While queer representation in mainstream television is increasing, queer teens remain in a marginal space in screen culture. Often limited to a coming out story, queer characters are typically depicted as sidekicks rather than protagonists. New screen technologies, however, offer new spaces for queer representation. This article will argue that queer teens, unable to find adequate and in depth representations of their identities on television, have moved to the mashup with the advent of new screen technologies. Mashup videos are commonly found on the internet, and reuse footage from film and television in a different context, placing their makers in both the role of fan and filmmaker. In their appropriation of archived footage of queer identities, the users who create mashups embed the footage with new meaning; holding on to, collecting and storing representations that are typically characterised by transience. However, this preservation is disrupted by the ephemeral nature of the websites and online platforms such as YouTube because they are repeatedly erased when they are updated, or taken down as a result of corporate control and copyright enforcement. An analysis of these mashups is therefore highly significant, in that it explores the contemporary yet fleeting creations and reimaginings of queer identities on screen.

While queer teens have long occupied a marginal place in screen culture, recent technological developments have created an expanse of new spaces for representation. No longer limited to the traditional screens of the cinema and television, gender and sexual diversity now seems to be represented abundantly via online platforms. Investigating a series of queer-themed mash up videos sourced from YouTube, this article illuminates how the practices of the fan-led archive can shed new light on personal investment in queer representation. Reading several mashup videos through Ann Cvetkovich’s “archives of feeling”, this article draws attention to the creator’s desire to hold on to those fleeing moments of screen queerness. Within this article, mashup videos are thus positioned as a means of archiving queer ephemerality.

Queer Teens, Queer Screens

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted more from teen film and television. Combining affect-driven adolescent drama with cutting social criticism, the teen genre produces some of the most interesting and topical screen texts in the current media landscape. As Caralyn Bolte has argued, the teen genre centralises the conflicts of everyday life, providing a unique perspective on the world and functioning as a “means to interrogate contemporary cultural ideologies”.1 Television studies scholar Glyn Davis articulates a similar view when he argues that the teen genre holds “great promise” for screening “lives, desires and issues that are often ignored, stymied or cursorily treated by television (and other media).”2 But for me, the teen genre is marred by its noticeable lack of queer representation.

It is worth considering this in more detail. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) regularly conducts research on queer TV culture. Their annual Where We Are on TV Report provides one of the most comprehensive content analyses of the state of queer representation on television. Though focusing on a North American context, their reports for the past decade have found that queer representation is increasing – that approximately 3–4 per cent of regular/recurring characters on broadcast primetime television are explicitly identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual, and that cable and streaming series contain more LGBT representations, but that trans and gender diverse characters remain rarities within the contemporary media landscape3.

It is not surprising to discover that queer adolescent characters make up only a small fraction of these numbers because, historically, televisual representations of queer sexuality have been limited to adult characters. For instance, while representations of gender and sexual diversity have increased from the 1970s onwards, there were only four major queer adolescent characters on U.S. network television between 1980 and 2000.4 This is discussed at length in Ron Becker’s Gay TV, Steven Capsuto’s Alternate Channels, Samuel Chambers’ The Queer Politics of Television, Larry Gross’ Up From Invisibility and Stephen Tropiano’s The Primetime Closet, all of which have traced developments in televisual representations of sexual and gender diversity.5

Queer cinema is a little more difficult to comment on as it is less often subject to the same type of systematic content analysis as television. In addition to this, many queer films are independently produced and distributed, achieving brief festival release and generating little critical buzz afterwards. Of course, adding to this is the fact that the term “queer cinema” has multiple meanings. A film’s queerness could arise from its content and/or authorship and/or spectatorship.

