A Different Kind of Love Song

Curator's Note

“A Different Kind of Love Song” by Gianduka Kiss (2012) highlights the extent to which mainstreaming of some geek cultures offers a wide-ranging, shallow context for once-obscure reference points. Using a Cher song, the vid guides us through clip after clip of media fan practices as depicted in popular culture. We see the ways that fannish love has become an essential part of media industries’ production, a marketing strategy. Yet we also see something more: fannish feeling as as a collectivity greater than the context of any of its component parts, “dedicated to everyone.” The originating context for many of the clips in “A Different Kind of Love Song” is comic, sometimes cruelly so – especially for the women characters whose narratives must extensively re-interpreted to seem as worthy of celebration as the male ones. Gathered together and placed – at the vid’s first fan convention screening, and later online – people who might recognize themselves within them, they become sincere through the lyrics that animate the vid.

“What if the world was crazy and we were sane?” say the lyrics. Maybe that’s already the case. The opening and closing clips here, drawn from TNT’s Leverage (2008-2012), highlight of the counterintuitive and conflicted legal structure of intellectual property in the 2010s. On one hand, fan production is defensible to copyright holders inasmuch as it contributes to brand permeation, growing profits; on the other, fans making vids like this one can become lawbreakers if they take that love too much into their own hands. While the legal battles are very far from won, fan videos have been granted an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, legalizing video capture for the purposes of remix. Yet in order to argue for the legal legitimacy of the creative work they do, fans must show that they are doing more than expressing love: that remix has critical uses and is not just a way to share joy. Yet fan production’s uncritical, joy-sharing functions coexist with its critically transformative capacities and often even enable them. “A Different Kind of Love Song” lets us feel what that can mean.

For extended analysis of the vid, see my contribution to the In Focus section of Cinema Journal 54.3



First, this gives me several more texts I need to examine in my catalogue of fans and representation. But second, I'm struck by how much background knowledge is needed to understand this vid. Teaching fanvids, I often find students are not steeped in the tradition (unsurprisingly), but also not able to even follow the argument put forward by the editing and music (particularly when there's a queer reading). This one is that on the next level, and it does frame the vid as FOR fans rather than an argument being made toward "mainstream" culture to appreciate fan difference.

It's really true. I have used fanvids relatively little in my teaching because of this actually – they've fallen flat for me a few times, and the most success I've had is when i'm not teaching vids or vidding as such but using a vid as critical response to a cultural text I'm teaching. This fall I am planning to use vids – and teach my students to vid – in both my courses, and I'm feeling both excited and nervous about it!

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