Upcoming: Eileen Fisher & Gallery Talk

I’m thrilled to be hosting EILEEN FISHER’s monthly social responsibility twitter chat this Thursday, May 10 at 12:30 pm (EST). I’ll be leading the discussion on women, trends and technology as it applies to social responsibility, business and fashion. I would love you to join us and follow along with the hashtag #EFCSRChat.

The twitter chat will be a thoughtful conversation about what social media trends are worth investing time in, the worst mistakes women have made forging businesses and the advice women entrepreneurs wish they had received starting out. The goal is to explore how women are using technology to grow their business as well as raise awareness about the EILEEN FISHER Women’s Business grant program.

How do you participate?

  • Follow me on twitter (@elisakreisinger) and then@EileenFisher.
  • Set a reminder for 12:30 pm EST on Thursday May 10th.
  • Join the conversation by including the hashtag #EFCSRChat in your tweets.
  • Tweet me with any questions you have about women, technology, entrepreneurship or fashion using @elisakreisinger & #EFCSRChat.
  • @EileenFisher and @EFBizGrants will be available to answer any questions you have about their grant program.
Spread the Word: Please help spread the word about the Twitter chat. Below is a sample tweet you can cut and paste to share with your network:

Check it: @ElisaKreisinger is hosting #EFCSRChat on women, trends and technology May 10th at 12:30 pm. Grab your lunch & join us.

And if you’re in New York City, please join me Thursday evening for PLEXUS at Chashama 461 Gallery in New York at 7 pm where I’ll be screening the Mad Men remixes and talking about  subverting popular culture.


Sex, Lies & Video Remix

 Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg, an associate editor at The Atlantic and curator of their Video channel, did a great piece on the Mad Men remixes last week that was too good not to repost. In a blogosphere where posts are written, tweeted and Facebook-liked every 10 minutes for 15 hours straight, it’s difficult to receive media coverage as thorough as Kasia’s. I’ve posted the interview portion of the article below, but she also contextualized the remixes to go beyond issues of copyright and pop culture in her wonderful introduction which I do not have permission to repost but encourage you to read! 

The Atlantic: How did you get into remixing video?

Elisa Kreisinger: I wanted to write better stories about women that didn’t revolve around men or babies. The fastest and cheapest way to do this was to make remixed narratives. With remix, I didn’t have to create cultural significance around unfamiliar characters to convince an audience to care about them. Instead I could use existing narratives from our collective cultural consciousness and tell my variation of that story. I called it writing for TV with TV.

What is it about Mad Men that begs for a good remix?

First, Mad Men is a complicated show where there’s no one ‘correct’ interpretation of it. In a remix, everything is taken out of its original context so when that context is in flux, there’s a million different stories to be told. That meant I could pick any thread (like Don and Roger’s competitive relationship) and run with it to make my own version of the story.

Second, Mad Men is a show that has gotten away with murder: in its narrative, Mad Men can attempt to critique social norms and gender constructs. But AMC clearly exploits these themes through their retro-sexual ads. For example, AMC’s “Secrets, Envy, and Adultery Are Back” ads. That’s not really what the show is about. But it’s easily marketable. Matthew Weiner’s been able to play that line between social critic and commercial success. Being able to create a story that firmly critiqued gender roles and masculinity without any question was my story to tell, not AMC’s or Weiner’s. They can’t. It’s not their business model.

From a production standpoint, the pregnant pauses throughout the show allow for creative dialog manipulation, which is the key to building a cohesive narrative. For example, when we see Don thinking a deep thought, we can hear any line of dialog, like Roger confessing his love for him. It’s those cutaways that make a remix narrative possible and Mad Men had a lot of those. You’re writing with existing lines of dialog and placing key images over it to tell the story.

QueerMen: Don Loves Roger

With QueerMen, you create an entire alternative narrative with clips taken out of context, while in Set Me Free, you reconstruct the lyrics to a whole song. What is the editing process for these videos? How did you gather and shape the clips you used?

