In their transformative remix video, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – A Remix Video about Remix” Clark Baxtresser and Avni Mehta use a variety of songs, photographs, and video clips to support their argument that “Even the most innovative of ideas are created by reproducing other ideas.” This quote challenges the innovation of our culture by questioning whether any of our ideas are truly original.
Furthermore, this remix demonstrates the concept of participatory culture and its natural inherency to build upon itself. Multiple scenes of fans reproducing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance and Soulja Boy’s “Crank That” routine supports this idea of consumers manipulating and embracing culture in order to transform it into something more personal.
“All creativity requires reproduction…” they argue, but “…with modification.” Modification is the key element to cultural and idealogical growth. For example, one scene illustrates the progression from a caveman building a stone wheel, to a bicycle and finally a car. Without the caveman’s initial invention, we would never have cars like we do today. His ancient tool has been continually modified over centuries in order to arrive upon the numerous inventions we rely upon in the present.
The same process is evident in contemporary media. The video includes remixed images of “American Gothic” and the “Mona Lisa” to apply the transformative process to classic paintings and change their meaning to reflect today’s culture. These initial paintings are effectively transformed into parodies. By adding cellphones, cigarettes, and Simpsons characters to these historic images, the Wood’s and da Vinci’s intended meanings have been dramatically changed by the incorporation of humor. While some may consider these computer-generated images to be sacrilegious, the remixed end result is undeniably regarded as art.
The incorporation of new ideas enables artists to make original media influenced by preexisting art. From this video, we can also observe the concept of modification as it applies to our culture. Just as life is constantly evolving, culture is always evolving. The filmmaker points out how we are all reproductions of our parents even though we possess our own unique physical and mental variations that set us apart. Because ideas cannot be copyrighted, plot structures, lyrics, techniques and themes are often recycled and reproduced from older works and converted into modern ones. Over time, writers have created a collection of archetypes that are consistently evident in books and movies. While all authors use these characters, different circumstances and techniques allow new movies to be derived from hackneyed story lines.
After watching “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – A Remix Video about Remix,” we realized that our own project will rely more heavily on the ideas of other than we had initially thought. Because we are solely remixing and repurposing preexisting media, the originality of our video will depend on the convincingness of our argument and creativeness of our editing style. We will select clips based on their potential meaning and ability to support our argument, instead of their entertainment value or our own personal media preferences.
Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ – A Remix Video about Remix. Dir. Clark Baxtresser and Avni Mehta. YouTube. YouTube, 11 May 2010. Web. 19 Oct. 2012.