While she calls herself a pirate, she's not doing anything illegal. Video remix artist Elisa Kreisinger has made three videos remixing scenes from the run of "Sex and the City" to explore the possibilities of Carrie's same-sex attraction. She's created a video made up of television clips exploring the selling of the image of Obama around the time of his inauguration. She's recently taken to "Mad Men," creating a video that imagines Don Draper and Roger Sterling as lovers. All of them are hosted on her site, Pop Culture Pirate.
Despite the fact that YouTube incessantly removes her videos from their site based on the copyright claims of the rights' owners, a few minutes on her blog proves that she has the knowledge of fair use exceptions to argue her legal case. Alas, YouTube favors Lionsgate et al., and Kreisinger has found that Vimeo is a much more accomodating home for her remix art. Still, her "Mad Men" videos have more hits on Vimeo than the official "Mad Men" trailer has on YouTube.
Kreisinger graduated college in 2008. Soon after, she decided she wanted to get her own feminist, queer-positive stories out to the public.
"I wanted to make stories about women that didn't revolve around men or babies," she said. "The quickest way for me to do this was to remix existing TV shows.
"By re-using television characters and recontextualizing them, I didn't have to spend time convincing people they should care about them. The great thing about remix is that the source material carries enough weight in our collective cultural consciousn
As the media industry begins to value audience interaction with their shows, the work of Kreisinger and other remixers is not valued as much as those that play by the media producers' rules. Kreisinger told Indiewire, "I noticed that for television networks in particular, there's a big gap between measuring audience engagement on social media sites and acknowledging engagement in spaces like YouTube. Live tweeting seems to be just safe enough for networks, but remix, which I see as the ultimate engagement, is threatening enough to be removed."
But Kreisinger's work is more closely related to the communities of fans that create work derivative of their favorite media. "I'm so inspired by the female fan-fiction community because of the volume of work they put out," she said. "With online communities, it's hard to find ones that teach each other. Skill share dynamics are really evident in female fan communities, and I long to bring that into the remixing community as well."
She clarified, "I don't see myself as a total member of the fan communities of any of the shows I remix. Like most people, I'm somewhat of a fan and a critic of most TV shows. I don't create the work as a member of fan communities, but I'm heavily informed by the discourse in those places."
In the case of "Sex and the City," too, Kreisinger found that whole transcripts were uploaded onto the web by fans. "It was very easy for me to find, rip, and hack 'Sex and the City," she said. "The music that was used was all listed online. You could google 'song in sex and the city season 1 episode 12' and you'd get it. With 'Mad Men,' there's a huge fan community, but no one's producing this content. I don't know if it's a testament to the audience or just creator or showrunner lock-down."
Remixing isn't a full-time job, though; in fact, it isn't a job at all. She does consulting on the work of others and organizations looking to produce media and she works as a feminist "It's not something I do with an eye to sell or profit from," Kreisinger said. "I don't freelance video remix. I support myself by working for media organizations like the Women's Media Center, which has girls' and women's programming, and prepares women to talk to the mainstream media from a progressive standpoint. We're trying to change the conversation in the media so that it's not just white guys on every network news shows talking about. Currently, men outnumber women, 4 to 1."
She has been telling people that she'd begin work on "The Good Wife" soon, but it's been preempted so much recently she hasn't been able to get a handle on the current arc. She suggested "Downton Abbey" might be ripe for a remix, but insisted: "Sitcoms are hard for me to remix. They're just shot too quick, and there's no easy way to show the opposite of any statement."
There are some things Kreisinger watches uncritically:
Favorite Current TV Show: "Modern Family"
Favorite Off-Air TV Show: "Seinfeld"
Favorite Film: "In the Loop"
Favorite Director: Christopher Guest
And, now, a personal favorite, Kreisinger's latest creation: a Mad Men mashup-remix cover of The Supreme's "You Keep Me Hangin' On," which Kreisinger made with mashup artist Marc Faletti.