remixed media and the public domain

I have been wanting to write something here for a long time. Ever since watching RIP: a remix manifesto I have truly understood the importance of the work that Creative Commons does and the importance of a healthy public domain. If you have not seen it go download it now.

Lately my two favorite shows are Once Upon a Time and Elementary. They are both remixes of familiar characters in fun, new ways!

The first, Once Upon a Time, is an ABC family show that is made by Disney. It is a giant fairy tale mash up that involves most of the well know animated characters brought to the real world to interact. Its a wonderful fantasy drama and I can admit that I am quite a fan. However its a very creative idea that can only be made by Disney. The fairy tales (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Cinderella, etc) were once part of the public domain and Walt Disney remixed them into animated films. Unfortunately the Disney Corp. has claimed copyright for the material as if they wrote every word and even extended it. They have chosen to keep these stories for themselves and that is truly unfortunate. I love Once Upon a Time but I will only enjoy these characters in a way that Disney can imagine them and not by any other creatives.

Elementary’s main character is Sherlock Holmes and although I have recently enjoyed the Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes films I am wholeheartedly a fan of this new Sherlock and Watson duo played by Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu. Also it is important to note that is does not diminish how much I enjoy the Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law duo in the least bit. They are both fantastic and wildly different re-tellings. I mean seriously, in Elementary Watson is a woman (!), the show is set in New York and Holmes is a recovering drug addict. Since the original Sherlock Holmes tale by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is part of the public domain it is available for re-telling over and over again. We will appreciate the creative endeavors because we are connected to the characters already and can appreciate a new way that they are translated in which ever medium the artist chooses. Only good can come out of this and artists will always be loved and appreciated for their efforts and contributions to our creative community.

Slightly off topic my new favorite children’s book is a familiar story that has been retold for a new audience. It is the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff and the new version is Three Billy Goats Fluff. At first glance I thought of how the story frightened me as a child but the class wanted me to read it to them so I complied. It was so cute and written it such a amazing way that you understand why the billy goat is so cranky and why the story was worth rewriting! I could not have imagined a better retelling but heck this world is full of amazing creative people and I am always excited to see what comes next. C’mon artists bring it on!

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