awkwardly

Thursday

U love remix culture. Y U no respect remakes and sequels?

If you like remix culture, you gotta check yourself before you wreck your shelf. Bad sequels, bad remakes and bad fanfic are an aspect of Sturgeon's Law. Ninety percent of everything is crap, so don't let critics tell you sci-fi or some other genre is horrible just because 90% of it is crap. By extension, 90% of sequels and remakes and fanfic are going to be crap, but this doesn't mean all sequels or remakes or fanfic should get thrown out just because of that. (Unauthorized sequels would be a hybrid between the categories of sequel and fanfic. Or would all fanfic count as sequels?)


If we were going to categorically dismiss all unauthorized sequels, we would arguably throw out great stuff like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead and Paradise Lost (an unauthorized sequel to the Bible, more or less). Last Temptation of Christ. Here are a few dozen examples of high class fanfics/sequels plus some lowbrow ones: http://bookshop.livejournal.com/1044495.html 

Not that I expect much from this Christmas Story 2. I'm just saying if we throw out things like that, we might be throwing out some good stuff. (Or we might be forgetting examples that made people grumble this same way when they first came out, before they became classics.) Also if we throw this on the bonfire and then turn back to another window in which we're writing fanfic or listening to a remix or watching mashups, we're being inconsistent.

[I've made this argument repeatedly. Thought I would dump it here so I can just point people to this post next time instead of repeating it from memory.]

... It occurs to me that this problem also relates to our relatively recent access to massive floods of info, trying to figure out how to filter it, and our previous reliance on gatekeepers to tell us what was good and bad. Part of the reason people are saying, "The sky is falling, someone made A Christmas Story 2 direct to dvd!" is because they're thinking, "Our gatekeepers are failing us! We can no longer count on the studios to feed us good stuff! How will we know what's good now?"

Some gatekeepers have been unreliable or inconsistent for a long time though. Publishers, editors, studios, deejays or record labels. Some of the great stuff you've come across in recent decades has probably been independent music that was turned down by major studios, independent movies that weren't created or distributed by major studios, books that were rejected by dozens of major publishers.

The good thing about the web is that it democratized some arts. Any idiot can make his novel or poem or photo or film or song available for the whole world. Any idiot can get stuff seen widely without going through the stale, old, traditional gatekeepers. Yay! But how do you get it seen by anyone? How do you make it viral? Gatekeepers won't necessarily pass your stuff along, so you have to figure that out for yourself.

As readers or listeners or consumers of democratized art, how do we know which things to try without the traditional gatekeepers? You have to become your own gatekeeper. Instead of waiting for a magazine editor to read through the slush pile and find a good story to publish, you have to read through a pile of slush and occasionally find something you like. This is good for you. Having access to the web and all this democratized art and information gives you great power. Have you read enough comics or watched a certain rapidly accelerating rebooted superhero franchise to know what comes with great power? What would your Uncle Ben tell you comes with great power? Not the rice dude.

You have the responsibility to wade through some crap now. You can't trust studios or other gatekeepers to reliably feed you Official Sequels that are anywhere near as good as the original, or to point out anything that is actually good. Stop whining and do some of your own gatekeeping, or at least find new gatekeepers who reliably point you in the right direction.

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