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Title: Testify
Creator: Morgan Dawn & Justine Bennett
Date: 2001
Length: 3:58original
Music: "Testify" by Melissa Ethridge
Genre: slash, m/m
Fandom: Starsky & Hutch
Footage: Starsky & Hutch and documentary footage from "The Fire Next Time"
URL: Testify at streaming version at AO3

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Testify is a Starsky & Hutch vid from the VCR-era of vidding. The vid premiered at Escapade 2001 and was later featured in Vividcon's 2004 vid show "Breaking The Rules." It was recommended and reviewed at the crack van LJ community on August 31, 2012.

Vidder's notes:

"When we made the vid, we wanted to bring a larger social context to the somewhat narrow crime fighting world of the Starsky & Hutch that most people saw on television. Starsky & Hutch did not live and work in isolation - Los Angeles has struggled with racial issues for decades and, for its time, Starsky & Hutch did attempt to incorporate some of those racial issues (as best as 1970s TV could). While the choice of the song "Testify" was not deliberately political, since both Justine and I were slash fans, we felt that it made sense to use a song that talked so powerfully about the struggle for gay rights. It spoke to Starsky & Hutch's deep love and commitment to one another that we, as slash fans, could see so clearly on the show.[note 1] I do remember, however, that some of the feedback at the time suggested we should have either focused the vid purely on political issues or purely on the slash relationship. It never occurred to us that we had to choose, but their reactions helped us understand how to better structure vids."[1]



I was lucky enough to see your new SH vid (??title??) during the "favorites" vid show on Friday night. I wasn't sure why it was shown that night when it was new since the last Connexions. I was aware it was shown at another vid show (Escapade?), but since there aren't that many people from the east coast that go to it, or had any real opportunity to see it, I was disappointed it wasn't shown at the main vid show on Saturday since, in my view anyway, it was new. (I was showing a vid I'd previewed at SHareCon, but since it was new to Connexions, I thought it appropriate to show on Saturday night. After seeing your vid on Friday, I got nervous, since god forbid I ever actually *look* at the vid show rules [are there rules? Hey, I'm lucky I even *get* to these things!], but Stacy assured me it was okay to show the SHarecon vid Saturday night.) ANYWAY...that SH vid was *incredible* Morgan! What an interesting concept! What an interesting song. (Okay, don't kill me people, I have name-dyslexia or something, I can never remember the name of *anything*.) In this stunning vid Morgan used actual news footage of (I think) the Watts riots, at the beginning of an SH vids, showing us the kind of violence and problems SH had to deal with as cops in what was, at the time, the grittiest cop show on TV with the most violence. The clips underscored a personal crisis of Hutch's who, if I remember correctly, was trying to remember just why he did this job in the first place. Morgan if this is a gross misinterpretation of your vid, please forgive me, but I got to see it only once at a time when I wasn't expecting to see it, at a moment when I was just about to do something else. I know I wanted to see that vid multiple times. It was complex and multi-layered and heart-breaking. I really loved it.[2]
I'm not and have never been a S&H fan, but I enjoyed this vid a lot. As someone said in the Escapade vid review panel it was great to have a vid that reminded the viewer the show was originally meant to be topical and contemporary in the problems it dealt with on a weekly basis, a fact that too often gets lost in amusement over wide ties and polyester suits.[3]
This vid confused me a little; it started out by placing Starsky and Hutch in the social context we tend to forget they were in, amongst all that polyester and wide ties: social change and racial prejudice and violence. (Not that those aren't still around, damn it.) I was fascinated by this, and by the vidders' intercutting of documentary, non-S&H footage. But that footage dropped out, and although that in itself wouldn't necessarily have meant a loss or change of focus, the vid's attention seemed to shift to Starsky and Hutch themselves, as a couple (sexual/romantic or otherwise). It occurs to me now, reading this and remembering what I wrote about "het" and "slash" vids, above, that perhaps this was a slash vid that would have been better if it hadn't tried to focus on the slash relationship? I don't know. I'd like to watch it again and see whether the focus did shift or drift, or whether I just didn't follow it through a perfectly reasonable narrowing or instantiation: here's the social situation, here's the guys and how they deal with it.[4]


I did manage to view another one of Morgan & Justine's S&H vids, Testify. I don't have this one anymore, but remember it sticking out because it also was very original with use of scenes other than in the series. (my copy accidently got taped over - please, i need a complete copy of your vids :-) A Hutch vid, i'm not sure of POV, but it had scenes of the LA riots and was very intense. Good job, liked this one alot.[5]


