The Internet has always endorsed remaking or remixing existing work. A recent blog by filmmaker Kirby Ferguson argues that everything is a remix and that in order for creativity to prosper this process is absolutely necessary. This statement is definitely true about traditional films. A clear example of this is the Star Wars films. These films would have been far less entertaining had George Lucas not copied works by earlier Directors. (http://vimeo.com/19447662). When it comes internet videos however does remixing/remaking really aid creativity? I feel it doesn’t and will endeavor to determine why.
My main example for this post is the Harlem Shake. To the select few who aren’t familiar with Internet trends, The Harlem Shake is the latest video phenomenon to be circulating the web. The original video consisted of a group of people wearing morph suits and doing a quirky dance in a bedroom. Like Gangham style before it the video quickly went viral and prompted other people to start doing their own versions. The interesting thing about this video is just how many versions have been made. Savvy business types have created Harlem shake promo videos, a squadron in the Norwegian army joined in the fun and virtually every university has at least one version. My course mates and me recently created our own Harlem shake. Although we created the video a tad too late (the video peaked early February) we still managed to get over 1500 views within 24 hours.
Now another example, I was recently involved in making a music video for a friends band. It was the first time I’d been involved in such an endeavor so I put in serious time into the videos production. The video was far from perfect and I’d be lying if I said it was truly original (we took influence from several Billy Talent music videos) but in essence the work was our own unique creation. The video has been online for several weeks now and despite constant plugging has only just passed 500 views. Compare this to the Harlem shake video. Our version of the Harlem shake was a remix and not a creative one at that. Despite this it was much more successful (as far as Youtube views are concerned) than the music video.
What conclusion can I make from this? People have been impressed by how the Harlem shake has engaged viewers and actively encouraged them to create their own versions. Is this creativity a good thing though? I would argue no. Remixed videos are short-lived fads (The Gangham style remixes have already been all but forgotten). I believe entertaining videos are still the original (ish) ones. However, Because of the nature of the Internet people aren’t fussy as to what they are watching and this means that good quality videos have to fight against gimmicks like the Harlem Shake.
Heres the music video which I worked on.
and my courses version of the harlem shake