Since 2013, GLAAD has reported on the quality and diversity of LGBT representation in mainstream cinema. Their 2015 Studio Responsibility Index found that 17.5 per cent of films released by the major U.S. studios (Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, Sony Columbia Pictures and The Walt Disney Studio) included characters that were identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, but that the majority of these were minor characters or cameos.6 As with television, queer youth make up only a small fraction of these figures. Rebecca Beirne’s study of representation in international lesbian cinema also reflects this. Writing in 2012, Beirne identifies an increasing volume of queer films while simultaneously pointing to the marginality of youth representation. Despite noting clear increases in cinematic representation, Beirne only locates 27 feature films focusing on same-sex attracted female adolescents in the period spanning 1931-2007.7

By all accounts, when queerness is depicted via either film or television it is made visible through narrow stereotypes and brief storylines. Queer characters are typically depicted as sidekicks rather than protagonists, and in series such as Degrassi Junior High (1987–1989), Dawson’s Creek (1998–2003), The OC (2003–2007), One Tree Hill (2003–2012) and Neighbours (1985–present), they are introduced as an issue to be dealt with and are forgotten soon after. These characters operate almost exclusively within the coming-out narrative, a mode that represents little of gay life beyond the confessional climax.8 Historically, such characters have been written out of their respective series at the conclusion of their storylines.

In other examples, queer romances are nostalgically remembered, but long lost as in the “memorial mode of representation” discussed in Fran Martin’s Backward Glances: Contemporary Chinese Cultures and the Female Homoerotic Imaginary.9 In this mode, queerness is accessed via memory and can only ever exist in the past. When queer desire does exist in the narrative present, as in films such as Cruel Intentions (Roger Kumble, 1999), it is represented as part of an experiment or “phase”, where same-sex desire is positioned as “just practise” for heterosexual desire. In other cases, it is a product of youthful rebellion and fuelled by drug or alcohol intoxication (as in the films Thirteen (Catherine Hardwicke, 2003) and The Runaways (Floria Sigismondi, 2010)). Then again, queerness can also emerge as a simple distraction from the elongated temporality of teenage boredom as in My Summer of Love (Pawel Pawlikowski, 2004).

Mashup Videos Queer Archive

Cruel Intentions (Roger Kumble, 1999)

Drawing attention to the marginality of queer characters, Beirne argues, “when we sit down to watch…entertainment [media], we hope to see some element of our lives reflected, responded to, turned into news or comedy or melodrama for our collective consumption and catharsis.”10 Overwhelmingly, this does not occur for queer viewers, leading Beirne to lament a lack of queer representation. Yet as queer theorist Jose Muñoz emphasises, the ephemerality of representation forms the very core of queer culture. In fact, Muñoz locates ephemerality as one of the defining features of queerness itself, writing that:

Instead of being clearly available as visible evidence, queerness has instead existed as innuendo, gossip, fleeting moments, and performances that are meant to be interacted with by those within its epistemological sphere – while evaporating at the touch of those who would eliminate queer possibility.11

The importance of representation, ephemeral or not, cannot be understated. All audiences want access to representations that reflect their desires and identities, but queer audiences in particular have been known for their passionate consumption of screen content that includes them. As Beirne suggests, “the relative absence of queer characters… has made queer representations, when they do occur, all the more significant, sparking a profound investment in these images.”12 


With the development of new screen technologies, once marginalised queer characters are no longer limited to cinema or television screens. Representations of queerness now seem abundant on video-sharing websites such as YouTube, Tumblr and Vimeo, where new digital forms reign supreme. Across these digital spaces, one emerging form of new queer video is the mashup, created by users who fuse together different elements of existing representation. Fandom scholar Julie Levin Russo highlights the proliferation of Internet video in the millennial era, drawing attention this form as part of a boom in “user-generated media.”13 Russo attributes this to several things. Firstly, an increased “ease of posting, finding, watching, and sharing videos”, along with the popularity of native video capture and editing tools, and finally, the digitisation of mass media which has enabled users to appropriate and manipulate commercial texts.14 As Russo argues, “these conditions have contributed to the profusion and pervasiveness of various sorts of video mashups.”15 In many cases, mashup videos contain a queer theme (creating narratives of same-sex romance), however Russo also draws attention to the innate queerness of this form. She argues that “whatever their explicit themes and narratives, they represent a queer form of production that mates supposedly incompatible parents… to spawn hybrid offspring.”16 A series of YouTube videos titled “Lesbians from TV/Film” created in 2007 by the user Pezza87 provide a good example of this.17 Described by their creator as “a compilation of girl-on-girl scenes,” they harness the form to interrogate queer representation in film and television from the 1990s onward.

