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Multimodal & Multiliterate

March 30, 2009

A few items of multimodal, multiliterate interest. First, my laptops are having problems. Ugh. The Mac PowerBook G4 has decided that Firefox is no longer interested in playing embedded YouTube videos. Other videos (mostly) work. But YouTube? Nope. There’s a URL-by-URL fix out there, but that doesn’t help with embedded videos. And yes, I’ve tried all of the suggested fixes. No good. So, on the Mac I surf with Firefox and keep Opera open to do nothing but watch videos. How tedious.

And then the sound capabilities of my PC laptop started to go. First the speakers got scratchy, then they crapped out altogether. Now the earphone jack does nothing, either. Double-ugh. Of course, the PC laptop does have its zombie sound moments — usually involving some irritating system sound or beep that comes out at ear-splitting decibels because I’ve forgotten to turn the previously uncooperative and utterly silent sound to off.

Second, this past weekend I was working on the PC laptop and I saw that a friend had shared this video on Facebook. When I tried to view it, of course, it played without sound.


Now, at first I thought this was intentional. Watch the video with your speakers off and see for yourself. But then I hijacked the Spouse’s nice new desktop computer and we watched and listened to the video.

But I can’t stop thinking about the experience of watching a music video signed at me with the sound off. I kinda like it. It really foregrounds and emphasizes the multimodality and multiliteracy of the translation from Brit-squeak into ASL. (And it doesn’t hurt when the signer is awfully cute!)

Third, here’s a video courtesy of Joe.My.God, of a cover of Katie Perry’s song, “I Kissed a Girl.” There have been lots of covers of this song, some better than others, and some pretty deeply problematic. But this cover is from out gay Israeli singer, Ivri Lider.


Interestingly, by keeping the lyrics exactly the same, Lider signals his queerness while singing about kissing a girl. I liked the way the dynamic plays here.

I also liked the musical styling Lider brings. He ditches the popiness and frivolity, preferring a more heartfelt, confused affect. The setting was also awesome. I especially liked watching that last couple of guys, and then understanding the sleaziness of the video’s ending. Bringing all of these elements together in the music video transforms the Perry song into something else entirely. It’s no longer… frivolous.

Finally, check out Alison Bechdel’s review of Jane Vandenburgh’s A Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century: A Memoir in this weekend’s New York Times Book Review. Bechdel is an artist and cartoonist, and so composes the review in a milieu that makes sense to her. Highly recommended.


Categories: Literacy, Media
  1. coeurlion
    April 1, 2009 at 5:52 pm | #1

    With regard to the “I Kissed A Girl” video, I must say that as a hospital employee I was favorably (but not totally) impressed with the hand-hygiene technique on display in the unisex bathroom. Now, if we can just get them to use condoms . . . .

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