USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘video’
Legends

La Llorona

Main Text

La Llorona is a story about this grieving, um, it’s a grieving mom who lost her children, and that, she goes around taking kids from, from other families, screaming, “¡Ay! Mis niños, ¿donde están?” which translates to, “Oh! My kids, where are they?” You know what, you know he’s just—she’s, they’re looking for them, because. They died or, they were lost.

Background

The subject is a 21-year-old Mexican American in his third year at USC. He recalls first hearing the legend of La Llorona at around the age of four or six. Through childhood, he was frequently told the story of La Llorona by his parents as a form of discipline. If he or his siblings misbehaved, their parents said that La Llorona would come and take them away. The subject mentions that this usage of La Llorona as a form of parental discipline was common in every Mexican-American household, along with corporal punishment via the chancla (a flip-flop) or the belt. In terms of disciplinary severity, the subject as a child would have considered La Llorona to be less of a threat than the chancla and the belt. The subject stopped believing in the literal existence of La Llorona around the age of seven, eight, or nine—around the same time, he says, that most children realize that Santa Claus isn’t real.

Context

Growing up, the subject often discussed the legend of La Llorona with other Mexican American children in his hometown of Van Nuys. The purpose of such discussion was less to ascertain whether La Llorona was real, and more to affirm a shared folk experience of being disciplined by parents in the same manner. He felt that only other Mexican Americans would understand the normalcy of the disciplinary method, rather than reacting judgmentally and mischaracterizing the discipline as a form of child abuse.

Over time, the subject’s childhood fear associated with La Llorona dulled into nostalgia, and he began to view La Llorona as a central part of his cultural history. Based on this current perception, the subject says that he finds it fascinating the legend was even used as a disciplinary tactic to begin with. He characterizes its use as a disciplinary tactic as “negative”—as the opposite of how he believes folklore like La Llorona ought to be used. He thinks folklore like La Llorona should be used as a “positive” way to build a shared sense of cultural identity through the passing down of traditions.

Another “positive” use of La Llorona, the subject argues, is for entertainment. The subject mentions an instance when his Spanish teacher showed the class a cartoon adaptation of La Llorona, to give the class a simple task to occupy their attention on a relatively work-free day. The class, which was majority Latino, was familiar with the legend; as such, the teacher had offer little explanation for what the plot of the story was. The subject especially enjoyed the video retelling of La Llorona because of its “authenticity,” which he defined in terms of aesthetic choices, such as including all the major motifs in the legend (e.g. the river, the ghostly spirit), and casting Mexican voice actors who spoke Spanish with a proper Mexican accent.

Interviewer’s Analysis

When asked to elaborate on what constituted “authenticity” in folklore adaptation, the subject compared the La Llorona video to the Scooby Doo film, The Monster of Mexico, which he felt portrayed both an inauthentic version of the Chupacabra (another legendary Mexican monster), and an inauthentic version of Mexico. The Monster of Mexico made the Chupacabra look like Bigfoot, characterized Mexicans through stereotypical sombreros and maracas iconography, and most condemnably, featured an all-white cast. For the subject, authenticity in Mexican folklore adaptation hinged on the folklore not being whitewashed. Here, the interviewer asked the subject how one might strike a balance between fighting the hegemony of whitewashed folklore, and not establishing a new hegemony by claiming to have a singularly authoritative “authentic” interpretation.

Briefly, hegemony is defined as the total control over the terms of a narrative. The subject replied that he didn’t think ought to be a singularly authoritative authenticator for adaptations of folklore. In the context of Latino folklore, the subject suggested that his concern was less with defining authenticity, than fostering a sense of accountability. He didn’t want people to create adaptations of Latino folklore for a mainstream general audience, without creators being mindful of what portrayals of Latino culture they could potentially misinform non-Latinos with.

While the subject’s answer certainly adds nuance to defining the boundary between artificially authoritative authenticity and hegemony, the question of where that boundary is still remains—and, in the interviewer’s opinion, cannot be answered without defining what precisely “whitewashing” is. Is whitewashing the same as Americanization? Who defines and authenticates what is American, when America houses multiple types of cultures? What counts as “white” culture? Is any insertion of “white” culture into a historically nonwhite folklore adaptation automatically considered whitewashing? For instance, in the La Llorona video, the children are portrayed as trick-or-treaters, to appeal to a broader American audience—does that count as whitewashing?

