1. Sergei Eisenstein, “The Problem of the Materialist Approach to Form,” in Eisenstein’s Writings, 1922-1934. Ed. Richard Taylor. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), 62. [return to page 1]

2. Alexandra Juhasz, AIDS TV: Identity, Community, and Alternative Video (Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1995); Deirdre Boyle, Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997); Dorothy Kidd, “Indymedia.org: A New Communications Commons,” in Cyberactivism: Online Activism in Theory and Practice. Eds. Martha McCaughey and Michael D. Ayers (New York: Routledge), 47-69; Dorothy Kidd, “Whistling Into the Typhoon: A Radical Inquiry into Autonomous Media,” in Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements, and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States. Ed. Team Colors Collective. (Oakland: AK Press, 2010), 199-210; and Clemencia Rodriguez, Fissures in the Mediascape: An International Study of Citizens’ Media (New Jersey: Hampton Press, 2001).

3. David James, Allegories of Cinema: American Film in the Sixties (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), 23.

4. Uri Gordon, Anarchy Alive! Anti-Authoritarian Politics from Practice and Theory (London: Pluto Press, 2008), 41.

5. John Downing, Radical Media: The Political Experience of Alternative Communication (Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 1984), 18-22.

6. Of course, these groups had their own contradictory tendencies that can most clearly be seen in SDS’s Port Huron Statement where democratic reformism wars with a radical democratic vision. As Todd Gitlin observed, SDS, along with most New Left groups at the time, held a split vision “between the rhetoric of the desirable and the agenda of the attainable” (Todd Gitlin, The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage (New York: Bantam Books, 1987), 114). Also see Gregory Nevala Calvert, “Democratic Idealism: SDS and the Gospel of Participatory Democracy,” in The New Left: Legacy and Continuity. Ed. Dimitrios Roussopoulos (Montreal: Black Rose Books, 2007), 105-129.

7. Francesca Polletta, Freedom Is an Endless Meeting: Democracy in American Social Movements (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002), 57.

8. Barbara Epstein, Political Protest and Cultural Revolution: Nonviolence Direct-action in the 1970s and 1980s (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991), 23.

9. Ibid.

10. Julie Stephens, Anti-Disciplinary Protest: Sixties Radicalism and Postmodernism (UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 4.

11. Theodore Roszak, The Making of a Counter Culture (New York: Anchor Books, 1969), 57-58.

12. Murray Bookchin, Post-Scarcity Anarchism (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 2004), viii.

13. See Boyle, Subject to Change: Guerrilla Television Revisited (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997).

14. Bookchin, “Towards a Liberatory Technology,” in Post-Scarcity Anarchism, 48.

15. Ibid., 80.

16. Ibid., 80-81.

17. Ibid., 81.

18. Murray Bookchin, “Social Ecology,” in The Murray Bookchin Reader. Ed. Janet Biehl (London: Black Rose Press, 1999), 32.

19. Editorial, Radical Software 1 (1970), 2.

20. Jon Burris, “Did the Portapak Cause Video Art? Notes on the Formation of A New Medium,” Experimental Television Center website (originally in Millennium Film Journalism 29 (1996):

22. See Boyle, Subject to Change, 14-25.

22. Parry Teasdale, Videofreex: America’s First Pirate TV Station and the Catskills Collective that Turned It On (Hensonville, NY: Black Dome), 17.

23. Ibid.

24. David Cort interview with Deirdre Boyle, November 9, 1983, Guerrilla TV Archives, Series IV, Box 6, Folder 237.

25. Gerd Stern, “Support of Television Arts by Public Funding: The New York State Council on the Arts,” in The New Television: A Public/Private Art. Eds. Douglas Davis and Allison Simmons (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1977), 143.

26. Ibid., 151. [return to page 2]

27. Ben Levine, People’s Video Theatre, interview with Deidre Boyle, November 1, 1984, Guerilla Television Archive, Series 1, Box 1, Folder 2.

28. The Sixties, 349.

29. Nancy Cain, Video Days and What We Saw Through the Viewfinder (Palm Spring, CA: Event Horizon Press, 2011), 46.

30. See Epstein, Political Protest.

31. Craig O’ Hara, The Philosophy of Punk: More Than Noise! (Oakland, CA: AK Press, 1999), 71.

32. David DeLeon, The American as Anarchist: Reflections on Indigenous Radicalism (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1978), 120.

33. The Red Scare was initiated in 1917 by government raids on International Workers of the World’s headquarters across the nation and culminated in the Palmer Raids of 1920 where thousands of radicals were arrested as due process and habeas corpus were suspended. In regards to the negative impact of McCarthyism on the New Left, see John Downing, Radical Media, 48-49.

