In trying to figure out how to approach doing a video essay, I found myself drawn to Shooting Down Pictures. The videos there, text analysis that acknowledged that the video itself is a text to be manipulated and referenced, used a style I found very approachable. My biggest problem in creating the essay was finding a subject with which I could actually work.
What I discovered was that my normal standards for subjects to do academic work on apparently apply in this new medium as well: something I love enough to know it well, and know well enough to see its problems. I chose Glee because, despite what I argue in the essay, I think it does a better job than most media (and high art) at showing that the world is not made up of straight, white, able-bodied, Christian people. I expected to find what I did find, that the show shortchanges many of its characters, but I also found that it does it in a consistent patterned way, which I doubt I would have noticed if I hadn’t been looking for visual cues. I had no idea the show had such a consistent style until I picked up patterns and realized that scenes were blocked in certain ways to communicate certain things across episodes, and that the breaks from that style meant the show was saying something different.
For example, I had not realized until I began pulling together clips across episodes that the show uses its minority characters as a Greek chorus to comment on the lives of the main characters, and only when separating those characters off by themselves does it allow them to comment on their own lives. The style changes, putting certain characters in different positions in the group, and having consistent choreography to communicate relationships, and I would not have noticed that without having to look for patterns. I actually felt hampered by the time constraints, because there was so much footage and it was hard to make a general argument about the show within a short amount of time. I wish I had another ten minutes to cover just the leitmotifs in choreography, because that’s something that can only be communicated visually.
The ability to use video to communicate my argument was also useful in studying this particular text because it is as much musical as it is visual, and I’m not sure that the text can be fully understood without being able to both see and hear it.