On the Prowl

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Title: On the Prowl
Creator: sisabet and sweetestdrain
Date: 2010
Format: digital vid
Length: 3:37 minutes
Music: "On the Prowl" by Lydia Lunch
Fandom: multiple fandoms
Footage: Twilight: New Moon, Memento, I, Robot, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, The Saltan Sea, Starsky & Hutch, Quantum Leap, American Psycho, Doctor Who, The Outsiders, Supernatural, Point Break, Man on Fire, Smallville, Merlin, The Matrix: Revolutions, Say Anything, The Boondock Saints, Burn Notice, Casino Royale, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Terminator, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Farscape, Lethal Weapon, Bones, Heroes, The X-Files, Fight Club, Sherlock Holmes, Life on Mars, Blade Runner, 12 Monkeys, Terminator: Salvation, The Covenant, The Crow, Star Trek: Reboot, Due South, Roadhouse, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Firefly, The Vampire Diaries, Lost, Legend of the Seeker, True Blood, Torchwood, Angel: The Series, The Empire Strikes Back, The Davinci Code, Dexter, Wise Guy, Die Hard, Spiderman, The Princess Bride, Criminal Minds, Stargate: Atlantis, Near Dark, China Beach, Star Trek: Next Generation, Carnivale, Invisible Man, Wolverine: Origins, Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark
URL: On the Prowl (LiveJournal)
streaming at the Internet Archive
Screencap from "On the Prowl" showing man being tortured. See gallery below for more sample images

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On the Prowl is a multifandom vid by sisabet and sweetestdrain made for Vividcon's 2010 Challenge show "Self Portrait".

The vid is a meta commentary on both media fandom as well as vidders who celebrate media fandom and our fascination with hurt/comfort fan fiction and images. The vid's slow build from "sexy" scenes of naked or semi-naked men fighting to more and more graphic portrayals of violence and torture (always involving men) asks the viewer to examine their own fascination with sex and violence. As the singer's voice is female (and she is singing about her sexual fantasies with men), the vid's subtext is one that challenges female viewers to examine themselves and their motivations (aka a "Self Portrait").

Sweetestdrain has blogged about The Making of "On the Prowl":"[1]"Structurally, we set a few rules for ourselves. a) No dead bodies. We decided that was too much of a line even for us. (We also didn't castrate anyone! But that was more incidental.) b) No blood spilt before a certain point in the vid (1:08) -- everything before that can bruise but not break the skin. c) Must hold off on the full-on torture until 2/3rds of the way through the vid. We only broke c), and that was due to me getting a little overenthusiastic when it was my turn at the timeline."

One viewer commented: "Maybe the most provocative vid of the convention was this one, which was a "Self Portrait" in the challenge show on the final day. It's something that I feel has needed saying about fandom for a long time, and I'm equally surprised and relieved that someone has said it... and said it this effectively. Bring a strong stomach."[2]


I love fandom, but people seem to jump on fetishizing of women and violence and call it out (which they should, because it's creepy and uberwrong), while maintaining a blindspot to how fandom sometimes turns around and does the exact same thing to men.[3]

Masterful structure in this vid. It starts as general lasciviousness, goes into kinks, and ends with a brutally honest mirror showing how far fangirls ask their fandoms to go to amuse themselves. Genius vid.[4]

...I admit I don’t have a lot to say about this [vid] because it is SO VERY FAR from my conception of fandom or what I like to watch in vids. I think it should be included because much of the response to it discussed it as a vid about “what we do” as fans and what we focus on. Interestingly, the critical readings of it that I saw tended to focus more on whether we were somehow fetishizing male pain in a problematic way, and whether we shouldn’t be as concerned with the suffering of male characters as we often are with women, in short, whether this wasn’t like “Women's Work” with male characters (see beccatoria’s post here for an excellent response to this). And yet, my question when I watched it was, again, where are the women? Of course, they are at the keyboard and the mouse again, making the vids and writing the fic, but they are not in the stories.[5]

I think the reaction to the vid said as much about fandom as the vid itself did. Some people couldn't watch, some people had trouble watching but were still turned on the most of the time, and some people admitted to enjoying all of it in a sexual way. I find it interesting how so many people are able to *detach* themselves from the suffering of male characters and see it more analytically - more as an observer - and rationalize it until it's OK. That certainly doesn't seem to be the case with the suffering of female characters.[6]

In general I've felt the overall tone of fandom-wide discussion has presented this vid as: 1) a socially important issue that we need to examine and that shows a need for self-examination. 2) an Important Vid that You need to watch even though it will be Uncomfortable; essentially, a vid that comments on fandom; an equation of people for whom this vid does function as a portrait with fandom at large. I have a few issues with this. All of which tie in with some issues I have with fandom and its attitudes to gender generally....I do not think the arguments about what this says about the unfair treatment of men by the media/fandom hold water (Read the full text here).[7]

When I first watched the vid, I noted precisely where the vid turned from sexy to horrific (if you're interested it was at the Shapeshifter Dean and then the fingernail scene) and from that point forward I couldn't get back into the 'hot sexy men yum' head space. What is disturbing is that on the second and third viewing, that 'flip the switch' moment kept moving further and further back. So to me, the vid is not so much a gender debate, but a debate on how repeated exposure to images of violence, whether against men or women, can desensitize you. In the end, the consumer/voyeur is always left 'wanting more.'.[8]

This vid was done for the Vividcon Self Portrait challenge and while it's a self portrait of the vidders, I also think it works amazingly well as a portrait of slash fandom. We love our hot guys, but we love to hurt them even more. Warnings, I actually leave this vid feeling disturbed and a little sick each time (and I admit to covering my eyes at times). But that's part of what makes it so good![9]

It's a tough vid. Difficult to watch, particularly the later scenes. But I think it says interesting things about us as fans. Certainly I recognise some of my own desires in it. It's a self portrait of two vidders, but it resonates with a lot of fandom at large. And it looks at what we want from our favourite characters, what we want to put them through and where we each as individuals draw our lines.[10]


Gallery of screencaps showing the progression from sexy to violent. Many of the images in the vid are more sexually explicit and more graphically violent than the ones included below.


  1. ^ WebCite for "The Making of "On the Prowl".
  2. ^ bradcpu's VVC 2010 Vid Recs Part 1 , dated August 11, 2010; WebCite.
  3. ^ mresundance in bradcpu's VVC 2010 Vid Recs Part 1, dated August 11, 2010; WebCite.
  4. ^ mlyn's Vid Recs!, dated August 9, 2010; WebCite for mlyn's Vid Recs!
  5. ^ chaila in Vids about fandom: How we interact vs. what we say, dated July 29, 2011.
  6. ^ bradcpu's VVC 2010 Vid Recs Part 1, dated August 11, 2010; WebCite.
  7. ^ beccatoria in Thoughts on "On the Prowl" VVC vid and wider fandom, dated August 24, 2011; WebCite.
  8. ^ Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed November 22, 2011. See also this comment echoing the same 'flip the switch' point in sisabet's vid announcement, dated October 10, 2010.
  9. ^ "Vid Recs, Jan 4 2011 Livejournal post". Archived from the original on 2022-12-11.
  10. ^ "This week I 'ave been mostly eatin' ... fish, Jan 8 2011 Livejournal post". Archived from the original on 2022-12-11.
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