The first volume of the “Lesbians from TV/Film” series is described as “a compilation of girl-on-girl scenes” from television and film. The video begins with an archetypal image from the teen genre: a shot of two girls standing at a row of lockers in a high school. After a brief bit of dialogue, the girls laugh and walk off screen as the image pixelates and dissolves into a shot of one woman massaging another. With this transition, the soundtrack commences. Constructed around an acoustic pop song titled “A Kiss Without Commitment” performed by the artist Daniel Bedingfield, this video spans three minutes in duration and consists entirely of short clips featuring girls and women kissing. While there are a small number of adult figures throughout the video, the visual materials are sourced primarily from the teen genre.

In creating “Lesbians from TV/Film”, the user Pezza87 has edited and reassembled a vast array of existing screen content. The process of re-editing has long been examined by the disciplines of both media and film studies. I have surveyed the key approaches of these two critical paradigms at length in Queer Girls, Temporality & Screen Media: Not ‘Just a Phase’, but to briefly summarise, both media and film theory approach digitally re-edited content through existing forms of cultural production, aesthetic traditions and practices.18 Within media criticism, re-edited videos are often considered in relation to fan and fandom studies. Following the work of Henry Jenkins and other media studies scholars, re-edited video works have been read as examples of fandom practice. Viewed as an extension of fan-fiction, made possible by more recent digital and media convergence, the practice of editing clips from film and television to music is referred to within such frameworks as “vidding”, and has been discussed extensively within media criticism as a fan-driven activity. This term was introduced into scholarly discourse by Jenkins in 1992 when he described groups of television fans “using home video tape recorders…[to] appropriate ‘found footage’ from broadcast television and re-edit it to express their particular slant on the program, linking series images to music similarly appropriated from commercial culture.”19 More recently, Francesca Coppa has located vids as visual essays, arguing that each “stages an argument.”20 As Tisha Turk and Joshua Johnson point out, this argument exists in relation to a vast ecology of “multiple overlapping discourse communities” that constitute fandom.21 Drawing attention to their creation and consumption, Tisha Turk locates such videos as a means of “collaborative interpretation” of media texts.22 Re-edited videos have also been considered through Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin’s concept of “remediation”, as they are composed of refashioned or “re-mediated” fragments of screen media. After all, Bolter and Grusin define “remediation” as the representation of one medium in another and locate this as “a defining characteristic of new media.”23 As Turk and Johnson argue though, media scholarship has tended to focus on the idea of “fans as spectators” rather than producers of such content.24 The result, as Deborah Kaplan observes, is a field of inquiry that often “elides the texts in favor of the community.”25

Considered through the lens of film and screen theory, the focus shifts away from communities toward analysis of texts. Within film studies, re-edited videos are often theorised via the practices of the avant-garde and subsequently read as experimental films. Such videos are viewed as products of an artist’s creative treatment of found footage or as works that experiment with both form and content. Found footage has a diverse history, but an excellent summary is located in Adrian Danks’ 2006 essay, “The Global Art of Found Footage Cinema”. As Danks writes, “found footage, compilation, collage or ‘archival’ cinema is a broad filmmaking practice encompassing the use of file footage in documentary cinema, stock footage in fictional cinema, home-movie footage in some feminist cinema and often radical re-contextualisation of a vast array of images and sounds in examples of avant-garde cinema.”26 As discussed in Queer Girls, Temporality & Screen Media, the key difference between these two approaches is the way that each characterises the relationship between the creator and their text:

Where media theory’s fan operates in a close relationship with the text, the avant-garde filmmaker creates at a distance, often destroying the material in the process.27

What has most interested me about digital mashups like Pezza87’s “Lesbians from TV/Film” series is that their creators seem to occupy the positions of fan and filmmaker simultaneously, generating innovative content from a space in-between. However, in this article I am less concerned with defining mashup as a medium than I am with questioning what it means to hold on to screen content in this way. Paul Booth argues that videos of this nature should not be viewed as re-writings of existing media objects, but instead as re-imaginings.28 Within these videos, visual data is removed from the original context or contexts, re-edited and recontextualised. The music plays a vital role in the resulting texts, providing a means of constructing new queer narratives around the original source content. It is imperative to question what is being imagined by videos such as “Lesbians from TV/Film” and further, what the discursive implications are when screen queerness is disassembled and reassembled.

Screen and Queer Archives

Pezza87’s “Lesbians from TV/Film” series highlights how mashup provides a means of holding on to important cultural information and thus operates as a form of queer archival practice. This is evident within the first volume of the “Lesbians from TV/Film” series. After the opening archetypal teen image, the video pixelates and dissolves through a range of “girl-on-girl scenes” from television and film.

