Sunday, March 05, 2006

Cartoon Mash-ups

Short article about legal backlash against online mash-ups and parodies of comics, animation:

Journal Gazette | 03/05/2006 | Bloggers, tech savvy spin digital remixes of pop culture
Like disc jockeys pairing the Beatles with Jay-Z or The Strokes with Christina Aguilera, visual mashup artists exploit odd juxtapositions. An old “Superfriends” cartoon is synced with dialogue from the cult slacker movie “Office Space.” Scenes from “The Shining” are cut and overdubbed with feel-good narration to make it look like a trailer for a sappy family movie. And is there anything less likely than Mary Worth reciting the lyrics to “My Humps” over coffee?
“It was just sort of the absurdity of marrying this very serious serial strip with that song, which is so ridiculous,” said creator Sue Trowbridge.
Tools of the craft are software such as Adobe Systems Inc.’s Photoshop and Apple Computer Inc.’s Final Cut Pro instead of paint or clay, but fans say it’s still art.
Joey deVilla, a Toronto-based blogger, calls mashups a form of folk art that follows the age-old creative tradition of borrowing from existing works to create something new.
“It is the digital-media equivalent of collage, except instead of pasting together pieces of other people’s existing work you’re pasting together other people’s films and music, “ Lyall-Wilson said in an e-mail.
Jason Schultz of the Electronic Frontier Foundation contends that there should be legal protection for mashups such as “The Shining.” After all, it’s a non-commercial parody that poses no threat to the movie. (Ironically, the clip can be viewed on, a recent addition to the sprawling Viacom media stable.)
“This is a battle over creativity,” Schultz said. “Do we want a world where the law criminalizes that?”
Legal issues aside, putting the brakes on mashup artists might be a job that not even Superman could handle. They’re just so easy to create and circulate, with scores of sites such as devoted to sharing online video.

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