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Archive by August, 2011

Research on Remix and Cultural Analytics, Part 3

Image: detail of video montage grid of “Hitler’s angry reaction to the iPad.”  One of several remixes on Hitler’s Downfall.  Larger images of this montage and others with proper explanation are included below.

As part of my post doctoral research for The Department of Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway, I am using cultural analytics techniques to analyze YouTube video remixes.  My research is done in collaboration with the Software Studies Lab at the University of California, San Diego. A big thank you to CRCA at Calit2 for providing a space for daily work during my stays in San Diego.

This is part 3 of a series of posts in which I introduce three case studies of YouTube video remixes. My first case study is the Charleston Style remixes.  The second case study is Radiohead’s Lotus Flower remixes.

In the above video, Hitler rants about the iPad’s lack of features.

I learned about the Downfall remixes while doing research for the Charleston Style remixes.  For a good assessment of its development, read Know your Meme’s blog post of August 1, 2011.   These parodies consist of various excerpts from a not so well-known film titled Downfall, released in 2004, about the last days of Hitler and his inner circle before they all committed suicide.   There are a few scenes that have been used for the remixes, but I chose the most popular, which is also the longest excerpt remixed, of about 3:59.  The footage presents Hitler being told by key members of his inner circle that Berlin is surrounded and that it is only a matter of time before the enemy reaches them in the city.  Hitler is upset about the fact that he was not told the truth sooner and rants for quite sometime to eventually come to terms with his certain defeat.

In the above video Hitler rants about not getting the role as the Joker in Batman.

The parodies consists of taking the original footage, and implementing subtitles in English that have nothing to do with what Hitler is actually saying in German.   Instead, the subtitles present him ranting about the lack of features of the iPad, his realization that Pokemon does not exist, and his disbelief that Kanye West was extremely rude to Taylor Swift when West interrupted Swift’s acceptance speech at an MTV video awards to tell her that Beyonce was a much better music artist, among many other remixes.  I made a definite decision to focus on the Downfall remixes after I ran into one that showed Hitler upset about the “fact” that the Lotus Flower remixes had surpassed the Downfall Parodies’ popularity on YouTube.

In the above video Hitler rants about the Lotus Flower remixes.

I consider this reference a way of coming full circle between the memes.  With the Downfall parodies I was unable to find remixes before January 2007; and, therefore, I am not sure what the first parody may have been (check know your meme’s entry for a parody of 2006 that is no longer available); many which have been featured on articles by newspapers are no longer available on YouTube.   Nevertheless, new ones keep showing up, as reflections and commentaries of current events.


Montage grid of Downfall video, with proper English subtitles. 
View 2200px wide version Note that the resolution of the grid montage I make available does not allow for the subtitles to be read.

With the Downfall remixes, the result is similar to the Charleston Remix. In the Charleston, it is only the music that is switched, and for Downfall, only the subtitles are changed; therefore, the only major shift takes place with the formal placement of translations on the screen: sometimes on the middle of the screen, but for the most part at the bottom. For this reason, I’m only showing one montage grid visualization (above).

Visualization of Downfall with original English subtitles (no longer available on YouTube). View 2000px image. The thin horizontal white bars near the bottom of the frame are the subtitles.  To former link of this video is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bmkUlXp5sk&feature=related.  

Visualization of “Hitler’s Reaction to the new Kiss album,” a video remix in which Hitler rants about the album’s title “Sonic Boom.”  View 2000px image. The subtitles (the thin horizontal white bars) in this case move all over the frame.  To view this video visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwOLfppXhsk&feature=youtu.be.


Visualization of “Hitler Rejected For Joker In Batman 3.”
View 2000px image

Another shift we can notice with the subtitles is that they may crossover from one shot to the next based on the emphasis of the content that the remixer wants to make. But none of the Charleston and Downfall videos are heavily edited as the Lotus Flower remixes. I will compare at length the three case studies in part four of this series.

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