while to find a song and actually finish the vid, but I was certainly inspired by their relationship from the beginning. Luckily, my delay in making the vid ensured I was able to include a deleted scene between Nebula and Gamora that went into their backstory a little further as well as including an awesome shot of them getting up in each other's faces. It was actually this shot that tipped their relationship from being platonic into somewhat incestuous in my mind.

[11.3] The main issue I faced with making this vid was that I ran out of footage to use. Gamora and Nebula were in few scenes together to begin with, but there was also a lack of scenes of them separately that proved useful for the vid I was trying to make. I ended up having to crop and resize a number of clips so I could exclude the men in them and just focus on Gamora and Nebula.

12. "Hurricane" by Laura Shapiro (2010, Escapade premiere)

Video 9. "Hurricane" by Laura Shapiro (2010). Video source: Battlestar Galactica (SyFy, 2004–9), Farscape (Nine [Australia], 1999–2003), The L Word (Showtime, 2004–9). Audio source: Joan Osborne. Link: http://laurashapiro.dreamwidth.org/296130.html. Password: showme.

[12.1] This vid was born of a deep, unfulfilled need to read Starbuck/Aeryn fan fiction [Battlestar Galactica (SyFy, 2004–9), and Farscape (Nine [Australia], 1999–2003)]. Two hot pilots with serious mommy issues and frustrating boyfriends, both with strong tendencies toward independence and unhealthy ways of expressing their emotions, meet in a Space Bar® for a zipless fuck. Both characters operate in universes that are largely free from the sexist constraints of our world. Both come from military cultures where women are assumed to be as capable as men, and both are in heterosexual relationships where they get shit done and the men are the emotional ones. And they love to fly. I latched onto that to set up the vid's plot, but also to say something about flight, escape, freedom.

[12.2] At first I was only thinking of the eyebrow-melting hotness of the pairing, but once I began plotting out the vid, I realized that I needed to use parallel structure to introduce each character, partly because the verse lyrics didn't immediately lend themselves to the sex part of the plot, but also because most viewers would not be familiar with both characters.

[12.3] The clipping and overall editing process were relatively smooth and painless. But it was my first constructed reality vid, and the technical challenges were considerable: the shows' color palettes are nothing alike, and I knew I would need to bring in outside footage (The L Word [Showtime, 2004–9]) for the sex scenes. The hardest thing was erasing the men. My favorite moment of the vid was the most technically challenging to produce: when Aeryn rolls off Starbuck at the end of the sex sequence, she's originally rolling off of a dude. I had to mask him out, frame by frame. I'm really glad I did, though; that clip is so satisfying to me now.

[12.4] It was important to me to build the vid without faked kisses or the like. I wanted to use pure editing to tell the story. The only time you see two bodies in the frame together, it's L Word footage. Aeryn and Starbuck are never in the frame together. What you think you see is from the juxtaposition of clips alone.

13. "Hands Away" by chaila and beccatoria (2011, WisCon premiere)

Video 10. "Hands Away" by chaila and beccatoria (2011). Video source: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox, 2008–9), Fringe (Fox, 2008–13). Audio Source: Interpol. Link: http://chaila.dreamwidth.org/96595.html. Password: play.

[13.1] "Hands Away" is a vid for a show that doesn't exist, sparked by the incredible potential of two world-saving female leads not just in the same narrative space but also in a romantic relationship with each other. The vid was born when two Internet besties, wielding editing software, accidentally came up with the idea of two of their favorite fictional women connecting, despite boundaries of time, space, and television networks. Sarah Connor (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles [Fox, 2008–9]) and Olivia Dunham (Fringe [Fox, 2008–13]) were rare female leads on science fiction television shows. They were each the center of their shows' stories and mythology, each responsible for saving their respective worlds, sublimating personal happiness to duty. Telling a sincere but impossible love story between Sarah and Olivia, combining their narrative power together into a shared story where they might be in love, was exciting and powerful and downright sexy.

[13.2] The visual and thematic parallels between the two characters and their stories helped inspire the idea of Sarah/Olivia as a relationship. The parallels and mirroring both paint the epic backdrop of a shared universe and create intimacy by showing how alike the characters and their stories are, and how much they would understand each other. Flashes of manipulated footage put them in the same scenes, repurposing footage from the shows or the actors' other work to create moments of solace, attraction, or affection between Sarah and Olivia. Their stories are meant to tangle together, set to an impressionistic song whose few lyrics don't matter that much, beyond creating a mood as the two women search, find, and lose each other, separated by their missions but linked by the way they feel about each other. For us as the vidders, the plot didn't matter as much as the endless possibility that results from Sarah and Olivia connecting, crashing their complex and powerful stories and worlds into each other, anchored always by how desperately they reach for each other. The show never actually existed, but for the space of the vid's three minutes, it does.

14. "The Coming Out of Quinn Fabray" by jarrow (2011)

[https://vimeo.com/32143485]

Video 11. "The Coming Out of Quinn Fabray" by jarrow (2011). Video source: Glee (Fox, 2009–15). Audio source: Michael Convertino (Bed of Roses soundtrack). Password: faberry.

[14.1] This project is different from any other vid I've made. At the outset, I was creating what I called a "scene reconstruction." However, upon its completion, I realized I'd gone beyond that and created, effectively, a video fan fic that told an actual story. As I had new ideas for scenes to manipulate—either by working around preexisting conversations or creating brand-new ones with dialogue pieces—I built a new chapter, so to speak. When it reached 10 minutes long, I realized it didn't have to just be random scenes strung together—I could create a narrative by arranging them intentionally. That was when the project really came alive and started toward what it is today: Quinn's coming-out story through a romance with Rachel, told over 18 minutes.

[14.2] The original objective was simple: Use material from Glee (Fox, 2009–15) to "prove" that Quinn was gay using a combination of canon and convincing manipulations. As a Faberry (Quinn Fabray/Rachel Berry) 'shipper, Quinn's potential lesbianism is the premise of their hypothetical relationship. I was able to use the canonical evidence of Quinn's queerness as a foundation for the vid (because she looks longingly at Rachel a lot) and then create new conversations to show what could be if only the show would go one step further. This project was successful because so much fodder already existed in canon, but the excitement (and challenge) lay in the fact that Faberry is ultimately a fanon relationship. Much to my delight, this became an instant hit on Tumblr—by far my most popular vid ever—and is still treasured by the fandom as a unique and special contribution. I hope, by watching this video, other viewers will better understand what Faberry shippers saw in Quinn and Rachel's interactions. This is the Glee story we wanted; this is Glee as we saw it.



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