Mashup Ex-Voto: Fanvids as Devotional Objects

Published on November 29th, 2007 in: Issues, LGBTQ, Magick, TV, Video |

It’s like looking at many manifestations of the Madonna, all the Our Ladies and Queens of Heaven, yet all the same divinity. Spike and Buffy fanvids can be divine, dark, scary eroticism, love stories, tales of redemption and sacrifice, or simply good, dirty sexuality all from the same characters. It’s all in the interpretation, the editing, and the music. Likewise, there are also several varieties of “Dark Willow” fanvids which depict the lovable geek from the Buffyverse grown cruel and sinister, edited together to show her as a destroying angel, a figure of fierce revenge and beauty, or again as a wounded character redeemed by love. I could say lots of things about The Dark Goddess, the destroyer, the chthonic force, but I think the artist who felt the need to mix up images of her magick rampage to heavy, emo nu-metal had his or her own longing for darkness made manifest in a few minutes of film. It’s a prayer, too.

It’s a longing and an empathy with a passion that echoes devotion to particular saints. It’s this devotion that makes fanvids, even the ones that I don’t care for as much, fascinating, when looking at the interaction between the song and the clips and being able to see what this meant to the artist, half-concealed and half-revealed. It’s a longing for communion and creating a way to share an emotional connection or experience with the characters or show and also, with other fans. They seem to be among the artifacts of fan culture that are made with love—no chance of profit, gain, or praise aside from a few comments, but distinctly fueled by love.

Is this art? Why not?
Is it devotion? Of course.
Is it spirituality? Maybe.
Is it more than we think? Of course.

This longing also manifests in other fanvids that tell new stories in the Buffyverse using spliced footage and songs, in creating noncanonical relationships, most often GLBT ones with editing and song choice and even material mixed in from other shows. I’m always fascinated by the Scorpius/John videos from Farscape if I can stray from my Buffy fandom for a bit—who doesn’t love a bit of kinky gay male love involving strange machines and PVC tailcoats? This is people taking something in their own hands and creating something wholly new that meets their needs, loves, or expressed wishes, those that don’t yet exist in the mainstream world.

For the latter, I find Willow/Tara (Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s lesbian witches) videos very poignant and touching. Unlike Spike/Buffy, Willow/Tara videos are disproportionately high in sentiment, sweetness, and love. These videos show an outpouring of love and visual representations of a lesbian couple with scenes played over and over. When you see hands touching and read descriptions explaining how Willow and Tara “needed a country song,” you can visually experience the longing for representation. You can see the longing for a face of queer love by seeing the sea of Willow/Tara videos on YouTube. It’s beautiful and in a way, it’s humbling.

I don’t know who posted them or made them or who loved that kiss enough to edit it over and over, not even knowing if it would find an audience. There are even more pairings, triads, dreams of love, and representations to songs that you may never have heard. Even now on the electronic frontier, there are mysteries and gifts left by shrines on the side of strange roads.

There’s a world full of visual prayers out there.

Namasté to Starbuck and Apollo, Adama and Roslyn, Xena, Buffy, Spike, Willow and Tara, Kaylee and those not named and those yet to come. I’ll be watching.

Here are some examples of fanvids on YouTube:

“Blessed” (A Willow and Tara fanvid by Kindagay, with a song by Christina Aguilera)

“Number One” (A Willow and Tara fanvid by grimevil999, with a song by Goldfrapp)

“I Touch Myself” (A Spike and Buffy fanvid by Big Fluffy Puppy Productions, with a song by Divinyls, done in the style of VH1’s Pop-Up Video)

“Sleep Together” (A Spike and Buffy fanvid by Spangy, with a song by Garbage)

“Poison” (A John and Scorpius [Farscape] fanvid by Anduranova, with music by Alice Cooper)

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