Let's Go Crazy: Teaching Cultural Literacy Through Remix
INTERVIEW, WINTER 2009 Once the students posted their video responses to the original Let’s Go Crazy #1 video, Stephanie Lenz had to “accept” the responses on the YouTube interface. She soon realized what we were up to, so we exchanged a few friendly emails. I asked her if she would be willing to answer some questions raised during our class and the result is this informal interview. This entire interview took place, funnily enough, through the YouTube mail interface.

1 Was the song Let’s Go Crazy used because Holden specifically likes to dance to it? Was it an editorial decision because you felt the kids were going crazy, running around and dancing; or did it just happen to be the song in the background at the time of making the home video?

Stephanie: I hadn’t planned to make a video with that song in the background, but Holden would stop and dance in front of the CD player almost every time he passed it.

2 Do you still play Prince in your house or car?

Stephanie: I do actually, although not as much as I used to. We were all riding in the car recently and a Prince song came on the radio. My husband went to turn the channel and I said to leave it. He made a joke about having to pay to listen to the song - which is a joke I hear a lot of people making these days - and I said that I wasn’t about to let Prince ruin that music for me. I can’t help liking the music; I’ve enjoyed it for 20-25 years. I just don’t care much for him personally now.

3 How did you end up working with the EFF? Did you take the case to them initially? Were they immediately agreeable to defending you or were there moments of uncertainty?

Stephanie: When the video was pulled, I was worried that it might be followed with a lawsuit from Universal. A friend of mine recommended that I contact Creative Commons and/or EFF. Creative Commons also recommended EFF. I spoke via e-mail and then via phone with people at EFF and together we decided to file this lawsuit upon YouTube’s reinstatement of the video, which we did.

4 It looks like your videos, Let’s Go Crazy #1 and Musical Sunday are the most recent additions to your profile, both from February 2007. Have you made new videos since that time period which you plan to post to YouTube?

Stephanie: I have made some home videos but I make far fewer videos than I used to. For example, I used to go through one tape a month on my camcorder. Now it’s several months before I need to get out a new tape (the exception being December, which includes Holden’s birthday and Christmas). I take more still photos than I used to. I don’t know that I’ll be using YouTube to share any future videos. Not that I used it very much to begin with. As you can see, all my YouTube videos are short home movies. I shot a little home movie using my camcorder the other day of Holden dancing to Christina Aguilera's “Candyman” and I know I can never show it to anyone via the Internet, not because I’ve done anything wrong in creating it but because she’s a Warner Brothers artist and Warner is currently handing out an inordinate number of takedown notices. I’m not eager to repeat this process.

Let’s Go Crazy - Bottoms Up earned Stephanie’s laughter.

Let’s Go Crazy Toys worry about copyright infringement

5 What are your general feelings about posting videos to YouTube in the future - are you hesitant, are you tired of thinking about the case, do you sometimes just want to litter the YouTube database?

Stephanie: Sometimes I would like to do a video blog entry but I know that my channel (and my blog) are being watched by UMG and others so until my case is finished, I can restrain myself. It does make me angry that I’m made out to be a criminal for using YouTube in a way that didn’t violate the Terms of Service (or infringe UMG’s copyright).

6 Were you surprised when a flurry of new videos were posted as a response to Let’s Go Crazy #1 in December 2008?

Stephanie: I was! The first one I saw was of two young women in bikinis and at the end when they turned around it said, “fair use” on their bottoms (seen below). I laughed and I thought it was a cute parody. Then another came up. And another. Then I thought, “There must be a project going on.” It wasn’t until one of the video creators included with her notes that it was for her class that I knew what was happening. I’ve accepted every one as a video response. They’re very clever.

7 We certainly appreciate that you’ve accepted all of the entries as responses to the original video. Do you feel that what we are doing as a class (and what I plan to continue to do with classes) demonstrates our support of your case?

Stephanie: It does seem that everyone doing a response comes down on the free speech/fair use side of the case, especially since these videos use the same piece of music in a similar way. It seems like the students are button-pushers and, having always been a bit of a button-pusher myself, I appreciate that. I’m not sure what the other plans are for the project but I’ve enjoyed watching the project evolve as the pieces are completed and made public.

8 Is there anything you’d like to see in a video response with the same 29 seconds of Let’s Go Crazy set as the background music?

Stephanie: I like the creative freedom the students have so I don’t want to make any suggestions. I’m also entertained by the fact that UMG hasn’t, to my knowledge, sent a takedown notice to any of the students. I admit to being curious about one thing: if anyone parodied Prince’s image in a video, would that still hold true?