I agree with the ideas presented in both pieces, that everything is a remix in one way or another. A conversation I often had with my old roommate, who’s a studio art major back in NYC, was how she was sick of people talking about and making pieces revolving around the idea that “there are no new ideas, everything is just a copy of a copy”. While she didn’t agree with this sentiment, these pieces suggest that yes, everything is in a sense, a copy of a copy, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, especially considering that there weren’t ever completely original ideas to start with. Reading Lethem’s article was interesting, but I felt Ferguson’s video series was much more effective at driving the point home, mainly because he was able to play clips as examples. As someone who wants to be a producer in the future, the idea that everything is a form of remix is kind of a relief. There’s a lot of pressure on artists to make something new, original, edgy, etc., etc., when what’s really important is to make something good. This weird emphasis on new sometimes drives artists to try to hard to be new and original, and make something overly dark, filled with cheap shock factor, and in general concentrate on being different rather than good.
I think copyright laws can be a little ridiculous sometimes. Just last semester, I was working at a producing internship and was looking up public domain songs. I realized I recognized most of them from elementary school choir class. This probably meant that songs were chosen not because they were classic choir songs, or good for kids to sing, rather, they were free to use. It’s a little ridiculous- would Katy Perry sue a bunch of fifth graders for singing Firework? Hopefully not.
Ferguson mentioned the Grey Album, Danger Mouse’s remix album of Jay Z and The Beatles, and I was curious so I tried listening to it. I thought the result was something unlike either of the original albums. It seems silly for the Beatles’ record company to sue, because I doubt anyone would listen to or buy The Grey Album if they wanted to listen to the Beatles. If anything, it introduces more people to The Beatles music and could encourage more sales of the original. Strangely enough, if my working knowledge of music copyright is correct, if Danger Mouse had created a cover mash up album, much like Glee does in most episodes, it would’ve been perfectly legal.
Side note: the phrase “you wouldn’t steal a handbag” always reminds me of this clip from the show The IT Crowd (A British comedy which has been had two attempted remakes in the US so far) :