FYS100 Going Viral: Social Media
Dr. Mary Pettice
Oct. 4 2013
Everything is a Remix
Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources”. This supports the idea that everything is a remix. Remixing is the common process of combining or editing existing materials in order to produce something new. According to filmmaker Kirby Ferguson, remixing is a folk art that utilizes three techniques: copy, transform, and combine. Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series exemplifies this concept well. With similar aspects of historical vampire movies and novels, Meyer’s wrote the Twilight series, which led to the creation of The Twilight Saga and hundereds of parodies. Based on history and modern examples, it is safe to say that everything is indeed a remix.
Like many talented artists and writers, Stephanie Meyer’s inspiration for the renowned Twilight series was based off of a vivid dream. In her dream, a beautiful, sparkling vampire was talking to an average girl in a meadow. They were discussing the difficulties of falling in love, all the while the vampire, who was particularly attracted to the scent of the young girl’s blood, had to fight his strong urges to kill her immediately. This dream eventually led to the development of Chapter 13 (“Confessions”). When deciding what to name this handsome vampire, Meyers looked to Charlotte Bronte’s Mr. Rochester and Jane Austen’s Mr. Ferrars for inspiration and chose the name Edward. For the rest of the characters, Meyers did a lot of searching in old census records, noting some of the popular names in various time periods. The complete saga includes four fictional vampire-themed fantasy romance novels in chronological order: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, and Breaking Dawn. In 2010, the spin-off novella The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner was published. An encyclopedic reference book, The Twilight Saga: The Offical Illustrated Guide, was even published following the series and features nearly one hundred full color illustrations. The books are most admired by young adult readers and have won multiple rewards. In 2008, Breaking Dawn won the British Book Award for “Children’s Book of the Year” and the series as a whole won the 2009 Kids’ Choice Award for Favorite Book. With over 116 million copies sold worldwide, the story has been translated into at least 38 different languages around the globe.
Although Meyer’s Twilight series became an instant classic, she was not the first person to create media about vampires. Vampire films have been around since the era of silent films. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the most popular cinematic adaptations of vampire fiction and has over 170 versions of the films. Other influences include Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu and the legend of Elizabeth Bathory, the “Blood Countess”. Believe it or not, by 2005, the character of Dracula has been the subject of more films than any other fictional character. In 1931 Universal created the stage play Dracula based on Stoker’s novel. Bela Lugosi’s, the legendary actor who played Count Dracula, Hungarian accent and sweeping gestures captivated audiences and these characteristics recombined over time and formed the vampire persona we know today. Five years later, Universal released the direct sequel Dracula’s Daughter, and after that a second sequel titled Son of Dracula. Other popular remixes of Stoker’s creative product Dracula include Nosferatu, El Vampiro, the Hammer Films series, The Last Man on Earth, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and eventually the Twilight Saga.
The Twilight Saga, a series of five romance fantasy films produced by Summit Entertainment, is based on the four novels by the American author Stephanie Meyer. Grossing over $3.3 billion, the first installment of Twilight was released on November 21, 2008 and the last November 18, 2012. The film stars teen icons Kristen Stewart as Bella, Robert Pattinson as Edward, and Taylor Lautner as Jacob. In the story, Bella is torn between the cute, protective werewolf and the hunky, dangerous vampire. Many Twilight fans, particularly pre-teen girls, pick sides, declaring themselves “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob”. With their good looks and charm, tastemakers like Pattinson and Lautner shape and accelerate the process of making a successful creative product. Essentially, the audience defines popularity of a creative product. However, with such a massive fan base comes a good amount of criticism.
Through the use of participatory culture, fans and critics alike are able to connect with media more than ever before. Not only can we enjoy media, but because of the web, we can now provide feedback and recombine whatever we chose. Another way to think of this newfound concept is that we live in a world with Web 2.0 In David Gurney’s article “Recombinant Comedy, Transmedial Mobility, and Viral Video”, Gurney discusses the concept of participatory culture and why we find certain things entertaining and comical. One example in which recombinant comedy is used is the parody Twilight With Cheeseburgers featured on the comedic website Funny or Die. The video is a spoof of the Twilight trailer, but Bella is replaced with a cheeseburger. On the surface level, it does not seem so hard for Edward not to kill Bella in order to preserve their love. However, replace her with a mouth-watering cheeseburger and you will see what it feels like to be in a hungry vampire’s shoes. The makers of this video use intertextuality to create congruity, something consumers of media eat up. The idea of an attractive vampire trying to protect a cheeseburger from himself and the outside world is so ridiculous that it is hilarious. Also, the video mocks the serious, dramatic tone of the trailer, making the scenario all the more absurd. In addition to Twilight With Cheeseburgers, the film titled Vampires Suck came to theaters in 2010 making fun of the characters and fans of The Twilight Saga. Because of modern participatory culture, parodies and remixes of creative products exist.
In a nutshell, essentially everything is a remix. Kirby Ferguson’s 4-part series “Everything’s a Remix” supports the idea that specific elements recombine from earlier sources to creative products. We live in a world with Web 2.0 and the ability to copy, transform, and combine to evolutionize the creative process. David Gurney’s article “Recombinant Comedy, Transmedial Mobility, and Viral Video” illustrates this concept of comedic remixes and why we find them so entertaining. Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series was an instant hit and eventually led to the production of The Twilight Saga. Inspired by the movies and fan base came along hundreds of parodies including Twilight With Cheeseburgers and Vampires Suck. Since the birth of the Internet and Web 2.0, we have utilized the creation process more than ever in it’s short life. It is hard to imagine what is in store for the years to come.
“The 8 Best ‘Twilight’ Parodies Ever Created by Mankind.” NextMovie The 8 Best Twilight Parodies Ever Created by Mankind Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2013.
“The Oatmeal.” How Twilight Works –. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2013.
“Twilight.” Stephenie Meyer RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2013.
“Vampire Film.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 14 Sept. 2013. Web. 04 Oct. 2013.