Pursonal Baggage

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Youtube relies heavily on user-created content for its activity. Everyone is aware of this through basic searches of how-to videos or viral videos of kids singing pop songs in their rooms. But once you dive deeper, you can find a whole community of users interacting  on the basis of trying to get to know each other in a kind of voyeuristic quest for pleasure. Not only do subscribers want to learn how to make the best smokey eye from glitzyglam07, they also request to learn about her life and who she "is". This is how video's under the "What's in my Purse?" tag are created and circulated. The videos call for the user to be honest and provide explanations, sometimes tips, about everything they carry in their usually oversized purses, and then request to see what their viewers have in their purses. 

The "What's in my Purse?" videos fascinated me on multiple levels, and there are many ways to read them as a text. What struck me most was the publicization of the private, and subsequent illusion of knowledge that that act signifies.  A woman's purse is traditionally regarded as a treasure chest of personal items, not to be dug through by anyone but the owner. These videos both subvert that notion of privacy and rely on it for their meaning; They disavow the privacy of the purse By taking each item it contains out of the pocket and overexplaining its origin and use, but also make the viewer feel like an insider because they just witnessed a viewing of all that was inside. 

This self-knowledge and knowledge of others that comes through the Purse particularly interested me, and also connected to the women's identities as female. Most of the purses in the the videos are more like survival bags, complete with feminine emergency kits and everything a girl might need if she were ever stuck out of the house for months.  From the very first video I watched, which was one of the highest viewed with over 800,000 views, it was clear that the purse signified femininity. This can be read in both a normative interpretation and also an empowering one. They come from a lot of internet makeup gurus, who stake their claim on teaching women the normative conventions of beauty. The highest viewed are classicly pretty, giggling girls with slight southern accents who love pink and Hello Kitty, and probably teach their viewers that following them is what girls do.  On the other hand, the confidence these women exude in their videos as they lay it all out there, as well as the survival-pack-like purses they tote can be seen as empowering forces. There are videos deep in the Related Videos searches and response comments from people of all shapes and sizes doing the exact same thing.

I chose to disembody the audio and put it over an ultrasound of a baby girl (also from Youtube) to mirror and highlight the feminine ties to the purse, and the effect that both cases have when the private female space is intentionally exposed, and then viewed by thousands. 


Screenshots from audio sourced youtube videos :




I then used a firefox plugin called Youtube Downloader to scrape the videos, and brought them into Final Cut.

Follow my Link on Youtube. Post your own response! I love you see what people have in their purses! :) ;)

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