Thursday, November 10, 2016

Creating Positivity in a Split World.

On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning I fell asleep sometime after 1:30, which was the point where Josh and I turned the TV over to Futurama and decided to just find out in the morning. When Josh was woken up at 7:15, my eyes crept open just enough to see him go to the CNN page on his phone and read the headline: PRESIDENT TRUMP.

And how that headline made me and so many others feel is...categorically awful. For me and many other young-ish liberals, it has felt like we have been at the spearhead of a great wave of change. So many rights have been granted, protections given. We saw the truly astounding day where the Supreme Court granted marriage rights to all couples across this nation. To find out that, out of the people that voted, a full half of them either fully support a violent bigot or thought he was a better option than our first woman president (or a third party!), is devastating. We thought we were slowly but surely changing the majority, either by changing their minds or by slowly but surely overpowering the voice of those who would break us down. We stand on the precipice of a presidency with a man who has said many vile things, and our leaders have had to stand before us, smile, and tell us to give him a chance.

I have seen people on Twitter say that they understand what depression must feel like, every day, and I understand perfectly because I myself feel like I was transported back to late 2013, when I was in an abusive relationship, a shitty job, and wanted to die. It doesn't help that my birthday was Monday. I don't want to die anymore, but it's hard to do my job, right now. As a library employee, I consider it my almost-sacred duty to help everyone who walks through our doors as much as I can, but looking directly in the eyes of a smiling, triumphant Trump supporter made me realize the cost of my neutrality at work. I know people of color and LGBT people who can't hide their LGBT-ness must have felt this many times, but I have never before looked into someone's eyes with proof that they wish me harm, and had to smile, nod, and do what they say.

The summary of this is that it is very, very hard right now, and I have been looking for some light. So I indulged my indulgent side, and went to Facebook Live.

In case you're reading this in some internet archive in 2047, or you're not that into Facebook, Facebook Live is a function of Facebook where a user can stream whatever they're doing live, and the people on their friends list can watch and comment in real time. It's a really good way to engage with everyone on your feed. I've never used it before because, frankly, I hate being recorded. I never know what to do with my face and my voice sounds 1000% more scratchy and high than it sounds to me. But I turned the camera to something else--my LEGOs.

LEGO Dimensions is a video game where you can put RFID-enabled LEGO figures on a pad, and they will magically appear in your video game. The toys-to-life gaming genre is gaining steam, and I'm a LEGO fan, so I got into it. I love how LEGO Dimensions reflects the real-life flexibility that makes LEGO so special; each figure is a real LEGO piece, that can be taken off its base and treated as such, and the game is interactive, making you reconfigure and reconstruct things as you go along, as well as shuffling things around on your game pad to use special abilities or avoid attacks. It gives me that feeling of play that I had as a kid, of creating and using my imagination. Plus, it lets me have Chell from Portal and Harry Potter run around Middle Earth; that's a selling point right there.

So I went on Facebook Live and talked about my LEGOs. I think I talked for...about ten minutes? Like I said, I don't like my voice on recordings, so I haven't gone back and watched it myself. I showed off my figures, talked about the details I love about them, which ones I've gotten recently, which ones I plan to get soon (a new wave comes out November 18th! Excite!). It was blatantly nerdy and self-serving, which usually makes me feel worse about myself, but it was just so nice to talk about something that gives me joy, to create joy in myself by choosing to think about something positive.

A friend of mine even responded in kind. Malcolm, who also writes  (see here for some really excellent stuff), made a Facebook Live of his Disney Infinity collection, talking about why he likes his figures, which ones are his favorites, etc. He mentioned in the video that I had inspired him, and that felt really good, honestly. The idea that my positivity reached someone outside myself--that matters.

