In this video, scenes from seasons 1-4 of the AMC television series Mad Men are re-edited together in way that dramatically changes the plot of the show. In the real Mad Men, which takes place in a fictional advertising agency in the 1960s, characters Don and Roger are both notoriously sexist, constantly being unfaithful to their wives and disrespectful of their female coworkers. In part, audiences are expected to understand their behavior as native to the era in which the show is set, and a major theme of the series is watching Don and Roger react to the changes happening rapidly around them, including the women’s rights movement. In addition, for many viewers, Don and Roger’s debauched behavior is part of pleasure of the show. In this video, clips from Mad Men are stitched together so Roger’s marriage ends not because of his affair with Don’s secretary, but because of an affair with Don. This remix was produced by Pop Culture Pirate, an artist and activist named Elisa Kreisinger. Kreisinger is interested both in changing the meaning of texts to challenge people’s assumptions and in promoting the Fair Use of copyrighted materials.
What kind of commentary does the remix video make of the show Mad Men and, more broadly, attitudes toward male sexuality?
There is a long history among fanvidders of creating “slash” videos, which romantically pair two characters, often of the same gender, who are not paired in the original text. Kreisinger creates remix videos not for consumption within a fan community, but as a form of art and activism. How might her practice differ from those who create videos as part of a fan community?
What do you know about the Fair Use doctrine? Why do activists like Kreisinger think that the Fair Use doctrine is so important? Why might copyright holders, such as AMC, attempt to limit Fair Use and try to get videos like this removed from YouTube and other video sharing sites? What other Fair Use of copyrighted materials– particularly those used to promote social change– can you think of? How would current popular culture be different if we were never permitted to use copyrighted materials in new ways?