I realize it is kind of terrifying when small children start making remixes before they turn ten. And that the relationship children have to technology is different than the one I had growing up when two-year-olds see Kindles and print books as interchangeable. I suppose I have some regrets about the abandonment of print books (It’s not for nothing that The Club Dumas, one of my all-time favorite books, is about our physical and emotional relationships with books, especially old ones.), but I generally think advancements in technology are good for our relationship with and engagement to technology. Maybe that 6-year-old isn’t painstakingly crafting mixes or scratching turntables herself, but her Nintendo program has her thinking about how music works and sounds much earlier than I ever did (ditto for Garageband), and she can go wild for craftsmanship as she gets older. E-readers may be unromantic, but they preserve literature and disseminate it quickly. The Internet may be a timesuck, but it’s also a place where folks rehash, remix and reimagine their favorite culture.
I’ve written before about the power of fan fiction, and I’m generally in favor of people having the power to dissect and recreate the stuff they love, and to disseminate. At the most professional end, you get stuff like DJ Earworm’s year-end mixes, and at the less professional end, stuff like this brilliant re-creation and skewering of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance video:
Slate, in a profile of Weird Al Yankovic that remains one of my favorite pieces of pop culture criticism of all time (the dorkiness runs deep, people), noted “Weird Al’s essential service is to point out that, from the perspective of the middle-class suburban lifeworld, pop culture itself is weird.” Technology gives us all the power to be Weird Al, or DJ Earworm, or even to figure out how to be artists on our own. I tend to think that represents progress, of a particularly hilarious sort. As PostBourgie‘s Shani pointed out when she and I were talking about this yesterday, “Think of all the Madonna parodies we missed out on in the 80′s!”