Fandom looks entirely different filtered through pain and pain medication, though, let me tell you. (It all goes really really fast, for one thing. I kept thinking, all the first week after the surgery, "How do they type so much? I can't even stay awake to read it all!" As you will see, though, I have remembered how we all type so much. Yay?)
One thing I did manage to do - in fact, I did it right after the surgery, so there's only a 30% chance any of it makes sense - was the first round of strangefandom. I was determined not to miss that no matter how many people came at me with small sharp knives. Because, basically, the minute I saw the project, I thought, "Yes. This was designed for me." See, it's a project where you watch vids in fandoms you know nothing about. And you crazy kids with your "watching of the television," you don't do that all that often. But I pretty much always do.
(Let me pause for a true story: a man came around the other day to sell us a different cable provider, and I was home clutching my stomach and blinking at dust motes, so of course I answered the door. He said, "So, who provides your cable now?"
I said, "We don't have cable." He just stood there, every line of his body clearly saying, "What? Who doesn't have cable?" He quite obviously didn't believe me. I'm not sure if it was just panic or what that made me confess to him that we also don't get regular television, but after that, I could tell he was thinking: "Alien or liar? It must be one or the other, and if I can just figure out which, I'll know if it's safe to leave this porch."
It was awkward, and I wanted to sit down, so I said, in an overly bright and cheerful tone, "Well, we do have a DVD player!" I don't know why I said it. I'd blame the drugs, but the truth is I thought it might make him feel better; I had clearly challenged his whole worldview. A man does not expect this when he enters door-to-door cable sales.
He said, "So, what, you," and there was a pause while he considered what a person without cable or regular TV might do with her life, "go to Blockbuster a lot?"
And I said, "Um. No." And then I apologized, although I'm not sure for what.
We stood there for some long, long seconds, and then he backed away and went to talk to our neighbors, who, luckily, definitely do have cable. I hope it made him feel better.)
Anyway, my point is: vids are often my first exposure to a fandom. Sometimes that's not the case; sometimes I've read stories in the fandom, and then it's all happy discovery: "That's JACK'S CABIN!" I remember squeaking happily to Best Beloved during one vid. "It's REAL!" Sometimes, though, I don't even know what the fandom is. (And, seriously - vidders, you would be doing me a great favor if you put the fandom in the vid's credits. I don't care how obvious you think it is. Trust me. I am capable of missing things much more obvious than that.) In that case, it's all a lot of glorious hypothesizing. (Me: "I think that guy is a bad guy. I mean, do good guys wear hats like that?" BB: "Does anyone wear hats like that?" Me: "Well, obviously in the future they do." And then we fervently agree that it's probably a good thing we won't live to see that particular time, which will likely be called the Century of the Bad Hat.)
My point is, strangefandom was just like that, except I got to write my initial crazy ideas down. While I was on drugs. And I think today one of my synopses will be posted, so you should all go over and check it out, because a) did I mention the drugs? and b) oh my god, you have to see the vid. sdwolfpup had to promise to explain the fandom to me in small words after it's all over; it's all gay sex and naked men and bad special effects.
So, in celebration of strangers in strange fandoms, I give you vid recs for fandoms that are vid-only for me. In other words, I'm going to suggest you watch vids in which I have no idea what's going on. Trust me! Come on, trust me! (Or just go to strangefandom. The people there will probably be funnier.)
Okay, so I think I know what this canon's about. It's about a war: humans v. Cylons. Cylons are robots, who sometimes look like people and sometimes don't.
I think the Cylons are winning.
And that's really everything I know about the show - I mean, I've guessed a lot from watching vids, but since I've never seen the source and never read any FF for it, I have no idea if I'm right. That's the fun of vid-only fandoms: you could be making up a whole new source in your head. (Part of the fun, anyway.) The only thing I'm really sure of is that one of the pilots is Apollo, and the other is Starbuck, and even then I have to check sometimes on which one is the girl. (FYI: Starbuck.)
