Closer (Star Trek vid)

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Vid
Title: Closer
Creator: TJonesy and Killa
Date: 2004
Format: digital vid
Length: 3:28 minutes
Music: Closer by Nine Inch Nails
Genre: constructed reality, slash
Fandom: Star Trek: The Original Series
Footage: ST:TOS, unidentified porn
URL: Closer on Youtube
screnshot of the viral youtube version of the vid

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Closer, by TJonesy and Killa, is a Star Trek K/S vid about Pon Farr that asks, What if they hadn't made it to Vulcan in time? Closer was shown for the first time at 2004's Shore Leave, a Star Trek convention,[1] went viral in 2006[2] and was discussed extensively online as an example of context collapse.[3][4][5][6]

Closer was shown for the first time at 2004's Shore Leave, a Star Trek convention. It also appeared on the WOAD Society DVD in 2004. The vidders offered the following liner notes:

"T. Jonesy: I always thought this was the perfect Pon Farr song (don’tcha just love how the fan mind works?) Of course, I thought this was a very original idea at the time. I had no idea that every fandom has its “Closer” vid. All the cool visual effects and transitions are due to Killa’s tenacious assault on Final Cut Pro. It’s amazing what you can make a program do if you’re utterly brilliant. Originally we were going to end this with Spock killing Kirk on the sands of Vulcan like he did in the series, but when we started capturing stuff, I was looking at a sequence from an episode where Kirk almost rapes somebody and there were these shots of him skulking down corridors with a bleeding face and hand. If you look at the images out of context, it looks like Kirk’s actually the victim. I called Killa, and said “you know what? I think we can actually do a full on rape here.” So we did. Whee! Killa: T. Jonesy is sick and twisted. And it’s contagious. Oh, yeah, and we ripped off the credits from Seven, too."

In 2012, the vid was selected by the OTW to be part of its Test Suite of Fair Use Vids before the Library of Congress.[7]

The Vid Itself

The vid presents an alternate version of a favorite TOS episode, "Amok Time," the episode that introduced the concept of pon farr. In the vid, Spock enters plak tow (the final stage of pon farr) while still on board the Enterprise and subsequently rapes Kirk. The vid is not only set to the Nine Inch Nails song "Closer", but replicates the sepia tones of the original NIN music video. The combined effect of clip selection, music choice, and color filter creates a sharp contrast to the cheery, cheesy look of the television show.

Going Viral

When the vid was uploaded to YouTube by a third party[8], its origins in the vidding tradition were not apparent to most of the viewers. As a result, some of the commentary that was posted about the vid in nonfannish circles was wildly different from how the vid was interpreted by vidding fans. Yet, it was tremendously popular among fans and non-fans alike. By June 2012 the two copies of the vid that were uploaded on YouTube had more than 2,153,000 views, close to 13000 ratings and almost 5500 comments combined.[2][9]

Inspired Works

The vid also inspired fans who understood its context perfectly well. Closer v.2 is a remake and response using footage of Kirk and Spock from the 2009 movie.[10] Uploaded by its creator instead of a third party, it not only explains its background and links to the creator's fanfic but also credits other vidders by name. The vidder summarized it as "A remake of the classic original" (apparently referring to the original Closer vid but equally applicable to the two sources).

The video blog The Ship's Closet reportedly used the song Closer in the opening of its episode on Amok Time, and the vid has reportedly been featured on Fandom Secrets.[11]

A fan in 2012 wrote the story Shame as a response to this vid.

In the 2016 documentary "For the Love of Spock", excerpts from this vid are used in the section discussing the prevalence of K/S slash in the online Star Trek community.

Reactions and Reviews

Also see Meta Further Reading.

Many bloggers and others online discussed or were linked to the vid without understanding its original context. Youtube comments show a wide range of reactions, from links to the wikipedia article on slash to assuming the vidders were male mashup artists to revulsion or amusement. The vid has been uploaded to youtube at least twice and is famous enough that people joke about it being shown to The Powers That Be as well:
The most famous fanvid ever is a Spock/Kirk video set to Nine Inch Nails' Closer, based on the Star Trek episode Amok Time. This video has obtained widespread mainstream acceptance and is now largely regarded as canon. It was screened during the 2008 Star Trek convention in Las Vegas, with running commentary provided by William Shatner. [12]
Other comments displayed much more fandom knowledge, though often not an awareness that the vidders hadn't posted the vid or that posting another person's vids to youtube might be frowned upon in parts of fandom:
Wow. This video lives up to its reputation. The people at Slashcast ALWAYS talk about this vid. [13]
And:
To T.Jonesy and Killa, if you ever see this: I'm so jealous-- not only can you both write phenomenally, but you're AMAZING vidders as well! Love the cuts, the sepia coloring, everything. This just has such a gritty, animalistic feel to it, which is definitely a change from the customary K/S vids. You guys are fantastic. <3[14]

