Homeless Consumer Mash-up and Reflection

Reflection 1:

When I was first given this assignment, I panicked. I had never worked with any movie making programs and I had no idea how to even come up with a video mash-up. It was not like anything I had done before. I heavily contemplated on why this was important for this class and I came to one conclusion. Writing is about communication and relaying messages to others. Whether it is alphabetical text or moving images, it is what the viewer sees that makes it a form of writing, communication.

Then my focus turned to the what. What would my topic be? What is my message? I did not want my message to be something others would find gross, but I wanted it to have a meaning. Something powerful that could possibly change people’s minds about what they do. So I chose homelessness and mirrored it with consumerism. With that, I figured I would find enough material to put together this video.

So after I figured out what and why, I had to figure out how. How on earth was I going to do this video mash-up assignment? What would I use? How would I figure out the program? I ended up downloading and using Sony Vegas Pro 11.0 to create my mash-up. The stress of not knowing the program added to my worry. I tried navigating it on my own as I imported my videos. I used YouTube to find videos on my topic, searching everything from Black Friday and homeless people to fashion shows and tent cities. I found as I compiled my clips that there was much more that I needed to know. So I went to Google to search for how-to’s on Vegas Pro 11.0. How to slow down clips, how to cut music, how to cut clips…it was never-ending.

I found tons of helpful tutorials on YouTube and began to feel the relief of knowing what I was doing. I slowed down clips like it was a piece of cake, something that had stressed me out just days before. I learned how to silence the sound from clips so that only my music played. But as I worked, I felt like I was getting nowhere. I would add clip after clip and only gain three or four seconds more on my total time. I felt like I was on a stationary bike, pedaling and not getting anywhere. Beside the amount of time it took, I began to feel literate in the medium of mashing videos. I finally knew the technology and was getting my video done.

The more I put all my videos together (47 videos in total), the more I could see my message coming across. I could see transition from how society is to how we should be, less materialistic and more helpful and giving. The stress that was there at the beginning of the project was gone now. I knew what I was doing, why I was doing it, and how I was going to achieve my end product. There was back pedaling, changing of ideas, and editing beyond belief, but I finally finished my video. I watched it all the through once or twice and I was proud. I reflect now and realize that it was not all that bad, I had some fun with the assignment and I also learned the similarities of working with video and text. I definitely think I achieved my goal and learned the purpose while doing so.

Reflection 2:

The message I wanted to convey through my video mash-up is how consumerism is shaping our society and sending us in the wrong direction. Our society has become so materialistic and consumer-based, however, we have people living in the streets with nothing to call their own and we refuse to help them. I wanted to contrast the “wrong way” that our society is going and the “right way,” helping those in need.

I used intertextuality, juxtaposition, and montage, as well as other semiotic theories, to display my case at hand.

Through reflecting and watching my own piece, I think I executed my portrayal of this message rather well. I used Sean Hall’s book, This Means This, This Means That: A User’s Guide to Semiotics, to implement different semiotic theories throughout my video. I also integrated intertextuality, montage, and juxtaposition, a few methods we had discussed in class.

Intertextuality focuses on the blending of texts to explain another within a piece so that the audience may have an understanding. This method was shown heavily throughout my piece, especially with the focus on homeless people. During some parts of my video I showed tents and tent cities of the homeless. The viewer would have to understand that these people are not just camping for fun but that this is their only option. To help aid in this understanding, I also showed homeless people sleeping on the ground and in other places. This would help the viewer understand what those tents are for.

I kind of made my whole video juxtaposed between the song and the images shown. Juxtaposition is the combination of two or more contrasting ideas/words/images. The song expresses a theme of shopping, which I show through images. However, I also show the contrasting idea of those who cannot afford to shop and live on the streets. Those are two contrasting ideas in themselves, spending and struggling. I also utilized montage throughout my mash-up. Montage is the combination of several different clips to form a new one. I did this several times throughout to push the idea of homelessness and juxtapose the song lyrics through images. I montaged clips of homeless people followed by a clip of people holding signs reading that being homeless is not a crime. This furthered the meaning of the homeless clips. I also montaged a group of interview clips with famous fashion designers while the lyrics expressed “good looking guys.” I did this to show that today’s society would think that these designers who make their products super expensive are the “good guys” when in reality they are not really that.

I also used the fashion designers to portray a metaphor for name-brand shopping and retail. Because of their well-known stature in society today, Marc Jacobs and the other designers I introduced can be used as a metaphor for high-end fashion and consumerism. I also think the semiotic theory of subjectivity plays a part in my video. Viewers will have some sort of connection personally with spending money on frivolous things or they may have a connection with a brand that I showed in my video. This will then give them a subjective view on the video and where it is going.

I also used the theory of problem/solution throughout my video. I began with clips of spending and shopping to introduce the consumer side of my message. Then I moved through the explanation that we are travelling in the wrong direction and ended the video showing what we could do instead of spending frivolously. I showed a big change from the beginning to the end. The problem is the worthless spending we are doing in today’s society and how some cannot even spend because they are homeless, but I show the solution of spending our money and/or time to help those homeless in need instead of frivolously spending on ourselves every chance we get.

Symbolism ties in to my problem/solution use. I use clips of cars going the wrong to symbolize our wrong spending and I contrast this with videos of roller coasters moving up to symbolize the right direction and better decisions. The last semiotic theory I utilized was noise. Because I distorted the song’s meaning of shopping for a man to actual shopping I created a different meaning for the song which could distort the viewer/listener’s understanding.

Overall, I definitely think I showed the contrast between consumerism and homelessness in an interesting and appropriate way. Implementing juxtaposition, intertextuality, and montage, as well as several semiotic theories, helped me convey my message to my audience.

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