34. DeLeon, 132.

35. Laura Portwood-Stacer, Lifestyle Politics and Radical Activism (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013), 145-46.

36. Profane Existence, Making Punk a Threat Again! (Oakland, CA: Loin Cloth Press, 1997), 36.

37. “Music as a Weapon: The Contentious Symbiosis of Punk Rock and Anarchism,” Rolling Thunder (Spring 2009): 72.

38. For example see Punk Planet 38 (July/August 2000) dedicated to “voices of the New Left.”

39. My observations are based upon over a hundred of hours of interviews I have conducted with North American media activists over the prior five years.

40. For more information on Media Mobilizing Project see Peter Funke, Chris Robé, and Todd Wolfson, “Suturing Working Class Subjectivities: Media Mobilizing Project and the Role of Media Building a Class-Based Social Movement, Triple C: Communication, Capitalism, and Critique 10, no. 1 (2012):

41. For some of these debates see Aragorn, ed. Occupy Everything!: Anarchists in the Occupy Movement, 2009-2011 (Oakland, CA: LBC Books, 2012).

42. John Downing, Radical Media: Rebellious Communication and Social Movements (Trinity Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001), 44.

43. Melanie La Rosa, “Early Video Pioneer: An Interview with Skip Blumberg,” Journal of Film and Video 64, no. 1-2 (Spring/Summer 2012): 38.

44. Jean Baudrillard, “Requiem for the Media,” in Video Culture: A Critical Investigation, ed. John G Hanhardt (New York: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1987), 139.

45. Portwood-Stacer, 145-46.

46. Madhava, “Reclaim the Streets, Reclaim the Code,” Punk Planet May/June 2001), 103.

47. Mariarosa Della Costa and Selma James, Women and the Subversion of Community (London: Falling Wall Press, 1972), 33.

48. Ibid., 35.

49. Leopoldina Fortunati, The Arcane of Reproduction: Housework, Prostitution, Labor and Capital. Trans. Hilary Creek (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 1995), 8.

50. Silvia Federici, Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2012), 48.

51. Bmedia email, 31 July 2004,
(accessed 12 February 2010).
[return to page 3]

52. Quoted in Todd Wolfson, “From the Zapatistas to Indymedia: Dialectics and Orthodoxy in Contemporary Social Movements” Communication, Culture and Critique 5 (2012): 153.

53. Of course, AIDS activism from groups like Gay Men’s Health Crisis and the National Gay Task Force precedes ACT UP but often gets effaced from histories due to its lack of spectacle-based actions, which, reluctantly, will be done here due to my focus on direct-action AIDS activist videos. For this earlier history see Deborah B. Gould, Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP’s Fight Against AIDS (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), Chapter One. Earlier movements like that relating to civil rights and feminism also dramatically revealed the links between bodily action and signification, too.

54. Simon Watney, Policing Desire: Pornography, AIDS, and the Media (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 3.

55. Ibid., 86.

56. About this reluctance see Greg Bordowitz, The AIDS Crisis is Ridiculous and Other Writings, 1986-2003 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004), 29.

57. Greg Bordowitz, The AIDS Crisis is Ridiculous and Other Writings, 1986-2003 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004), 50-51.

58. Alexandra Juhasz, AIDS TV: Identity, Community, and Alternative Video (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995), 60; Greg Bordowitz interview with Sarah Schulman, December 17, 2002, ACTUP Oral History Project,
<http://www.actuporalhistory.org/interviews/images/bordowitz.pdf>, 14.

59. DeeDee Halleck, Hand-Held Visions: The Impossible Possibilities of Community Media (New York: Fordham University Press, 2002), 117.

60. Catherine Saalfield, “On the Make: Activist Video Collectives,” in Queer Looks: Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Film and Video. Eds. Martha Gever, John Greyson, and Pratibha Parmer (New York: Routledge, 1993), 24.

61. Halleck, 118.

62. Ibid., 119.

63. Ibid., 121.

64. Ann Cvetkovich, An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003), 175.

65. Ibid., 175-76.

66. Deborah B. Gould, Moving Politics: Emotion and ACT UP’s Fight Against AIDS (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), 66.

67. Bordowitz, 56.

68. Quoted in Catherine Saalfield, “On the Make,” 27.

69. Robyn Hutt interview with Sarah Schulman, June 25, 2008, ACT UP Oral History Project.

70. Affinity groups emerged out of anarchist practices during the Spanish Civil War. They refer to small semi-autonomous groups that often work within larger movements. ACT UP primarily operated through affinity groups. Although ACT UP would hold its general meeting on Monday nights, its affinity groups like Treatments Action Group, Media Committee, DIVA TV, and Women’s Caucus, to name only a few, met other nights of the week. Much of the work in building consensus during the Monday night meeting was done beforehand during these other meetings.

