Monthly Archives: November 2012

For the sake of comparison

This seems as good a first post as any to capture the sense of this blog’s intent – desolation, invisibility, silence, sound and hope.

A mashup of the great, final speech at the climax of Charlie Chaplin’s classic The Great Dictator.

Mashups are for modern times. They are supposed to be “a distinct way of spreading ideas” but rarely do. Instead it’s rehashing old ideas. If mashups are a blend of media materials, how are they distinctive? Too many of these imitating mashups are all flattery and no substance. I’m all for the creative process behind re-working source materials. What is classical music or Shakespeare, if not reinterpretations? They work for today’s generation of simpletons as a teaching method but as a way of raising awareness and advocacy for the challenges we face, please.

MelodySheep’s cleverness can’t bottle the magic of Chaplin or the real dangers he warned of. Simply titling their knock-off Let Us All Unite! doesn’t fool anyone and their add-ons are poorly thought discards and take away from the original power. Rather than copy Chaplin’s message from the past, I’d have preferred an idea for solving the problem. I’m sorry, but as in Chaplin’s day, too many people want to be emperors. Too few like to help anyone.

Their project does serve the purpose of keeping words and ideas alive for new generations that are disinterested in original thought and like to have others do their thinking for them in two to five minute segments that they can quickly fast-forward through. If ever there was a film to reach a new demographic, The Great Dictator is one of them. The irony here is in the authenticity of the copy. Chaplin plays copies of himself – the good, a simple barber, and the bad dictator. The mashup, though not quite a copy, is nothing but a remix.

I’m not one for comparison unless it’s between small appliances. Comparison usually limits real thinking, unless its logical – A=B /B=C/therefore ?… Comparing apples to oranges leaves little to the imagination. In fact, can you name any of these mashups, so popular with new media but so reliant on the old, as better at conveying the original artists intention or vision? For the sake of comparison only serves the weaker argument.

Nothing can compare with the scene from The Great Dictator and if MelodySheep isn’t looking for comparison, what is their purpose? Not even lifting the uplifting scene from the last reel, laying down beats, editing in a few incongruent scenes and, most annoying, fiddling with Chaplin’s beautiful voice.

However, here’s the non-robotic original if not for comparison than for its simple perfection in expressing an idea in film. You be the judge because that’s what comparison calls for.