Remix Culture

The evolution of remix culture has allowed society to learn and evolve in the way that we identify each other’s creativity and skill. By engaging in participatory culture we can then strengthen our connections and relationships between each other and this is done through platforms such as music. The rise in remix culture has enhanced audience participation – you can search a song on YouTube and discover various mash-ups and remixes derived from the original. This is a form of convergence through new media content, and we have captivated ourselves in this particular culture by uploading, sharing and expanding original works.  YouTube presents a lot of controversy when it comes to copyright and is very misunderstood by most. The remix culture that various users identify themselves with is completely altering the way that an entire generation thinks about copyright. Users shouldn’t be penalised for uploading remixes or mashups of their favourite songs. However, content regulators will argue that without the original artists approval, your video could be considered illegal. Girl talk would be a prime example of a popular mash up artist and a major influence in remix culture. In my opinion I feel that within a modern society it is important to support remix culture – by integrating ideas and producing them in different ways we can now learn, connect, communicate and understand each other even more.

Here’s a video I found very insightful about remix culture – it explores the way that different social groups have taken ideas and themes from tv/film clips and re-worked them into their own music video.

The nerd is the word!

It’s difficult to define what’s cool and what isn’t. Throughout my adolescence I noticed that the trend of being ‘cool’ would typically be doing something different to stand out, but at the same time act like you’re not trying to. For me, one of the first signs of nerds or geeks becoming ‘cool’ was stemmed from a popular teen television series “The OC“. The role of Seth Cohen played by Adam Brody was depicted as a nerdy and shy teenager who had no friends but came from a wealthy family. His time was devoted to comic books (he actually created his own), superheroes, drawing, video games and the like. Money is continuously outlined in the show, as Seth went to an elite high school and then on to college which is contrasted to other characters who didn’t have that opportunity (who were not ‘nerdy’). It was obvious Seth was not ‘cool’ or accepted by his peers at school as he was bullied and portrayed as a social outcast. Throughout the series, Seth’s quirky personality and witty humour began to draw the attention of others not to mention viewers of the show fawned over him. Why? Because he was not considered the ‘norm’ and even though he tried to blend in and not be noticed, he stood out because he was so different to the other teens. I noticed more and more people posting things online (especially blogs) about superheroes, comics and intellectual pieces of work such as poetry, stories etc.

Fashion is also a massive factor during the transition of nerds becoming cool.  Websites have even been produced to get the character Seth Cohen’s fashion. Headings such as “Geeks get the girls”, “Geek chic”, and “Targeting teen trends” are a great example of how nerds have made their way acceptable into society. Collared shirts buttoned all the way to the top, skinny jeans rolled up above the ankle and thick black framed glasses are some prime examples of what is ‘cool’ and accepted now – yet if you were seen in any of these items just 5-10 years back you would have been considered nerdy of course, but with a more negative connotation. The minority has moved to the majority and people are continuously trying to find ways to be different but they eventually become mainstream.

Street violence – Cronulla riots

The Cronulla riots is renowned for its racial and alcohol fuelled battle in December 2005. An out of control group of 5 thousand people gathered on Cronulla beach and surrounding streets to protest against a recent outbreak of violence against locals. The riots were triggered by the bashing of 2 volunteer lifesavers followed by ongoing tensions between locals and visitors between the beach. The investigation of why the riots erupted on the beach indicated  a strong sense of ‘surfie culture’ which was blown up by the media. Locals have stated that it was purely an act of defending their territory and national identity and the media assisted to intensify this.

The media played a very significant role throughout the Cronulla riots. On December 11 tensions flared between predominantly anglo-european ‘aussies’ and muslims ‘lebs’. There were varying  responses from locals – some expressed shame and fear while others were not surprised. Right-wing media groups had been accused of broadcasting political agendas. Alan Jones voiced on a local radio station a biased argument against “middle eastern bastards” bringing attention to the issue and stating that Cronulla beach has been “taken over by scum”. Jones openly advocated and encourages violent behaviour against middle-easterners implying that they were the cause of all problems. This public, upfront argument struck citizens with fear and rage. Newspapers also enhanced racial discrimination and violence, the Telegraph posting headlines such as “Fight for Cronulla: We want our beach back”. By saying ‘we’ this indicates a biased opinion and that they are siding with locals and subtly hoping to encourage the community to ‘fight’ for the beach. This implies that the media is okay with violent acts which may break out. The media uses this sense of community to connect with locals on a person level which is an evident point proving media were a partial cause of the riots, presenting it as something that was longing to happen.

Transmedia storytellers

Many of you would be familiar with Harry Potter. JK Rowling’s novels explore a fantasy world of witchcraft and wizardry which became an instant success. The story of Harry Potter is also available through a film series, comics, video games, board games, music and various paraphernalia.  All of these are delivery channels are created and modified to tell us more about Harry Potter’s adventures. This is considered a technological dynamic and is an effective way to engage the audience as some people may prefer one particular delivery of the story than another, enlarging the market. This gives fans an opportunity to participate with the things they love and even go out of their way to produce ‘fan fiction‘ i.e. stories written by fans with the same characters (e.g. alternate endings) and parodies of clips from films/shows. These are then uploaded and shared online – an effective way of advertising without the original author lifting a finger.Using multiple delivery channels assists a story in promotion, popularity and is achieved by many transmedia narratives (e.g. The Matrix, Starwars).

Henry Jenkins discusses transmedia and how we are using technology to tell our own stories in powerful new ways. Jenkins points out that even going back thousands of years the same stories were re-told many times, and that’s exactly what this new era of social media allows us to do. I feel lucky to be a part of this participatory culture, building a new world of collective intelligence.

Street violence – Wollongong nightlife

Street violence generally occurs late at night in and out of pubs and nightclubs typically fuelled by alcohol and/or illicit substances. Sometimes the perpetrator is not provoked at all and just looking to start a fight. Usually no weapons are involved but in some cases items found or brought are used e.g. glasses/bottles, knives.

An article printed in The Daily Telegraph February 19, 2011 reports about violence in NSW focusses on Wollongong’s CBD  as a video of collaborated brawls caught on CCTV shows “grim footage that proves alcohol-related violence is out of control in NSW”. This footage has been brought to the attention of local police and discussion of new laws is said to be put in place to hopefully prevent these occurrences. Violence is an easy topic for the media to nudge on the emotions of readers. The language used in the article presents a negative tone which can make the reader feel uncomfortable, concerned, and sometimes scared. For example “grim, brutal, out of control, graphic” and phrases such as “beat each other to a pulp”. When reading this article online, footage of brawls on the streets of Wollongong is available to watch above the text. The video contains no sound, just clips of several of the worst fights caught on camera portraying an alarming state of violence in Wollongong at night time. By the audience watching this before reading the article it assists to sway the minds of the public to agree with regulations debating to be put in place (lock out times, clubs closing earlier etc).