[DISCLAIMER: This interview and accompanying photographs contain explicit language]
Elisa Kreisinger, also known as the Pop Culture Pirate, is best known for her queer remixes of “Sex and The City” and “The Real Housewives of NYC.” Kreisinger had never so much as taken a peek at Final Cut Pro before taking a course at Cambridge Community Television in Massachusetts. Since then, Kreisinger has been hard at work putting feminist theory to practice, creating queer visibility by constructing alternative narratives within mainstream media. Kreisinger’s remixes have recently been noted by Jennifer Pozner in her poignant book of reality TV criticism, Reality Bites Back, as a way to not blame the media, but become the media.
Make sure to check out a sample Queer Carrie video before reading Elisa’s interview!
Tell me why you started QueerCarrie.
The feminist blogosphere is what really influenced me early on. I wanted a way to contribute to the discussion about women representations on TV or in narrative, and the only way I felt comfortable participating was through video. Instead of using words to talk about the representation that feminists want to see, I am actually making these narratives. Instead of writing a narrative and casting people, I can just take the original of what I wanted to critique and use that as my canvas to reedit.
Why Sex and the City?
I chose Sex and the City because I wanted something that women would immediately identify with. I had problems with the original show, obviously. As subversive as I think it was at the start, it became more problematic in the end. The series was a step in the right direction, at least for seasons one through three, but the characters became like Hollywood caricatures of their original kick-ass selves. They started out as four women who dissected social norms and societal expectations of themselves. I wanted to reclaim those women and steer them to where I wish they may have gone.
In action, the Sex and the City women also remained very passive.
Right. They used the language of radical feminism but they never acted on it.
How was the reaction to QueerCarrie?
From a viral video standpoint, it was really hard to sustain an audience for three episodes. The original idea was to queer each season into its own episode — so to have six episodes. But, seasons three through six were so normative that there wasn’t enough material to grab from. The first remix had 20,000 hits but it didn’t go viral.
It’s impressive to me that you picked up Final Cut Pro post-college. When I watched QueerCarrie, I found it to be very convincing so I assumed that you had a film or editing background.
People in the remix community say it looks just like an episode of Sex and the City, which is great. It should look like a real episode because if it doesn’t look like the dominant media, then you lose the subversiveness of it. That’s one of the powers of remixes in that it does appropriate this dominant media form for a subversive message.
Picking through Sex and the City for these very nuanced, hypothetical lesbian moments between heterosexual characters reminded me a lot of queer interpretations of Jane Austin novels.
I in no way want to make it seem like women can’t have close relationships with each other for fear of being labeled gay. But I think for women who are looking for a more subversive narrative, we cling to that subtext of, “oh my God, that could kind of be gay!” For people who have very little representation and visibility in our popular culture, you’re going to cling to anything you have. When you’re culturally “poor” for representation, you have to reuse the media whether it be for subtext or whatever you make up for your own entertainment.
How has your work been received within the feminist blogosphere? I know that you’ve received attention from Broadsheet on Salon and Bitch Magazine.
I hesitate to say that I would like the content to go viral because I think it’s hard for viral content to become feminist. For example, that video of the guy going through TSA who said, “If you touch my junk you’ll be arrested.” That video went viral whereas there have been women who have been complaining about that for years. Did any of those videos go viral? No. It may be time for feminist media to go viral but there’s a lot to suggest that internet culture is just as patriarchal as out-the-window culture. As much as I think we live in a video culture, I don’t think feminists videos catch on. For example, there’s a feminist YouTube that no one really knows about called nist.tv.
Why do you think feminist video isn’t being highlighted? At least not within feminist media circles?
I think it’s hard to find. If you search YouTube for “feminism” you get a whole bunch of shit that you have probably watched or seen before. There’s not a good way to circulate feminist video and there’s no real place that people can go to find it, so there’s no place to submit it.
Do you think young feminists particularly are drawn to this medium? Whether they are watching it or creating it?
Yes. The video editing is little harder because it requires more technical skill but with iMovie and in browser media tools, I think it’s easier. What stops people is the fear of copyright infringement. Remix sites like Polyvore that let you remix fashion are so popular with young girls. But it’s corporately sanctioned and they turn a profit for it. You are encouraged to remix fashion, which you can then purchase. There is no video remix site like that and that’s because no one would willingly allow their brand to be disabled in that way.
As a video remix artist, do you think that there is space for the video remix objectives in mainstream media?
I’m sure that there are actors who actually want to play those media roles, people in the industry who are sick of creating crap, and there is definitely an audience for it – case in point, you, me, and the thousands of Jezebel readers.
What projects do you have in mind next?
On the one hand I think the queer thing is going to get old really quickly, on the other, that’s the lens in which I look through things. I really want to do a Glee remix. I’m not sure if it’s going to work yet but I would really enjoy seeing teenagers standing up to advertisers and say, “no, we’re not getting branded.” I would also love to do a queer Mad Men remix. I’d love to see the women in Mad Men actually stand up, have a revolution, and become feminists.
How can Daily BR!NK readers contribute to your success?
Support from the LGBTQ community would be great. I would love for people to share my work, send it to anyone who has ever taken a women studies class. Spread it, remix it, create more video remixing videos on their own. I would also love a job writing for women in TV and film.