Cross-Cultural Media Remixing

For this week’s topic, I would like to revisit a project I made last year for the Remix Methods Class. I created a short promo on the Syrian Revolution to raise awareness among Americans and westerners in general, or among people who are not very aware of the issue and are not familiar with Middle Eastern culture and affairs. To do this, I tried to bring the topic as close to possible to something that is globally appreciated, understood, and influential, and nothing seemed to do the job better than Hollywood and its movies.

For the video, I cut up some audio quotes from various famous Hollywood movies that relate to topics such as freedom, revolt, courage…etc. Movies used are from various genres (Adventure, sci-fi, fantasy, animation) and include Lord of the Rings, Avatar, The Hunger Games, Braveheart, and Brave. I also used one of the soundtracks from the major romance blockbuster, Titanic. Next, I selected powerful scenes from tens of amateur videos uploaded by activists onto youtube, ones which would line up well with the selected audio. Finally, I chose a music track full of energy which was used during a flash mob for Syria, to be mixed with the softer Titanic soundtrack.   

The resulting video:

This video breaks down and summarizes the story of the Syrian Revolution in a way that is easily understandable at an almost global level. The popular Titanic music draws attention and creates interest in the viewer. Making the characters “speak” in English and in voices of famous characters makes them more friendly and relatable. English text guides the viewer through the story and provides important information. The music moves from soft and sad (communicating tragedy and sadness) to active and energetic (communicating resistance and challenge) in order to create the appropriate emotions for the flow of the story. Over all, this mixing of western style narration and music with Middle Eastern footage results in something watchable by people from either background. Concepts that are globally appreciated, such as freedom, humanity, and justice, are the highlights, and they serve to tie everything together.

The production quality is not that great generally speaking, but the fitting of different media elements together (audio, video, music, text) is powerful even though they come from very different sources. For example, it almost seems like the people talking are really saying the words heard even though the audio is in English and was produced for an extremely different story than the real one shown. With stronger production technique, such a video can serve as an effective promoter of the cause.