In the Eye

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Title: In the Eye
Creator: Judy Chien
Date: 1989
Format: VCR
Music: "In the Eye" by Suzanne Vega
Fandom: Wiseguy

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In the Eye is an early Wiseguy Vinnie and Sonny vid. It is by Judy Chien, and it was her first vid.

Fan Reactions

In the Eye was an amazing vid. It was years before its time in both its storytelling and its control of movement. If recut today, it could easily be assumed to be a new vid. [1]

From a 2012 Interview

Judy Chien talks about this vid extensively in Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Judy Chien conducted by Franzeska Dickson. Some excerpts are below:

"In the Eye" was the first fanvid I ever made. It was – this is why people, then, only did vids if they were crazy- obsessed with the show, because the amount of detailed work that took. You know, it would take me sometimes six hours to get one cut right. But the thing is, because of the way you did vids then, where you had to add on to the same tape all the time, you couldn't go back, which meant that you, if you did anything wrong, you had to redo it from the start. So, this is why the audio tape on the song stretched, and therefore, when people tried to reconstitute it with digital media, it didn't work. Because the song, as I did it, is not the same speed as the song that it actually is.
People have told me that [that vid looked and felt very modern]. Well, and once again, well, once again because I have been talking to her earlier, I don't like to say, "Oh, my vids were really good!", but I mean, they were, actually, I thought, pretty good. I mean, I was very much of a stickler for timing. And making sure that every scene meant something, both visually and, in, contextually. I mean, there isn't a scene in either of those vids that didn't have both a meaning you could get without seeing the show, and a meaning that came from seeing the show. Now, whether I was clear about some of this stuff is another matter entirely. But in my head, it made sense both ways, so, so that's actually one of the reasons I'm an extremely non-prolific vidder. Also, I kind of find that when I made a vid, then that is what I had to say about that storyline.
I had some friends, hopefully still have them [laughter] in Philadelphia, where I lived at the time, the "Bunnies from Hell"... Patricia had been making videos herself, never to show, but, you know, or had worked on them. And she wanted, had, oh, I think about four that she wanted to show, and I can't remember what any of them were, so, I'm a bad friend.
and I said, see, this vid, that's the only vid I that was not made specifically to be shown at MediaWest because I'm lazy, and need a deadline to motivate me.

But this vid, "In the Eye", just in the middle of nowhere, right, like, several months after the arc, the Sonny arc, was over. I was just like, I heard this song, and I was like, I could totally see visually how that would work out. I mean, the whole end scene and they repeat, "in the eye", and they're looking at each other in the eye. And I thought, "I can totally do this," and took two solid weeks, virtually ignoring my schoolwork and everything. I was in grad school at the time [laughter]. And, ah, you know, and then I was very happy with it. And I had no one to show it to. [laughter] I mean, I did have a friend, Camille, Camille Bacon-Smith, who will probably not mind having her name on here [laughter], you know, she also liked Wiseguy, in fact, she's the person who told me I should watch the show. So, I showed it to her, and she thought it was great, because, it was it. It was all of Wiseguy fandom, that video. It was the only thing that had ever been produced.

So, and actually, I took it to, I think, Weekend in the Country, I think it was Weekend in the Country, which was, I think, a slash con, but it was a con, and it was, you know, nearby. It was in Baltimore, which is where I later moved to, but at that time I was still in Philadelphia, but it was close. And, ah, no, can't have been a slash con, because the person I'm going about to talk to was not a slash fan. But somebody who was in to Cannell shows. ... Elizabeth wrote a Remington Steele thing, and some other Cannell fiction. And I heard that she liked Cannell shows, and we'd talked about Cannell shows, and she said, "Oh, I like Wiseguy," and I said, "I am going to show you this video." So we took her up to the room, and I'm like, "You are the first fan that I don't know that I have shown this to," and I showed it to her, and after it was over she just gave me a slow clap and said, "That the best thing I ever saw!" which is of course, because she's in to Wiseguy, of course, at that point, it was the best thing she'd ever saw, because when you are in to something, it's way better than it actually is.
Judy Chien: My videos tended to be very story-based, very this-one-arc –of-a-story. I mean, I tend to think of them as more, well, unless they were jokes. [laughter] Very plot-based. So, um, with a narrative starting from the beginning to end. As opposed to, more, a lot of people do the more kaleidoscopic, or sort of like, just, visual image videos. Particularly at the time, where there wasn't really a story to follow, just an emotion to follow, basically.

Franzeska Dickson: Well, we also talked earlier about how a couple of your vids look like they potentially have some homoerotic subtext, but really, but really, that's just coming from the canon.

JC: That's coming from the canon!

FD: And you are doing very canon-based -

JC: Yes.

FD: Not pairing vids that are about the pairing, but a vid that was about that part of the canon.

JC: It was a vid about Sonny and Vinnie, and their relationship was, which was very intense on the show, and therefore was meant to be in the video. But at the time, it didn't even occur to me with that vid that anyone would think it was slash. Because I wasn't actually thinking about other people watching it. I was only making it because I wanted to make it. Because I knew there was no audience for it. So at that point Patricia hadn't decided to show vids at MediaWest. I'd been to MediaWest. The first MediaWest I'd been to was '87, which was an accident, because I was, some friends of mine were going to see Gareth Thomas, start of Blake's 7, in some Shakespeare plays in Toronto. And, well, actually, they weren't friends of mine. They were total strangers, but a friend of mine told me that they were doing this, and I said, that would be neat. I was in to Blake's 7 at the time, I was originally a Dr Who fan, and I'd like to see Shakespeare plays, and they said, "Yeah, then we're also going to MediaWest afterwards," which I'd never heard of, and I said - "Guess I'll do that too, 'cause I'll be in the car with you." So, um, and then when I came to MediaWest, it was like, you know, Disneyland for fans. You know, at that point, every door decorated, ah, everybody so welcoming, people talking about things I was interested in, and saw my first big music video. That's actually why I knew what music videos were. I actually went to a music video panel, people telling you how to make them, and they told me all this technical detail which meant nothing to me, because my machine was nothing like theirs. And I never used any of their technical information, but they gave some stylistic advice, which I kept in mind, and ignored. But I would keep it in mind and knew I was ignoring it. Which was, things like, because they were making very much for their audience. I mean, they were trying to please people, whereas I am selfish, and was only interested in what I wanted to see. They would say, "You want to make it accessible to the audience by either making the song familiar, or the fandom familiar, but if you do both, then it's too run-of-the-mill. You know, try and make an unfamiliar song; you know, try and do something unexpected." Which then I immediately did: Wiseguy, a fandom nobody had ever seen, and "In the Eye", by Suzanne Vega, a song which nobody had ever heard of. [laughter]


  1. ^ Sandy Hereld, quoted with permission