2003

This one uses the same Nine Inch Nails song as the previous Closer vid. The premise: "What if Spock hadn't gotten back to Vulcan in time [in reference to the pon farr episode]?" I think my reaction to this vid was less personal only because I know Angel and Spike better. However, the abject awe and wonder I felt at Killashandra's and T. Jonesy's technical accomplishments were in no way lessened by my lack of familiarity with the source, because I think on an objective level the re-writing of the original episode's outcome can be appreciated whether you're a TOS fan or not. I mean, hello, one does not get away with just cutting clips of Kirk and Spock to a song like this, you know?

Thankfully, both source and song were in the hands of two tremendously talented vidders. The result? Absolute genius. The coloration of the entire vid in sepia tones is truly inspired -- I don't know where the idea came from (though it's reminiscent of the NIN music video, especially with the blurring and quick-cut effects) but it's such a brilliant technique. It gives the vid an ominous, slightly sinister feel from the outset: you know you're in an alternate universe, and you know that here, anything can happen. The deep creepiness of the song, coupled with the re-contextualized images of Spock's madness and pursuit of Kirk, and Kirk's disturbed reactions to being Spock's sexual prey, all fuse together to create an experience of almost unbearable tension and fear.[15]

2006

... the folks who see the Closer vid on YouTube might not be "fannish" per se, as we have come to understand it, but I defy you to tell me the difference between a fannish person watching a slashy video and enjoying it, and a "non-fannish" person watching a slashy video and enjoying it. At that moment, they're just as fannish as we are -- it's not that they've intruded into fandom, it's that fandom extruded to become big enough to hold the whole world in its hands. [16]

I really dislike a lot of the arguments that assume that the people who posted Closer to youtube or the people who watched it there or elsewhere aren't fans.

Not Closer, but the first of Killa's vids that got youtubed, the Monty Python one? I saw that linked to several times by fannish people on my flist who had no idea that it was a fanvid posted without permission of the vidder and not just any random funny vid found on youtube. And these are fans I'm talking about, but they're single-fandom fans for the most part, with small discrete friendslists and not a lot of interest in vidding or in the more general multifandom spaces.

And actually that whole experience had me thinking about what the difference really is between something like Closer and say all those Brokeback whatever vids that were going around for a while. Is it just a question of who made them? One's a fanvid because it was made within the vid community and thus should be treated by the standards of that community and thus not uploaded without vidder permission, etc, etc and one is a humor/youtube video and should be treated by the standards of that community which is a general anything goes attitude of viral distribution?

And actually I think that's where the heart of the issue lies. Fandom has been around doing this vid thing for a long time and we've evolved certain etiquette and standards of behavior, but first the influx of feral vidders and then youtube have brought in a massive influx of people creating vids completely outside that fannish framework, and they've developed their own standards and etiquette (or lack thereof) and there really isn't a way to make the new feral majority conform to the older model even if that older model is more polite and also more legally and ethically conscientious. [17]

I defy you to tell me the difference between a fannish person watching a slashy video and enjoying it, and a "non-fannish" person watching a slashy video and enjoying it.

The first thing that came to mind for me when I read this: some viewers reactions to the vid may be laughter/derision, some may immediately flame the vidders or people who enjoyed the vid, because they find flaming to be a fun hobby. Some may react by going out to purchase the shiny DVD sets of ST:TOS... and some may go out looking for other fan-made vids or K/S fic for the first time in their lives, and some may write K/S for the first time in their lives, or learn to vid.

I'd call the first two reactions non-fannish/nonconstructive reactions (though I wish I had better words to describe those behaviors), the middle one fannish, and the latter ones fannish-participatory.

