lierdumoa: (subversive)
[personal profile] lierdumoa
Title: How Much Is that Geisha in the Window?
Music: "Boyd's Journey" by Damon Albarn and Michael Nyman on the Ravenous (1999) Original Soundtrack; "How Much ... Window?" performed by Adam Baldwin, Nathan Fillian and Gina Torres in the "Firefly Extended Gag Reel."
Fandom: Firefly (2002), w/ additional source from Serenity (2005), Memoirs of a Geisha (2005), 3:10 to Yuma (2007) and Gone with the Wind (1939)
Summary: Fuck you Joss, you racist asshole—an ode to the invisible Asians of Firefly. For the 2008 [ profile] vividcon "FUCK YOU!" Challenge Show.
A/N: Thanks to [ profile] permetaform, and [ profile] goluxexmachina for egging me on. Thanks also to [ profile] tehshiny for her linguistic aid. I hope I didn't butcher the Chinese too badly.

[download] 640x360|Xvid|47.8 MB
[stream] 400x225|Streaming @ IMEEM COMING SOON!

If you have any problems playing the Xvid, please refer to this guide. Please do not hotlink or upload to your own server. If you want to link this vid to a fan, refer back to this journal entry.

If you want to link this vid in an academic context, please refer to >THIS WEBSITE<.
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Date: 2008-08-23 01:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yay! I am so glad you posted. This was possibly my favorite Challenge vid and that is really saying something (damn, there were some fine vids out there this year).

You made me think and you challenged a lot of assumptions and you didn't once flinch or back down while doing it and I admire it so much. Go you!

Date: 2008-08-25 10:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I think vidding's all about balls. If you have the perfect shot in mind, you can't be afraid to put it in or the other vidders will smell your fear or you're doing your vid a disservice.


Date: 2008-08-23 01:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was for me, the best & most effective challenge vid of the con. It was beautifully made. Your use of external source added rather than distracted. Brilliant editing.

The vid was a punch to the gut & it did a masterful job of critiquing Joss Whedon's Firefly universe. It's a vid I will be thinking about for a long time to come.

Date: 2008-08-25 11:12 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's funny. I've made vids before in the hopes that they'd make the audience squirm, but this wasn't one of them. I felt more like I was making a public service announcement than a vid, actually.

I'm really glad it felt effective to you. That was my main goal.

Date: 2008-08-23 02:17 am (UTC)
ext_2023: (creepy anthy)
From: [identity profile]
wow, that's stunning!

Date: 2010-05-28 09:58 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Stunning video, by far the most effective challege to date. The commentary was unfaultable. Central London Glaziers (

Date: 2008-08-23 02:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've just watched this now for the first time - amazing! Eloquent commentary.

Date: 2008-08-23 02:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is *awesome*. I feel like I should have something more specific to say, but the vid lays it all out. I got nothin'.

Date: 2008-08-23 02:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love this vid desperately. I love the way it savages western culture fetishising eastern culture. I lvoe how you returned to the stereotypes over and over. I love how you underliend the absence of asians in a supposedly asian future. I love the focus of the anger to force us to acknowlege the lack of a voice, with all the white actors speaking chinese to curse. I love the structure of it, and the thought that wwent into every clip choice. In short, I am really goddam impressed by the effectiveness of it married with the beauty of the music and the images, while all the while reminding us of the sources context, and driving home the history Joss chose not to acknowledge (the Confederate flag, GWTW source, and shot of the train in particular).

I owe you so many. many. hugs. And beer.

Date: 2008-08-26 12:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you so much for the feedback!

One of my biggest fears for this vid was that the train/railroad workers scenes would go over everybody's heads. I'm always worried that no one will get my vids, but this vid was the first where it actually mattered whether or not the audience got it, beyond my personal gratification.

And still I feel like there's so much I didn't get to say, about the treatment of black people, of women, of settlers vs. the reavers as an incredibly offensive metaphor for "cowboys vs. injuns," right down to Simon calling them "savages" in the pilot episode.

But, well, pick your battles. One vid of this nature was all I had the energy for.

I owe you so many. many. hugs. And beer.

Don't think I'm not holding you to this next VVC.


Date: 2008-08-23 03:30 am (UTC)
ext_12491: (mod: & never stood up)
From: [identity profile]
This was fantastic -- intelligent and beautiful and so satisfying, even though it's about something frustrating.

Date: 2008-08-23 03:36 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
this was quite wonderful. i don't have anything insightful to say about it because i am not at all familiar with firefly, but i really loved the music.
the beginning was particularly striking.

Date: 2008-08-23 04:01 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
That's really brilliant. I like Firefly okay, but I did wonder where all the Chinese people were, and Mal's evocation of the good ol' Southern boy makes him less sympathetic to me.

Date: 2008-08-26 12:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Mal was always my least favorite character, even before I spent all that time researching this vid and digging into Firefly's sordid underbelly.

Thanks for the compliment! I'm glad the vid worked for you.

Date: 2008-08-23 04:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I got nothing other than BRILLIANT! FUCK!! & WOW!!!

Date: 2008-08-26 12:57 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you so much! I'm really glad the vid worked for you.


Date: 2008-08-23 05:16 am (UTC)
ext_3482: Saturn Girl (Default)
From: [identity profile]
thank you for making and posting this vid.

Date: 2008-08-26 01:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you for wanting it.

Date: 2008-08-23 06:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Awesomeness! :P

Date: 2008-08-23 06:49 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is absolutely brilliant! And I love the folksy minimalism of the Ravenous score too.

The additional footage from 3:10 to Yuma really reminded me of how the Chinese were marginalised in the period of American expansion which Westerns mythologise, both their role at the time and in hindsight by historians. That Joss recreates the Western down to the invisibility of Asians, but appropriates pan-Asian symbols as evidence of some superior culture, always gets my goat.

Date: 2008-08-26 01:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm so happy you got the Chinese/railroad thing!

You know what's funny? I originally wasn't thinking about making a Firefly vid at all. I just wanted to vid that song. The melody is so uplifting, but then you have those two repeated notes in the background that are actually dissonant with each other. It seems nice on the surface, but there's something unseemly underneath.

My friend suggested, "Firefly, maybe?" I thought, "Well, it might work if I ... oh my God. Oh my God, I know what this song is about."

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2008-08-26 11:33 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2008-08-23 12:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

Date: 2008-08-23 01:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is a really wonderful vid; I just shiver at the glimpse of the world we MIGHT have gotten, if only!

Date: 2008-08-23 05:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This was like a slap in the face at Challenges. Which I'm positive you realize is a compliment. ;D It's completely uncompromising and very tightly edited. Easily one of the strongest statements I've ever seen made with a vid.

Date: 2008-08-26 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
It's the *best* compliment I could have asked for. Vidding brings out all my sadomasochistic tendencies.


I don't necessarily think this is the best vid I've ever made, but it's unquestionably the most important vid I've ever made. I'm really glad it meant something to people.

Date: 2008-08-23 11:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I've always wondered why is it that the characters only swear in Chinese... I mean, I know it's about censorship and all, but they can say "thank you" -- xie xie -- or "hello" -- ni hao -- or any other basic everyday phrases in Chinese too. Not to mention that all the swear words they say are completely made up and no one who actually speaks Chinese would say that... :|

I liked the video, been waiting to see when you'd put it up. I particularly liked the "good dogs" sign. And the geisha hand / hand cuff scene.

Date: 2008-08-26 02:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yay! I really glad you liked it. I was wondering what you'd think of it.

And, yeah. I kept thinking, well, maybe Joss' trying to—yeah, no, that's just really racist. There's actually no non-racist explanation for this.

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From: [identity profile] - Date: 2009-03-07 01:50 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2008-08-24 04:35 am (UTC)
amalthia: (Default)
From: [personal profile] amalthia
Loved what your vid had to say.

Date: 2008-08-25 10:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you! I figured it needed to be said.

Date: 2008-08-24 04:38 am (UTC)
ext_15405: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
That was really interesting, I think it's a hard concept to vid to and it made me stop and think - thank you!

Date: 2008-08-25 11:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
it made me stop and think

That's exactly what I wanted out of it. I'm so glad it worked for you.

Date: 2008-08-24 06:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is a very well-done vid.

Date: 2008-08-24 08:30 am (UTC)
copracat: Detail of painting of David Gulpilil (gulpilil)
From: [personal profile] copracat
What [ profile] taraljc and [ profile] the_grynne said. What a gorgeous, smart and righteous vid.

