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The Remix Culture

Posted on: March 25, 2011

In the age of digital information, anyone ‘hooked up’ or in other words, connected to the Internet is immediately privy to data which could previously have been rather inaccessible to the average man on the streets. For instance, government documents and statistics which were once available only in hardcopy at the local government department are now put up online. Anyone, despite geographical location can access these files. Hence, technological advances have “revolutionised communications and the spread of information” (Lallana, 2003, p. 6).

Consequently, this led to the emergence of participatory culture. Russell, Ito, Richmond, and Tuters (2008) discuss this phenomenon. Old and new media convergence which spreads power and information across the society despite geographical distance combines with the ease at which low-cost “digital authoring tools” are procured to allow for prousers (producers/users) to publish and disseminate their works. Making use of media content readily available on the World Wide Web (WWW), netizens who are also prousers are now able to generate ‘original’ works based on past and current creations. However, the idea of original is sometimes subjective, and will be discussed later.

The top-down model of mass media-practitioners-to-consumers model has been changed due to the popularity of peer-to-peer (P2P) relationships. Instead of Hollywood blockbusters which are only released at a certain time or filmed based on areas of interest of a particular producer or company, prousers now can plan, film, and disseminate their amateur productions on websites like Youtube. These previously ‘fringe’ activities have been gaining momentum in the WWW and becoming forms of mainstream culture, adopted by mass media practitioners. Take the example of alternative band Weezer’s Grammy Award music video, Pork and Beans.



The 2008 music video featured various Youtube celebrities and references to Internet culture (e.g. Grobe and Voltz’s Diet Coke and Mentos viral artwork experiment) and was debuted first on Youtube. This goes to show that the ‘big’ (relatively) players are acknowledging the user-led mass media revolution. Viral marketing is the next big thing.

Netizens have also reinterpreted mass media products in parodies and spoofs, which are then disseminated online. Using clips and sound from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean, an amateur video remix garnered 10,323,514 views as of now. 



An example is the wildly popular Twilight series. Youtubers like nigahiga have put their own spin on the original, often garnering positive feedback from other netizens as well.



The network of public culture has also led to a great increase in online groups coming together to share culture. One example of this is how Asian dramas and pop culture are becoming more popular in the English-speaking world through transcriptions and production of subtitles. A simple search for a Japanese drama “Hana Yori Dango Eng Subs” for instance, will yield many results with fan-made subtitles. Similarly, many music videos in foreign languages are now ‘fan-subbed‘, leading to a wider trans-culture fan base.



Besides editing and adding on to a media product, prousers have also remixed media products, coming out with a new creations between artists not likely to collaborate. Youtube user isosine has recently come up with a mashup of teen pop idol Justin Bieber and heavy metal band Slipknot, proving that anything is possible. Online that is.



The big controversies of P2P and netizens taking a more active role in producing media like remixes are that the big media companies are taking offense that ‘original’ material is being ‘stolen’ and passed off as new (O’Brien & Brian, 2006, pp. 1-3). Under copyright laws, unless permission is sought or material is licensed under a voluntary open license, it is illegal to use or perform substantial parts of a certain work (Spackman, 2003).

However, as Brett Gaylor, the film-maker of RIP: A Remix Manifesto points out, culture always builds on the past (Riedemann, 2009). Gaylor has highlighted the influences that Walt Disney’s cartoon movies have used. Favourite Disney films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves as well as The Little Mermaid were influenced by the likes of Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, showing that culture indeed builds on the past (Allen, 1999 & Patten, 2000). Mentioned also in RIP: A Remix Manifesto, English rock band The Verve got sued for lifting ‘original’ material from The Rolling Stones who in turn were influenced by blues musicians of the 60s.

As co-founder of Downhill Battle, Nicholas Reville said, “All kinds of artists have always borrowed and built on each others’ work, these corporations have outlawed an art form” (Shachtman, 2004).

References

DaJugglingFool. 2007, ‘Why is the Rum Gone? – Remix’, Youtube.com, viewed 25 March 2011.

D-Addicts. 2011, ‘Hana Yori Dango [Eng Subs] (Complete)’, D-Addicts, viewed 25 March 2011.

Downhill Battle. 2011.

Gaylor, B. 2008, ‘RIP! A Remix Manifesto’, viewed 25 March 2011.

isosine. 2011, ‘Justin Bieber vs. Slipknot – Psychosocial Baby’, Youtube.com, viewed 25 March 2011.

Lallana, EC. 2003, ‘The Information Age’, e-ASEAN Task Force: UNDP-APDIP, viewed 25 March 2011.

nigahiga. 2009, ‘Movies In Minutes – Twilight’, Youtube.com, viewed 25 March 2011.

O’Brian, D. & Brian, F. 2006, ‘Mashups, remixes and copyright law’, Internet Law Bulletin, Vol. 9, No. 2, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Law School, pp. 17-19.

Patten, F. 2000, ‘Walt Disney and Europe: A Closer Look At Sources’, Animation World Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 11, viewed 25 March 2011.

PromoNews. 2011, ‘Mathew Cullen video for Weezer’s Pork & Beans wins Grammy’, PromoNews.com, viewed 25 March 2011.

Riedemann, DV. 2009, ‘Movie Review: RiP A Remix Manifesto’, Suite101, viewed 25 March 2011.

Russell, A. Ito, M., Richmond, T., & Tuters, M. 2008, ‘Culture: Media Convergence and Networked Culture’, Networked Publics, ed. K. Varnelis, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, pp. 43 – 76.

Shactman, N. 2004, ‘Copyright Enters a Gray Area’, Wired, viewed 25 March 2011.

Spackman, C. 2003, ‘Why Use a Free / Open License?’, Openhistory, viewed 25 March 2011.

TheYGmusic. 2010, ‘[MV] Big Bang – Beautiful Hangover [HD] [ENG SUB]’, Youtube.com, viewed 25 March 2011.

WeezerVEVO. 2009, ‘Weezer – Pork And Beans’, Youtube.com, viewed 25 March 2011.

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5 Responses to "The Remix Culture"

[…] joycechng Just another WordPress.com site Skip to content HomeAboutContact ← The Remix Culture […]

Amazing website & writing skills. You my friend have TALENT!

thanks for the kind comment!

[…] be vastly different from mainstream media. As in the case of the remix culture which I highlighted here, amateur producers who are also users and netizens in the World Wide Web (WWW) are important when […]

[…] they turn to writing blogs. As discussed in some detail within my previous posts to do with the remix culture and Youtube’s popularity, anyone with a viable Internet connection as well as basic computer […]

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