Just watched Brett Gaylor’s Rip! A Remix Manifesto on Hulu last night. I’m actually shocked that NBC, Fox and ABC (Disney) would have this online, in this format; despite its lionization of Disney the Man, Disney the Company is really taken to task here. Maybe it’s the “if we join them, they will disappear” belief. Or maybe they (Los Corporations Grandes) figure the animals have already left the zoo, and they can’t stop it, exhibited by their mere acceptance of Hulu as a business model. Don’t know.
What I do know is that the film is pretty damn good. I’ve been loosely paying attention to these issues since the U2 vs. Negativland debacle in the early nineties, which really made U2 look backwards at a time when they were actually creating some pretty forwards-looking music. I think Negativland would have looked a bit more serious if they hadn’t included the cover, which is pretty much a giant “U2” over a much smaller “Negativland.” You can claim “culture jamming” all you want, but when you transparently are looking for huge sales by being cheeky, I understand Island’s concern. Maybe not the legal overreaction, but the concern is valid.
(I also think Greg Ginn’s re-release with Negativ(e)land: Live on Tour album on SST is about as brilliant a response as possible- Negativland may have posed and said, “EXACTLY! That’s what we’re talking about!” but the loss of their “intellectual property” and the realization of Ginn’s masterful chess move must have stung a little.)
Regardless, I think Rip! and Girl Talk (the “band” that Gaylor champions- those quotes are not sarcastic, it’s actually one guy) are completely necessary right now, and Girl Talk to me is more of an idea than an actual band. (Much like The Sex Pistols are a better idea than a band- Never Mind the Bollocks… is a pretty good album, but it’s a better call-to-arms. The Clash were 10 times the band the Pistols were.) I love the idea of “everything is fair game, ’cause we’re all the same person” and I think the spirit of Girl Talk is much more interesting than the actual music- I listen to the songs and think, “That’s interesting,” but there’s an aspect of it (to me) that seems like a novelty. It’s not the music that’s important, it’s the crowd’s reaction to said music- much like the Pistols, it’s the movement that’s the star. And I think Girl Talk completely understands that.
The movie is really good, and worth anyone’s time who has considered at length the morality of downloading, and the potential of “open-source” culture. The sequence in Brazil is especially engaging, as is Mark Hosler of Negativland’s question (and I paraphrase): “You [corporations] don’t ask me if I want to see huge, ugly billboards yelling at me to buy things, why should I have to ask you permission if I want to make fun and question these things?”
After this fairly serious question, you can see Hosler catch himself, and jokingly throw his fist in the air like a freedom fighter, making fun of his potentially dogmatic declaration. This was very telling to me: I couldn’t tell if Mark was making fun of “God on our side”/”that’s wrong, that’s illegal”-type posturing, or just taking the piss out of the idea of himself as “resistance leader.” And ultimately, I got a little sad at that: I’d much rather see someone who’s not afraid to look somewhat passionate if his cause is just. What I saw is someone who didn’t fully believe his own stance.
And the final Colbert remix credit scroll is hilarious. Yes, I’m a complete Colbert mark.