Vidding and the perversity of critical pleasure: Sex, violence, and voyeurism in "Closer" and "On the Prowl"

Sarah Fiona Winters

Abstract


Analysis of two fan vids ("Closer" by Killa and T. Jonesy, and "On the Prowl" by Sisabet and Sweetestdrain) in the context of theories of vidding reveals that vids have a unique ability to combine analytic detachment and pleasurable investment. I analyze these two vids through Roland Barthes's provocative suggestion that reading criticism demands from the reader a perverse voyeurism of the critic's pleasure in the text to argue that they are examples of the ways in which many vids function as pleasurable criticism that invites viewers of such vids to enter voyeuristically into that pleasure. Both vids use tropes of sexual violence to characterize not only the mass media they respond to, but also the nature of fandom and of transformative fan readings. "On the Prowl" criticizes and celebrates the fan through constructing different audiences for a series of self-portraits; "Closer" does the same thing by constructing Spock as a portrait of the fan. The narratives of sadism and rape constructed by the vids both disturb and seduce the viewer, thus forming perverse texts that that problematize pleasure while simultaneously reinscribing it.

Keywords


Fan vid; Roland Barthes

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