Just as the
pandemic has transformed since the heyday of queer
media in the late 1980s and early 1990s, so too has the media ecology in which
social movements and moving-image media intersect. The rapid development
of digital video technology in the late 1990s enabled greater access to media
production. Higher-quality images could be shot on both consumer and semi-
professional equipment, while nonlinear editing software gradually deskilled
postproduction to the point of it now being a standard feature in software
packages for personal computers. The distribution of digital video images
has also been revolutionized by a range of online services and practices that
include blogs, peer-to-peer file sharing (BitTorrent), video-uploading sites
(YouTube), social networks (Facebook), and collaboratively authored sites
(wikis). The processes of convergence involved in this new media ecology
are not merely technical but also cultural, facilitating the emergence of what
Henry Jenkins has dubbed a new “participatory culture” that has the potential
to employ the “collective intelligence” of its users for “serious” purposes and
not merely leisure activities.1 Moreover, the hugely expanded capacity of non-
professionals to “archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media con-
tent” has permitted remix practices to extend well beyond the avant-garde,
activist, and subcultural contexts in which they originated.2 The media piracy
now rampant throughout this new media ecology ranges from the radical
appropriation of corporate intellectual property to the banality of endless
Internet movie parodies and mashups.3
So what relationship do queer
media hold to this new media ecology?
First, we must acknowledge the variety of ways in which queer
pioneered practices that have become central to the convergence culture
posited by Jenkins. As I discussed in chapter 2,
video activists involved in
ACt uP
were among the first to exploit the consumer technology of the
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