"New Slang": Happily Ever After

Curator's Note

Because a vidder’s chosen song typically serves as an interpretive lens through which we view recut and resequenced video clips, a vid that focuses on storytelling often relies heavily on narrative elements in that song. In some cases, however, vidders manage to tell complicated stories—canonical or not—with minimal help from the song’s lyrics, whether because the music is instrumental, the lyrics are sung in an unfamiliar language, or, as in the case of Nicky’s Friday Night Lights vid "New Slang," the lyrics can be difficult to understand and remain decidedly oblique even after the listener has deciphered the individual words. Certain phrases from "New Slang" do add emotional resonance to the images ("I was happier then," "the rest of our lives," "I’m lonely"), and the song’s structure helps provide the vid’s structure: a verse for each character, with choruses establishing parallels between relationships. Nevertheless, the visuals carry the weight of the storytelling. The broad outlines of that story are familiar to even a casual viewer of the show, and are represented faithfully and nearly chronologically within the vid, with flashbacks coded through the use of black-and-white: A football accident leaves Jason paralyzed; his girlfriend Lyla and best friend Tim, both devastated, hook up because they’re lonely and, both the show and the vid suggest, because each of them is the other’s way of being close to Jason again. The vid’s ending, like the ending of any narrative, tells us a great deal about how to interpret everything that precedes it. The final shots of "New Slang" encourage us to read it as a threesome (or OT3) story: we see the two boys framed together, then Lyla kissing each of them, and then all three sitting on the beach together. The choice to end the vid on that particular moment rather than following the characters further into the show’s second season solidifies a particular vision of the characters and their relationships, converting the tensions and instabilities of the show’s homosocial triangle into the vid’s happily ever after.

Comments

Mafalda Stasi's picture

I have to confess I was

I have to confess I was unfamiliar with this show—but as I watched I found the narrative extra clear, which is not always the case with vids from other fandoms I know little to nothing about.  (I mean not the presence of a narrative, but exactly what is going on or why). Do you think this clarity is because the vid’s story is following the source’s pretty closely (finale apart), or despite of it? And in general, to circle back to your stimulating query to my own vid choice, how do vidders mediate levels of knowledge and understanding in order to make a vid more "non-fan friendly" Also,  how often vidders consider their extended audience? Are they doing it more now as fandom becomes more mainstream, or are they still primarily addressing their peers? (OK I know the answer is "it depends", but for the sake of discussion)

Julie Levin Russo's picture

boy meets girl meets boy

Interesting that in the piece that discusses lyrics you chose to de-emphasize them! I think the intelligibility of this vid is a testament to the transformative aspects of video editing, even in vids where the lyrics are more prominent. Nicky did an excellent job creating story in this piece, particularly in her incorporation of multiple timelines, but I think that demonstrates a harmonization with the source. Friday Night Lights’s cinema verite vernacular and its focus on intimate emotional drama lends itself very well a clear portrayal of a relationship configuration, and the fact that it’s not a show with a particularly developed fan community might also invite a straightforward approach. It’s a great example of matching tone, story, and context.

Eric LeMay's picture

Friday Night Lights Feelingly

It’d be fun to imagine what lyrics would map seamlessly onto the vid’s narrative and explain it as it’s currently edited. Perhaps  "The Ballad of Lyly, Tim, and Jason"?  I like your observation that the lyrics work to imbue the narrative with emotion, which allows us—if we know the show— to re-feel as much as revisit the narrative.  Given that, it’s surprising the editing is so faithfully representative of the show’s original narrative instead of following the more associative, nonlinear movements of an emotional response (favorite scenes, most "intense" moments).  And perhaps that’s one way to characterize the vid: its visual clarity opens the story up to fans and first-time viewers like Mafalda, rather than barring first-timers in the way a nonlinear editing sequence might,  and its song invites all of us into the pleasures of an emotive, felt response, one that, by the time we’re on the beach, includes a warm retrospective sigh. 

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