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“Everything is a Remix”

May 26, 2011

The other day I was reading Euripides’s Medea for my English class and I realized–let it be known this was not part of my assignment–that I wanted to create a character like Medea. I didn’t want to rewrite the story of Medea. I simply thought that someone like her would create the perfect villain. Why? Because not only did she prefer to commit the horrible act of murdering her children over having her enemies think she was weak, but also because this fact implied that she preferred to be considered insane to the eyes of society than being considered weak. I don’t know if my character will kill his or her children, but I liked the idea of creating a villain with this horrifying mentality. And I also wanted to have my character announce this ideal in a way that he or she looked as mad but as strong as Medea did in Euripides’s play.

A few days later, I was watching a YouTube video series called “Everything is a Remix“. It talks about how most famous movies are not original, but based on something else. As I watched it, I couldn’t help but remember something one of my high school teachers mentioned. She said that now days it was hard to come up with something original, that most, if not all, new books and stories were based on something old. This led me to try to find a similar video but for books. Sadly, I couldn’t find anything.

Yet, if you think about it, all books are based on something else. This other thing is not necessarily a book, but perhaps an interpretation of a book, a movie or an event. Take The Da Vinci Code for example. It is based on a painting, and on historical events that the author wove together to create a new story. Even the classic A Tale of Two Cities is based on historical events. Some of Shakespeare’s plays, too, were not original, but based on other stories. The Greeks, in a similar manner, based their literature on their interpretation of the world and of stories that had been passed on from generations to generations and that were transformed as they were passed.

I am not saying that the human mind is therefore unoriginal. I am simply stating the source of originality is not necessarily creating something new from scratch, but taking something old and making it new by either interpreting or presenting it differently.

Think about it, surely there must be something you have written that is based on the interpretation of something you read, saw or heard. Or maybe you just decided to rewrite something because you like it for one reason but not like it for another.

After watching the YouTube video, I realized that what I wanted to do with the character of Medea was sort of a remix. Now, I don’t know if I am the only person in Write Anything insane enough to have such a fascination in creating a remix of Medea, but I am sure I am not the only one to have done a remix, so feel free to tell me of some of your remixes.

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7 Comments
  1. May 26, 2011 8:53 am

    Unfortunately, all of my books are either in the publishing process or still being written, so I can’t give specifics. But I can definitely agree with you. One book I’m really excited about is a “remix” between Charles Dickens and Kurt Vonnegut.

  2. May 26, 2011 9:18 am

    Doesn’t that make creativity even more exciting (and difficult). We take something someone has worked on (and maybe even changed from something earlier) and give it yet another new slant. Now I call that, amazing (if we succeed).

  3. Zoraida permalink
    May 26, 2011 9:55 am

    I agree, the exciting part about creativity is creating something new out of the old.

  4. May 26, 2011 11:56 am

    I have long held this same opinion about there only being “old stories” out there. But at the same time… retelling old stories in new ways is exciting and ultimately valuable. In some ways, it’s like going on vacation to a favorite place — you’ve done it all before but you keep going back because there’s always something new to discover.

  5. May 26, 2011 4:30 pm

    U AR RIGHT
    reasently i watched a docomentry on ‘copyright’, walt disney was very protective of theirs, but most of his movies and music is based on old farie tales and clasic music. The moral of the storie was, we all build something new, on top of something old, so go for iy…

  6. May 26, 2011 6:42 pm

    Yea I don’t think any of the major Disney animation films have been original. A lot are based on old (German?) fairy tales.

    One remix I had was, when working on a fantasy story, was that I had this one major city that was run by whichever family had the most power at that time. If the leaders ever got too corrupt, or if the price was right, the townsfolk could hire an assassin guild to kill the family until a new one rose to power.

    My friends thought it was a cool idea, but it was inspired by the Praetorian guards of ancient Rome. Look them up, very cool stuff!

  7. May 28, 2011 9:54 am

    It’s true, I find myself being inspired by characters created by other authors. But in essence, history repeats itself, right? I actually love it when I see character imitations from mythology and other characters from history and classic literature, as long as it’s not blatantly obvious. Enjoyed reading your post!

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