[Laura Shapiro]
[I'm] found the vid "rule-breaking" on two fronts in that in addition to the use of external source, the vid also made a political point rather than just saying something about the fannish source.[6]
Historical Footage and S&H, Outsourced Political footage? NMF[note 2] so I'm mostly confused. There's a political statement here, but I can't figure it out. Something about race or accepting everyone for whoever they are. Help. A lot.[7]
This Starsky & Hutch vid is probably one of my favorite vids ever. It's just...wow. Like most of morgandawn's S&H vids, this one is very Hutch-centric. She also includes footage from other 70s sources, giving the vid a gritty look of realism. The section around 2:57 where the music swells and then reaches its climax...amazing clip choices. I just can't say enough good things about this one. A heart-wrenching look at the 70s, the show, and our favorite White Knight.[8]


Relevant, good message of tolerance. I wish more people would see this message and whenever that no matter race, age, gender, religion, nationality or sexual orientation we're all the same with the same fears, hopes and rights. Bravo! Well done! [note 3]


I found the use of real-world news footage [in Right in Two a SPN vid], and the pain of people of color [...] horribly offensive and trivializing, and thoroughly disengaged from any understanding of the causes and consequences of violence. (I am reminded, unfortunately, of morgandawn's "Testify," a Starsky and Hutch vid in which footage of the U.S. Civil Rights movement and the use of a song associated with queer pride are used to express the stories of two white male cops.)[9]


Starsky & Hutch may be the oldest fandom to produce vids, and has a reputation for lighthearted comedy or schmoopy romantic vids. This is not one of those. Testify puts Starsky and Hutch in riot-torn Los Angeles, portraying them as two men deeply in love who were trying to do a difficult job in a prejudiced world. The vid is shown through Hutch's point of view, and we see him struggle to makes sense of this world in spite of violence, crimes, and discrimination. Through it all, Hutch keeps going, clearly because he feels he must, and because, "my love still lives and breathes..." Credits are silent; music starts suddenly at the 14-second mark...

Fans often forget that Starsky & Hutch, which was supposed to be a standard 70s cop show, transcended its genre in many ways. It was considered the most violent show of its day. In third season, under pressure, the show produced more socially relevant episodes, including "Manchild in the Streets," a stark look at what happens when a racist white cop shoots an innocent black man. At the time of the show (1975-79), Los Angeles struggled with racial issues.

Vidders Morgan Dawn and Justin Bennett, slash fans, saw S&H's partnership as evidence of two men deeply in love. They used Melissa Etheridge's song, Testify, which powerfully addressed the struggle for gay rights, to illustrate S&H's world and their conflicts in it. They interspersed clips of the show with newsreel footage of actual riots and protests to show us the real world S&H might have worked and lived in. The world they were doing their best, as honest cops, to change for the better. The same world that forced them to keep their love for each other behind closed doors.

Premiering in 2001, this is a classic vid from the tape era, and station "bugs" can be seen in many of the clips. So, as you admire the timing and selection of clips, remember that this was not done with computers, but with two VCRs. It makes the resulting vid all the more amazing, in my opinion.[10]


  1. ^ "To clarify this part - as slash fans we saw Starsky & Hutch as gay closeted cops working on the Los Angeles police force in the 1970s. And they loved each other very very much."
  2. ^ Waldo explain: NMF [...] means Not My Fandom. I may know the characters and the basics of the plot (and then again, I may have no clue at all), but it's never been a fandom I've been gung ho about. Which means that even more than normal, everything I say should be taken with a grain of salt. Odds are good that something that confused me was simply context dependant and I had no context. Feel free to explain it to me.
  3. ^ Personal feedback from an European fan. From Morgan Dawn's notes (2006)


  1. ^ Morgan Dawn's personal notes, accessed November 24, 2011.
  2. ^ Flamingo's comment at VenicePlace, quoted with permission (April 17, 2001)
  3. ^ lapillus's comment at Vidding mailing list (March 2001)
  4. ^ Shoshanna's comment at Vidding mailing list (March 2001)
  5. ^ quoted anonymously's comment from Yahoo Vidder Group (June 3, 2002)
  6. ^ from Morgan Dawn's personal notes (June 2004)
  7. ^ thefannishwaldo (2004-06-02). "MediaWest Gen Show Review". LiveJournal. Archived from the original on 2012-12-09.
  8. ^ castalianspring (2004-05-18). "Favorite vid links". LiveJournal. Archived from the original on 2012-12-06.
  9. ^ thuviaptarth (2009-08-20). "VVC09: Problematic vids". Dreamwidth. Archived from the original on 2010-08-13.
  10. ^ flamingoslim at crack_van (2012-08-31). "VID REC: Starsky & Hutch - Testify". LiveJournal. Archived from the original on 2012-12-25.