First, I am just astonished that among the top stories on CNN are Ahmadinejad’s comments at the UN (which are so bugfuck scary shitass motherfucker holy shit that I splutter), and news about Clay Aiken coming out of the closet and Nicole Kidman drinking water to become pregnant. Jesus fucknuts. Juxtaposition of WTF, much?
Second: a rather curious but happy byproduct of the Twilight empire: the actual town of Forks, WA, is receiving a huge tourism boom – which their economy is most happy about. I love that the town is totally into it, from organizing a blood drive from the “Cullen’s” house, to marking a spot for “Dr. Cullen” in the hospital lot. More power to ‘em. May their fire trucks be shiny and new, and their residents happy and mellow.
Now here’s a big question, and each artist has to, I think, answer it on their own, because it’s really a question of ownership and property of art – one that comes up in the court system over and over again. The town’s embracing of their role in Meyers’ series is one manner in which the subject of a creative work adapts to the attention because of it. But consider the artists’ perspectives, and the wide variations of reaction in how their art is used.
In this corner: Suzanne Vega discussing the remixes and interpolations of her song Tom’s Diner (duh duhduh duh, duh duhduh duh, duh duh duhduh na duhduh na…) and how she’s embraced them, even released compilations of various artists’ versions of the same song:
15 years later, “Tom’s Album” continues to sell. People think it is a bootleg and sidle up to me whispering, “Have you seen this? Someone put this together.”
“Yes. That someone was me.”
However, it was a logistical nightmare to administrate. I had to go back to all the people who had taken the song without permission, and ask their permission . . . to use their version of my song!
While still a defender of copyright protection – Vega met with the original remixers of the song, DNA, and arranged for a flat fee agreement after DNA had remixed the song in 1990 and sold it out of a corner store – her perspective is interesting, particularly in the context of isolation in which she wrote the song itself. (Also, the part about Vega’s role in the invention of the mp3 is freaking fascinating.)
And in this corner, we have Annie Proulx, who is pissed as hell about fanfic regarding her characters in Brokeback Mountain, particularly when they send her the product of their fanfic labors. Her response is rant-tastic, because she’s horrified that readers would rewrite her story with a happy ending, stating that:
There are countless people out there who think the story is open range to explore their fantasies and to correct what they see as an unbearably disappointing story….
Most of these ‘fix-it’ tales have the character Ennis finding a husky boyfriend and living happily ever after, or discovering the character Jack is not really dead after all, or having the two men’s children meet and marry, etc., etc. Nearly all of these remedial writers are men, and most of them begin, ‘I’m not gay but….’ They do not understand the original story, they know nothing of copyright infringement—i.e., that the characters Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar are my intellectual property….
Proulx then states that she thinks that the fanfic rewrites are motivated by the male writers’ feeling that they can write the story better than she, a woman, could. I don’t know about that, as it seems like a huge leap of guesswork to assume the motivations of a fanfic writer, but her perspective as to the ownership of the characters and the ending of their story is different from Vega’s eager collecting of variations, covers, and remixes of her song. I’d love to hear a debate with the two of them discussing intellectual property, and how fans interact with their artistic creations.
What do you think? Would you be irritated with someone taking your characters and writing fanfic about them? Do you think someone who seizes your characters and rewrites the ending is “exploring their fantasies” in a manner which you find objectionable? Or would you collect them for your own amusement? Where do you fall on the Vega/Proulx continuum?
Thanks to Karen and December for the links.