In junior high, I discovered the art of Windows Movie Maker and quickly began chopping up self-made videos to create my own mash-ups. At 14, I put together a music video with homemade clips of me singing, dancing, and jumping around like a lunatic to a Miley Cyrus parody, and it was then that I learned the power of a mashup video. This little amount of previous experience most definitely aided me in this project, as I remembered how important the clip sequences, background music, and use of variety are.
When we started this project, I was excited to get back to those little junior high school roots of mine to create a more mature and though-provoking piece. I chose the topic of domestic violence in the NFL because I’ve grown up around the league, learning more about football every day through my father. The past few months, an alarming situation involving Ravens’ running back Ray Rice rose concern within the league over how domestic violence situations should be handled. This intrigued me, because the game of football is rather violent, and it seemed to be carrying over into the homes of many players.
Working with digital video and researching to find a bunch of different pieces to pull from was a sad experience for me, due to my choice in topic. As I watched different PSAs, real-life domestic violence clips, and speeches from different NFL insiders, I noticed that watching the abuse unfold right in front of me was completely different than hearing about it. The videos made me sick to my stomach.
As I started the editing process and figuring out which clips to include and rearrange, I took note on how working with these clips related to traditional writing: it gave me almost the exact same feeling. Making this mashup video had me both emotionally invested and interested in finding out even more about this topic. Whenever I’m physically writing, whether it be for a school assignment or personal reasons, I always find it extremely important to make sure that I’m intrigued by the topic I’m discussing. If there’s no interest there, the reader won’t be able to stir up any interest either. To me, writing is all about pouring yourself out onto the page and expanding your thoughts on something that pulls out strong emotion in you. From the minute I began rearranging the clips I chose, I wanted to continue expanding the idea; I wanted to convey my thoughts on how detrimental domestic violence has become within the NFL.
Another relation that mashups have to traditional writing is that both work to convey a message to the reader or viewer. With this mashup video, I set out to physically show viewers how domestic violence among the NFL is not something that should be overlooked. I wanted to provide physical evidence to show exactly how dangerous this issue has become for everyone involved. When I’m writing, it is always my goal to let my reader know my standpoint on what I’m talking about and to get them to agree with me, while also understanding my view. Although mashups and traditional writing seem to be on two different ends of the spectrum, the end goal of each seems to be the same. Both will typically contain content with a convincing message for you to decipher and learn more about.
At first, if I’m being completely honest, I had a hard time understanding how creating a mashup video related to writing. Now that my project is finished, I can see clearly how I was viewing the assignment with tunnel vision, only thinking about traditional writing instead of the new technological advances that we have.
The message of my mashup video is simple: domestic violence within the NFL is consistently involving into a bigger and bigger issue. I immediately jumped into a rhetorical move at the start of my video, by opening with the original footage of Ray Rice punching his wife. Choosing that as the initial clip to begin my video with was a big effort to quickly convince the viewers that this issue shouldn’t be overlooked, and also to open up my argument and message.
The use of a vintage video clip proved to be extremely difficult, as I had a rough time trying to decide what clip to use. There weren’t any direct videos display domestic violence, so that forced me to dig a bit deeper and look for a metaphor I could use. Keeping that in mind, I found an old vintage razor commercial, and that sparked a subtle idea in me. I cut up the video and kept the parts showing the actual razor, and used this as a metaphor for safety. People use razors on the daily, and while they are sharp, they’re not meant to cause harm. In the NFL, the players are engaging in a very physical and violent game, but it’s not intended to carry over into their personal lives. I believe it’s a very important metaphor to understand, because this game was not created to intentionally inflict pain on any loved ones, or anyone for that matter, off the field. This is an example of a semiotic theory I included, as metaphors “are often at their most interesting when they link something familiar to something unfamiliar,” (Hall 53).
Any edits and cuts I made were purely for the intention of trying to highlight all different areas of this issue. There’s the actual footage of domestic violence in real time, different analysts’ reactions, multiple PSAs, and also some examples of elevated anger in the players, caused by the game. I didn’t want to have any clips that were too long, because I wanted the opportunity to include a bunch of different footage to show multiple aspects of this topic. The cuts that I view as most important were those of anger displayed by the players. Those particular clips, including that of Richard Sherman, show how this game works up the players to the point of losing control. This was another rhetorical move I incorporated, to provoke thought on what could be causing these players to resort to domestic violence.
I incorporated multiple other semiotic theories into my mashup video, as well. The first one is the use of symbolism, with the Ray Rice video, to demonstrate the issue at hand. With the footage, Ray Rice symbolizes domestic violence in the NFL as a whole, as he seems to be the most talked about player regarding this situation. Another theory I used is irony, also with the Ray Rice video and a clip of his wife during a press conference. He knocked her out cold, yet she chose to fully support him throughout all aspects of the media, which is ironic because despite the fact that he hurt her, she still stands by his side 100%. Although this highlights key components of abuse, it still represents irony in the long run. In our textbook, author Hall states that “sentiment is right when it comes to representation” (Hall 68), and while this is true with the Rice videos, it also proves true in the various PSAs that I included. These PSAs all show the subjects displaying intense amounts of emotion and feeling, ranging from fear to complete sadness. They are being represented in a certain light to show how domestic violence directly affects them, and this makes the intended sentiment justified; a justified mixture of emotions. The last one that I paid a lot of attention to with this video was appearance and reality, which is a main reason why I wanted to include clips featuring fights and anger. Hall discusses how “perspective cannot be a substitute for the measurement of the objects that we see in space,” (Hall 80). With the clips of the players fighting and Richard Sherman’s rant, we are able to actually see the measurement of how violent and aggressive this game can make a player.
Richard Edwards and Chuck Tryon open a joint article by stating that “video mashups are part of a growing online remix culture, and typically fall under the designation of user–generated content,” and this is completely true (Edwards & Tryon 1). Editing these clips and putting them together has the power to truly create an intense and eye-opening visual. They talk about how we are becoming more ‘media literate,’ and it really is important to understand these technological advances as they begin to dominant the way we write. This mashup video hopefully sheds a bit of light on this dangerous issue and represents different semiotic theories to convey a message.