Mashup Videos Queer Archive

Screenshot from Lesbians from TV/Film volume 1

Significantly the two girls from the opening shot are sourced from the third season of Once and Again (1999–2002), that featured one of television’s first ongoing queer girl storylines. Other segments within this video are sourced from Bad Girls (1999–2006), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997–2013), But I’m a Cheerleader (Jamie Babbit, 1999), D.E.B.S (Angela Robinson, 2004), Fingersmith (Aisling Walsh, 2005), If These Walls Could Talk 2 (Jane Anderson, Martha Coolidge & Anne Heche, 2000), Lost and Delirious (Léa Pool, 2001) and The L Word (2004–09). The soundtrack is simple, containing only the warm sounds of Bedingfield’s voice and an acoustic guitar. In each of the clips, the figures come together in the centre of the frame before they begin to kiss. This set up is repeated throughout the video with the editing emphasising the kiss and the moment beforehand. This repeated rhythmic movement perfectly matches the tempo of the music. The fragments are not assembled according to a discernible logic, chronological, linear or otherwise. Instead, they feel as if they move along with the melody of the soundtrack, providing a broad, non-linear overview of the author’s favourite representations of queer girls and women.

The second volume in this series of videos shifts the focus from romance to eroticism and is described as “a collection of girl-on-girl action”. This video begins with a moment of darkness that quickly cuts to a group of college-aged girls walking together through a corridor. Following the format of the previous video, a short segment of dialogue precedes the compilation of clips and frames the mashup. After this dialogue, the image fades to white and an electric guitar emerges on the soundtrack. This video is constructed around a punk pop song titled “Dirty Little Secret” by The All American Rejects. Despite the similarities in form, the soundtrack renders this mashup distinctive from the previous video by emphasising the eroticism of the queer girl as a primary theme. Throughout the video, images from popular film and television are fragmented as hands grasp other hands, faces, bodies; tears and sweat and rain all combine as lips are forcefully and passionately pressed against other lips.

Mashup Videos Queer Archive

Screenshot from Lesbians from TV/Film part 2

Mid-way through this video, The OC’s Marissa and Alex share a slowed down, extended kiss. A few moments later several seasons worth of subtext between Xena and Gabrielle in Xena is forced to the surface when it is coupled with the lyric, “I’ll keep you my dirty little secret.” Through this, this mashup transforms the singular and fleeting queer moments in each of the source materials into one extended, sexually charged moment, interrogating the “dirty little secret” of queer girl desire from numerous angles.

This mashup contains a stronger narrative than the previous video in the series, concluding with several shots of secret queer relationships being revealed. Again and again, the video shows us images of girls kissing and then being caught by a friend, a parent, or a bystander. Exposing and emphasising queer desire, this mashup makes visible the silenced, hidden from view, inaccessible subjectivities and experiences of queer girls in contemporary screen culture. There is, however, another desire at play within this video: a desire to hold on to, to collect, and to archive film and television’s ephemeral images of queer girls and women.

In her examination of cinematic time, Mary Ann Doane discusses a similar archival desire within early cinematic forms. Discussing early films, including the famous footage of workers leaving the Lumiere factory, Doane argues:

While photography could fix a moment, the cinema made archivable duration itself. In that sense it was perceived as a prophylactic against death, ensuring the ability to “see one’s loved ones” gesture and smile long after their deaths. What was registered on film was life itself in all its multiplicity, diversity, and contingency29.

As Doane highlights, film was considered valuable because it was perceived as an inscription of time itself, a record of what happens in front of the camera. As cinema could capture “a once-present and unique moment, the signature of temporality,”30 the archival desire of this nineteenth century moment was thus “intimately linked to the technological assurance of indexicality” and the storage not only of images but also temporality.31

While screen media has undoubtedly evolved from the early moments that Doane discusses, there is a lot to be gained in considering the future of media forms through their past. Considered through Doane’s work on film, time and archive, mashup can be viewed as collection of fragments and symbols of media, memory, sound, image and time. Although digital video no longer inscribes temporality through the indexicality that marked early cinema, mashup is based upon an archival desire to hold on to moments of screen time that have already passed.

Catherine Russell explores a similar relation between experimental filmmaking and temporality. She describes found footage films (made from pre-existing content) as having “an aesthetic of ruins” because their “intertextuality is always also an allegory of history, a montage of memory traces, by which the filmmaker engages with the past through recall, retrieval and recycling.”32 These impulses are also present in the “Lesbians from Film/TV” series (and other videos of this nature), in the way that the video creators use the mashup as a medium for holding on to, collecting and storing (and also playing with) representations that are typically characterised by transience.

Queer theorist Ann Cvetkovich positions this form of engagement with media content as a model for queer archival practice. She argues that the queer archivist “must proceed like the fan or collector whose attachment to objects is often fetishistic, idiosyncratic, or obsessional.”33 Similarly, Alexis Lothian draws attention to the archival nature of the practices of fans. However, Lothian argues that “although the online world of creative media fandom is a series of archives,”34 there is risk in valorising the archive as the only model for understanding the practices of fandom because “we risk losing sight of the ephemeral practices that can work transformatively.”35

Cvetkovich’s theorisation of archives counters this by calling, as Muñoz does, for an archive of the ephemeral. Cvetkovich theorises this as a queer archive, rather than simply a set of “queer-themed” content that has been archived or collected. In her research on archives of lesbian feeling, Cvetkovich explains the archive as a “ritual space within which cultural memory and history are preserved.”36 As such, her work emphasises that archives are not limited to existing physical spaces but can take on “innovative and unusual forms of appearance.”37 Cvetkovich argues that an archive of queer culture “must preserve and produce not just knowledge but feeling”38 and thus develops a conceptualisation of an “archive of feeling.”39 She writes,

The archive of feelings is both material and immaterial, at once incorporating objects that might not ordinarily be considered archival and at the same time resisting documentation because sex and feelings are too personal or too ephemeral to leave records.40

Foregrounding affect and ephemera, Cvetkovich theorises the archive as a repository of feeling and emotion and locates it as a queer space. She argues that the archive of feelings exists not only in institutional settings such as museums and libraries, but also in “more personal and intimate spaces and… within cultural genres.”41 In theorising this, Cvetkovich locates film as a significant cultural genre of the archive, drawing attention to the way that archives can be visualised in film and emphasising “the power of the moving image to conjure and preserve emotion.”42

Located as a prime example of an archive of feelings are the works of filmmaker Sadie Benning. Cvetkovich argues that Benning’s collective works are “an innovative archive of lesbian life”43 that demonstrate “a new language of feminism.”44 Discussing her videos at length, Cvetkovich draws attention to the way that Benning “reappropriates cultural constructions of girlhood that often seem denigrating and infantilising… and converts them into a powerful repository.”45 Mashup acts in a similar manner, reassembling screen content in a way that confronts the historical absence and ephemerality of queer girls in screen media. Through the “Lesbians from TV/Film” series Pezza87 rewrites contemporary screen culture, appropriating and experimenting with the representation of queer girls and women. In collecting and re-editing these images, an archive is constructed. This is an archive of queer feelings, as Cvetkovich theorises it, reflecting the creator’s powerful attachment to queer screen culture.

Questions of the archive are significant for queer theory because, as Danielle Clarke argues, reformulating our understandings of what the archive is and how it operates allow us to reformulate questions of the queer subject.46 In addition to this, as Helen Hok-Sze Leung demonstrates, theories of the archive allow us to “re-examine what is worthy of research and what counts as knowledge.”47 It is important to note, as Judith Jack Halberstam does, that the “archive is not simply a repository.”48 Rather, Halberstam argues that it can be considered in three overlapping ways. The queer archive is simultaneously a complex record of queer activity, a construction of collective memory, and means of theorising cultural relevance.49 When considered as an archival practice, mashup videos such as the “Lesbians from TV/Film” series not only work to document the representation of queer desire and experience, but also construct collective memory around these images. In addition to this, they offer a means of embedding the ephemeral images of the queer girl with cultural value and relevance.

