Student Reflection – Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ — A Remix Video about Remix (1.2)

By Clark Baxtresser & Avni Mehta

The prompt for this assignment was broad, simply instructing the student to make a remix video that creates an argument. Pretty quickly we knew that we wanted to focus on the concept of remix itself.  This interest stemmed initially from our interest in music sampling, and the copyright issues associated with it.  Our initial idea for the video was to show the creative process behind a “mashup”, a song created by using only samples. We wanted to show that even by using recognizable clips of old songs, something completely new could be created.

As we began to think about how we could illustrate this concept, we became more and more focused on the idea of reproduction as creation.  The more we thought, the more we realized we had to step back further and further until we were looking at human society as a whole and all of the historical processes that have created it. And, we wanted to say all of this in 2 minutes.

Because of the time constraint, we don’t present a specific solution to the problem of current copyright law. Our goal was simply to get people thinking of sampling and remixing as a form of expression in itself, with as much room for creativity as any other so-called “original” idea.  The video has an optimistic tone throughout, with a hope for a future in which more and more people feel inspired to create.  It is the modern technology of today that can facilitate these creative exchanges, and we hope that this process is not stifled by any law.

If any record company ever contacts us about our unauthorized use of samples, we would argue that no consumer would listen to our mashup as a replacement for the original “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” by Michael Jackson, or any of the other sampled works. If anything, our mashup, as well as mashups around the world, should inspire people to seek out the sampled material. That is why we believe that sample artists should cite their sources. We are just as inspired to look back at where things came from as we are to look forward into what things can become.