Date: 2008-08-24 04:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Amazing! The music is perfect and I love how the actual Asians ghost across the screen and echo scenes from the series/movie to make the point of who wasn’t there with surgical precison. And the progression in the external source from decorative, to violent exploitation, to the confederate flag flying over the battle of Serenity Valley. Together with the compromised nature of the external source movies it seems to broaden the message from “Fuck you Joss,” to a much bigger “Fuck you Hollywood.”

Date: 2008-08-25 01:11 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
>> I love ... the progression in the external source from decorative, to violent exploitation<<

Actually, none of the scenes of violent exploitation are external source. The battle scenes with the sculpture of Buddha in the background (1:16) are from the Firefly episode "The Message." The dead Asian woman on the battlefield (1:22) is one of the deleted scenes from "Serenity" (the two hour pilot episode). The man in the Asian outfit holding the machine gun (1:23), the girl with the facial tattoo (1:28) and the Asian gang (1:30) are also from the pilot. The dead Asian man slumped over a table (1:25) is from Serenity (the movie). The Asian mother and children, surrounded by soldiers (1:32) is from "The Train Job."

The only footage I use from Memoirs of a Geisha is: woman in bright kimono (0:47), hand holding teapot (0:56), hand reaching (0:59, 1:01), fans snapping open (1:02), woman in red kimono (1:03, 1:06), woman blowing out incense (1:08), red cloth in water (2:07). The only footage I use from 3:10 to Yuma is of Chinese immigrants working on a railroad (1:33, 1:36, 1:39, 1:43). The only footage I use from Gone with the Wind is the shot of the confederate flag. Everything else is from the series/movie.

I'm not surprised that you would mistake the shots I used for external source, because these shots were designed to be forgettable. I wish this were a "Fuck you Hollywood" vid. Hollywood certainly deserves one. I wish I could take credit for using outside footage to make a clever visual metaphor, because it would have meant the cultural exploitation in Firefly was less preposterously pervasive.

I gave my vid the title "How Much Is that Geisha in the Window" because there are actually, literally, two women dressed as geisha in the window of the bar in the brawl scene at the beginning of "The Train Job," right before the first commercial break. I made this vid because there is nothing I could imply about Firefly that would be worse than what Joss actually did.

Uh. That reply was probably a lot longer than you were expecting. Uhm. Thank you! For commenting! I'm really glad you liked my vid.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2008-08-25 04:12 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2008-08-24 11:47 pm (UTC)
alchemise: Stargate: season 1 Daniel (Default)
From: [personal profile] alchemise
I adore Firefly, but I very much admire and agree with the criticism you make here. Incredibly well done vid and fantastic use of the music from Ravenous.

Date: 2008-08-25 01:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I ... used to adore Firefly. I'm sad to say making this vid kind of ruined it for me, and that's not an experience I would wish on anyone, so I certainly don't begrudge your still loving it.

Thanks for the feedback!

Date: 2008-08-25 09:31 am (UTC)
ratcreature: RatCreature is enthusiastic: Yay! (yay!)
From: [personal profile] ratcreature
I'm only a casual Firefly watcher (actually I'm not even sure I've seen all eps), but this vid is awesome. Also while back when I first watched the series I noticed how awful this mapping onto the Western tropes was with the Reavers, I never thought to connect the rebels to the Confederates.
Edited Date: 2008-08-25 09:32 am (UTC)

Date: 2008-08-25 10:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I can say with confidence that I have seen more of Firefly than I ever wanted to.

You know, in the pilot, Simon actually uses the word "savages" to describe the Reavers. And then of course there's the whole thing where the first sign of being converted to Reaverhood is you start giving yourself ethnic piercings. But, well, somebody else can make that vid.

Thanks for the feedback!

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] - Date: 2008-09-06 01:13 am (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2008-08-25 12:55 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is beautifully constructed and brilliant. All those headless people, disembodied hands, the dragging robes and tropes -- you must have a very strong stomach.

You certainly have a strong right hook, in the form of that "Good Dogs!" sign.


Date: 2008-08-25 10:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
you must have a very strong stomach.

I ... yes. This vid was very hard to stomach, but I figured, somebody had to, and that somebody was probably going to have to be me.

Thank you for commenting!
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