Thursday, 6 June 2013

Jar Jar, you're a Genius!

It is absolutely freezing cold here at the moment, so much so that I can't leave the house without trousers and sheepskin boots. So I've been trying to use this opportunity to stay inside and write more fiction for this blog. Unfortunately, that didn't work out so well. I've been devoting a lot of my mental processing power to this BlogSerial of mine and I haven't had much time for other literary pursuits. I'm pretty sure you can tell it's been on my mind a lot, because I haven't stopped talking about it since I first introduced the concept of the BlogSerial a few posts ago.
This is because I'm trying to get everything right with this story, and I'm concerned about many aspects of this project - but one that worried me most of all was that it could, perceivably, be called fanfiction. And yes, technically it still can, especially since I'm a fan of the show that inspired it so there's no excuse not to. This worried me, as there's still a lot of stigma attached to fanfiction, and most of it is not undeserved, but lately I've come to learn that some works, despite being inspired by someone else's work, can be as good as the work that inspired it. In fact, I truly believe that just because a work is not original does not mean that it is unoriginal. The Word of the Day is: 'REVAMP'.

Revamp /ree'vamp/ v.t. 1. To renovate, redo, or revise: We've decided to revamp the entire show. ♦n. 2. An act or instance of restructuring, reordering, or revising something; overhaul: a revamp of the nation's foreign policy.

I've already talked about remakes and adaptations, and one might be inclined to think they are the same thing as a Revamp. Well, they are related, and there's definitely some crossover, but I stand firm in the statement that a Revamp is a seperate entity for one reason.

In the Words of Benjamin "Yahtzee" Croshaw:
  " . . . a good sequel is one that sees the original as a jumping-off point, something to build on, rather than one that merely wallows in the original and 'pays respect' . . ."

This is true not only of sequels but any continuation of a story or idea, and as I see it Revamps are concerned more with the former, whereas adaptations, reboots & remakes are concerned with the latter.
In general, an Adaptation is just a change of venue, moving from one medium to another, whereas a Remake or Reboot is a coat of paint, using the same canvas but a different colour palette.

Meanwhile a Revamp cuts the original into little pieces, then puts the bones back together and works from there. It isn't a remake, it's a restructured, reordered recreation of the old into something not only new but also original.

Let me give you a some examples:

A few months ago I started reading Darths & Droids, because I kept seeing references to it on and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. Darths & Droids is a "screen-cap" webcomic, made by taking still images from the Star Wars movies and turning them into comic panels. But the comic isn't just a remake of Star Wars in a comic form. The comic completely changes the dialogue, the structure, the characters & the concept of the original movies.
The story of the webcomic is about a group of gamers playing a Sci-Fi tabletop RPG that happens to be the Star Wars Universe. The creators have stated that they like to challenge themselves to find new ways to interpret the screen-captured material into something new, and I believe that one of the ways they have succeeded is by including the line "Jar Jar, you're a Genius!", despite the fact that the Jar Jar Binks character of the movie would never be praised in such a way (in universe or out). In fact, the creators were so proud of that accomplishment that it became a short-lived meme with many hits on Google (and now one more).

There's also Garfield Minus Garfield. This is simply the Garfield comic created by Jim Davis, but with Garfield erased entirely. It's an odd idea, but what's even stranger is the new story that this simple deduction creates. As the inovator of this comic describes it:
  "It is a journey deep into the mind of an isolated young everyman as he fights a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb."

The entire job of a DJ is getting someone else's hard work and changing it. Usually I hate the work of DJs, especially David Guetta who seems to think he's more important than the person who sang the song.
But in 2004, popular modern musician, Danger Mouse mixed together the The White Album by The Beatles, & The Black Album by Jay Z into The Grey Album. This kind of musical remix revamp, combining two songs into one, is known as a "mash-up", and if you're intrigued by the idea, feel free to check out "The Grey Video", a black and white music video mash-up of The Beatles' songs "Glass Onion" and "Savoy Truffle", and Jay Z's song "Encore".

In the realm of the remix, artists have discovered all kinds of new sounds they can use for beats, tunes & lyrics, and this lead to the creation of my newest favourite song:
Garden of your Mind
(This music video was created using clips from the old children's show Mister Roger's Neighbourhood, & Auto-Tune)

Speaking of children's shows, have you heard of the Samurai Pizza Cats? The show originally came from Japan but, according to legend, the translators didn't know the original Japanese script or storyline of the show so essentially they created a gag dub based off what they could understand and making fun of everything they didn't.
If you want more information, check out the The Big Picture episode: Found in Translation by Moviebob (since that's where I got my information from).

