Ok, so I watched parts one through four of ‘Everything is a Remix’and must say I enjoyed it.
It got me thinking and I found some really useful and interesting stuff online that all related to it. Really, we kind of already know that current works take from those that preceded, sometimes taking a marginal influence, and other times directly lifting from previous sources. The saying “nothing is original” has always rang true with me, so watching this program got my mind racing. Before we even got to part two I was thinking, “Tarantino!” He is the master of pop culture, taking influence from what came before and manipulating it within his own work to create something that has been successfully received by both critics and audience alike. Manohla Dargis (1994: 8) says ‘A Pasticheur and pop-cultural relativist, the 31-year-old Tarantino is as at home with Elvis as he is with Steve McQueen, Pam Grier and Shakespeare. And even more than with Resevoir Dogs, his screenplays for True Romance (directed by Tony Scott) and Pulp Fiction are scattershot with references to movies and TV (“Riddle me this, Batman”)’. Dargis also goes on to say that, ‘Tarantino shares in his generation’s cheerful bad taste and prodigious appetite for the good, the bad and the idiotic.’ Tarantino speaks to a generation and his films see film reference after film reference, yet he has spun it in his own unique way, being known especially for his dialogue. Not only was he greatly influenced by what he saw on screen, but by popular literature, including for his film, Pulp Fiction. ‘Quentin was particularly attracted by the idea of making the same characters move in and out of different stories. He wanted to work on a large movie canvas, using literary rules. He was particularly influenced by the writing of people like Larry McMurtry and J.D.Salinger (author of Cathcher in the Rye) both of whom tended to have characters float in and out of their books.’ Clarkson, W (1995: 191). His films are so stylized that the term Tarantinoesque has been added online in the Collins Dictionary to describe something ‘referring to or reminiscent of the work of the American film-maker and actor Quentin Tarantino (born 1963), known for the violence, style, and wit of his films’.
Tarantino is a music lover, a film geek and has carved out a vastly successful career for himself. Just because an individual takes influence or even direct references from previous works, does not mean they will have success. It is about the combination of materials, the content, the timing, the look and so much more. Tarantino has done something that works and dare I say it… there is a lot of originality mixed in with the pop culture references and nods to the past. It is the combination of ideas that works. One might say that he is a remix master!
Next I come to Led Zeppelin, who I cannot help but mention after seeing them so prominently featured in part one of, “Everything is a Remix”. When I watched this for the first time I must say I was surprised. Not being born when they were around I had never heard much about their career at the time they were rising prominently in the public eye; only hearing their music on CD at home or with friends. Seeing that they had been classed as rip offs was a shock, because as far as I knew they were highly regarded and considered rock and roll legends! Hearing the micro clips of others songs they had taken from made me rethink the band initially. I decided it better to go and listen to these tracks for myself and make direct comparisons with The Led Zeppelin versions. I searched for the song “Bring it on Home” both the Led Zeppelin version, and the Sonny Boy Williamson track.
The opening of the Led Zep version was pretty much exactly the same up until almost two minutes in. Then it became a whole new track taking influence from the first but carved into their sound. When questioned they stated they did it as a tribute but as they didn’t give the proper credit at the time it doesn’t look good, however the style of the song and the shift makes me think this could be true, or they liked it so much they wanted to merge the two together, taking part from one and becoming something else. Remixing. At the end of the day, Led Zeppelin were popular because of what they did, their own branding and form of music, the way they used music and the way it was put together, their look, energy and so much more. They were popular, not because they ‘stole’ from others, but because of what they represented and presented at that time. In my opinion I think it is fair to say that they weren’t a huge success because they lifted parts from other peoples songs, but because of the overall package that they provided.
