Zapping Storms: Camp, Parody, and Queer Video Activism

Raffi Sarkissian


This article analyzes the parody response to “Gathering Storm,” an anti-gay marriage ad released in April 2009, as an early YouTube video meme. Focusing on the literal excess of the storm metaphor, its low-grade visual aesthetic, and what I term as the ad’s heterofragility, the parodies collectively use camp humor to critique the homophobic campaign. Based on interviews with some of the parody creators, the article also connects the impulse, organization, production, and distribution of the parodies—those that were shot as in-person group productions—to historical modes of queer activism, arguing that the digital parody phenomenon represents a digital adaptation of zaps, traditionally disruptive and theatrical demonstrations from earlier feminist, LGBTQ, and AIDS-era activism.


camp, parody, humor, satire, zaps, queer, LGBTQ activism, video meme, Gathering Storm, gay marriage, participatory culture, YouTube

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