One of my first films THINGS GIRLS DO… seeks to address questions of body dysmorphia and gender. The film was made in a pre-YouTube world, back in 2001. In 2008, I decided to post it on YouTube to see what sort of digital life it might have. This has led to its engagement and circulation within two online communities in particular.
One is a cohort of body-dysmorphic individuals of both genders who simultaneously use YouTube as a site to perpetuate their disorders via “thinspiration” videos and also to seek out help and recovery. This has made me metidate on the fac that digital democracy is in many ways a double-edged sword, capable of forming communities of healing and of more ambivalent, even harmful consequence.
The second is a community of female-to-male transgender individuals, who have expressed that the video’s formal/metaphorical journey resonate with their literal transformations. These men show the possibility of YouTube as a forum for interpersonal support and information sharing. They correspond and post their lives in public view of anyone with access to an Internet browser, simultaneously challenging cultural and YouTube community assumptions about digital identity, questions of embodiment, and the possibilities for ethical and open online conversation and relationship.
I’d love to get your impressions on the film and on the double-edged possibilities for digital democracy.