October 15, 2018

The Stultifying Power of the TV Reboot

“In 1903, Mark Twain defended his friend and fellow author Helen Keller against charges of plagiarism, writing in a letter: ‘The kernel, the soul – let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances – is plagiarism.’ Of course, even Twain’s screed against the concept of originality was hardly original. As the ancient Roman playwright Terence notes in his comedy The Eunuch: ‘Nothing has yet been said that’s not been said before.’ In this short firm, the US filmmaker Drew Christie turns a moviegoer’s complaint to a box-office attendant about a lack of originality in Hollywood into a madcap exploration of appropriation, adaptation and plagiarism in art and, more generally, human thought. Deploying hand-drawn animation and a stream of Wikipedia articles to droll comedic effect, the film approaches its topic in a manner you might just call ‘original’ – if you still cling to such silly notions.”

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