In our remix video, “Eternal Culture and the Public Domain,” we used clips from various adaptations of Frank L. Baum’s “The Wizard of Oz,” to demonstrate how the presence of the public domain enables culture to stay “forever young.” We started with the earliest surviving Wizard of Oz film, “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” (1910), followed by Larry Semon’s “Wizard of Oz” (1925), and Ted Eshbaugh’s cartoon, “The Wizard of Oz” (1933). We also included examples from Baum’s own thirteen-series collection of “Oz” derivative books and the 1939 edition of “The Wizard of Oz,” which famously featured Judy Garland. Finally, we included a scene from “Walt Disney’s Wizard of Oz” which was released only a year before the story entered the public domain in 1958.
We visually portrayed our argument by decolorizing all the clips dating prior to 1958 to foster a stronger sense of control and lack of creative potential. Once the film entered the public domain, we portrayed all the derivative works in color to illustrate the newfound freedom and possibilities. We demonstrated our theory regarding the relationship between remix and relevancy in many of our clip selections. For example, a portion of a “Family Guy” episode includes a title which states, “The Wizard of Oz Adjusted for Reality.” This clip completely aligns with our argument because the author acknowledges the original work that he is renewing and remixing with his own ideas. We also included a clip from an unreleased movie entitled, “Oz the Great and Powerful” (2013), to demonstrate the ongoing nature of remix culture.
Our background audio selection further exemplifies the inherency of evolution within culture. Music continues to evolve as genres come in and out of popularity. We tracked Alphaville’s “Forever Young,” (1984) through a variety of samples and remixes to show how the song has been adapted to modern culture. In the end of our video, we returned back to the original Alphaville version to demonstrate how culture is cyclical will inevitably repeat itself. For example, in Kanye West’s song, “Young Forever” he used direct samples from the original song in combination with his own rap and lyric modifications.
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.
Today’s media-oriented society is ubiquitously marked by copyrights. Certain degrees of inalienable rights are granted to all artists to help them protect their work, and consequently, an overstep of these boundaries can be considered a copyright violation on behalf of the consumer. However, contemporary times are also a “bold demonstration of the need to share culture in order to get more out of it”(Aufderheide and Jaszi 18). Products of modern culture are typically influenced by pre-existing works, and in turn, will inspire future creations because all art forms feed off each other in order to thrive. Today, “we expect programs such as GarageBand and Windows MovieMaker to come preinstalled on our new computers, and we turn to Flickr and Facebook for other people’s memories to fill in when ours comes up short,”Aufderheide and Jaszi say, demonstrating the public’s intrinsic inclination to build upon the ideas of others (7). Consumers will often reuse copyrighted work without any second thoughts because of the accessibility of editing software. Because the use and repurposing of different works is such a cultural phenomenon, a set of laws and terms of fair use have been outlined in the best interest of the original creator. “Fair use is in play whenever you have the right to take copyrighted material without getting (or even asking for) permission from copyright holders or their agents,” and transforming it into something with new meaning (Aufderheide and Jaszi 20). “Fair use does not protect the interests of any one individual or group so much as it protects freedom of expression and the capacity of the culture to develop” (Aufderheide and Jaszi 26). There are four topics of consideration when classifying a remix or mashup as either fair or not. Generally, when the social benefit of the new media is greater than then detriment to the content’s original owner, it is considered to be fair.
One example of fairly-used copyrighted content is a mash-up cover music video called, “Call Me Maybe” / “Payphone” MASHUP! (ft. Jessica Jarrell & James Alan). In this video, Jarrell and Alan perform an original collaboration of two pre-existing songs. This video not a tribute-style cover, and it falls under the fair use category because the final result will not deter consumers from purchasing either of the two original songs. Firstly, this video’s character is clearly a positive one, and demonstrates an intent to entertain an audience. It is not a parody of either song, or an attempt to take undue credit. Secondly, the creative nature of this remix video conveys a new message than either of the original songs did, and speaks to the audience in a different style. While it is true that nearly half of the original content from both songs is used within this video, the artists perform them in an orthogonal manner. Finally, the market value of this video is negligible in comparison to the overwhelming success the contents’ original owners, Carly Rae Jepsen and Maroon 5 respectively, receive after releasing the songs.
Aufderheide, Patricia and Jaszi, Peter. Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2011. Print.
Alan, James and Jessica Jarrell. ““Call Me Maybe” / “Payphone” MASHUP! (ft. Jessica Jarrell & James Alan)” 9 July 2012.
In an era ubiquitously marked by art-dominated culture and unrestricted outlets for self-expression, an ongoing struggle for personal recognition and monetary satisfaction wages between copyrighters and consumers. An industry once forged by passion and creativity seems to have taken a moral and ethical shift, now myopically focusing on the financial aspects of art rather than its original purpose of enhancing and celebrating American culture. In his thought-provoking novel, Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars, William Patry bluntly addresses the profound disconnect between media producers and consumers, and questions the intentions of both parties. Copyright owners are “continually looking for a magic and safe solution that will permit them to control consumers and therefore control growth,” Patry explains, demonstrating the seemingly adversarial relationship between both groups (24). Today, copyright litigation is a billion-dollar industry that is largely commandeered by threatened copyrighters seeking out entitled credit for the works they release to their consumers. Recent technology makes copyrighted media more accessible than ever before, and many established producers are hesitant to accept more recent and alternative modes of creation and publication. Consumers now have the perpetual ability to create original songs and images or remix pre-existing art forms by using certain easily accessible technologies. This concept may instill fear within the content’s original owner, and motivate their decision to take drastic measure towards securing their rights.
The notion of copyrighters taking advantage of their consumers is hyperbolically illustrated in a South Park episode entitled, “The Human CentiPad,” where consumers unknowingly submit themselves to tortuous human experimentation after failing to fully read an application’s “Terms of Service” agreement (Parker 2011). Clearly, the show’s protagonist was remiss by not reading the terms he agreed to; however, Patry’s theory of copyrighters extorting consumers is indicated by the company’s gruesome consequences, which serve no purpose other than to antagonize the consumer. While this superlative theme is wildly exaggerated in the South Park episode, it is not a fictitious phenomenon. For example, the social networking website, “Facebook,” clearly highlights that they “reserve all rights not expressly granted to you” in their “Statement of Rights and Responsibility” section (Statement 2012). This statement fosters a gray area of uncertainty and leaves users feeling unsure of their rights. Additionally, they warn users to “use it at your own risk” because they will “not guarantee that Facebook will always be safe” (Statement 2012). Like the character from South Park, the average consumer might make certain assumptions based on the website’s worldwide popularity that would lead them to sign up without any concerns regarding their own personal safety or security.
In closing, the epitomized central message supported by both William Patry and the South Park episode ultimately boils down to a one-sided feeling of respect many consumers experience in their ongoing relationship with the copyrighted world. While Patry goes as far as to label “enforcement actions by corporate copyright owners as an assault on consumers,” there is clearly an underlying air of overstepped boundaries on behalf of the copyrighters (1). Even though copyrighters should expect a certain degree of credit and recognition, it often seems as though they are too eager to exercise or abuse their power over consumers and lose sight of the intended purpose and meaning in the copyrighted work at hand.
“Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” Facebook. Web. 07 Sept. 2012.
Parker, Trey. “The Human CentiPad.” South Park. Viacom Media Networks.
27 Apr. 2011. Television. Transcript.
Patry, William F. Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars. New York: Oxford UP,