Write it, cut it, paste it, save it,
Load it, check it, quick – rewrite it…
And that is how you affect society, sort of.
Remixes, Break It Down
The Oxford Dictionary defines remixing as to; “produce a different version of a musical recording by altering the balance of the separate tracks”. What’s produced is also known as a remix. Considering the freedom and easy access properties of the internet, the rise of remixes and a subsequent remix culture isn’t particularly strange. While this refers to music, almost any form of media can be ‘remixed’ into a different version or even form.
Remixs aren’t just confined to the internet though, they are a fundamental part of the hip hop and techno music industries.
Remixing can have several purposes; to allow a song to be played on the radio, to change the genre of the song or for artistic purposes. These all involve the changing of meaning and this ‘changing of meaning’ changes the connotations of a piece of media.
Lay It Out For Me
Given the rising popularity of remixes and the concept that an idea behind a piece of media can be manipulated by remixing it. This shows itself as an interesting contribution to the public sphere.
This controversial image is mix of President Obama and Trayvon Martin, a youth who was shot while wearing a hoodie. It was suggested that he was wrongly suspected because of the negative stigma around ‘hoodlum’ culture. This image raised talks on the topic of racism and stereotypes in the wake of the incident and is often used with relation to Obama’s words on the matter;
“I can only imagine what these parents are going through, and when I think about this boy, I think about my own kids, and I think every parent in America should be able to understand why we investigate every aspect of this — federal state and local — and figure out how this tragedy happened”- Barack Obama, 2012
Musical remixes of presidential debates and speeches are also often used to satire politics in a way that allows an idea to be broadcast to a wider audience.
On the surface these videos seem to be humorous, crude and somewhat clever, but on a deeper level all three videos are examples of how a remix can be used to emphasise particular aspects of people (In this case, presidential candidates). Issues, whether they are unknown or well in the public eye can be brought up or have a new view cast onto it by generating the idea in a remix.
” The remix features Barack Obama rapping a modified version of Jay Z’s “99 Problems.” The revised lyrics cover subjects ranging from Occupy Wall Street, escalating energy costs, bank bailouts, “Fast and Furious,” Obama’s birth certificate, and the use of predator drones.” Diran Lyons (On ’99 Problems (Explicit Political Remix) ORIGINAL UPLOAD’) 2012
Drop It Like It’s Illegal
While remix culture does have it’s ups and has the amazing ability of spreading an idea or view at will, it also has it’s downs and imperfections. A question I asked myself; If a piece of media is made of other pieces of media made by other producers, who owns it? Who has control of it? Does it depreciate or add to the original works? I can’t answer these questions and apparently neither can others: There are laws to protect producers of original works and laws that protect parodies and remixes but there are clashes, loopholes and questionable properties of each law.
Consider this reaction video by Dan Bull, a youtuber that created “REPUBLICAN RAP BATTLE – Dan Bull” as seen previously in this post. In this video, Dan discusses his incident with copyright laws on Youtube. He raises the point that rap music relies heavily on the use of other people’s works and that laws that criminalise the use of other people’s works are tearing holes into remix culture. Curiously enough this video can also be considered a remix, using other images, sounds and videos to create a new piece while expressing ideas and ideologies to raise awareness of remix culture’s weaknesses.