Category Archives: derivative works

damn good alterations

Canadian Club (“CC”, not Creative Commons) has been running these really offensive & annoying ads aimed, apparently, at a very small demographic: straight white men with masculinity issues and daddy issues.

My partner pointed them out to me — plastered on bus stops in our ethnically diverse and progressive, queer-friendly community — and we enjoyed speculating on how enterprising billboard alteration-ers (certainly not us, I’d like to emphasize) might edit the ads to be more appropriate for our community. (Way to do stupid poorly-targeted advertising, jack-asses.)

For instance, the ad that showed a guy making out with a woman in a lounge, that implied “dad” was cheating on mom — that could easily be edited to make it appear that mom was picking up a stray businessman to fulfill those needs that dad wasn’t capable of satisfying. Again, I repeat, we would never consider doing the alterations ourselves. Pure speculation.

a better Canadian Club ad
An improved Canadian Club ad.

Anyway, Rebecca Tushnet reports about another woman’s response to the ad campaign. CC ran one of those cheesey “get involved and do it yourself” fake participation schemes so that straight white overcompensating men with daddy issues could put their own daddies into the ads. Michelle Koenig-Schwartz began Project: Canadian Club – Your Mom Had Groupies in response.

The pictures are awesome, and I have to note that these would go over a lot better in Jamaica Plain. Tushnet’s post also contains great analysis, so read the whole thing.

fannish media studies

A friend just sent me a link to this fan video about the TV series “Supernatural”. What an awesome demonstration of the power of technology to enable media criticism. A thousand feminists could comment about exploitative or graphic visual depictions of violence against women in a series or on TV generally, and it would never have the effect of this video. … And to conclude: this is why DRM and the DMCA suck. Because they prevent (or try to prevent) people from being able to do this.

crossing my screen today

How to give a great man-to-man hug — a hilarious video from the developing world of masculinity studies. I went to it on the off-chance that it was actually funny, and was well-rewarded for my optimism.

Kitty not happy tshirts at work: The salon.com column “dear cary” handles various ethics and manner type issues, and I read it occasionally when spending a leisurely morning catching up on news. Today’s column was out-of-the-ordinary great: a meditation on the nature of work, especially non-democratic work.

Suellen Parker, an artist, was profiled at the NYT Magazine in a little video segment about her recent NYT Magazine cover. My partner1, a reliable spotter of intellectual property issues in the news, called my attention to it. Parker’s art for the NYT cover worked like this: She built a clay model; then shot photos of real life models to sculpt the expression; shot her clay model; then took bits & pieces of real life people photos (lips, eyes), to photoshop her clay model together with a bunch of other stuff. Totally fascinating, and M & I had a fun morning conversation about whether Parker only used her own photographs; had she gotten model releases for the photoshopping use, or just for modeling expression in sculpture; and so on. As far as copyright goes, clearly a fair use, but it’s an interesting example of the sort of thing that causes problems for copyright absolutists. (Like copyright image-recognition filters ….?)

… Our conversation also touched on gender issues. Watching how Parker presents her work, and how the NYT frames it — edits it, what music they choose for the background — and how we receive the video, we wondered how it would be different if the artist were a man. How much internalized sexism do we have in evaluating this artist? Would we see her as more “artiste” and less “craftsperson” if her voice had been his deep tenor voice? Would the NYT have chosen a more dramatic background music? A recent study suggests that we begin absorbing gender roles even as toddlers — how deeply embedded are gender roles in our construction of the world? Pretty damn.

And then there was this cool geekery — a video about new technologies that combine social information (like flickr, tagging, etc.) with new photo viewing & recognition technologies. (seadragon & photosynth). The less cool end of this fabulous flickr futurism: Combining photos from flickr with all the knowledge of the world & 3D visualization sounds fun and all, but flickr censors images for people based on their government. What will it look like when we combine flickr’s image censorship with AT&T’s proposed network filtering with google’s youtube video filtering? I see lots of blank spots in the brave new web 2.0 world.


 
 
 
 
 


1. My partner, legally recognized as such for at least a few more years. Thanks, Massachusetts!

tacky but lawful derivative liberty

Statue of Liberation Through Christ; photo by Rollin Riggs

A fundamentalist mega-church in Memphis has repurposed the Statute of Liberty. [7/5 nyt] Lucky for them the Statue is in the public domain. Shake your head at its awfulness at thestatueofliberationthroughchrist.org. Christian nationalism, indeed.

Maybe someone should remind them that the Statue’s French.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

elijah wood not upset by queer fan photo alterations

hollywood.com 9/12

HOLLYWOOD, September 12, 2005

Wood Stunned by Gay Photo ‘Revelations’
By WENN
……………………………………..
Elijah Wood is continually stunned by clever cyber pranksters who try to prove he is gay.

The Lord of the Rings star is often caught out by Web sites with far from subtle names, like www.veryverygay.com, when he’s surfing the Internet, but he’s rarely offended.

And, unlike many stars, he isn’t planning any legal action to stop the pranksters–he simply marvels at their creativity.

He says, “There’s one that’s called elijahwoodisveryverygay (sic), which is actually a personal favorite of mine, it’s absolutely hilarious.

“It’s this kind of joke Web site that maintains that they have proof that I am very very gay in various photographs–photographic evidence (of me) holding hands with a male.”

Even fans of The Lord of the Rings trilogy want the stars of the film to be homosexual. Wood explains, “(They) want to create moments that they didn’t get to see in the film, of these characters in sexual congress.

“I was actually at a film festival once… and this fan came up with a gift… I open the gift in front of all these people that I’m talking to and it happens to be a photo from one of these Web sites of me and Dominic Monaghan making sweet love. If you didn’t know any better, it kinda looks real.

“These people have a lot of time on their hands and my hat’s off (to them) because it’s very good work.”

non-katrina

yet more depressing news:

  • iraq: where people keep dying. A friend recently met with her family who lives in Baghdad, who reported a) her elderly aunties regularly have laser sightings trained on them by US soldiers; b) her cousin’s cousin was recently shot & killed by US soldiers; c) they still don’t have power & clean water most of the time. The situation is worse than it was a year ago. They were impressed to hear that an American woman would camp outside Bush’s home, since they thought there was no dissent in the US. …

  • declining science literacy, increasing religious belief, and increasing poverty in the US. See creationism survey (NYT) and the widely reported new poverty statistics from the Census Bureau, available at http://www.census.gov/prod/2005pubs/p60-229.pdf; press briefing.

  • the FDA decided to hold off approving emergency contraception, AGAIN, despite promises by new commissioner to have decided by today (9/1). The FDA Director of the Office of Women’s Health resigned in response. See feministe; prnewswire.

  • and i just heard that the 8th Circuit affirmed the lower court ruling in Bnetd. [opinion @ 8th Cir] A big loss for consumers and tinkerers.

but still there is light shed:

  • the NYT recently published a supremely arrogant, sexist, and stupid editorial / piece by Keith Ablow. Ablow suggested that women should think twice before letting their husbands watch childbirth, since it might destroy the man’s sexual attraction to his female partner. a number of commentators have given that article the trashing it deserved. see belle waring 8/31, for example; see also belle waring 8/23; pandagon; slate; crooked timber on women’s culture (and by negative implication what men’s culture is failing to do).

    me, i couldn’t help remembering how sensible, non-sexist people handle the issue in a way that recognizes human realities, sexuality, and needs of all parties: In The Essential Guide to Lesbian Conception, Pregnancy and Birth, the authors straightforwardly noted that after pregnancy & birth, some non-birth-parents might have difficulty feeling sexual toward the birth-parent. The authors didn’t try some reductive pop-psych “oh my god I’ve seen her insides” explanation, but pointed out that it could happen for a variety of reasons: birthing-related, parenting-related, the efforts of adjusting to a new lifestyle, new roles, and new family configurations. the answer? give it time, and work on having adult time together.

  • orcinus posted on right-wing bloggers decrying the motes in left-wing eyes (“all our extremists is belong to you”) [link from sideshow]

  • Reading A1 posted on the suggestion from right-wingers (apparently frustrated that their ideas suck) that left-wingers can’t criticize unless they come up with fully-formed strategic responses themselves. i feel like excerpting:

    [W]ho exactly is the audience for this sort of policy wanking supposed to be? Other than a tiny community of Beltway or Beltway-oriented intellectuals, or wannabes. The anti-war left is nowhere near the seat of power. Power is held, in fact, by a gang that regards opposition in general, and opposition to the war in particular, as tantamount to treason. … Even if we had detailed, rational and realistic policy advice to give, they wouldn’t listen to it. … It’s not “unserious” or “immature” or whatever other bullshit terms are favored by the Beltway types to advocate the simple message Out Now. On the contrary—advocating such messages is the only real political space within which we have to operate. Our job is not to pretend we’re living under a different regime than we are, one that takes policy proposals seriously. Our job is to do the only thing we really can do, namely cause as much domestic pain as possible for Bush over the war. … You want to have a real effect on Iraq policy? Drive Bush’s numbers down, drive the GOP’s numbers down, take their Congressional majority away from them, take the White House back. That’s not done with policy prescriptions—which (again, has Cooper been paying attention these last few years?) the vast majority of the American public will never hear, or hear an honest version of, anyway.

    I’ve got a rant, somewhere inside, about labels, actions, and correctly identifying your own politics & where they fit on the historical spectrum. Something in response to the right-wingers who try to claim the higher ground created by the left-wing civil rights movement, the left-wing anti-fascist movements, and so on. But it’ll have to wait.

penguin remixed: boys, boys, boys

Penguin Remixed. a cool project. But it misses half the world.

Penguin Remixed is a competition of music remixes of various “classic” quotes & texts. Out of 29 clips they have one from a female-authored book (Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley; with a male narrator) and one by a male author with both a female and a male narrator (Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll); one by a male author with a female narrator (Frances Barber narrating Nick Hornby’s How To Be Good). These include some obvious classic works and a good chunk of “alternative” canon like “Status Anxiety” by Alain de Botton; “Spot’s Playtime Storybook” by Eric Hill; “The Go Between” by L. P. Hartley; “Solo” by Pen Hadow; blah blah blah. Maybe there are some women’s voices or perspectives in the uncredited “various” offerings: Four male-authored works include “various” narrators; one “variously” authored work also includes “various” narrators.