I think. [18]
This is probably the most unusual and also perhaps the most disturbing vid you will ever see. Subtitled 'What if they hadn’t made it to Vulcan in time?' Closer tells the story of Spock’s pon farr. This time, however, there is no happy ending. Spock wants Kirk, and there is very little rationality left in him to control his desires. Watching the vid yet again for the purposes of this review, I was reminded of the Mirror Spock, although the action takes place in the mainline universe. Just as we see glimpses of our Spock in the Mirror one, so do we see flashes of the Mirror Spock here. Perhaps they are not so dissimilar as we might think. Or hope. Besides its subject matter, the vid is different in a number of other ways. First, it is shot in sepia tones, a brilliant choice that serves to unify all the images and make them flow together in a coherent manner. Second, while most vids limit themselves to scenes captured from the episodes or movies only, Closer adds a couple of additional scenes—hands stroking torsos, bodies thrusting against each other—that “flesh” out (sorry) the story even further, and are images of Spock’s desires. The scenes of Kirk running and Spock stalking him are chilling, and extra horror is added when we are brought into Spock’s head and get to see his visions of domination and bondage of Kirk. We don’t see the actual rape, but we know it has occurred. Even worse, we get to see its aftermath. This is just an extraordinary piece of work, and there is no one other than T. Jonesy and Killa who could have brought it to us. [19]

2007

Everyone, everywhere in the vidding fandom, and many people who aren't, have recced this vid already and here I am doing so again. Why? It represents the ultimate triumph of vidding over source text. While I intend to remain firmly an agnostic on the whole Kirk/Spock question, I will mention the lovely sepia tones and the aged filmstock look. There is something very thrilling about the way this vid reconciles all these seemingly disparate elements (Star Trek to a Nine Inch Nails track? I mean, really...) and melds them into one seamless and very disturbing whole. [20]

Meta/Further Reading

References

  1. OTW. Test Suite of Fair Use Vids (Accessed 29 July 2010)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Star Trek + Nine Inch Nails = Closer, posted by alexanderadb on 8 Spetember 2006. (Accessed 12 June 2012)
  3. Kirk/Spock slash music video boingboing, September 11, 2006 (Accessed 18 October, 2008)
  4. Jim! — Spock!— I Want To Feel You From the Inside!, Archived version at Susie Bright's Journal]. Posted September 11, 2006. (Accessed 24 December, 2011.)
  5. Henry Jenkins. How to Watch a Fan-Vid, September 18, 2006 -- Jenkins says, "'Closer,' like other fanvids, was constructed as part of a conversation which the fan artists were having with the original text, with its authors, with other fans, and with themselves, whereas the video as seen outside of this context seems singular and unique. Or conversely, the video is read symptomatically -- as speaking for all Star Trek fans when in fact, it borrows in some ways and breaks in others from the norms of this community."
  6. Coppa, Francesca. 2008. Women, Star Trek, and the early development of fannish vidding. Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 1. Coppa briefly discusses a music critic's misinterpretation of the vid as an example of music criticism.
  7. Test Suite, accessed November 9, 2012.
  8. Reposting an entertaining video clip made by someone else is common in the YouTube community, but is frowned upon in the vidding community.[1]
  9. Closer (Fan Video), posted by eetstomoch on 1 August 2006. (Accessed 12 June 2012) This version was actually posted a month earlier, but was not played nearly as many times as the "Star Trek + Nine Inch Nails = Closer" upload (479,430 times vs. 1,673,776 times).
  10. Closer v.2 by sparringett on youtube. Posted May 23, 2009. (Accessed December 24, 2011.)
  11. From a youtube comment posted in 2009. (Accessed December 24, 2011.)
  12. Fanfiction article on Cracked.com. (Accessed December 24, 2011.) The comment refers to a real con. It's unclear if Shatner actually made an appearance that year or whether anyone would have shown slash vids there, but some fans have taken Cracked.com's humor at face value as indicated in the comments on the youtube copies of the vid.
  13. Comment from MidnaRules2. Posted in 2009. (Accessed December 24, 2011.)
  14. Comment by aidennestorm. Posted in 2009. (Accessed December 24, 2011.)
  15. on vids: hesychasm, Archived version (December 28, 2003)
  16. comment by iamsab at First they came for the hackers. (September 2006)
  17. comment by fairestcat at First they came for the hackers. (September 2006)
  18. comment by elke tanzer at First they came for the hackers. (September 2006)
  19. from a fan in The K/S Press #122 (2006)
  20. Desert Island Vid Meme, emily shore, April 2, 2007