Or for something more mainstream (for the 90s at least) have you ever heard of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers? I used to watch this as a kid (and apparently they're still making new series and episodes even today) but back then I didn't realize that the show was actually based on a show from Japan called Super Sentai.
The trick is that Saban, an American company, used all of the Japanese show's expensive special effects and costumed hero stunts, meanwhile reshooting all of the dramatic elements of the show with American actors and making up their own storylines. They did all of this to save money, but as a side-effect they happened to make a very entertaining show with childish drama; violence and kaijū-style city-destroying monsters.

Something I only learned recently is that somewhat-famous game designer Shigesato Itoi officially anounced that he will not be making a sequel to his famous EarthBound series for the Nintendo. If you don't understand what I'm talking about, the history is pretty dense so I can't explain it all, but here's a rundown fo the basics.
The only game in this series to see an official release outside of Japan is EarthBound, originally titled Mother 2 in Japan. However, the game was SO DAMN POPULAR, that non-Japanese fans created a translation of the original Mother (known as EarthBound Zero) & are working hard on translating Mother 3 (or already have done, I didn't do that much research).
They were, understandably, pretty disappointed when Mr Itoi officially declined their hopes for a sequel, but since I whole-heartedly believe that all good things must come to an end, I reckon the fans need to shut up and leave him alone.
However one fan, known as "Chaisu" didn't take no for an answer. Instead of bothering Mr Itoi, Chaisu and a friend of his started working on making the sequel themselves. Eventually Chaisu left the project, but his friend and a collection of dedicated staff have been working on the game ever since . The game isn't completed at time of writing (and may never be), but there's a website you can check out, dedicated to News & Updates on the development of the game, known as Mother 4.
What I love about this idea (other than the fact that the creators promise that you can download it for free when it's made) is that while it's obviously inspired by Shigesato Itoi's original games, the proposed story for Mother 4 has it's own main characters, it's own story & looks to even have it's own gameplay features.

Is that enough examples? Okay one more . . .

Coming full circle back to fanfiction, and of course the written word, I present to you:
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality by Eliezer Yudkowsky [aka Less Wrong]
The premise is simple. This story is based on the Harry Potter Series, but set in an alternate history/parrallel universe where Petunia Evans, instead of marrying the cruel, prudish and fat Vernon Dursley, decided to marry Michael Verres, a handsome young biochemist and rationalist. Thus, when Harry arrives on Petunia's doorstep, instead of being abused he is treated like their own son. In fact, Harry Potter-Evans-Verres is raised by his adoptive father to follow in his stride and become a rationalist himself. However, this means that when he is invited to Hogwarts this time around he reacts a little differently to all of the magic, since he sees it as blatantly impossible.

I haven't read very much of this story, mostly since it's so damn long, but from what I've read I absolutely love this story. Why? Because this ISN'T Harry Potter. Sure, there's the same basic, style, characters & story structure of the original, but this isn't about making the same story again, it's about making something new because of the original stories.
Because someone read Harry Potter, and thought "What if I could make something more?"

Since this is the way I feel about this BlogSerial, I believe that I'll be able to create an original story and something different for the world to enjoy. I can't guarantee that my story will be better than the original, but I'm not worried about that since that's not what I'm trying to do anyway. What I'm trying to do is challenge myself and in the process create something interesting that will make you think; and if nothing else, I can guarantee that Duke Forever will make you think.

If you enjoyed reading about all of this revamped media, I encourage you to try it out yourself. There's potential issues with copywright, so you have to tread carefully; but if you just want to try something new and share it with the world then it's a great avenue for creativity.
Also, if you know of any more fanfiction that isn't crap, I'd love to hear about it.

Until next time, I'm the Absurd Word Nerd: New and Improved.


  1. Hey, what do you think of the 'revamped' Header? I changed the picture so it would be quicker to load, since the original picture was huge.

  2. Having read AU fanfiction that features my favorite characters raised by different parents, I understand the interest in showing how a few different decisions can change canon for eternity. Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality pretty much shows Harry as a ten-year old Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) and how things would change if he were encouraged to ask questions instead of being told to not be curious. As for myself, I wonder how a story would change if say you put a Disney princess in a Dreamworks film that actually tells a story (no, not counting Shrek, because Shrek is a parody) and how that sweetness would ostracize her.

    About the header: I think the color needs to be lightened because it's hard to read the font, especially the phonetic rendition and definition. One solution is to darken the background color and make the font white, or vice-versa.


Feel free to make suggestions, ask questions & comment . . .
I would love to read your words.