NOTES: Origins and Context | See Also
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Origins of this content
This texteo sits on the Fred Fan Rant hidden YouTour so as to be simultaneously "published" in a special issue on fan/remix video at Transformative Works and Culture. It is extracted and refined from a talk presented at the UCSD symposium, Youth Media, Sensory Ability and Visual Culture, 2010.
Media literacy "is the ability to sift through and analyze the messages that inform, entertain and sell to us every day. It's the ability to bring critical thinking skills to bear on all media ... Media education encourages a probing approach to the world of media: Who is this message intended for? Who wants to reach this audience, and why? From whose perspective is this story told? Whose voices are heard, and whose are absent?"[cit]

According to Virginia Heffernan: "Rant videos can be seen as borrowing conventions from their 17th-century antecedents. Jonathan Field, a professor at Clemson, also cited a 1654 description of the Ranters, a much-feared array of hothead heretics in England: 'their letters and discourses being nothing else but a confused, senseless, prophane Scripture, madly made up of impious flatteries, impious kindnesses, and atheistical curses, oaths, and ranting imprecations in the same breath, or line.'"[cit]
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More videos related to the content of this page
Fred Rant

In Convergence Culture, Henry Jenkins devotes a chapter to youth media literacy by way of Harry Potter. He suggests that empowering moments of media convergence happen in this fan culture because a value placed on education is part of the text they play with and because these fans participate in and give quality feedback on each other's writing, ultimately creating an affinity space where an "educational scaffolding" can take place. Their ideas and interpretations build and improve through dialogue. He explains that other skills for convergence can be readily found in many fan cultures including: the pooling of ideas to create collaborative knowledge, the sharing and comparing of value systems, making connections across scattered information, the exposing of interpretations and feelings, and the circulating of all this.

While ready circulation has been irrevocably enabled by new technologies like YouTube, without the other conditions Jenkins lists (like a value on education, the possibilities for productive feedback, a structure for the sharing of values, interpretations and feelings) what is left is failed Fred fan videos and this successful Fred Rant, which sits in a sea of juvenilia with only the self-reflexive direction and education of Fred and his fans for guidance, who, let's face it, are not very good teachers because they are still learners, kids, or faux kids. Amongst fan theorists and educators there is a mood and an ethos that prevails: kids and users can do no wrong because it's right to speak, and rant, and make. But two rights can make a wrong. It is wrong to be afraid to be critical of kids' work that is not the best it can be.

Fred's fans fail because YouTube can not be the educational or media literacy scaffolding that developing, maturing, mediamakers deserve. Fred's fans need history, theory, community, and literacy tools that include the production of an argument, an understanding of structure and style, and a commitment to something other than hating Fred. Without this, Freds's fans' videos (like most people-made product on YouTube) will remain an uninspiring, uninteresting, unproductive jumble of juvenile works that make fun of Fred motivated by jealousy and through an almost uniform project of ambivalence, or even nihilism, that refuses to know the differences between a host of critical binaries, in particular those of being mean and being nice, people that suck and those who have talent, the deserving and the undeserving, caring and not caring, losing and winning, stopping or killing and tolerating, and criticizing and copying. At least, so kairosan and I rant.