I’ve let my voice and my creativity be dulled lately. Like I’ve been in a state of limbo… or those dreams where you try to scream because you’re aware of what’s going on around you, but no noise comes out when you open your mouth… or like I took on the role of Abbey, but I just haven’t nailed down her essence yet. I know the reasons why, but there’s no need for you to. The most important thing is that I’m working to get out of it and not allow anyone or anything to be bigger than Me to the point where the Me is lost.
With that being said, I’m gonna say some shit.
We live in a world of copycats. Of thieves. Of influencers and influencees.
A constant recycling of data and art.
Sequels, remakes, ‘inspired by‘s…
All the original ideas have been thought of, all the plots written, the melodies played, the fashion statements re-stated and the provocatives provoked.
The worst of it is on social media. Instagram is the absolute worst. There’s not a damn original thing to be found anymore on there, but people are still gobbling it up. It’s all fake and lies and deceit. It’s a whole lot of bullshit that’s never hit the ground.
(Floating around bullshit seems much worse than grounded bullshit).
We’re not focused on real life and what’s happening right now, and all we’re doing is dreaming up crap on instagram and telling people about our big ideas instead of actually doing any damn thing. Like all those companies telling you how great they are and their graphic designs look incredible and the pictures are bright and cheery and it makes you want to walk right through the square… but then you walk into the joint and it smells bad and the people are rude and the product rips before you even slip it on.
We have greatly shifted our priorities, and lately I’m pretty tired of the fake and the promises and want to get back to sinking my teeth into something real. I want a firm handshake and good eye contact and witty banter over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. I want more toes in the sand and grass on my knees and salt in my hair. I want my real friends to be in my home and me in theirs and not base any sort of mood on a gosh damned little red heart on a tiny blue lit screen. I want honesty. I want authenticity. I want to stop feeling like I have to hide because of feeling like I’m always being watched.
That’s the dark side of where we are right now. That’s the pit and the deepest valley of the Now.
But there’s some great positives of living in a world…”of copycats. Of thieves. Of influencers and influencees.
A constant recycling of data and art.
Sequels, remakes, ‘inspired by‘s…”
Social media can suck it, but for everything else out there being recycled… It’s something we can continue to fight against, or it’s something we can embrace.
Y’all. It’s 2019. (Let the record show that I had to check my computer calendar to make sure it wasn’t 2020 yet.) And I think it’s ok to say that maybe we’ve gone through the best of our ideas as a culture. How many new things can we possibly find? Not new twists on the things… but brand . new . things .
Like, we can’t invent more musical notes. (Maybe jazz is doing that and I’ve just missed it). But every pop song you’ve been bopping your head to on your work commute and thinking it’s the next greatest idea is just the same song as the last one that made you think that. It’s only wrapped up a little differently. And it all probably went like this :
E, B, C# minor and A … if we’re on the E major scale.
A minor, F, C, G… if we’re on the C major scale… and so on and so forth.
(Not a musical person and those are just letters to you? No prob! Simply hum some of these ditties out loud (the tempos switch around, but you’ll still follow) and you’ll hear what I’m talking about:
Joan Osbourne’s ‘One of U’s, Lady GaGa’s ‘Poker Face’ (see also her ‘Edge of Glory’), ‘Don’t Stop Believin” by Journey, ‘Wrecking Ball’ by Miley Cyrus, ‘We Are The Champions’ by Queen, Katy Perry’s ‘Firework’ (see also her ‘Hot n Cold’), ‘Someone Like You’ by Adele, ‘Just Give Me A Reason’ by P!nk, ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’ by Twisted Sister, U2’s ‘With or Without You’, ‘When I Come Around’ by Green Day…. and finally…
‘Let It Be’ by Those Beatles.
Just to name a few.
All those songs use the same chord progression. (whaaa?!) But, but… they’re all… ‘so different!!‘. Right? I mean, they’re crossing genres!
Sure. Except they’re all rooted in the exact same chord progression. It’s all recycled art. It’s all a sequel and a remake and been inspired by something else and it’s been that way for so many years.
But don’t you still love them? Of course you do. All those songs up there are major hits and you’ve all sang/danced/headbopped your way through at least 3 of them – don’t be cynical.
What about this… would it make you feel different about some other classic hits if I told you they were glittered even less with ingenuity? The great ‘Chain of Fools’ by the Queen herself, Aretha Franklin uses just 2 chords the entire song. Yah, man. That chick didn’t need more than 2 chords to vocally dance herself into greatness. TWO CHORDS. And Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Born in the USA’? Same same. Boss-Baby, you no Aretha, but bless your denimed ass for knowing exactly who you are and staying right and very well placed THERE.
Look, here’s what I’m getting at – Stuff has been done. It’s already been done. We can still try to convince ourselves that we’re being clever and new and fresh, but it’s just a fresh spin on an old classic. That’s where we are now. And we need to embrace the hell out of it or we’re gonna go wacky-do-do real quick.
We will never have another Beatles. Lord, people have tried (hay, Oasis). But we haven’t and we won’t. And because of them, we have had Nirvana and then The Foo Fighters, The Beach Boys, Bruce Springsteen and his two chords, Billy Joel, Heart, The Bangles, The Flaming Lips, and yes… Oasis.