The One That Makes Me Love Humans. Proud, by dualbunny. [Um, total side-query: vidders who make vids for people in auctions, and credit them in the vid itself - do you want those people listed in the credits section in a rec? My current policy is just to list the vidder, but when the vidder herself credits other people, too, I get confused. Halp!]
I love this one for two reasons, and the first one is - well, characters. It's really hard, when your only connection to a fandom is through the vids, to love the characters, especially if you're me. (I have a hard time connecting with people in just images. I need words.) But this vid captures four people I'd - okay, I'm not sure I'd like all of them, necessarily, but they all interest me. (It also interests me that, as far as I know, these four people are not related, and yet they seem to function as a strange, fucked-up, mock-traditional nuclear family. (And, uh, it occurs to me that in this fandom, the phrase "nuclear family" might be sort of insensitive.) My point is - it's a vid about a quasi-family, and I find that fascinating, and not just because this family needs a little therapy, I think.) They interest me because - well, because of the second reason I love this vid.
I also love it because it's double-edged, like all the best BSG vids. It showcases the moments that make these characters human, which is kind of key in this fandom (see above, about war v. robots) - the moments of doubt, the moments when they transcend their limits, and the moments when they fuck up, too. (This fandom often makes me think about the old Army slogan "Be all you can be." Because, um, there are a lot of things I can be that I really, really don't want to be, should not be, and one of the things I see in BSG vids is people proving that by being all that they can be. Good and bad.) They're only human, after all - I mean, that's their biggest weakness, but it's also their saving grace, and that's what this vid says to me.
The One That Makes Me More Sympathetic with Cylons Than I Probably Should Be. Fix You, by sdwolfpup.
And this is the other side of the story, right here. I'm not - okay, I'm not entirely sure about my interpretation of this. Reeeally walking onto a limb, here, because this interpretation is contingent on one particular person in this vid actually being a human-looking Cylon. But I think that this vid is about the Cylon point of view in this war. In other words - they've looked at humans, they've seen exactly what we saw in "Proud" - that humans can seriously suck sometimes, but that they have tremendous potential for beauty and grace - and, well, they're here to help. Or that's what they think, anyway.
To the humans, of course, it looks rather different, as we see at the end of the vid. Well, I mean, it is different: it's possession, domination, oppression, and, one assumes, everything that has traditionally gone hand-in-hand with those lovely activities.
Another part of my love for this vid is. Okay. See, "Fix You" is one of those songs that I sometimes see used for pairing vids, and I have to think that the people who choose it are hearing something other than what I'm hearing. (In my opinion, "I will try to fix you" is not a romantic, loving phrase. It's a red alert warning siren screaming, "For the love of god, get out while you still can." I mean, it's a warning siren unless you're using it to a car or a blender or something, and if you have romance with a car or a blender, I - I really do not need to know about that.) So, to me, this vid uses this song perfectly. Because here we have these Cylons with apparently good intentions, or at least with caring and concern and all that good stuff, and, uh, they're to fix humans. And the results are exactly what you'd expect: horror show.
This is the canon that was so not made for me. The vaguest suggestion of horror leaves me compulsively clutching my dogs, for one thing - I mean, I read some SPN fan fiction (after it has been thoroughly vetted by Best Beloved - which is just beyond weird; never before has there been a fandom in which she read things that I didn't, but this is that fandom), and in every case I make sure to do it in, you know, well-lit rooms. With dogs handy. And the doors to the house locked. And firm reminders that I have garlic and silver in the kitchen. It's probably a very good thing I don't own a gun.
But my primary engagement with this fandom has always been vids. Since it's the current Fandom That Ate Fandom, virtually every vidder on the planet has at least one SPN vid, and I've watched a lot of them. (I was, I admit, slightly inhibited in the beginning by my inability to tell Dean and Sam apart, but once I nailed down the "Dean = short hair" equation, I have been on the character identification. There's a lot of good stuff to be said for a fandom that has, as far as I can tell, only four characters, one of whom is a car.) There are so many good ones that I could not possibly resist.
