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Imitation and Originality in Youth Media Production

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Yonty Friesem and Renee Hobbs present research at the National Council of Teachers of English conference, Houston, Texas. November 18, 2018

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Imitation and Originality in Youth Media Production

  1. 1. Imitation and Originality in Youth Media Production Yonty Friesem Media Education Lab Columbia College Chicago Email: yontyfilm@gmail.com Twitter: @yonty Renee Hobbs Media Education Lab University of Rhode Island Email: hobbs@uri.edu Twitter: @reneehobbs www.mediaeducationlab.com #NCTE18 11/18/18 Houston, Texas
  2. 2. 2013 Philadelphia Youth Media Festival “Love Language” 2013 Providence Youth Media Festival “Love Language” 2013 Providence Youth Media Festival “Love Language”
  3. 3. 2013 Philadelphia Youth Media Festival “Love Language” 2013 Providence Youth Media Festival “Love Language” 2013 Providence Youth Media Festival “Love Language”
  4. 4. Love Language
  5. 5. ORIGINAL: Jubilee Project 3.7 million views REMAKE: Bootihole 10 million views
  6. 6. ORIGINAL: Jubilee Project 3.7 million views REMAKE: Bootihole 10 million views 48,000 results
  7. 7. What is the relationship between creativity, copying and imitation? When youth indicate an interest in remaking an existing popular video, should educators be enthusiastic or concerned? When is imitation a form of creative expression and when is it a shortcut that limits creativity and learning?
  8. 8. Imitation as Cheating
  9. 9. Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery - it's the sincerest form of learning. -George Bernard Shaw Imitation as a Learning Practice
  10. 10. Imitation as a Creative Practice --Kirby Ferguson
  11. 11. Collective Cultural Production Remake Videos on YouTube “Bus Uncle” (2006) Scary Maze Prank (2010) Ice Bucket Challenge (2014) 132 2,000+ 2.5 million
  12. 12. Research Approach RQ1: What forms of imitation and originality exist in “Love Language” remake videos? Method: Content analysis of 94 “Love Language” remake videos, using 2 coders for all videos Search Strategy: “Love Language” 80,400 videos + “short film” 187 videos - date (2010 – 2017) - duplicates, blooper reels, or “making of” versions Sample: 94 videos, with 16 million views
  13. 13. Measuring Content & Form Character, Content and Setting • Gender of actors • Race/ethnicity of actors • Actors’ change of clothing as a device to indicate the narrative occurs on sequential days • Presence of flirting behavior • Use of post-it notes to exchange information between characters • The girl’s use of finger spelling to communicate the message that she is deaf • Boy’s final note, “You’re still beautiful” • Outdoor setting • Park bench
  14. 14. Measuring Content & Form Format & Cinematography • Length of video • Use of music, entitled, “Peaches by New Heights,” • Credits • Bloopers (which were not included in the original video), Acknowledgement of Jubilee Project • Extreme close-up of foot tapping • Use of jump cuts to communicate the boy’s waiting • Over-the-shoulder shot of the post-it notes • Side-angle shot of the boy looking at the girl • Extreme close up of sticky notes • Date slates to indicate the passing of time • Titles to capture spoken language
  15. 15. Measuring Content & Form Context variables • URL • Number of views • Date of publication • YouTube user name • Country of origin • Made in a school context
  16. 16. Findings “Love Language” remake videos display a complex mix of both imitation and originality in content, format and cinematography. WHY? • Universal theme: introducing yourself to a stranger • Sentimentality: a budding romance • Surprise ending: an invisible disability • Short film length • Simple set • Limited use of language
  17. 17. “Love Language” Remake Videos Embody Global Asian Identity 61% : the boy and girl were both Asian 12% : one member of the pair was Asian 27% : characters were not Asian. 58% come from North America, the Philippines and India. Other remake videos were from Indonesia, Australia, Bangladesh, Japan, Vietnam, China, Nepal, Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Egypt
  18. 18. Imitation – Originality A ratio depicts the relationship between the number of videos that that used close imitation for particular elements as compared with those which contained original elements.
  19. 19. Imitation – Originality A ratio depicts the relationship between the number of videos that that used close imitation for particular elements as compared with those which contained original elements.
  20. 20. 66% included acknowledgement  21% mentioned the original Jubilee Project in the credits  29% mentioned source in the description  13% mentioned source in both the video and the description 34% had no acknowledgement Diverse Approaches to Acknowledging the Original
  21. 21. “You’re Still Beautiful” 77 of 93 videos kept the original ending line. Some alternatives included: • “I still like you,” • “Will you be my girlfriend?” • “I certainly didn’t expect that.” “You are still perfect.”
  22. 22. Examples of Creative Tweaks • Reversing gender roles so that the boy is the deaf individual • The boy is depicted as a musician, with a guitar, and we understand him to be the author of the song, with the effect of transforming the genre from its original narrative into a music video. • The boy knows from the beginning that the girl is deaf, with the romance depicted as a fantasy dream sequence that includes hyper-stereotypical romantic marriage proposal, followed by the dramatic wake-up scene where friends are pouring water on his head to wake him up.
  23. 23. Film School 101 Assignment Re-create a Favorite Movie Scene Students remake a short movie scene of their choosing, imitating it closely shot-by-shot. Responsibilities should be divided among students as they collaborate to put together their own sets/costumes/props, do their own acting and camera work, using in-camera editing.
  24. 24. Remake Media Literacy Assignment Re-create a Favorite Movie Scene Students remake a short movie scene of their choosing, imitating it closely shot-by-shot. Responsibilities should be divided among students as they collaborate to put together their own sets/costumes/props, do their own acting and camera work, using in-camera editing. Strategic Alteration Reproduce a close copy of a short movie scene but make one key change to the content or form. Discuss: How is the meaning altered?
  25. 25. Limitations
  26. 26. Creativity is Combinatorial
  27. 27. Exercising Your Fair Use Involves Critical Thinking
  28. 28. When youth indicate an interest in remaking an existing popular video, should educators be enthusiastic or concerned?
  29. 29. CAREFUL COPYING is a form of learning STRATEGIC ALTERATION of copied form and content may unleash creativity
  30. 30. Imitation and Originality in Youth Media Production Yonty Friesem Media Education Lab Columbia College Chicago Email: yontyfilm@gmail.com Twitter: @yonty Renee Hobbs Media Education Lab University of Rhode Island Email: hobbs@uri.edu Twitter: @reneehobbs www.mediaeducationlab.com #NCTE18 11/18/18 Houston, Texas

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