The subversive and radical remixing, mashing and remaking of found material in popular culture has existed long before the contemporary convergence culture.
In 1987, “Apocalypse Pooh”, a VCR-made remix, became an underground viral hit, transforming the beloved Hundred Acre Wood into a horrific war zone taken from Francis Ford Coppola’s drama film “Apocalypse Now“. The use of humour and disturbing juxtapositions forced audiences to revisit the Pooh films of their childhood through the lens of colonialism and Coppola’s surrealist visions. This reconstituted the social and cultural meaning of the texts beyond what their original makers consciously intended.
Today, DIY remixes are no longer traded secretly underground, with audiences now privileging and prioritising these cultural interpretations and critiques as part of a broader, more accepted read-write culture. This is being accompanied by changes to copyright laws legalising remixes for the purpose of criticism or comment. Media corporations are beginning to recognise their inability to control the rise of a new generation of prosumers who are forming their own subcultures in which remix culture is the norm. The accessibility of remix technologies and tools, combined with the increased connectivity and knowledge of consumers has enabled amateur artists to participate in, and drive, the remix process until the point where it has become a digital media revolution.
In order to engage with the remix phenomenon, modern media companies are developing innovative and creative ways to encourage the proliferation and sharing of their content. For example, after selling over seven million copies of the track ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’, Goyte revived the popularity of his super-viral song with a YouTube Mashup. This highlights the way creativity and innovation is becoming more important than ownership and originality as the benefits and opportunities of open access and participation outweigh the challenges.
As remix is becoming more acknowledged as an essential dimension to produsage cultural practices, it is becoming increasingly important for audiences to increase their media literacy. No longer is re-editing, appropriation and copying used solely for critical and political purposes, with entertainment and fan fiction remixes now a mainstay of the YouTube community.