Mash-Up Culture

Some of the best works in human his­to­ry have been remix­es and mash-ups.

The BBC reports that George Clooney has admit­ted to steal­ing ideas from oth­er direc­tors. He told the crowd at a press con­fer­ence that he had “stolen from every oth­er direc­tor.” This sounds less like admit­ting plagerism and more like being hum­ble, which just seems odd com­ing from such a well paid star. Kind of like man-bites-dog.

A recent Wired Mag­a­zine arti­cle gave many dif­fer­ent aspects of the mix and mash-up cul­ture. How­ev­er, is this any­thing new? The Wired piece touch­es on the idea that we (humans) have been doing this for a very long time. Did­n’t Shake­speare (or who­ev­er wrote those plays) write every major plot con­ciev­able? Aren’t all rock bal­lads sim­ply G‑C-D with goofy lyrics? Isn’t pho­tog­ra­phy just repro­duc­tion of pri­or art, be it man made or oth­er?

I haven’t seen direc­tor-Clooney’s sec­ond film, “Good­night and Good Luck,” which revolves around the hunt for com­mu­nists in Hol­ly­wood. I could­n’t tell you if it is more like “The God­fa­ther” or “Gigli.” How­ev­er, I argue it should get to stand on it’s own. Artists, engi­neers, sci­en­tists, and cre­ators from all walks of life should give cred­it to sources of inspi­ra­tion. This should in no way reduce great works of any kind. If we deter­mined today that Michae­lan­ge­lo had just seen a stat­ue of some naked man and went home to work on his “David,” would we think that stat­ue is any less mag­nif­i­cent? What if the Dec­la­ra­tion of Inde­pen­dance had been hashed out by oth­er and just edit­ed by Jef­fer­son? It is still an amaz­ing piece of both his­to­ry and lit­er­a­ture.

Be hum­ble. Give cred­it. Share in the wealth. Most of all, don’t be afraid to cre­ate just because the influ­ence or idea came from else­where. Some of the best works in human his­to­ry have been remix­es and mash-ups.

Here Are Some Of My Examples

Got any of your own? Post them in the com­ments

  • Pret­ty much any­thing John Williams scored for a movie (i.e. “The Impe­r­i­al March” is just Mars: Bringer of War from Hol­st’s The Plan­ets.)
  • Orsan Scott Card’s nov­el “Ender’s Game” is a mix-up of sev­er­al sci-fi clas­sics, such as Robert Hein­lein’s “Star­ship Troop­ers”.