These questions are complicated, and any definition of “whitewashing” for the purposes of evaluating “authenticity” of folklore will inevitably struggle to cover every scenario. Perhaps a more appropriate starting point, would be to consider folklore adaptation in terms of social power structures. What cultures does one group get a “pass” to freely adapt from? Who authenticates the “pass” under what circumstances? How do dynamics play out when authenticity gets contested?  Who is contesting authenticity, under what definition, and why?

Digital
Humor

Mmmm whatcha say

Background

In the second season of the television show The O.C. (airing in 2004), the final scene of the season finale depicts the shooting and death of one of the shows characters. The scene utilizes a slow-motion effect along with Imogen Heap’s folktronica song “Hide and Seek,” including the infamous line “mmmmm whatcha say.” Ten years later, in 2014, the sketch comedy show Saturday Night Live did a parody of this scene, playing off of the humorous contrast between the character’s death and the more upbeat pop song. This SNL skit went viral. Following that, parodies of this parody began popping up across the internet and a new meme was born.

Context

Whenever there is a video of someone falling or getting hurt in a humorous way or a television/movie character dies, someone can edit the video into slow motion with Imogen Heap’s song playing over it. This is popular on many platforms across the internet including YouTube, Vine, Tumblr, Reddit, and 4chan.

Text

Scene from The O.C.

SNL Sketch

Compilation of use on the internet

Thoughts

It amazes me how many layers of group knowledge exist in this piece of folklore. The Imogen Heap song that is used in the episode of the O.C. and which is an integral part of the meme was, itself, a folktronica song, meaning that it synthesized existing folk music with popular music. When it was used in the episode, the O.C. was a fairly popular television show, but it was still obscure enough that it was strange for SNL to make a parody of it 10 years later. Furthermore, once the reworking of this parody became an internet sensation, more people were participating than who even watched the SNL sketch which was only somewhat viral by internet standards. Because of this, it appears that most people perform this piece of folklore don’t even know very much about where it came from. Instead, it seems their reason for performing it has more to do with the connection they feel to the internet community.

Humor

No Soap, Radio

The Joke:

“There were two elephants in a bathtub. One elephant said to the other, ‘Pass the soap.’ And the other elephant said, ‘No soap, radio!’”

The informant, a sophomore in high school and my sister, told me this joke. She says that she got it from watching a video on YouTube of user SuperMac18 when she was in seventh grade, in 2010. She says that she and a friend of hers went around telling this joke to their entire grade. The joke is that it doesn’t make any sense. The teller of the joke is supposed to tell it, then laugh and act like the person they tell it to is missing something. Some people pretend that they get it and laugh, as many of the informant’s young classmates did. When the informant told this to my mom and I, both of us were very confused while the informant chuckled to herself as if amused that we didn’t understand; she finally caved and told us the punch line—that there was none. Therefore, it is not merely a joke, but a practical joke. The telling of the joke is in essence a prank on the audience, until they are also brought in on the joke. Since my sister got this from a young YouTuber (at the time SuperMac18 was 15-year-old boy) and was in middle school, I believe that the purpose of telling this joke comes from an immature joy in others’ confusion. Young middle-schoolers tend to enjoy feeling superior to others, using some type of knowledge in order to do so.

Digital
Musical

STAR WARS “IMPERIAL MARCH” DJ BATTLE

ABOUT THE INFORMANT:

My informant is a senior graduating this semester from USC. He is a biomedical engineer, and is the oldest son of two immigrants from China.

EXAMPLE:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uw0v6kkasMk

DESCRIPTION:

“This is this weird video I found a while ago when I was searching through the bowels of the internet. I guess it’s this DJ {DJ Skratch Bastid} like scratching the Star Wars song on turntables. Not the like heroic one, the one that Darth Vader comes out to all the time. But it’s like during this head-to-head DJ battle, and he basically just plays this out of nowhere and shuts it down.

It’s just such a classic song, you know? It’s legendary. To pull that out so spontaneously, to mash it up that way, it’s really unique. Because, like, everyone knows that song and Star Wars and Darth Vader. It’s just a show stopper.”

