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April 21, 2007

RFD: Fake Trailers and Gender

Quick question: I'm working on my MIT 5 paper on trailer mashups, and I've been curious about something. I've noticed that many of the fake trailers that receive the most attention are for films that are more commonly associated with male audiences (Scorsese, Kubrick, etc).

I know that slash fiction, for example, is more frequently done by female authors, but I'm wondering if fake trailers are more commonly identified with male producers. The reason I ask is that I see these trailers as participating in the ongoing process of canonization of certain films by well-established directors. Of course, the parody wouldn't work if audiences were unfamiliar with the original film, so maybe these choices reflect a canon that has already been established (it's also interesting to observe how articles such as the ones I linked are also participating in a second-level form of canonization by preserving certain fake trailers as worthy of attention).

The paper itself is taking shape, but I happened to think about this question as I was writing and wanted to see if anyone had any thoughts about the issue.

Posted by chuck at April 21, 2007 12:25 PM

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Chuck I think you're right about this. My sense is that the gender divide in fan vids, put very crudely, is something like boys-irony/ girls-sincerity. The female-produced videos are often song vids and not necessarily slash--often just tributes to favorite actors or characters or couples, like Logan and Veronica on VMars. I think there's something here about boys being rewarded for cleverness and girls being more into their feelings.

Posted by: michael newman at April 21, 2007 4:55 PM

That's an interesting read, and of course I omitted "tribute vids," which are a big part of the fan video culture (I came across a number of these while writing my SFTV paper). The cleverness/sincerity opposition is an interesting one, too, and makes a lot of sense here.

Posted by: Chuck at April 21, 2007 5:19 PM

I'm not so sure - it seems that the most effective fake trailers ("failers"?) are about unexpected juxtapositions, merging radically opposed sensibilities. Because of this, extreme genres play well, so horror/action films get softened & feminized (Shining, Mean Streets), or romantic comedies/musicals get roughed up/masculinized (West Side Story, When Harry Met Sally).

I do agree with Mike that male fan productions tend toward parody - which as Jenkins points out in Convergence Culture plays better as fair use with the copyright police as well, which then reinforces the practice as legitimate. Formally, a lot of more female "shipping" fanvids take the structure of the music video, not trailer, as its about dramatizing the content of the source text, not subverting it.

I look forward to hearing the paper!

Posted by: Jason Mittell [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 21, 2007 9:07 PM

Jason, this is one of the questions that I'm still thinking through. The extreme juxtapositions are certainly crucial to fake trailers, but are those juxtapositions subverting the original or, in some way, celebrating it?

Perhaps in some cases (Sleepless in Seattle, Little Miss Sunshine), the goal is to subvert the original, but the Scorsese and Kubrick trailers, while playful, also seem to have a certain reverence toward the original film. For example, the "Shining" trailer made me want to see the Kubrick film again whereas the LMS horror trailer did not. Of course, this might say something about my personal tastes.

Thanks for the reminder about Jenkins' comments on fair use in Convergence Culture. Looking forward to catching up.

Posted by: Chuck at April 21, 2007 9:23 PM

hey chuck are you here in boston for the mit conference? i'm here for iffboston!

Posted by: cynthia at April 29, 2007 12:09 AM

Hey, Cynthia. Yep, I was in Boston for MIT5. I'd forgotten about IFFB until I picked up a Metro paper on the T, and by then I couldn't quite manage to get myself to a screening (although there were several things I wanted to see). Hope you enjoyed the fest.

Posted by: Chuck at April 30, 2007 10:21 AM

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