The One That Makes Me Wonder If There's Not a Country Song out There with the Refrain, "Thank You, Jesus, for Not Making Me a Winchester." All That I Am, by Lithium Doll, aka halcyon_shift.
With BSG, I started off with a vid about a dysfunctional pseudo-family. This is a vid about a dysfunctional real family. I mean, the dysfunction isn't entirely their fault - whole generations of characters can tell you how hard it is to maintain a stable life and have good mental health and eat three balanced meals a day with demons and suchlike constantly interrupting with their slime and their strong desire to sink their fangs/claws/sharp appendage of choice into you. (Which makes it sound kind of like demons are telemarketers that come to your house. With weapons. That's - hmmm. Fair, I guess.)
So, hey, the dysfunction isn't anyone's fault. But it's still going to destroy all three of them - John, Dean, and Sam. It's what being a Winchester means, as far as I can tell: you give everything you have to your family. And then you give more. (I expect there is a service after death clause, too. I don't think being a Winchester is something you can get out of as easily as just dying.) So, yeah, this is a vid about what all three of them sacrifice to each other and to their mission: all that they are. (If there's a Winchester family motto that doesn't involve going down in a blaze of glory, it's probably: "Way beyond the reach of family therapists everywhere.")
The One That Could Be Used as a Winchester Recruitment Ad. The Way We Get By, by charmax.
But apparently being a Winchester isn't all, you know, angst and doom and Three Men Against the World. (Good thing, too. I mean, they're already beyond the reach of therapy. One has to assume SSRIs would likewise not avail. So either they make their own cheerfulness or they end up, I don't know, weeping into a plastic bottle of vodka every Friday night.) Or at least this vid would seem to suggest that there is fun in Winchesterdom, because it can best be summarized as, "Hi! We're Dean and Sam, and we're total dorks who lead lives of crime and danger, and also we would not win any prizes for our self-preservation skills, even if our sole competition was those people who fly into tornados and teenagers who think they're starring in Mountain Dew commercials. But at least we're enjoying ourselves."
In other words, this vid is fun. I mean, I guess if you don't find fun in random costumes and people covered in mud and two guys just generally acting like thrill-seeking moths in a room full of candles, then you won't find fun here. But, seriously, I don't know how you get by if you don't find this vid to be packed with fun.
And, of course, slashy vibes. Or brotherly misbehavior. Or both.
Life on Mars
Technically, this is cheating, because I have actually seen canon for this fandom. (Let us all pause here to acknowledge the rarity of me recommending a vid with actual knowledge behind it.) But these are (some) of the vids that convinced me to watch the source, and they were absolutely all I had to go on, what with dire lack of fan fiction for this fandom. (Yes, there's a little bit now. But when I first saw these vids - noooooothing.) I felt like I usually do when watching, you know, a vid of some movie I've never seen and never will, evaluating it without any context at all and making really bad guesses - "Maybe the one guy is angry at the other guy's shirt? I'd be angry at that shirt." - and then bam! Another vid! And another! And they were all incredible. I was so entranced I sought out the source for more information, and I don't think that's ever happened before.
These tragedies could be averted if people would just write all the fan fiction I want to read (I sincerely hope you - yes, you - feel guilty right now), but, well, in this case, it wasn't much of a tragedy; it's an incredible show.
But even though I know what's going on in these vids - well, to the extent that that's possible in Life in Mars - this is still a vid-based fandom for me. And what awesome vids they are. I could actually do a whole Fandoms I Have Loved for Life on Mars based just on the vids, because that's how many fabulous ones are in this fandom. So, okay, tragic fan fiction shortage, but I cannot complain while I am being mesmerized by all these vids. It was painful to pick just two, I tell you.
The One Where There's Sex. Too Much Light in This Bar, by absolutedestiny.
