Mixing up Texas: A Video Remix Project

At some point in our lives, most of us have heard the aphorism, “Character is who you are when you think nobody is watching.” But in this day and age, is there really a time when no one is watching?

In light of a recent surge of scandalous activity in our beloved Lone Star State, we’ve decided to take a look at the ways that new media has affected the level of accountability under which authority figures must reside. More specifically, we’d like to highlight the idea that easy, open access to surveillance equipment (like smartphone cameras conveniently located in everyones’ back pockets) and distribution/momentum building through social media sites (truly, who doesn’t have Facebook at the tip of their fingers) has opened the door for a synopticon society in a big way.

By creating a remix project in the style of a song video, we plan explore how turning the eyes of [the many of] Texas onto “the few” has rewritten the rules of behavior and consequence for those who hold Texas’s most respected leadership positions. Our song shall be “The Eyes of Texas,” and with it we’ll argue that the ability for all of Texas to turn its eyes upon the few charged to lead our state, cities, and educational institutions, has resulted in leaders being held accountable and more tightly surveilled. “The Eyes of Texas” is typically intended to create a panoptical feeling in those who hear the song, asserting that the University of Texas is always watching all the other universities they encounter; however, we’d like to use it a little more ironically, implying that– in a rather synoptic manner– all the eyes of the people of Texas are always watching their leaders.

Our video footage will be clips of Texas authority figure scandals, as recorded by news stations and citizens’ smartphones. With this specific combination, we hope to make the idea that the synopticon is alive and operating very real to our audience, as they are residents under these leaders’ authorities.

The video below reflects our intended remix in its selection of clips and their flow. Our sources are very much related to the types of sources used in this video, being primarily news broadcasts and videos shared on social media. Our remix will also reflect this video in its flow by connecting several events and showing trends in surveillance of the few by the many. However, our video will be a songvid, different from the chronological supercut format of this video. The “Too Many Dicks” or “Somebody’s Watching Me” examples shown in class reflect our intended vision to use the song as a lens through which to interpret and analyze the video clips.

The Gay Rights Movement

Our video should solidify the notion that media scholar David Lyon highlights in his chapter on the synopticon and scopophilia:

“The few may well watch the many, as they do in surveillance situations of constantly increasing magnitude, but this does not mean that the many no longer watch the few… Indeed, the same communication and information technologies today permit an unprecedented watching of the few by the many…”

After watching our remix video, singing “the eyes of Texas are upon you…” may have a whole new meaning.

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One comment on “Mixing up Texas: A Video Remix Project

  1. You have a great foundation here, but there are some questions/points of potential concern that you should keep in mind as you work. First, the song selection is great, and keeping the video footage local to Texas will be helpful in terms of scope/limiting the types of clips you’re tracking down. That said, the song itself is short (approx. 1 min), so you might want to either consider mashing up versions of the song, or looking for a slightly longer cut. You could also loop it, but this might be less dynamic. Also, you should definitely make sure you’re getting a version with the lyrics sung. The Texas footage should be enough to distance this as being read as “I’ve been working on the railroad,” but you don’t want to chance it. Also, it could be really effective, given your focus on the synopticon, to hear this sung en masse. I also don’t get an especially strong sense of what sort of local/regional “scandals” you’re focusing on here, so as you select clips you should hone your argument around what you’re finding. Are you mostly looking at politicians? Are you contending this is an issue (or a heightened issue) in Texas specifically or using this to speak broadly about a national and/or global concern? The specificity is good, but you also have to deal with the implications of keeping this focused on Texas.

    Finally, and most importantly, your reference to Lyons is good, but you’re falling just short of making a clear argument here. The video should, in some way, convey how your group feels about this digitally-enabled “unprecedented watching.” Are you claiming this helps with accountability? Are you trying to show both sides of this debate? Because you’re taking something with positive/rallying connotations (a fight song) and using it to comment on surveillance, you’ll need to attentive to the ways in which this might be read and guide that reading as effectively as you can via clip selection.

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