“Talent Borrows, Genius Steals”
Oscar Wilde said “Talent borrows, genius steals”. If you think about it everything has been done before, we haven’t had an original thought in thousands of years. We take the same old ideas throw them into the meat grinder we call the creative process, rearrange them and say viola! An original piece of art. When in reality it is a Frankenstein amalgamation of a little bit from here, and a little bit from there. A remix if you will. I have done this countless times in my writing. I recently wrote a whole scene in one of my science fiction novels, of an escape of one of my antagonists from a city built into a waterfall. It took place on a docking platform (think valet parking in the distant future) anyway the way it played out I realized I was taking taking inspiration from two Star Wars prequel movies. The City of Theed on Naboo from the Phantom Menace was one of them and the fight scene between Obi-Won and Jango Fett on the planet of Camino was the other. Of course I see this now but at the time I was totally unaware of it. I created in my mind this original piece of fiction but my mind subconsciously bubbled these images up to the top of my brain. I won’t change it cause of what Oscar said and also no matter what I write it would be compared to something. There is just too much material out there that is so easy to access it would be impossible not to find something similar.
In that same vein, another thing that irks me is, I will have an idea for a short story or a screenplay and inevitably I will see a trailer or read a book that has the same plot or story arch. My thought is fuck it, who cares, just write your version. Maybe the critics will call it a modern day version of whatever your idea was similar to. Or a poor mans version, either way it is yours, you made it. It may have been constructed with similar ideas but you put it together, you made it happen.
If you look out there now you see a lot of copying and even out and out stealing. My favourite is mashing up of songs, there is also the mashing up of videos which is even more creative, using video clips and editing them into interesting montages or stories or even songs. The possibilities are endless and with technology growing at the rate it is we will be able to do this instantly. Memes and means are prolific on the internet and all you need is a computer and a little bit of spare time.
So write what you write, copy if you need to and steal if you must. If someone busts you on it just call it an homage or a tribute to the original, but the audience is savvy and they will smell shit if it’s shit. The world is a creative place and to limit that creativity is a crime greater, I think, than copyright infringement. This blog is an tribute to a couple of links below. One is a TED talk by Lawrence Lessing called Re-examining the remix and the other is a series I found really interesting on Vimeo called Everything is a Remix by Kirby Ferguson. Enjoy.