ANALYSIS:

The setup here is that two DJ’s are battling back and forth, with each DJ allowed a certain amount of time to cut and scratch the records of his choosing. The idea is that from the music and sounds that someone else made, using the turntables, a person can make a new song or beat to it.

This is similar to mashup culture in general; in fact it is most likely the precursor to it, as this whole DJ culture of mixing and mashing records together has been popular for several decades.

The idea of mashups in general already create some grey area as to who the writer, owner, and author of the piece of music is, considering that it someone, the DJ, is using other previously authored, by the artist, pieces of music, which are owned by the record label, to create new music.

This version adds a new wrinkle to it, in that the new music created is in fact a cover of the “Imperial March” written by John Williams from the Star Wars films. This is therefore a mashup of previously recorded material. The folklore here has a few different dimensions to it.

The Star Wars films are unequivocally one of the most iconic film franchises of all time with its music being equally as recognizable. The song in question is the theme to the villain in the film, one of the most famous villains in all of cinema, and therefore carries a sort of clout and power with it. For someone to use the song in a head-to-head battle is almost like asserting your authority over them because of the context behind it.

Here, the song takes on a new power to it than it originally did when it was featured in the films because it contains all of the lore of the Star Wars films behind it.

Hear the original “Imperial March” in the Star Wars films.

Digital
Musical

SONGIFY THE NEWS

ABOUT THE INFORMANT:

My informant is a senior graduating this semester from USC. He is a biomedical engineer, and is the oldest son of two immigrants from China.

EXAMPLE:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hMtZfW2z9dw

BACKGROUND:

“Okay so first of all I have to start this one by saying there is obviously nothing funny about rape, sexual harassment, intruders, and whatever else happened here. That all said this is hilarious.

So I guess that this started by a news, like a news report, or cast, like a newscast that went viral. I guess this guy went into this family’s house, and then she like saw him or something and ran away.

But that all doesn’t really matter. The part of the story that is important is that they interviewed the victim’s brother. And right away he comes on screen, he just stands out. It’s just really funny. He just gets into the camera, basically calling out the guy, “You are so dumb. You are really dumb, fo real.”

“Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, and hide yo husband, because they raping everybody out here.” He’s so matter of fact. And animated. It is just perfect.

So I think that the video went viral. And then this group took it, auto tuned him, threw a beat over it and remixed it into a song. Which I actually think is kind of catchy. Like you definitely start bobbing your head to it.

But it also kind of makes it a little bit more emphatic. Like he looks less ridiculous now. It was almost always meant to be a song.

So then that went viral. Fast forward hundreds of millions of views and a few years later, and I’m watching that new show, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”. It’s on Netflix. Tina Fey made it. And the intro, like she basically, not Tina Fey, this other girl, Erin from The Office”. She was kidnapped as a girl. That’s the premise. So she got taken by this guy, who is like a cult leader. And so she is thrown into this cult where he brainwashes them to think that the world has ended. So the intro is them being found. Like by the police. So the beginning of the first episode is them being rescued, and then it cuts into this newscast. Where they go to interview the guy who found them, who is like just as animated as the guy from this video.

But then the video starts getting like remixed. Just like this. So then the theme for the show is actually a remixed version of the news coverage from the show. Which of course brought me back to this guy. And so I Youtubed it again. And I found their channel, and I saw that the guys who made this, actually made that video too. So I thought that was kind of cool.”

ANALYSIS:

This is unique because it is an example of how folklore actually infiltrated into the mainstream. After doing some research there was a video of the “interview” of the character from the television show who is remixed.  Meaning that the writers probably wrote the script for the interview, and then really gave it to the makers of the other songifyed videos and let them go to work, which is kind of cool.

The original of course is a mashup in that it is someone on television news being remixed. Who is the owner? Who is the genius? The man, the music, or the producer for choosing to interview him and keep him on air for that long? It really it could be argued any of them are. It is interesting then that the television show, which is on an entirely online streaming platform, Netflix, chose to tap into this internet folklore. It is savvy to attract the younger viewers, it’s catchy, and it is true to how it is that we interact with news stories like this normally.

Game

Beerio Kart

About the Interviewed: Spencer is a former student of the George Washington University, now graduated and teaching English overseas. He describes his ethnic background as “Potpourri”, with his family having a mixture of Scottish-Polish origins with some Irish thrown in the mix. His family has lived in North America for generations, so he prefers to identify ethnically as just that. He is 22 years of age.

