The vid form represents a diverse range of expression and comment. The existence of vids relies on the existence of home video technologies—first analogue, now digital—for access to source material. The vid form's inherent reflexivity demands that vids be read alongside the viewer's memory and understanding of its source texts as a whole. Vids help constitute an individual's knowledge and understanding of a series, film, franchise, or broader viewing landscape. A close look at vids and vidding uncovers a hidden ‘afterlife’ of programmes, films, and other visual media. Vids offer fans’ interpretations of media texts, construct histories of viewership and engagement, and demonstrate a mode of productive audience behaviour that has seldom been part of the story of television.
Keywords: fanvids, television, fan studies, archives
Vids as Vids and the Afterlife of Television
In his book The DVD Revolution: Movies, Culture and Technology (2005), Aaron Barlow argued that DVD technology brings new possibilities as a distribution medium and as source material for fanworks, offering the prognostication that, ‘Technological possibilities have progressed to the point where film and video, as well as fiction, can be used to create significant fan art. […] The use of the moving image in fan art, however, is still in its infancy’ (56-57). However, the case of vidding conclusively proves that the use of the moving image by fans pre-dates the DVD by several decades and that it has unquestionably reached its maturity. More charitably, in recent years the visibility offered by digital platforms such as YouTube and cultural platforms such as gallery exhibitions and academic attention has worked to weave the story of vidding into broader understandings of how fans and audiences respond to and make use of changes in moving image technology. It is important to emphasize that the vid does not date from the introduction of the DVD or of YouTube, though these are both significant technological developments in its history. The personal media archive—containing film, television, user-captured video, music, photos, and masses of text—is something that has the potential to be continually (and playfully) reworked.
In this book, I have sought to describe and analyse the critical and creative output of a keenly attentive fan audience whose method of watching and interpreting television and film has remained largely peripheral and marginal.