Star Trek and Subjectivity: Fan Videos as Sexual Textual Critiques - Andrea Marshall
Star Trek and Subjectivity: Fan Videos as Sexual Textual Critiques
Andrea R. Marshall Drexel University iSchool firstname.lastname@example.org://drexel.academia.edu/AndreaMarshall
What are fan videos?• Where can we find them?• Who is creating them?• Who is watching them?
Star Trek and Subjectivity• What are visual fanfiction discourses?• How do fan videos become reader response critiques of canonical Star Trek tropes?• How do Star Trek fans construct their sociotechnical identities in digital environments?
The Male Gaze (Mulvey 1975)”the gaze is male whenever itdirects itself at, and takes pleasurein, women, where women functionas erotic objects” – Laura Mulvey
“Is that a girl?” “That’s a girl.” –Kirk and Charlie, “Charlie X”
Star Trek contains within it a problem that many vids have attempted, literally or metaphorically, to solve: at the center ofthe text is a displaced woman. The original, failed Star Trek pilot "The Cage" (1964), written by Gene Roddenberry and featuring Jeffrey Hunter as Captain Christopher Pike, also introduced the captains aloof, unemotional, and tactically brilliant second in command. This was not the famously logical Spock; rather, her name—fitting for such a mechanical woman—was "Number One." Although Spock was in the pilot, he was not the cool,highly rational Spock we know now. In fact, Star Treks insistence on the Enterprises first officer as an unemotional mind makesparticular sense if the character is a woman: it is a 1960s picture of an unnatural—for which read: strong, highly rational, technologically minded—woman. (Coppa, 2008)
While Number One haunts Star Trek through theoverdetermined figure of Spock, Majel BarrettRoddenberry was recast in two roles that exemplify theproblematic way that women are typically representedin popular culture: Nurse Christine Chapel, whoseprimary characterological gestus is her embarrassingand hopeless public crush on Spock, and thedisembodied voice of the Enterprise. It is hard not tosee Barretts transformation from Number One toChristine Chapel as a degradation on every level: role,status, and image. (Coppa 2008)
Star Trek as Roving Eye• Fan videos visually disrupt and confront the sexist tropes present within all iterations of the television series and feature films, by the subversive reediting of the metanarratives (as source materials), adding new narrative structures in textual format (YouTube description boxes), and including musical soundtracks intended to convey moods, tropes, stories, and the inner lives of the canonical Star Trek characters.
Additional Fanonical Discourses• Fan videos also engage with the metanarrative of Star Trek, and transcend the discursive boundaries of these visual texts by creating their own original fan characters (OFCs), and original storylines. In these videos, fanonical discourses become reflexive tools to construct autonomous sociotechnical identities as creators, to generate new ways of seeing Star Trek multiverses.
Example One: “Toxic” by YouTube Author MissDreary (Maybe Nurse Chapel shouldn’t pursue an emotionallywithdrawn Vulcan? Maybe Spock is being a total jerk? Maybe this is a totally dysfunctional canonical trope in which Nurse Chapel is depicted as an irrational lovestruck ‘chick’?)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeFxqkhoudoThe author’s annotations:Audio: Toxic by Britney SpearsVideo: Star Trek TOSPlot: Spock is toxic and Chapel is poisoned.
Example Two: “Aurora”Original fan created series created entirely in CGI format, by Tim Vining. Two female protagonists are featured in this series-a human cargo ship captain and her one-woman crew, her Vulcan first mate. Unfortunately, the gendered gaze recurs here as both parody and fanonical trope.Trailer for upcoming sequel in the series “ThineOwn Self” (two crewmates walk into anintergalactic strip club and some genderbending ensues?….)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fz8B3PssFHw
Tisha Turk, “Metalepsis in Fan Vids and Fan Fiction” (2010)For fans who produce and consume fan works, theboundaries of thesource text‘s fictional world are not fixed; rather, they areinfinitely expandable.Fans‘ tendency to treat source texts as open rather thanclosedis encouraged by the ways in which media fandom isorganized around,though not limited to, serial television.
SourcesCoppa, F. (2008). Women," Star Trek," and the early development of fannish vidding. TransformativeWorks and Cultures, 1.Mulvey, L. (1975). Visual pleasure and narrative cinema. Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theoryand Criticism, 438-48.Turk, T. (2010). Metalepsis in Fan Vids and Fan Fiction. Metalepsis in Popular Culture, 87-107.Turk, T., & Johnson, J. (2011). Toward an ecology of vidding. Transformative Works and Cultures, 9.http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Charlie_X_(episode)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeFxqkhoudohttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeFxqkhoudohttp://loyalkng.com/2009/07/14/vulcan-alberta-canada-live-long-prosper/http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/44/64