I created a database of time-coded transcripts of every episode and then I selected clips, lines of dialog and scenes accordingly. With Don Loves Roger, I literally wrote with these pieces of TV: the disparate clips, cutaways and lines of dialog, chipping away and rearranging it until I had a definitive story arc that made sense.

Just like with any writing process, there are a ton of great scenes that don’t make it in to the final draft because, although perfect, they don’t fit the story. For example, I have a tragic phone conversation between Don and Roger where Don wants to come out of the closet and Roger tells him it’s not worth it. Don’s heartbroken and defeated. (In its original context, it’s a scene from “The Suitcase” where Don finds out Anna has died). That scene remixed with Roger on the other end of the phone fit together so well but it didn’t fit my story. So I cut it and it hurt to see it go. But it’s just like any other writing and editing process, you’re just writing with existing TV.

With Set Me Free, Marc Faletti was my right-hand man. We went to the transcript database again and pulled every line for every female character, grouped them according to themes and then narrowed them down to the ones that emphasized our concept of wanting to be set free but being physically trapped (hence the boxes). Marc made the boxes, laid the track and it all came together amidst the craziness of South by Southwest.

Have copyright laws posed a challenge to your work?

The remixes are all protected under Fair Use, a portion of copyright law that allows for use of copyright materials, without the permission of the copyright holder, for purposes of comment, critique, homage, satire, etc. Unfortunately, video sharing sites like YouTube continue to remove fair use content based on their profit sharing agreements with media conglomerates. For example, QueerMen: Don Loves Roger is still unable to be shared on YouTube because Lionsgate thinks it might be a copyright infringement and chose to disable embedding.

As a result, it’s vital that we understand our rights as creators under copyright law so that we can advocate for our work. The continued removal of fair use content means another voice in our community is lost with no documentation that it ever existed.

What do you want people to take away from the videos?

I hope audiences appreciate the way in which the remixes touch on issues of copyright, authorship and feminism; they aren’t just about characters from a TV show, although I think that’s the entry point. Mad Men is just the spoon full of sugar that makes the socio-political critique go down.

Has viral video as a medium contributed to or changed feminist conversation about pop culture in interesting ways?

Definitely. I think the popularity of feminist-made video illustrates how our feelings change when we see media and narratives that speak to us and our communities directly. As feminists and critical thinkers, we’re so used to negotiating between being a fan and critic of popular culture that when we see media and narratives made for us, it validates our sense of self in that community and unites us.


Mad Men: Set Me Free

Sung by your favorite female characters, Mad Men: Set Me Free is a musical mash up by Marc Faletti (@marcfaletti) and I (PopCulturePirate). As Peggy, Joan and Betty sing the MoTown hit “You Keep Me Hanging On”,  the entirely female-framed version of Mad Men becomes an entertaining and refreshing re-articulation of female frustrations amidst rigid gender roles.

“We love that feeling when two familiar pieces of pop culture blend to make something entirely new, especially when it’s punctuated by the perfect song” says Faletti. “Mad Men: Set Me Free shows us that the remix format — and the joy it creates — isn’t just limited to music. It can create new and interesting stories.”

By framing the female characters from Mad Men in a series of boxes, we wanted to illustrate how the show, and by extension, society, isolates and marginalizes womens’ voices within pop culture narratives. As a result, it’s important for women to tell their own stories. For me as a remix artist,  making mash ups is the best way to tell these stories. I call it writing with TV for TV.

And here’s where I quote myself!

“When you’re culturally “poor” for representation, both queer and feminist, you have to reuse the things you have access to, whether it be for subtext, your own entertainment or for critique. My hope was that I could turn the mixed feelings I had about the retro-sexual roles of women in Mad Men into something practical: product that my feminist theory addressed in theory only.”


Link on vimeo.

Link on YouTube.