If you’re looking to mix works involving a woman’s voice or perspective you won’t do very well in this context. I guess boys mix boys, too.

Ethnic diversity? Well, try Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, read by Renu Setna.

this. is. so. COOL.

Compare sizes of starships & other objects from various sf universes at Jeff Russell’s STARSHIP DIMENSIONS.

Only complaint: Firefly and the other vessels from the series are not yet there.

My spouse asks if this isn’t copyright infringement, since all the designs for fictional ships are individually copyrighted. Fair use, I assure her.

“stealing”: billy on jimi

This week’s Boston Phoenix includes an interview with Billy Corgan, of the Smashing Pumpkins, and an excerpt from a 3-year-old Billy Corgan essay on Jimi Hendrix:

[Jimi] was never boring on the guitar, yet he stole from everyone. But like many of the greats, he made others’ songs his own.

No better justification of an improvements culture than Jimi Hendrix need ever be offered.

mozart derived

from Ann Hulbert, 2005/6/1, Slate, “Mozart and Us: What the ur-prodigy has to teach his successors”:

However scholars end up resolving the question of authorship, it highlights a side of Wolfgang his father preferred to gloss over and popular legend tends to ignore: The boy genius, for all his originality, was also an impressionable imitator. Either he availed himself of a score by an elder and rearranged it somewhat (as he did with some early concertos), or, if the work is shown to be his, he was composing derivative music that experts could mistake for that of a mediocre adult contemporary. In other words, young Mozart was not simply a little boy who was visited by inspirational bolts from the blue. He was an industrious student inundated by contemporaneous influences.

The full article discusses the myth/legend/history of Mozart’s youthful creativity, placing it, and him, in his context: an environment rich with other works from which to draw, embellish, alter, and derive. Mozart was known for these variations, as alluded to in “Amadeus” by his easy & pointed re-working of Salieri’s piece.

(Hulbert draws a different conclusion from Mozart’s access to & use of other current popular works: that Mozart’s forced rapid exposure by his father-promoter to a huge number of popular works ultimately fostered his ability to assert his own creative independence and genius.

If Mozart is actually proof of anything, it may be that resilience cultivated in the face of overbearing influence and enforced dependence is one important secret to fulfilling rare genius.

Hulbert has her own axe to grind with this point, about how to raise children & so-called child prodigies, and that’s interesting too, and I probably agree with the critique of adult pressure on children to be geniuses. I don’t find that the Mozart material particularly well supports the “resilience to influence leads to genius” idea, but that seems to be a toss-away line to try to tie the stories together.)

peter jackson on derivative works

sort of. Found this commentary a few months ago on the Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Extended DVD, Directors’ Commentary, Disk 2, 5:42 – 6:24. Peter Jackson (PJ), Fran Walsh (FW), and Philippa Boyens (PB) are discussing a scene they had filmed, but didn’t end up putting in either the theatrical release or the extended DVD.

PJ [5:42]: It’s unlikely to find a place actually because there’s nowhere to put it now really even in The Return of the King. So maybe in the 50th anniversary box set we can put it in somewhere.

FW [5:54]: Wouldn’t it be fun to do an edit of all 3 films in chronological order?

PJ: Like the, The Godfather box set?

FW: Oh is that what happens there?

PB: Did they? Oh cool.

PJ: Yeah.

FW: You could put that scene, you know, right after the, the council meeting.

PJ [6:09]: Well, you could, that’s right. I mean, well, people could do that with their – I shouldn’t suggest this, but people could, could do this with the sort of interesting software available on home computers these days, it’s, um, it’s something that any, any fan could do.

PB: Maybe they could do it for us, and we wouldn’t have to do it ourselves.

… They then go on to discuss the value of adding material to extended versions, since no other sequels, no other books to license, New Line could keep making more money that way; does New Line need to make more money? no

a real circuit split: sampling

Forget Grokster, which is the entertainment industry’s attempt to get Sony reviewed & overturned, by trying to generate a circuit split out of the dicta in Aimster.

An actual circuit split in the making is on sampling, with the Beastie Boys’ 9th circuit decision today declining to reconsider its Nov. 4, 2003, decision (Newton v. Diamond) permitting sampling. [The article was published tomorrow, 11/11, in Australia, relating to a decision from today, 11/10, in California.] [iptablog 11/4] This is in contrast with the beknighted* decision out of the 6th Circuit a few months ago which held that you have to get a license to sample, period. [Bridgeport Music v. Dimension Films, 6th Cir., Sept. 7, 2004] The recording industry has asked for that decision to be reheard en banc.


* Why do I do that? I know there’s not a “k” in benighted. What, like it has to do with being granted an honorary “title” … I really find myself making many more spelling and homonym spelling errors in my mid-30s than I did in my youth. What’s that all about?