Sometimes I feel the urge to grab random people on the street and force them to watch this vid. I am not kidding, and the thing is, I think I'd be doing them a favor. (Yes, I know this train of thought will inevitably arrive at mugshot station, but, but, but - really! Favor! Um. Plus, I haven't actually done the forcing-on-a-total-stranger thing, although basically anyone who mentions anything about this show will get some pointed recs from me. Unfortunates who simply mentioned, for example, the 1970s, or David Bowie, or ugly carpets also occasionally get pointed recs from me. I'm working on my Life on Mars issues, really. The recspam is just a stopgap measure to stop me from assaulting strangers with my video iPod and a cattle prod.)
So. This is funny, and then it's more funny, and then there is a sudden onset of creepy, and then there's sex. Pretty much like that. In other words, it is everything you could possibly want in a vid. Tell me this is not your thing - not your fandom, not your decade, whatever - and it's the cattle prod for you, and in your case, it really would be for your own good. You like funny things, yes? You are good with creepiness in moderation? And you are perhaps a fan of sex? So, see, this vid is for you.
Also, I know where to buy an electric cattle prod. Don't make me. (No, really, I do. Google ads can be traumatic sometimes, and that's all I'm saying about that.)
The One Where You Know There's Going to Be Sex about Four Seconds after the Vid Ends. Crazy, by Jill, aka klia.
Availability: The download is password-protected, but I think you can also stream it on IMEEM. If someone could confirm that that link actually works, that'd be awesome; for some reason, IMEEM has decided it loathes me and will not let me see any individual vid pages anymore. (Okay, fine, granted, it's probably not personal. I see this as no reason not to sulk.)
So, the previous vid was designed to permit you to revel in the total awesomeness of Life on Mars: the way it somehow makes gorgeous footage out of the hideousness of Manchester c. 1973 (and, oh my god, the curtains alone in this show - sometimes I wake up crying, and that's why), the way Sam Tyler is basically made of joy to the point where you want to keep him in your pocket every day like an angsty, temporally distressed Tamagotchi (Does anyone else remember those?), the way there are terrifying little girls with clowns, the way that Gene Hunt is, you know, Gene Hunt.
This vid gives you that, yes - no Life on Mars vid can do otherwise and still be true to the canon - but most of all it gives you extra heaping helpings of slash. I was seriously dubious about the slash in this show. (This is what's wrong with actually knowing the canon. Sometimes I just don't get things without help from vidders and writers, okay?) This vid really helped me recover from that, because it can best be summed up as, "Your new OTP. Let me show you them."
Because, you know, at the beginning of this vid - and this is true absolutely every time I watch it - I'm mostly thinking, "Yup, you've lost your mind. What, possibly you're crazy? No, trust me - Sam, Gene, there's no 'possibly' there." By the end, I'm thinking, "And then they have sex." This is, in short, a perfect slash vid, as well as being gorgeous and showcasing (crazy but lovable!) Sam Tyler and (crazy yet mysteriously compelling!) Gene Hunt.
I have only the vaguest clue what this fandom is about. (Space! The future! A war! And...stuff.) And I don't think I ever will, because I don't think I'll ever be able to deal with a cast this large where three of the men have short dark hair and every woman has long dark hair. (What, they have not heard of HAIRCUTS in the future? All I want is for one of the women to have a crewcut. One. That doesn't seem like a lot to ask.) Even though I have, with great effort, learned the names of all the main characters, I can never tell anyone apart, and until you've watched a vid about Mal and Jayne in the sincere belief that it's only about one guy, you don't know cognitive dissonance. (Me, after the vid: "Maybe he has a mood disorder?" Best Beloved: "Oh my god, you thought that was about one person, didn't you?" [Sad little pause.] "Play it again, and this time I'll tell you which one is which, if you remind me what the captain-guy's name is." We are a sorry, sorry pair when watching Firefly vids, people. I only know the names, and she only knows the faces, and neither of us has a clue.)
