is coming to vividcon for the first time, and she’s been asking me questions about the vid shows, the vid selection process, and just some general opinion stuff. Well, one of the questions she asked was about the definition of a modern meta vid, and really, there was no way I could resist going on at length.
To me, a meta vid is one that not only reacts to the vid source, but it also reacts to the fandom around in. It’s geared to us and our in-jokes, to our celebration and to our criticisms of who we are as fans. Modern vids tend to be very explicit about the fans-and-fandom connection, whereas older meta vids had to imply it via a theme or structure that brought the fannish consciousness to the forefront. To my mind, there are three fairly common formats with a meta vid, and while I am going to lean heavily on my own vids, they aren’t the only examples.
1) Vids as Celebration and/or Criticism of a Fannish Subgroup meta
a. Both ‘Hair’ and ‘A Fannish Taxonomy of Hotness’ fall into this category, as does Lum’s “I’m not a Virgin Anymore” for Highlander. Some context is required to see why Hair is a meta vid, but at the time it came out, there was a lot of hubbub in fandom because of the rumor of Blair Sandberg from The Sentinel cutting his hair, and that was a follow on from Felicity cutting her hair, and the great ratings crash after that. The importance of hair to fandom was not to be understated, and the vid was a celebration of the fans who really liked good hair. It’s a meta fandom in that it crosses fandom lines, and is one of those bulletproof kinks for some. It was an acknowledgement that hair (or lack of it) is an important part of the attraction that some fans feel for a fandom.
b. Lum’s “I’m not a Virgin Anymore” for Highlander was a rebuttal of the people in fandom who claimed that Duncan MacLeod was a stick-in-the-mud. The vid uses canon to illustrate that hello, Duncan slept with a lot of people, and he was a debauched, drunken lecher at times too. Given the source that was put together in the vid, it was clear that Duncan was a sensualist, and the prude label really…didn’t fit. It was a fabulous visuals response and rebuttal, and a distinct part of the meta conversation about who Duncan MacLeod was.
c. Some people include Vids as Critique of the show within their meta category, but I'm a little old fashioned. So for some "How Much is that Geisha in the Window" is a meta vid, but for me it's a normal fan activity, criticizing the fandom source in a visual form.
2) Vids as Fannish Folk Tale meta
There are some stories that we tell ourselves over and over again, that exist external to and outside of any specific fandom. When canon serves the component pieces of these up to us, who can resist putting one together? The meta component is that it’s a pan-fandom story, occurring in many fandoms, and the visual format is just one more form of the stories we tell each other. Such stories include:
a. A man falls for a woman who is exactly like his partner (Similar Features,for the Sentinel, where we played up the visual similarity between Cassie—the supposed love object—and Blair)
b. Greensilver and Eunice’s torchwood MPreg vid, Papa Don't Preach. Which, really, needs no further explaination.
c. Jealousy and hurt abound when my partner gets into a long term relationship with a woman (Something ‘s Goin’ Wrong Around Here, for SGA)
3) Vids as Self-Insertion meta
a. Probably “Kissed a Girl” by Smutcutter is one of the earlier ones of these that really stands out for me. VCR vidders were shy about photographing themselves or including themselves in some manner within the vid’s context, but smutcutter had no qualms about it and set the vid up with a frame of ‘evil darth fangirl’ reaching into the vid and using the force to twist the traditional slash story from ‘boy-meets-boy, boy-kisses-boy’ to ‘slash object kissed a GIRL!’ Oh, the horror that was shown through the reaction shots; you could mentally hear the evil fangirl laughter in the background as the characters on-screen reacted to having the story wrenched away from them like that.
b. “I put you in there” is probably the most literal of the genre, in that the lyrics are incredibly clear and the visuals underscore how fandom creates its own icons out of canon, and that no matter what we are given, we are the ones who can transform it and make it into something else.