There is nothing wrong with taking old concepts and creating something new out of them. Because THA’S WHERE WE ARE IN T I I I I I M E. And we should stop being so critical and cynical. Or else all of pop radio would be gone. And you’ll stop getting those Fast and Furious and Spiderman movies ya’ll love so damn much.
The Beatles did their thing, and they did so much of it that there just isn’t a whole lot left for the rest of music. Except there totally is. It’s just your take on it. And that’s also super rad.
We saw the movie, Yesterday a couple of weeks ago and (I don’t want to spoil it for you, but…) I loved the hell out of the concept of it. It was such a refreshing film in its entirety and I implore you to go see it. In essence – What would the world be if The Beatles didn’t lay the foundation for us? Would we still have all of those artists ‘influenced by The Beatles’? Would they have eventually started a revolution on their own?
It’s interesting, isn’t it?
We strive – so much – to be original and unique as artists. That’s the most important thing to an artist – to stand out. And yet, is there even such a thing anymore? Unless you’re just going for shock value, is there anything original left in the world?
I just don’t think there is. But why are influences such a bad thing? Why is remaking an automatic sell-out?
We watched Dumbo over the weekend and most of us went into it pretty skeptical… I loved the original, animated movie – my husband did not – my kids had never seen it – But that trailer moved me. And it was my pick for family movie night, so I won.
And we all LOVED it. About five minutes in, I realized they weren’t trying to copy the original… they were inspired by the original, and therefore creating their own thing. So I let go of the Dumbo that I knew and quickly relaxed so Tim Burton could show me his.
There were hardly any parallels, and many fresh ideas. And that’s what I think angered a lot of people about this new Dumbo. Because I guess it wasn’t like the original… but you know if it was too much like the original, that would have also been a bad thing… There’s really no winning when you have so many people spraying their expert on every surface. It was just this whole new thing, this new Dumbo and that just got a lot of people confused. And when people get confused – the first secondary emotion they turn to is anger.
But once you decide to let go of old ideas, you’re able to see new beauty. And it shouldn’t matter if that new beauty had anything at all to do with old beauty.
Beauty is beauty.
Dumbo was beautiful.
And so was Aladdin.
I took the kids to see Aladdin yesterday and again, we all had our doubts. (We’ve all seen the trailer, yeah?… it didn’t look great. It made me nervous. The Genie animation seemed sloppy and outdated and I was just a lot of confused.) But at the end of the day, I loved the original and we all knew we still wanted to see it…
curiosity and that damn cat, man.
And guess what? Aladdin was its own thing. It had many, many similarities to the original, but they also made some changes, and… it’s real live action and not animation so… maybe we don’t do side-by-side comparisons here, yeah?
Also can we talk for a minute about Will Smith? And Robin Williams?
I am a Will Smith fan. I always have been. Always. I find him incredibly charming and adorable and you cannot make me think otherwise.
Robin Williams was a brilliant and unique unicorn. He cannot be replicated and nobody tried to do that here. If you’re going into this new Aladdin with Robin Williams’ Genie on your brain, you need to re-set and wait a minute until you can come in clean.
And you’ll see it’s a heart warming, beautiful movie with a great message. Weird Genie animation, and all.
And if you can’t fathom a Dumbo without racist singing crows, then take a breather and remember it’s 2019.
That’s the thing about sequels, re-makes, and inspired-by’s… if you’re spending all your time comparing new to old, then you ain’t enjoying nuthin’ new. Ever. You’re just sitting there waiting to be disappointed and that shit’s gonna kill you, man.
I coulda been cynical. On ‘Aladdin’, ‘Dumbo’, hell- even ‘Yesterday’ and a million other movies I’ve seen the past few months (whoa, sidenote – have you seen Isn’t It Romantic? See it. Wash your brain first, ignore the noise, and just see it. It’s lovely.)
All of those movies were remade to be more current and fresh with the times, with a very obvious effort to shine a light on current gender and race issues. Lots of plot twists with more female and multi-race inclusion. It could be said that they were made to be a little more ‘politically correct’…
but what the f does that even mean right now, so we’ll just say they’re more… fair.
‘Dumbo’ and ‘Aladdin’ did not fare well with the critics. Neither did ‘Isn’t It Romantic’… along with a handful of other fun and lovely and enjoyable joy-ride films I’ve seen. And that is the precise reason why I detest movie critics. And I never listen to them. They’re never right. They may think they’re right… and goodness they do… but movies are art and art is personal. So how can you possibly expect an old stale white dude to tell you what your beautiful fine bright ass is gonna like?
and stop please.
just support art that moves you and stop listening to old stale white dudes in general, yeah?
And the people who can’t recognize something that was inspired by something else as Art, are the same people who sit in a chair all day watching one channel, and I will never understand those people. Or the heads of companies who won’t go down and listen to the people on the front lines and see things from their eyes.
I will never understand those people.
In order to be a real human, you have got to listen. Understand. Experience.
Not just read and design fancy graphics and dream up instagram posts and believe one person’s opinion.
You’ve got to get those toes in the sand and those knees in the grass and feel what you want to feel and like what you want to like and create what you want to create without the fear of it being done before.
Because, guess what? It has.
And that’s so 2019.
love y’all. thanks for reading. feel like counting the times I said ‘damn’? x