I have somewhat come to grips with this problem by renaming the girls for the other things that stand out for me, so they are "Twitchy," "Badass," "Boob Queen," and "Sunny Delight," but I can already hear all of fandom coming for me with pitchforks for that (Don't hurt me! I am sure Boob Queen is awesome for many things besides her boobs and grace and general regal bearing, but that's what I mostly see in vids, so...), so I will not even share with you what I've renamed the men. (Okay, fine. "Id," "Ego," "Superego," "Book," and "Wash." You'll notice that the last two did not actually need renaming, as they have distinctive hair. Sadly, those two are not in vids as much as Id, Ego, and Superego. What I want to know is, it's the future: couldn't one of the men dye his hair? Purple, say. Purple's nice.)
So. I've never seen the canon, don't know the characters except from random crossovers, and generally have not the first clue what is happening in vids. But I still, of course, have favorites.
The One That Proves That Sometimes Octopuses Can Be Bad News. New Frontier, by heresluck.
One of the things that vids occasionally do to me is kick me in my textual focus. A big part of me believes that if it's truly important, there will be words, and in this vid, there are words. One word, anyway, and I only realized as I wrote this up how much that word colors my interpretation of the vid: volunteer. You see it twice, so I'm thinking here's luck wanted people to focus on it, but if not, well, my understanding of this vid is going to be way off. Or way-off-er. (There needs to be a word for being more wrong than usual. I would use it so much.)
So, for me, what I love about this vid is - okay. There's another vid in this fandom that has a sound clip of Badass telling Ego that a hero is someone who gets other people killed, and - well, yes. I loved that line, because it's true. And I can't help connecting it with the news that Ego is a volunteer, a volunteer twice over, I think. Which means he chose to be a hero. And everything that goes with it. That makes me love this vid so much, because how often do you see the consequences of standing up? And the other side of this, for me, is Twitchy, who isn't a volunteer - wasn't a volunteer, because I don't think anyone would sign up for the crap we see people do to her - but who also stands up by the end of this vid, also seems to be making a choice. So - two very different people who become very much the same, and for me it all comes back to that one word: volunteer.
And that's pretty much where my oh-so-deep analysis ends. (Look, when it comes to vids, I kind of have to stay in the kiddie pool, okay?) The thing that kept me watching this vid over and over, though, is the motion, the beauty of the way here's luck links music to visuals. I'll never get tired of that, and it's one of the things that draws me especially to her more recent vids. The music drives the motion, and the motion drives the vid, and that drives me to watch it and watch it and watch it until I get it. At least, until I get what I'm going to get.
The One That Proves That Spaceships + Horses + Train Sequences = Awesome. Vertigo, by tallulah71.
And this one is allllll about the shiny. I mean, it just - things fly! And blow up! And there's flashy stuff! And, you know, I try to avoid talking about the songs in vid recs, but I love how the song and the footage together give this a feeling of exuberance (flash bang boom!) plus violence plus just a soupçon of darkness. Because, remember the stuff I was saying before, about how if you make the choice to stand up, you're going to pay the price? There's a couple of bits in here that hit that theme very nicely, I think - Serenity seems like it's both the crew's salvation and their damnation, you know?
But also remember how I said I needed to stay in the kiddie pool for vid interpretation. My basic interpretation of this is: neato. I'm a girl whose head can be turned by any vid that's primarily about a spaceship. Or explosions. Or, ideally, explosions in space. (Those used to be my criteria for picking movies, too, but Keanu Reeves broke me. I mean, not that I am not willing to see him get his eyes gouged out or whatever in the name of art - I'm a big art supporter, you know, and I'll do what it takes - but I seriously do not think I should have to be bored and watch that.) And this highlights the special effects and technology of Firefly in a way that totally speaks to the shiny-lover in me. Basically, it makes me think: "wheee!" (Not quite like Liesel in the Sound of Music, though, after she dances with the Nazi in the rain. Am I the only one who expects her head to spin around and explode when she shrieks like that?)