Considered in this way, mashup mobilises a quality that Doane locates within early cinema when she emphasises how the form was perceived as a “prophylactic against death,” ensuring the ability to “see one’s loved ones gesture and smile long after their deaths.”50 In the same way, mashup ensures the ability to see much loved characters long after they disappear from film or television screens. Each video is an archive of feeling, of personal investments with temporal fragments that have been collected and reassembled, manipulated and melded into new forms. Considered as a whole, a series of videos such as Pezza87’s “Lesbians from TV/Film” accentuate this, expressing new relations to time and new modes of figuring the queer girl.

Queer potential and the incomplete archive

Though mashup provides a means of holding on to important cultural information, there is a central paradox to this practice. This paradox emerges between the archival desire to preserve, the fleeting nature of queer ephemera, and the unpredictable lifespan of content online.

One of the utopian promises of digital culture is that the Internet provides endless spaces for content (and culture) to be preserved and to endure against all odds. As Paul Grainge argues in his introduction to Ephemeral Media: Transitory Screen Culture from Television to YouTube, because websites such as YouTube act as a database, they demonstrate “the potential of the web to offer a permanent archive of digital material.”51 However, in many cases, in terms of actual viewer and user experiences, Grainge argues, “YouTube, like the web more generally, is defined by the constant threat of materials disappearing as specific links ‘rot’ and pages are taken down.”52 For this reason, Kirsten Foot argues that the web is “a unique mixture of the ephemeral and the permanent.”53 Comparing this quality of the internet to older cultural forms, she suggests:

Unlike theatre, or live television, web content must exist in a permanent form to be transmitted. The web shares this characteristic with other forms of media such as film, print and sound recordings. However, the permanence of the web is somewhat fleeting. Unlike any other permanent media, a website may destroy its predecessor regularly and procedurally each time it is updated by its producer; that is, absent specific arrangements to the contrary, each previous edition of a website may be erased as a new version is produced.54

Thus, on one level, the archival desire to preserve is disrupted by websites and online platforms such as YouTube because they are repeatedly erased when they are updated. Beyond this, however, the archival function of mashup is also disrupted (and often terminated) as a result of corporate control and copyright enforcement. Julie Levin Russo and Francesca Coppa draw attention to this when they note that vid creators must distribute their projects via “corporate portals” such as YouTube that “disavow all copyrighted material, with little recourse for transformative works.”55 Drawing on Alexandra Juhazs’s Learning from YouTube, published as a video-book in 2011, they note the paradoxical nature of YouTube by highlighting that the popularity of the platform for sharing and mashing video has also led it to prioritise commercial interests. Commenting on this further, they explain:

Although Youtube has been the milieu for much of the vibrant creativity of video remix, it also has the most highly developed infrastructure for preemptively and indiscriminately blocking content flagged by automated filters.56

As a decade-old case study, Pezza87’s video series highlight this particularly well. First published online in 2007, these videos illuminate an important tension between permanence and ephemerality that is inherent to all web-based video. It is not clear how many mashups existed as part of the original “Lesbians from TV/Film” series, but only three remain at the time of writing. Volume one, two and five are available for viewing, which suggests that at least two videos in the series have been removed. The incomplete nature of Pezza87’s archive renders the final video all the more poignant.

Mashup Videos Queer Archive

Screenshot from Lesbians from TV/Film part 5

Pezza87’s final video, “Lesbians from TV/Film part 5”, combines the romantic themes and eroticism of the previous videos, consisting of “the best lesbian scenes from film and television.” This video begins with a lengthy scene involving two girls sitting in a high school bathroom. One girl muses, “checkin’ out chicks… maybe that’s my problem. Maybe I’m into girls.” The other girl smiles slyly and surprises her friend with a kiss before asking if she enjoyed it. “Then you’re not into girls,” she asserts. “Trust me… I’m a really good kisser and you’d totally be into me right now if you were.” At this point, the music and visuals begin. This video is the only one in the series to contain a song from an earlier decade. In this case, the song is “Another Girl, Another Planet”, recorded by The Only Ones in 1978. Like the other videos in the series, the visuals consist of short clips of the queer girls of teen film and television, mashing images from Sugar Rush (2005–2006), My Summer of Love and South of Nowhere (2005–2008) with the repeated lyric “I think I’m on another world with you/I’m on another planet with you.” The previous mashups in this series explored moments when queer desires are expressed within film and television, concentrating the climactic kisses of each of the source materials into three-minute videos. This mashup maintains this focus, but employs much longer clips to draw out the moments of queer desire and articular the feeling of being “on another world, another planet.” With its slower, drawn out fragments of representations of queer girls, this video imagines “another world” where queer figures are not represented through transitory storylines, and perhaps where time could be imagined queerly.

