The matrix hero on youtube: Fan vids as a form of transmedia storytelling

Dorothy W S Lau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


For vids are an emergent form of storytelling in the current social media epoch. As a genre of works, they comprise montages of visual material culled from mass media source texts and set to music through the grassroots practice of vidding. As vidders search, cull, and edit movie images, they recast the cinematic stories by decontextualizing the source materials and extending the frontier of the narrative to other signifying realms. Vidding could be said to constitute a grassroots, fan-driven form of transmedia storytelling, by which the integral elements of a fiction are systematically dispersed across multiple media platforms. The Matrix, a celebrated Hollywood science fiction franchise, has inspired many such instances of transmedia storytelling, demonstrating how the story is retold by ordinary fans as they transpose movie images from cinematic space to cyberspace. This essay focuses on two fan vids from YouTube, the most popular video-sharing site, entitled -I, Neo (Mos Def / Massive Attack / Matrix Mashup)‖ and -Matrix Vs. Excision & Downlink - Existence VIP Dub Mashup‖ to examine how vidders incorporate new content to expand and alter the Matrix narrative into the bottom-up generated content. When Matrix footage is eclectically cut to electronic music, Neo's story is no longer represented and understood within a fixed symbolic system, but rather in a hybrid, open framework, allowing for diverse directionality of interpretation. While transmedia storytelling conventions stress that all components from all media should cohere with a consistent narrative world, The Matrix story in these fan vids is embellished by insinuating a narrative rupture. The vids allow a narrative experience which is fragmented, inconsistent, or even disintegrated, partaking of a postmodernist discourse. Although The Matrix's original allusions to messianic-redemptive Christian mythology, of particular interest for my analysis, remain apparent in these vids, the vidders have obscured, altered, and reworked the cinematic story, concomitantly generating new stories. Fan vids open up new possibilities for re-presenting and reinterpreting media texts, posing both challenges and opportunities for the practices of storytelling and meaning-making in the global mediascape.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Media
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal Perspectives, Applications and Benefits and Dangers
PublisherNova Science Publishers
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781634632058
ISBN (Print)9781634631754
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Social Sciences(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Fan vid
  • Participatory
  • Social media
  • Storytelling
  • Transmedia


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