Remixing is taking a piece of media and changing it to make something new. Plagiarism is flat-out taking a piece of media and claiming you made it with little to no changes. These two definitions are in a constant battle with each other, and everyday the lines between the two seem to blur more and more.
I believe that remixing is something we do all the time, without realizing it. Our opinions and ideas are usually based off the opinions and ideas of others, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s the source from which we gather our opinions and ideas that matter, such as the Bible or political speakers.
Life is easier to enjoy when it is predictable, as well as media. Most shows have clichés or tropes they follow that are present in multiple works of art. The site TvTropes catalogues these clichés for movies, books, and other forms of media. It’s interesting to browse through and see just how unoriginal most tv shows are.
Interestingly, South Park had an episode about this very subject called “The Simpsons Already Did It.” The story behind this episode is how writers would point out to the producers that their ideas had already been done by the show the Simpsons, and so this episode was made as a response. Characters from the Simpsons were put in the show on purpose and the plot revolves around the meta issue, where a character has a plan to take over the world, but is told that the Simpsons already did that.
It can be somewhat frustrating to realize that nearly every idea we have are based off previous ideas. Great inventions and breakthroughs have come to fruition because someone took the time to tell themselves “maybe this will work this time around.” Edison borrowed a lot of ideas from Tesla and figured out how to make the systems work efficiently and reliably. Valve created a new style of storytelling in video games by not including cut scenes and letting the player remain in control the entire time, something that had not been seen in video games before.
Personally, I believe that the sooner the majority of people embrace the idea of remixing, the quicker content can be created. A system of figuring out plagiarism and remixing needs to be standardized so that legitimate creative ideas can come to fruition while the lowlife remoras still get punished for attempting to pass off others’ work as their own.
Remixing already works in the music industry as a way to get recognition and land a job, but seems to not be held to the same standards when it comes to other mediums, like graphic design or advertising. Microsoft went under fire for creating an advertisement for Player Unknown’s BattleGrounds port to Xbox that looked nearly identical to a fanmade picture. Controversy ensued and the trailer was pulled off the internet.
Was this simply remixing that was a bit too close to the original or flat out plagiarism? With music, you can usually hear the difference between the source and remix material, as is the same with designs, however, music seems to be given a free pass with sampling other artists. Nobody really points fingers at remixers and accuse them of plagiarism, because others will simply state “So what? It’s a remix.” But when the tables are turned to other mediums, these ideals are not held to the same standards.
Overall standardization is needed if remixing is to be accepted in all forms of media. This way, scenarios like the ones listed above can be dealt with in a quick fashion that is fair to the creators, both original and the remixers.