The remix culture can be found everywhere, as the very title states “Everything is a Remix”! According to Russo et al, ‘Remix, even moving image remix, is hardly a new phenomenon. Indeed the buzzword has gathered such momentum in cultural discourse that it begins to seem retrospectively that everything is a remix.’ (2012: [1.1])
Remixes advance on ideas that have previously been expressed, making comment on what has come before, and even directly taking from one or more things, to make something new. As Russo discusses in her journal article “Fan/remix video (a remix)”, ‘emix has been present for a long time, way back to the Renaissance and notes, ‘culture always builds on the past’ (2012: [1.1]). It’s nothing new, yet in an age where we have access to so much through the Internet, the remix culture seems much more prevalent in society today. According to Russo, ‘we are in the midst of an explosion in vernacular creativity that appropriates, celebrates, critiques, and transforms commercial entertainment.” (2012: [1.2])
Remix videos are an incredibly popular example of what is available today (and lets not forget song remixes!). They can be used for entertainment purposes, social commentary, or something else entirely. For my Internet search on this topic I found two interesting videos by the same person (on the youtube channel, Diran Lyons) that I felt were good examples to include in this blog. The first is called, “Harry Potter vs Darth Vader (project 12, 7/12)”.
It is a great example of a remix for entertainment purposes, taking two incredibly popular films in Harry Potter and Star Wars, and remixing it perfectly, crossing over two famous characters from two different worlds and making it one.
The next video, “Death and Taxes (project 12, 5/12)” took a much more serious note.
Death and Taxes has a political message that it gets across by using works that are already in the mainstream media and are well known to the general public. I particularly enjoyed this video, as I liked the fact that it had something to say. I would strongly recommend this youtube channel, as there are some great examples to be found here. (Find links at the bottom of this article)
I’ll leave you with these final thoughts on the topic. At the end of the day, it isn’t what artists take, it is what they do with the material. Though someone takes from another resource, it doesn’t mean they can then be successful with it. They take influence, and sometimes even direct ideas, images, sounds, words, looks etc, and make it into something new. People love the past, we are nostalgic and like things we are familiar with, so seeing these ideas, characters, images that we love so much presented in new and refreshing ways is surely a big appeal. Finally, for those who might turn their nose up at remixing, think on this. This blog can be classed as a remix. I have taken ideas from others, mixed them with my own, taken quotes from others articles to highlight my point, remix!!!! Books are a remix, articles, journals, everything that people do right now takes influence from something else and they take it in their own direction, with their own ideas. When you write an essay you are expected to cite other references to ground your ideas in with the ideas of those around you. For it to be considered credible, you have to reference others work, remixing!!! It’s everywhere…
Clarkson, W. (1995) ‘Quentin Tarantino: Shooting From The Hip’, London: Judy Piatkus (Publishers) Ltd.
Dargis, Manohla. (1994) ‘Pulp Instincts’, Sight and Sound Magazine, issue 5, May, pp. 8.
Russo, Julie Levin, and Francesca Coppa. 2012. “Fan/Remix Video (A Remix).” In “Fan/Remix Video,” edited by Francesca Coppa and Julie Levin Russo, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 9. doi:10.3983/twc.2012.0431.
(Really useful, interesting and informative, highly recommend reading the above journal)
Accessed 08-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vs5G3WL5KOk
‘Bring it on Home’ performed by Sonny Boy Williamson, youtube video.
Accessed 08-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ioIuI_W16o
‘Bring it on Home’ performed by Led Zeppelin, youtube video.
Accessed 12-11-2013, http://everythingisaremix.info/ ‘Everything is a Remix’ website, Kirby Ferguson.
Accessed 12-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/user/kirby1/videos Kirby Ferguson’s YouTube videos page.
(A great one to check out for more interesting videos)
Accessed 18-11-2013, http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/tarantinoesque Collins dictionary web page, Tarantinoesque.
Accessed 18-11-2013, http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tarantinoesque
Urban Dictionary web page, Tarantinoesque.
Accessed 19-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AcI5vZEGBSI
‘Harry Potter vs Darth Vader (project 12, 7/12)’, youtube video, Diran Lyons.
Accessed 19-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdG0fi90sCM
‘Death and Taxes (project 12, 5/12)’, youtube video, Diran Lyons.
Accessed on 19-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/user/DiranLyons/videos youtube channel, Diran Lyons. (Some great videos on this channel)
Accessed on 21-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4le3EDDAIQ
‘Everything is a Remix: Kill Bill’ youtube video, Kirby Ferguson.
Accessed on 21-11-2013, http://www.youtube.com/user/kirby1/videos youtube channel, Kirby Ferguson. (View some more interesting videos on the topic)
Accessed pm 21-11-2013, http://www.ted.com/talks/kirby_ferguson_embrace_the_remix.html
‘Kirby Ferguson: Embrace the Remix’ TED Talks website, video.