Concluding Thoughts

Discussing the state of queer representation in film and television, Rebecca Beirne argues that the absence of queer characters means that “representations, when they do occur, [are] all the more significant.”57 Beirne draws attention to the personal investment in queer representation, arguing that this lack of representation sparks “a profound investment” in queer characters, narratives, directors, actors and aesthetics.58

Mashups are a unique digital screen form that work to illuminate this kind of “profound” personal investment. As Lincoln Geraghty argues, the process of creating mashup videos and uploading them to be displayed highlight both fan creativity and an “emotional connection with popular media texts.”59 As a result, Geraghty positions such videos as a “form of communal memory making.”60 A literal distillation of queer communal memory, the “Lesbians from TV/Film” series also highlights the “profound” personal investment that Beirne discusses, reflecting a deep emotional connection to queer representation across a range of screen forms and texts. The series, and the multitude of others like it, suggest is that the representations of the past are not left to gather dust. Rather, they are taken up by creators in ways that destabilise the dominant narratives associated with queer figures. Such videos actively work toward the collation of a queer archive of screen culture, through which creators hold on to representations long out of the public eye, maintaining their importance and pulling them into the present moment.  Forged out of historical absence, these videos experiment with existing queer representation to produce at once a record of queer texts and the powerful feelings attached to queer screen culture, a construction of collective memory around such media forms, and an assertion of their continued relevance. Despite this, issues of copyright and corporate control limit the archival function of mash up and continue to reflect the precarious position of queer texts within broader media contexts.