71. John Greyson identifies nine different forms of AIDS tapes from cable access shows to experimental critiques of mass media. But the direct-action videos to be discussed here play a central role in influencing future U.S. activist street tapes, most notably that of the alter-globalization movement.

72. Roger Hallas, Reframing Bodies: AIDS, Bearing Witness, and the Queer Moving Image (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2009), 88.

73. John Greyson, “Strategic Compromises: AIDS and Alternative Video Practices,” in Reimagining America: The Arts of Social Change. Eds. Mark O’Brien and Craig Little (Philadelphia, PA: New Society Publishers, 1990), 70.

74. Patricia Zimmerman, States of Emergency: Documentaries, War, Democracies (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), 91.

75. Hallas, 90.

76. Saalfield, 29.

77. Hallas, 91.

78. Jeffrey Juris, Network Futures: The Movement Against Corporate Globalization (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008), 21, 124.

79. Jane M. Gaines, “Political Mimesis,” in Collecting Visible Evidence. Eds. Michael Renov and Jane M. Gaines (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999), 91.

80. Saalfield, 26.

81. Quoted in Cvetkovich, 180. [return to page 4]

82. Ibid., 71.

83. Deborah B. Gould, “ACT UP, Racism, and the Question of How to Use History,” Quarterly Journal of Speech 98, no. 1 (2012): 59.

84. Ibid., 182.

85. Groups like Philadelphia’s Media Mobilizing Project (MMP) and the Canadian Media Co-Op are recent attempts to integrate some anarchist-inflected structures with more structural analysis and support for marginalized communities like African-Americans, Hispanics, the poor, and indigenous groups. For more information on MMP see Peter N. Funke, Chris Robé, and Todd Wolfson, “Suturing Working Class Subjectivities: Media Mobilizing Project and the Role of Media Building a Class-Cased Social Movement,” Triple C: Communication, Capitalism, Critique 10, no.1 (2012):

86. Hallas, 105.

87. Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class (Basic Books: New York, 2002), 69.

88. Ibid., 6.

89. Andrew Ross, Nice Work If You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times (New York: New York University Press, 2009), 41.

90. Jeff Keating phone interview, 20 July 2010.

91. Brandon Jourdan interview, 7 July 2010. All subsequent quotes from Jordan will come from this interview.

92. Andrew Ross, No-Collar: The Humane Workplace and Its Hidden Costs (New York: Basic Books, 2003), 158.

93. The Yes Men are Andy Bichlbaum and Igor Vamos who engage in various theatrical stunts to expose the irrationality of capitalism and the utopian hopes that remain just beyond its purview. Such stunts include posing as entrepreneurs who recycle shit into fast food and impersonating Canadian government officials to claim that its government is dramatically decreasing emissions.

94. COP 16 is shorthand for the 16th United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Cancun, Mexico in 2010.

95. Vicki Mayer, Below the Line: Producers and Production Studies in the New Television Economy (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011), 67.

96. Ibid., 81-82.

97. Activists themselves have self-mockingly deemed protest footage as riot porn. It gets the viewer off as if he/she is part of the event without ever having to leave the comfort of his/her couch.

98. Zimmerman, 95. [return to page 5]

99. The group smartMeme more thoroughly addresses the notion of the battle of the story in their book by Patrick Reinsborough and Doyle Channing, Re:Imagining Change: How to Use Story-Based Strategy to Win Campaigns, Build Movements, and Change the World (Oakland, CA: PM Press, 2010).

100. T.V. Reed, The Art of Protest: Culture and Activism from the Civil Rights Movement to the Streets of Seattle (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005), 57.

101. For more information see Will Potter, Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement Under Siege (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2011).

102. Todd Gitlin, Occupy Nation: The Roots, The Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street (New York: Itbooks, 2012), 98-99.

103. Writers for the 99%, Occupying Wall Street: The Inside Story of an Action that Changed America (Chicago, IL: Haymarket Books, 2011), 63.

104. Ibid., 114.

105. The alter-globalization movement emerged during the 1990s and culminated during the early 2000s. Significantly influenced by the 1994 Zapatista uprising in Chiapas, Mexico, the movement established global networks of resistance against neoliberal institutions like the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund and their environmentally unsound, workers unfriendly, sexist, etc. practices.

106. Not an Alternative, “Counter Power As Common Power,” June 6, 2014:

107. Manuel Castells, Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age (Massachusetts: Polity, 2012), 176.

108. Occupy Nation, 94.

109. Audrea Lim, “Chinatown Is Nowhere,” in Occupy! Scenes from an Occupied America. Eds. Astra Taylor, Keith Cessen, and editors from n+1, Dissent, Triple Canopy and The New Inquiry (New York: Verso, 2011), 99-104.

110. Networks of Outrage, 167.

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