Student Reflection – Sweet Interruption (1.1)

Don’t Stop Interruptin’
By David Bistline

How did your writing and/or your process of invention occur in relation to this project?

Rather than beginning with an idea about the significant event on which I wanted to comment (as would seem to be a logical first step), I began creating my project based on a mashup that came to me in a dream: Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams” mixed with Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’.” I don’t normally have dreams of this type, so I decided to run with it; I substituted Taylor Swift for Journey, and began to think about my creation in terms of the Taylor Swift / Kanye West / Beyonce episode at the 2009 VMAs and its aftermath.

I started by taking audio Swift’s acceptance speech and layering it over her song “You Belong With Me” – something about the simple country twangs makes her sound more genuine and innocent while she begins to thank her fans.

I didn’t cut the acceptance speech (and interruption by West) at all because I wanted it to be heard exactly as it unfolded in front of a live audience: unexpected, cacophonic, and devastating. “Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time” is immediately followed by vocals from Beyonce’s “Sweet Dreams” that drown out Swift’s fans and essentially steal the spotlight musically. The song continues with Beyonce’s vocals over Swift’s instrumental track through the chorus. (It surprised me that the two songs go so well together; Beyonce’s R&B vocals in what was once a dark-sounding song are transformed in a bright and optimistic way when played over Swift’s country music. All I had to do to Beyonce’s track [other than isolating the vocals, which was a process] was speed it up slightly.)

Needing more material for the project, I began to think about other episodes that could be related to the VMA debacle; I remembered hearing that Obama got involved by calling West a “jackass” in an off-the-record moment, found a video of the event, and imported the audio into the project. I felt like that particular situation was perfect because Joe Wilson’s infamous “You lie!” outburst had occurred the same week; perhaps Obama was taking out some of his unresolved frustration on West, who was guilty of the same transgression as Wilson?

Obama’s comment plays over the second verse of Swift’s instrumental track, essentially interrupting Beyonce’s vocals (making it the third interruption of the song). I had to shorten the comment so that it would fit into the song, and after Obama utters “jackass,” Beyonce swoops in once again to steal the show.

How does this process relate to my experience with traditional writing?

In terms of ease of creation, I had a smoother time creating this project than I do with most traditional writing assignments. I looked forward to working on it rather than dreading its due date; perhaps I’m just more confident in my digital creation skills than in my textual writing skills?

In many ways, however, I approached the assignment much like I would a traditional paper; I got an idea, went and collected relevant sources, and started working in large chunks, smoothing out the details at the end.

How does this process relate with our first assignment (a Visual Rhetoric Creation)?

The vibe I got working on this assignment was somewhat different than that of the VRC. I began the VRC with a clear idea of what I wanted to portray, deciding on a source image much later in the process; for this project, I began with the sources, and tried to figure out what I could convey through them. I enjoyed working on my audio creation more than I did the VRC, but I feel like my VRC was of better quality (although I’m not sure whether that’s due to the content or the process of creation).