Why pop culture is stuck in the recycle bin: A conversation with remix provocateur Kirby Ferguson
Kirby Ferguson
September 19th, 2012
01:42 PM ET

Why pop culture is stuck in the recycle bin: A conversation with remix provocateur Kirby Ferguson

Editor's note: Rob Salkowitz is an author and business analyst specializing in the future of entertainment, media and technology. His latest book is "Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture" (McGraw-Hill, 2012). Follow him @robsalk.

"Star Wars." "Raiders of the Lost Ark." "Kill Bill." What do these canonical works of nerd-cinema have in common?

They’re rip-offs!

That is, they pay “homage” – through the wholesale appropriation of scenes, characters, plot structures and even shot-framing - to the objects of their directors’ obsessions. Still, they are all recognized as vastly influential, popular, and, yes, original works.

So maybe they’re not really rip-offs: they’re remixes.

This process of “innovation through imitation” is how most creativity functions, according to filmmaker, TED-talker and cultural provocateur Kirby Ferguson, maker of the wildly popular series of web videos “Everything is a Remix.” And, he points out, the artists and inventors who break through with new ideas that capture our imagination are frequently folks who have obsessed endlessly over the details of whatever genre, style or body of work that captured their fancy.

In other words, they’re nerds. And that’s what made them great. FULL POST

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Filed under: Brainiac • Fandom
Real pirates don't say 'Aaaaarrrrr'
"Captain Jack Sparrow," center and "Pirate Bob," right, rest with a crewmate after finding some treasure at the Tybee Island Pirate Festival.
September 19th, 2012
10:46 AM ET

Real pirates don't say 'Aaaaarrrrr'

Editor's note: Here's an oldie but a goodie that we published back in 2010. If you're wondering how to quickly broaden your pirate vocabulary, read on, scurvy dogs. But beware: you might want to venture further into this rum-fueled community.

Want to party with a guy who looks like Johnny Depp? How about carouse with "rock stars" from the 18th century who wear heavy eyeliner, speak the King's English and keep flasks of rum on them at all times?

If the rum runs out, one could always order a beer thusly: "Alesman, me cup be dry as an old woman's slipper!"

In celebration of "International Talk Like a Pirate Day," people all over the world will unleash their "inner buccaneer."

Why pirates? While pirate characters are charming rapscallions (like "Jack Sparrow" from "The Pirates of the Caribbean" movies), villainous but not too scary (like "Captain Hook" from "Peter Pan"), intelligent and even acrobatic (as Errol Flynn was in 1935's "Captain Blood"), the persona of a pirate offers fans even more.

"With pirates you have the carefreeness [sic] of the sea," said Wade Finch, a network administrator for Georgia Tech who cosplays as "Captain Jack Sparrow."

"Of course you have the killing and the pillaging and all that, but we don't celebrate that side of things. We celebrate the happy-go-lucky nature of things being free and the camaraderie of your fellow man like the crew aboard a ship," he said.

A thriving community of pirate fans has turned foul-mouthed, rum-fueled revelry into a lifestyle. FULL POST

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Filed under: Fandom
September 18th, 2012
12:36 PM ET

The universal language of 'Gangnam Style'

If you haven't heard of "Gangnam Style" by now, it's likely you live under a rock (or at the very least, have no access to the Internet). Korean performer Psy has made quite a splash for himself with the quirky song and video, which is currently sitting pretty on YouTube with more than 194 million views (and counting) since its release on July 15.

It's now among the most liked videos of all time, and it just recently hit #1 on the U.S. iTunes charts. Everyone loves the singer's trademark "horse dance," celebrities included. The video has been recognized by Tom Cruise, American rapper T-Pain, Nelly Furtado, Katy Perry ... and the list goes on. 

Now Psy is a hot commodity. He's just been signed by Justin Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun, who promises that Psy will be the first Korean artist to break a big record in the United States.

I'm not surprised. Psy is only the latest entertainer to make a splash in the Korean Wave.

We talked about it back in May, months before anyone in the United States had a clue what "Gangnam Style" was. I've always cheered on this phenomenon (or "hallyu" as the Koreans call it), hoping to see more recognition of the music that I love here in the States. As a devoted fan of Korean pop, I'm cautiously interested in where this movement is going.

Naturally, people want to know the reason why something is a massive success. And so, journalists dug. The Atlantic had all sorts of things to say about the song's meaning. Korea Law Today mined deeper than most with a piece on the meaning behind the song's lyrics and cultural nuances. Init_Music even explained how Psy's success is an example of how Asians have to conform to certain roles in order to make an impact overseas.

As interesting as it was to understand what could really be going on in "Gangnam Style" from its roots, ultimately, it has little to do with its mainstream success. After all, the majority of the people dancing to "Gangnam Style" right now don't speak a word of Korean.

The true language of "Gangnam Style" isn't Korean. It may be the language of the song's lyrics, but its true means of communication is a universal one: meme culture. FULL POST

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Bonding with Batman could make you stronger
Study participants were shown either a scrawny or buffed-up version of these comic book characters.
September 18th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Bonding with Batman could make you stronger

It was hard to keep track of all the superheroes hitting the big screen this summer: Batman in "The Dark Knight Rises." Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America and Thor in "The Avengers." Peter Parker in "The Amazing Spider-Man."

And each character seemed to have bulked up for their latest comeback.

"Over the last few decades, superheroes' bodies have become extremely muscular with body dimensions that are impossible for most men to attain," write the authors of a new study that analyzes the effects of superheroes on male body image.

Past research has shown that seeing muscular figures can make men feel badly about their own bodies, similar to the way seeing stick-thin supermodels can make women question their weight.

But the same effect may not hold true for our favorite comic book characters.

The study, published this week in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, suggests watching superheroes can actually increase males' self esteem – and might make mere mortals stronger.

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Dean Cain assists in heroic proposal
Dean Cain presides over the proposal as Ruby Rinekso asks Jennifer Haviland to marry him.
September 10th, 2012
10:06 AM ET

Dean Cain assists in heroic proposal

Dean Cain hasn’t played Superman for 15 years, but he’s still a hero for many fans.

Hundreds of people turned up last weekend at Atlanta's Dragon*Con to hear him reflect on his years in the 1990s hit “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.”

The actor, charming as ever, made the ATL geek fest especially unforgettable for Ruby Rinekso of New York, who was planning to propose to his girlfriend, Jennifer Haviland, at the convention.

FULL POST

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