Mashup Culture

This is a concept described in Jonah Leher’s (now-shamed) Imagine, that creativity is essentially a function of the brain when it takes two or more previously encountered ideas & recombines them into something unique.

Nowhere is that more obvious than when money’s on the line, in the commercial arts. Familiar recombinations saturate popular music. I have an example from television (which certainly are not the first examples of these traits).

First, here’s the opening credits to The Sopranos. Notice specifically the second verse after 1:03 where Tony’s driving through residential Jersey (itself a recent iteration of a classic).

Then notice the washed out effects, ‘gritty’ font, & overlapping & jittery visuals (starting roughly at the 1st chorus) of True Blood’s opening credits.

They’re combine into the visual style of Justified’s intro (sorry, this is the only clip YouTube has; it has the correct images, but a replaced soundtrack… with a bit of cussing, so be warned).

To quote Elton John (quoting perhaps TS Elliot or Pablo Picasso) when complimenting(?) Prince:

Good artists borrow, great artists steal.

I read that in People back in the 90s, so it’s _gotta_ be true.


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Filed under art, opinion

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