The Ramifications of Remix Culture: A Brief History of the Fan Edit

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Backstroke Of The West Star Wars Fan Edit

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay about the weird world of fan edits


“Fan activist movements” don’t have a spectacular reputation. They tend to smart of a certain kind of entitlement that can careen dangerously into toxic behaviors. Notably: that now-parodied cry of “release the [whatever] cut.”

It’s a nice change of pace to approach the phenomenon of fan culture with a more optimistic outlook. The internet, coupled with advances in accessible editing software, has empowered fan communities to create and distribute their own “cuts” of existing films like never before.

The video essay below identifies three distinct flavors of fan edits:

  1. experiments that remix content into a new experience, a la The Planet of the Apes re-imagined as an episode of The Twilight Zone
  2. re-cuts born out of dissatisfaction that set out to fix flaws and right wrongs — the Star Wars: Episode I re-hash The Phantom Edit is one of the most popular examples
  3. fan-backed restorations, like The Recobbled Cut, Garrett Gilchrist‘s painstaking re-assembly of the infamously troubled animated film The Thief and the Cobbler.

Fan edits raise many of the same problems as directors’ cuts. Perhaps most pointedly: what does it mean for art to be in a constant state of flux? But at the same time, audience-powered edits have the potential to exemplify fan culture at its best. Harmy’s Despecialized Edition, a fan-created preservation copy of the original Star Wars trilogy free from George Lucas‘ retroactive digital tampering, is a genuinely marvelous example of this.

Suffice to say, fan edits aren’t going anywhere. And as more sophisticated software becomes more available, they’re likely to only become bigger and bigger in scope.

Watch “the bizarre world of fan edits and restorations“:

Who made this?

This video on fan edits is by Andrew Saladino, who runs the Texas-based Royal Ocean Film Society. You can browse their back catalog of videos on their Vimeo account here. If Vimeo isn’t your speed, you can give them a follow on YouTube here.

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