For my project, I chose to create a vid that complicates the way the show Grey’s Anatomy displays Meredith and Cristina’s relationship. On the show, Meredith – the main character and namesake of the show – is best friends with Cristina. Known as “the twisted sisters,” the two traverse the various dramas of the show by depending upon one another even when their husbands and boyfriends abandon them. Despite multiple snuggling scenes and the level of emotional intimacy that the pair shares, Grey’s is very blatant in displaying Meredith and Cristina as heterosexual. However, viewing Meredith and Cristina as being in a romantic lesbian relationship is one non-dominant reading of the show. My vid seeks to retell their relationship as one of love and eventual heartbreak on the part of Cristina. In the vid, Cristina and Meredith have a happy and supportive romantic relationship until Meredith leaves Cristina for Derek, her cannon husband. While still attempting to continue their friendship, Cristina remains devastated and alone at the end of the vid. In this way, the vid indicts the heteronormativity that is latent within the show’s characterization of Meredith and Cristina.
In pairing the vid with the song “When She Loved Me,” I attempt to question both the static representations of sexuality common to Grey’s Anatomy and to move beyond a tokenistic representation of non-heteronormative relationships. Although the show does include a lesbian couple and one bi-appearing character, the sexuality of the central characters is unquestioningly heterosexual. Additionally, Callie, the only bi-appearing character on the show, eventually permanently transitions to being a lesbian after only a few episodes of questioning her sexuality. In transforming the central relationship of the show from friendship to romantic interest, I attempt to reframe representations of queerness as periphery and unimportant. More importantly, showing Meredith “drift away” to a heterosexual relationship emphasizes a fluidity of sexuality that breaks with the idea of sexuality as forcing individuals into certain discreet boxes. Cristina’s heartbreak then displays the reality of traversing boundaries of sexuality.
In utilizing clips and barely discernable subplots of shows, vidding is useful in lending visibility to alternative and transgressive readings of potentially problematic aspects of dominant media. Rather than simply aiding the music to which it is set, the clips themselves represent a retelling of the original text. As Francesca Coppa explains, “in vidding, the fans are fans of the visual source, and music is used as an interpretive lens to help the viewer to see the source text differently. A vid is a visual essay that stages an argument” (Coppa). Like a critical essay, vids allow individuals to question and work through elements of a text. However, as a visual medium, a vid is useful in that it is able to “talk back” to a text using its own devices. In crafting a new story or an argument indicting the text through clips of the original, vidding is a mode of using the text to destroy its own problematic assumptions and tropes. Although this sort of DIY production has a relatively small audience, it is important in its ability to recreate and reclaim dominant media and its potential to mobilize communities around it. Arguing for vidding as a “form of collaborative critical thinking,” Coppa sees vidding as a way to build communities around engagement with marginalized perspectives (Coppa). Reworking dominant narratives allows marginal voices to become visible which in turn creates communities around transgressive readings of texts. One can then see vidding as a political action taken by marginalized communities to challenge and reclaim dominant media.
Coppa, Francesca. “Women, Star Trek, and the early development of fannish vidding.” Transformative Works and Cultures, 1 (2008). Online.
Grey’s Anatomy. Perf. Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, Patrick Dempsey. ABC Television. 2005-2013.