Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Girl Talk & The "Remix Culture"

Sturken and Cartwright claim that "postmodern styles have emerged...through a redefinition of authorship and the relationship of production, distribution, and consumption that has been enabled by changing technologies and new cultural practices" (334). Various media texts exhibit postmodernism by disregarding "modern" marketing and copyrighting practices. In this manner, postmodern works are able to "rely on style for its expression"(335).

Girl Talk is a popular musician widely known for 'borrowing' copyrighted material and mixing popular songs together in order to create hybrid recordings. Like Radiohead's "In Rainbows", these recordings are made available online for fans at a price that they determine.

Here are a couple of his songs - the videos are fan-made but are pretty well done...

Anyways, you get the idea, but overall, Girl Talk exhibits postmodernism not only because of his distribution tactics, but also through using the strategy of pastiche, in which artists incorporate other texts into their own work to the point of legal complication. If anything, he is quite literally an example of the "remix culture", which is propelled by postmodern thought.


  1. Great example. There's certainly a lot of debate over whether or not Girl Talk is violating copyright laws since pretty much all of the music he uses is not his own.

  2. Ha, I don't think there's much of a question as to whether he is or isn't! I think that he's just gotten lucky that he hasn't pissed someone off enough yet. Never thought I'd hear Pavement under 2 Live Crew.

  3. Who would have imagined that a musical hack from Pittsburgh would become the face of the free-culture movement?

    Personal biases aside, Gillis' (Girl Talk) popularity certainly seems to point to a trend towards a more mainstream "remix culture" which, prior to his emergence, was if not under underground than at least largely unnoticed by popular music.

    That having been said, even before GT, the DJ (which Gillis is NOT) figured at the center of a critical discourse about "remix culture" both in actually (i.e. DJ Spooky's Rhythm Science)and as a metaphor (i.e. Nicholas Bourriaud's Post Production) for the way that individuals "reprogram" and "remix" the world.