“Just don’t drink and drive man. That’s all there is to it.”

When I was at school at the George Washington University in the Fall of 2012, I met some ultra-cool people who I started to hang out with. One of them, a guy named Spencer, shared my love of early 90’s video games. When we were all together one weekend, Spencer introduced us to a game (supposedly of his own invention) called “Beerio Kart”.

What you need to play Beerio Kart:

*A Mario Kart video game, though any multiplayer video game that involves racing is fine as well.

*An alcoholic substance, though any beverage is fine.

*Friends.

Beerio Kart, is essentially a “drinking game”, though it can be played without alcohol. I recently had an opportunity to sit down with Spencer, and he was able to explain the rules to me in better detail.

“It’s pretty simple. All you do is load up a game that involves racing (the objective being to beat the other opponents to the finish line) and grab a drink. Your goal is to finish that drink  before you finish the race. The catch is, you can’t drink and drive your car at the same time, that’s illegal! You have to stop your vehicle in order to drink. The first person to reach the finish line with an empty glass/can wins. Just don’t drink and drive man. That’s all there is to it.”

Beerio Kart became something of a regular game that we’d play when we were together. I can almost guarantee that none of the original game developers could ever envision that their games would ever be played like this. We’ve all sort of gone our own ways; I transferred to USC, and most of them graduated. However, I still keep the tradition alive, teaching new friends the wonder and joy of Beerio Kart.

Digital
Folk speech
Game
Humor
Legends
Narrative

World of Warcraft Legends – Leeroy Jenkins

My informant tells me that the Leeroy Jenkins story is pretty short, and that the results of it are far more interesting than the original story.  Basically the story goes that this group of 15 guys were in a raid dungeon getting ready for a big fight, and they were talking about their plan, when one of the members just decides to screw the whole plan and charge right in.  He screams his name, “LEEROYYYYYYYY JENKINNNNSSSSS” really loudly in their chat, and just runs in.  The rest of his group is forced to follow and they all end up dying in the encounter.  Fortunately, because one of the group members was recording the event, we can see the whole thing happen on YouTube.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkCNJRfSZBU

This video became an instant hit among players of World of Warcraft, with players showing the video to their friends.  I myself was shown the video by one of my friends who also played the game.  There were many videos that only WoW players would have found amusing, but no one else would really get.  However, the Leeroy Jenkins video and story started to spread to other video games and even outside of gamer culture.  If you go online, you can find fan art of Leeroy, comics, demotivational posters referring to Leeroy, custom Warcraft figurines.  The video became so huge that Blizzard, the developers of World of Warcraft, invited the actual player of the character Leeroy to come give a quick speech at BlizzCon in 2007, and do the trademark “Leeroyyyyyyy Jenkinnnnnssssss!” shout.  The also put a reference to Leeroy in the game itself.  Essentially, re-enacting the Leeroy Jenkins video will earn the player an achievement called “Leeroyyyyyyyy!” which also rewards the player with the title “Jenkins” that he or she may put on their character.

Within the gaming community as a whole, shouting “Leeroy Jenkins!” is synonymous with shouting “CHARGE!” and is usually shouted either at the beginning of a game, or when the player goes “balls to the wall” or “goes Rambo.”  Even players who have never played World of Warcraft in their life understand the meaning of the phrase.  In this sense, “Leeroy Jenkins” has become a folk saying.

As for the origins of the story, my informant tells me that the player simply thought the plan was ready and just charged in ahead.  According to other sources I have heard in the past, some say that Leeroy was away from his computer getting food while the plan was being discussed and so he didn’t hear it, and when he got back he assumed they were all ready to go and so he just charged in.  Others say that he thought the plan was stupid and knew they would all die anyway and so Leeroy just decided to charge in and have fun.  One other variant I have heard is that the guild who made the video did it as a joke video, knowing full well that their plan was stupid and so they were just trying to be funny.  This is the version I like to believe because everyone I know who has done the fight shown in the video says that their plan is stupid and would never work ever.  According to Leeroy himself, he and his guild buddies were just drinking at the time and being generally stupid, though he will neither confirm nor deny if the whole thing was staged.

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