Monday, 3 May 2010

Copywrong or Copyright

Copywrong or Copyright

Brother David and I do not see many movies. Cousin Cod is studying Media this year and is going to the cinema to watch a movie every week as home work. David has been challenged to match Cod and is aiming to watch 52 movies at the cinema this year and I’ve been lucky to have been invited along to a couple.

I have seen some terrific movies and some horrible movies. Three of the movies I have issues with include “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief”, “Clash of the Titans” and “Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland”.

Erin at notes that “Percy” and “Clash” are both poorly written, poorly directed, have poor special effects and portray women as either monsters or things. All excellent points but my main issue today is that in addition they destroy (or use) other’s literary works.

Likewise, thanks to Tim Burton (a director whom I admire), a whole generation now know the words and language of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky (originally featured in “Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There”) but sadly not in the original context. And I feel that this is a great loss.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
- Lewis Carroll 1872

I know that the Greek Myths and Plays were written before the idea of copyright and that Alice has long been out of copyright, but being at uni for years hearing people talk about plagiarism I think that playing with other’s works is wrong. Especially wrong when you adapt it in such a horrible manner such as “Percy” and “Clash” in a way it destroys the original. And you are destroying Classic works.

To correct mistakes the demigod Io has nothing to do with the story of Perseus, Pegasus is said to have sprung from the severed head of Medusa so therefore can not be met before the slaying of Medusa, and there is nothing to say that Medusa is evil and lives in the underworld but at one stage was beautiful and wouldn’t harm anyone (apart from Athena) if people would just not decide to lop off her head or steal her apples.

But this use of other’s works is not just a 2010 phenomenon, but has been going on for a while. For example pride of place in my bookshelf lives books written by Jasper Fforde and Neil Gaiman, and on other shelves you can find Corneilia Funke and Gregory Maguire, all who use other’s creations, some which are still in copyright and some who are not. (Am I a hypocrite?)

Fforde’s works contain ‘credits’ where he, in a humorous manner, acknowledges those whose work he has used; Shakespeare, Austin. Likewise Funke acknowledges her sources. However on the other hand Neil Gaiman and ‘Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief’ both use mythology or characters from mythology who have never been under copyright and a lot of them are long forgotten such as Zeus, Loki and Bast.

But one of my issues is that the use of these characters has changed the audience’s view towards the original works. And I think that this is a line that should not be crossed. One of the most pronounced change is Maguire’s “Wicked” (and the following musical) where he tells the tale of Baum’s “Wizard of Oz” through the eyes of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Feedback on Maguire’s “Wicked” included: “Gregory Maguire creates a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again” and Maguire states in his dedication “Please don’t sue me.” So surely someone must realise that if something is not rotten in the state of Denmark, it is certainly rotten in the bookworld (no pun intended). I have observed people leaving the musical “Wicked” believing that it was what Frank Baum wanted, that the wicked witch of the West is good and the wizard is evil. In the social conscious of the Earth hear-and-now ‘Wicked’ is now canon. Admittedly this could also be partly due to the stupidness of people. But I feel that this is wrong.

I enjoyed Maguire’s “Wicked” there are some wonderful questions posed along the lines of evil, propaganda and free speech. And I love Fforde and Gaiman’s works, but I just feel that the line must be drawn somewhere.

On Tangents:

I’ve been wracking my brains trying to remember where I’ve heard some one say “but the line must be drawn somewhere” and after a lot more searching than I would have thought possible it is from this literary line, written by Gilbert in 1878 (though there could be others): “I attach but little value to rank or wealth, but the line must be drawn somewhere. A man in that station may be brave and worthy, but at every step he would commit solecisms that society would never pardon.”

I have not used the word “intercontextuality” or worked out how to spell it in today's post.

I prefer the Greek god names over the Roman.

Medusa has often been used to portray the raging aspect of the human psyche. I would love to be able to draw a picture of all aspects of the human psyche crowded around a person. The classical conscious with an angel and a devil, a troll and wolf symbolising the deep aspect of flight or fight, personification of fear, love, anger…

No comments: