Remix vs. Intertextuality

As I was watching Ferguson’s “Everything is a Remix,” I couldn’t help but be reminded of a project that I did last semester focusing on intertextuality. (I was also reminded of this from Sam’s tweet, “Everything Is a Remix is the visual explanation of intertextuality.”) I did an analysis using two articles: “Porter_intertextuality_1986” by James E. Porter, and “Bazerman_intertextuality,” by Charles Bazerman.

While taking notes/tweeting during the video, a lot of the points that Ferguson made reminded me of notes I took down from Porter and Bazerman. When I was reading about intertextuality, the main focus was on printed text. I had a small grasp on the fact that it could be otherwise, but watching Ferguson made me realize that intertextuality/remix is everywhere. I felt a lot more comfortable with what Ferguson was talking about because it was so familiar.

One of the most obvious key concepts that we see during the video is that every new creation was influenced by something that already exists – therefore nothing is entirely original. When reading Porter, he states, “All texts are interdependent: We understand a text only insofar as we understand its precursors” (34). This directly relates to Ferguson’s claim, “we can’t produce anything new until we’re fluent with the language of our domain.”

Watching Ferguson gave me a better broad understanding of the term remix, but it didn’t impact me as much as the readings intertextuality did. Due to this, I wanted to go back and find out what it was that Porter and Bazerman said that stuck with me, and if it can be applied to this next section of remix and mash-ups.

Porter discusses a particular form of intertextuality: presupposition. His explanation best fits in with some of the claims made by Ferguson. Porter explains, “Presupposition refers to assumptions a text makes about its referent, its readers, and its context – to portions of the text which are read, but which are not explicitly ‘there'” (35). I take this as relating exactly to what Ferguson was saying about Hollywood and the way that they make their movies, “Audiences just prefer the familiar…Most box office hits rely heavily on existing material.” Although you can’t deny the stats about most box office hits being taken from things that already exist (if they are true, of course), that still shows that the people who are making these movies are presupposing that familiar is what we want. Nobody comes out and says, “Hey! We know you like zombies right now, so we’re going to make another zombie movie JUST LIKE all the ones you’ve already seen!!” …but they do, and as they predicted, we go watch. Porter goes further into this stating, “Thus the intertext exerts its influence partly in the form of audience expectation. We might then say that the audience of each of these texts is as responsible for its production as the writer. That, in essence, readers, not writers, create discourse” (38). This explains why writers continue to create what we are familiar with. If we base what we write/create off of the past, making something entirely new becomes scary because we don’t really know if the audience will like it. But then again, Ferguson states that nothing is entirely new.

One of my favorite parts about Ferguson’s videos was when he showed the different film clips side by side that looked almost identical. Last semester when I did the analysis using intertextuality, I looked at two different news articles discussing Steve Jobs death and what it meant for the future of Apple. At first, I was just trying to figure out what the difference was between the stories, what was similar, and if I could find any traces of the quotes anywhere else. Once I began closely reading the two articles, I realized certain sentences, even whole paragraphs, were almost identical to each other. Immediately I thought it was plagiarism (which was wrong) and then realized that the two news articles were drawing their information from the same sources. I didn’t go far enough into the research to figure out who it was (they both just kept saying “analysts”), but it was awesome to find real intertextuality in two popular news sites. The two articles were: “The Future of Apple Without Steve Jobs” from Yahoo Finance and “Steve Jobs Death: Apple’s Future Without Its Visionary” from ABC News. (If you want to try and find the traces yourself)

This entry was written by tarrmart and published on March 22, 2012 at 11:07 am. It’s filed under Semiotics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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