This article has been peer-reviewed


  1. Caralyn Bolte, “‘Normal is the Watchword’: Exiling Cultural Anxieties and Redefining Desire from the Margins” in Teen Television: Essays on Programming and Fandom, eds. Sharon Marie Ross and Louisa Ellen Stein. (Jefferson: McFarland, 2008), p. 94.
  2. Glyn Davis, “Saying it Out Loud: Revealing Television’s Queer Teens” in Teen TV: Genre, Consumption and Identity, eds. Glyn Davis and Kay Dickinson (London: British Film Institute, 2004), p. 131.
  3. “Where We Are on TV Report 2015”, GLAAD.org, http://www.glaad.org/whereweareontv15
  4. Whitney Monaghan, “Glee: Coming Out on US Teen Television,” Jump Cut 54 (2012), www.ejumpcut.org/archive/jc54.2012/Monaghan-Glee/
  5. Ron Becker, Gay TV and Straight America (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2006); Steven Capsuto, Alternate Channels: The Uncensored Story of Gay and Lesbian Images on Radio and Television (New York: Ballantine Books, 2001); Samuel Chambers, The Queer Politics of Television (New York: I.B. Taurus, 2009); Larry Gross, Up From Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men and The Media (New York: Columbia University Press, 2001); Stephen Tropiano, The Primetime Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians on TV (New York: Applause Cinema & Theatre Books, 2002)
  6. “2015 Studio Responsibility Index”, GLAAD.org, http://www.glaad.org/sri/2015
  7. Rebecca Beirne, “Teen Lesbian Desires and Identities in International Cinema: 1931–2007”, Journal of Lesbian Studies 16.2 (2012): pp. 258–272
  8. Dennis Allen, “Homosexuality and Narrative”, Modern Fiction Studies 41, 3–4 (1995): pp. 609–34; Glyn Davis, “Saying it Out Loud: Revealing Television’s Queer Teens” in Queer TV: Theories, Histories, Politics, eds. Glyn Davis and Gary Needham (New York: Routledge, 2009); Susan Driver, Queer Girls and Popular Culture: Reading, Resisting and Creating Media (New York: Peter Lang, 2007); Anna McCarthy, “Ellen: Making Queer Television History”, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 7:4 (2001): pp. 593–620.
  9. Fran Martin, Backward Glances: Contemporary Chinese Cultures and the Female Homoerotic Imaginary (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010)
  10. Rebecca Beirne, “Introduction: A critical introduction to queer women on television” in Televising Queer Women, ed. Rebecca Beirne (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), p. 2.
  11. Jose Muñoz, Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Futurity (New York, New York University Press, 2009), p. 6.
  12. Rebecca Beirne, Televising Queer Women, p. 2.
  13. Julie Levin Russo, “User-Penetrated Content: Fan Video in the Age of Convergence”, Cinema Journal 48:4 (2009): p. 125
  14. Ibid.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Ibid., p. 126.
  17. “Pezza87 – Watch. Thumb. Subscribe”, Youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/user/pezza87
  18. Whitney Monaghan, Queer Girls, Temporality & Screen Media: Not ‘Just a Phase’ (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).
  19. Henry Jenkins, Textual Poachers: Television Fans & Participatory Culture (New York: Routlege, 1992), p. 230.
  20. Francesca Coppa, “Women, Star Trek, and the Early Development of Fannish Vidding”, Transformative Works and Cultures 1 (2008), http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/44
  21. Tisha Turk and Joshua Johnson, “Toward an Ecology of Vidding” in “Fan/Remix Video,” eds. Francesca Coppa and Julie Levin Russo, special issue of Transformative Works and Cultures 9 (2012), http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/326/294
  22. Tisha Turk, “‘Your Own Imagination’: Vidding and Vidwatching as Collaborative Interpretation”, Film and Film Culture 5 (2010): p. 89
  23. Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1999), p. 45
  24. Tisha Turk and Joshua Johnson, “Toward an Ecology of Vidding.”
  25. Deborah Kaplan, “Construction of Fan Fiction Character through Narrative” in Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet, eds. Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2006), p. 135.
  26. Adrian Danks, “The Global Art of Found Footage Cinema” in Traditions in World Cinema, eds. Linda Badley, R. Barton Palmer and Steven Jay Schneider (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2006), p. 241.
  27. Monaghan, Queer Girls, p. 132.
  28. Paul Booth, Digital Fandom: New Media Studies (New York: Peter Lang, 2010), p. 35.
  29. Mary Ann Doane, The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), p. 22
  30. Ibid., p. 16.
  31. Ibid., p. 22.
  32. Catherine Russell, Experimental Ethnography: The Work of Film in the Age of Video (Durham: Duke University Press, 1999), p. 238.
  33. Ann Cvetkovich, “In the Archives of Lesbian Feelings: Documentary and Popular Culture”, Camera Obscura 49:17 (2002): p. 116.
  34. Alexis Lothian, “An Archive of One’s Own: Subcultural Creativity and the Politics of Conservation,” Transformative Works and Cultures 6 (2011), http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/267
  35. Ibid.
  36. Cvetkovich, “In the Archives”, p. 109.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid., p. 110.
  39. Ibid., p. 112.
  40. Ibid.
  41. Ibid.
  42. Ibid.
  43. Ibid., p. 130.
  44. Ibid., p. 134.
  45. Ibid
  46. Danielle Clarke, “Finding the Subject: Queering the Archive”, Feminist Theory 5:1 (2004): p. 82.
  47. Helen Hok-Sze Leung, “Archiving Queer Feelings in Hong Kong”, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 8:4 (2007): p. 561.
  48. Judith Jack Halberstam, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (New York & London: New York University Press, 2005), p. 169.
  49. Halberstam, p. 160–70.
  50. Doane, Emergence of Cinematic Time, p. 22.
  51. Paul Grainge, “Introduction: Ephemeral Media” in Ephemeral media: Transitory Screen Culture from Television to YouTube, ed. Paul Grainge (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), p. 8.
  52. Ibid
  53. Kirsten Foot, “Web sphere analysis and cybercultural studies” in The New Media and Cyber Cultures Anthology, ed. Pramod K. Nayar (New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), p. 13.
  54. Ibid.
  55. Julie Levin Russo and Francesca Coppa, “Fan/Remix Video (A Remix)” in “Fan/Remix Video”, eds. Francesca Coppa and Julie Levin Russo, special issue of Transformative Works and Cultures 9 (2012), http://journal.transformativeworks.org/index.php/twc/article/view/431
  56. Ibid.
  57. Beirne, Televising Queer Women, p. 2.
  58. Ibid.
  59. Lincoln Geraghty, Cult Collectors: Nostalgia, Fandom and Collecting Popular Culture (London and New York: Routledge, 2014), p. 87.
  60. Ibid.