Positivity is elusive, right now. For those of us invested in the rights of LGBT people, in people of color, in immigrants, in women's bodies, there's going to be a long, hard haul to prevent rights from being taken away. People keep comparing Trump's election to that of Hitler--saying that his campaign of fear will turn into a totalitarian administration that will devastate minorities. If that is so, it is our obligation to resist this insistently, to speak out intelligently on every issue, to support organizations who have greater power to hold the line. But I am increasingly realizing we also have an obligation to positivity, for ourselves and others. I don't think we can last long in our resistance if we subsist on our own anger and fear; an administration may subsist that way, but a resistance requires that we choose every day to join it, and we will find our breaking points if we go too long without the nourishment of hope and joy. We must live happy lives, and with our activism demand the happinesses that we and others are denied. We must remember that the world has good if we want to bring that good to the fore.

I'm going to keep reaching for positivity, as well as change. I hope we can reach it together.

Come talk to me on Twitter @yipp33kiyay.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Videodrome: Disney Fanvid Madness

Videodrome is a series of blog posts I'm considering making wherein I talk about various videos of every stripe, because fuck it, I have the ability and it's not like I'm here to make money, folks.


"More than a memory | (non)Disney Valentine's MEP" is a fanvid (fan video) that crosses all over the animated children's film universe, pairing characters in what seems to be essentially random groupings. The creator, AiraSora, puts a lot of work into even having these characters appear in the same shot, much less to construct a narrative of romance between each pairing. This video is fast-paced, apparently throwing a shitton of pairings at  us in celebration of Valentine's Day, so your mileage may vary on whether you find any of these pairings romantic or whether you can remember any of them. I'll admit to being charmed by the Nani/Prince Charming pairing; when I watch these sorts of videos, I base the merit of the pairing on the merit of the plot the vid creator has constructed, and the story of a white prince falling in love with Nani when she's halfway through a dog door is delightful.

I think this video serves as a good, albeit over exaggerated, example of what fanvids are made for. A fanvid is made, generally, to either express appreciation for a franchise or to create a fake, generally romantic scenario. A large and growing aspect of fandom is the act of shipping, where a fan finds a cute couple (or threesome or foursome, etc.), obsesses over them, and produces fan works about the couple. This couple does not need to have a single basis in reality, and that's what often makes fanvids interesting. Because fanvids take footage from the franchise they're a fan of and remix it to create a new work, the video maker cannot decide that the characters work in a coffeeshop or are stuck in a hot tub, because the footage doesn't exist. They have to work with the footage they have to create a narrative it wasn't intended to create, and it's brilliant the way vid creators go about doing this.


I'll be frank with you: I cut and run from this one once a woman romantically kissed a child. That's gross, man, don't do that.

There's a dedicated community of video makers on Youtube dedicated to this particular subgenre of cut-and-pasting animated characters into new stories. It's more advanced in some way than normal fanvid making; the ways they succeed as well as fail in making characters look like they exist in the same universe is something really outside of what's normal for the average fanvid. In a Supernatural fanvid, Dean and Castiel's thousand-yard stares will be reinterpreted to be in the other's general vicinity; in these videos, characters are manipulated into kissing, and often. In the above video, several characters are also animals and have magic powers. It takes a few watches before you can make the leaps of logic along with the video maker, but the fact that the leap can be made is a testament to how well these video makers understand narrative.

These videos might not be enjoyable or especially watchable to people outside of this particular video making community, but I am obsessed with watching them, to see what they choose to portray, what movies they take apart and sew them back together. They use a shitton of cheesy iMovie filters to cover the lighting differences across films, to change hair colors, to create overdramatic moods. They use flashing, pulsing crossfades more than any human should be allowed. Every character becomes everything, from an innocent virgin to a rapist, and they live in half-worlds between properties that don't feel like real places, only amateur backdrops to the drama unfolding between creations that were never meant to touch. Video makers have only the videos that have already been made in reality to work with, and in this particular community, they prove that it's no barrier to their imagination. Anything is possible in their worlds, and frequently, there's already a video about it.

Talk to the author on Twitter @yipp33kiyay.