Remix

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Synonyms:
See also: challenge, repod, Audiofic (sound collage), unauthorized sequel, responsefic
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In fannish spaces, a remix is a fanwork that is a re-envisioned version of an earlier fanwork. The term is also a verb describing the process of creating a remix. Remixes are most usually fanfiction, but fanart is sometimes included in challenges.

Current fannish use probably originates from a 2003 popslash fanfic challenge that spawned many other challenges; in some circles on LiveJournal, remix and remix challenge were synonymous, and the challenges were the main source of fanfics labeled with the term remix.[citation needed] Remixes shouldn't be confused with recursive fanfiction or a certain type of responsefic.

Definitions

What does or doesn't count as a remix is pretty wide and varied; the term has been in use for more than a decade, after all. Disagreements often focus on what one can and cannot change, as people have different views on how close to the original fic a remix has to be to count.

One user's definition:

A remix is when you re-envision someone's existing fanwork - essentially writing (usually) your own version of someone else's fic with all your own preferences. It's different from collaborating because the remix does not fall into the "official" continuity of another fan's stories; it's different from being inspired by someone else's [trope] fic and writing your own [trope] fic because the connection between the original and the remix is made explicit, with the remix being built out of the original.

Some people have a very narrow view of what counts as a remix, but mine is considerably broader. If it's related to the original work in such a way that you can see the connection, and the author of the second work calls it a remix, it's a remix"[1]

Another fan said that their entry point to writing a remix is, "If I had been writing this story in the first place, what would I have done with it?"[2] They went on to say,

There's no single answer to that question that's always right. It's a matter of how you respond to the original work. Remixing is harder when you don't have a story to work with that inspires you with that particular sense of, "Here's what I want that story to do, give it to me now and let me do my version!", but even when that instant jolt of inspiration isn't present, I've still found that the basic question of, "If I were writing this story, how would I write it?" has always been helpful.

(Except in the rare instances where the original is so perfect that the answer is, Nothing, this is perfect as it is and I wouldn't touch it. When that happens, though, the answer is, Find another fic to remix. Frustrating, but simple.)[2]

Techniques and Conventions

Writers sometimes incorporate dialogue, description, or other details of the original work into their remix story, but it's not necessary. Many remixes keep the same characters, ships, and basic plot, especially in remix challenges where there are often rules about what remixers can change.

A discussion on fail_fandomanon produced a list of possible remix techniques, most of them from one post.[1] The list has been reproduced and expanded on below.

  • POV flip — Retelling the same events from a different character's point of view or switching between first, second, or third person.
  • Role reversal — If A was the bank robber and B was the security guard in the original, B is now the bank robber and A is now the security guard.
  • Sequel/prequel — The remixer explores what led up to the events in the original work, or what may have happened after. (The writer of this list noted that "There's quite a bit of disagreement about whether or not this actually counts as a remix," and suggested that "the best way to resolve it as an issue is to be certain the remix overlaps with at least a couple scenes of the original."[1])
  • New spin/tone shift — The same things happen as in the original fic, but they mean something different than they did in the original. For example, a happy time travel fic might be portrayed as tragic by the remixer.
  • Characterization shift — Similar to the above, but what's changing is the characterization. This "works quite well when you see the characters entirely differently than the person you're remixing."[1]
  • AU to canon — That modern/space/western AU now happens in the canon era/setting.
  • Canon to AU — That canon fic is now an AU.
  • Different place in canon — The same events happen, but they happen at a different point in canon.
  • Pairing shift — This can have several meanings:
    • a fic with a main pairing of A/B and a background pairing of C/D may be remixed so that C/D is the main pairing instead.
    • the remix backgrounds the shippy parts in order to focus on the plot (changing a shipfic into a casefic for example) or the other way around.
  • Pairing change — The events of the fic happen to C/D instead of A/B. This is an unpopular option because challenges tend to disallow it.[1]
  • Missing scene — The remixer writes what might have happened in a scene that was not portrayed in the original work.
  • Expansion/Contracting — The remix expands a 200 word story to 5k or contracts a 20k story down into 1000 words.
  • For want of a nail — One small detail at the beginning of the story original story is changed, so events spin out differently in the remix.
  • Mash-up — The remixer takes two or more of someone's fics and combine them.
  • Based on the summary — The remixer reads the summary and writes what they think the original was about based on just the summary. (The list-writer notes, "I DON'T actually recommend this, but I've known people to do it that way, so."[1])
  • Changing the ending — Someone dies in the original, they don't in the remix (or vice-versa), that kind of thing.
  • One crucial detail — The remixer pulls out what they consider to be the most important detail of the original fic, then lets everything else go in order to explore that detail.
  • Scope of events — The remix covers a smaller or larger scope of events than the original. For example, if the original focuses on the events of one day, the remix might cover the entire month that day takes place in, recontextualizing the day the original focused on by showing how it relates to what happened before and after, or it might focus on just one hour of that day.
  • Trope addition — An extra trope is added by the remixer, for example soulmates or wingfic. This is "similar to genre shift but not quite the same."[3]

Remixers may do several of the above at once, or just one.

Titles

Remix Challenges

In a remix challenge, the moderators assign to each writer another participant's work. Each writer selects and rewrites at least one of their assigned participant's stories, with the expectation that another participant will do the same to one of the writer's own stories. Most remix challenges require the plotline of the remix to stay the same as that of the original. The remix challenge may also require that the ending of the original story be preserved; this does not necessarily mean that the remix and the original must end at the same point.

Origins and Usage

In non-fandom contexts, remix refers to edited songs or wider cultural practices of recombining existing works in any medium to create new works. The term Remix culture could be applied to all fanwork-producing communities, and remixing audio happens in the course of vidding and audfics in the vein of Spork! An Erotic Love Story, but the term itself is not used as much in these fan communities.

The word 'remix' to describe this rewriting and re-telling practice was chosen as a riff on the practice of remixes in pop music, where the vocal and instrumental tracks of a song are rearranged in time, speed, duration, or possibly entirely replaced. Some fans have argued that a more apt analogy would be the song cover, where one artist or musical group re-records a song previously commercially released by a different musical act.[4]

The first remix challenge was We Invented the Remix in popslash fandom. It was begun by MI (2003-04), continued by zvi (2005-06), and then bossymarmalade (since 2007).

From 2003–2012 and 2014–2015, Victoria P ran We Invented the Remix... Redux, an annual multifandom FPF remixing challenge which started accepting popslash once We Invented the Remix stopped running. Remix/Redux stopped running in 2016 and was replaced by Remix Revival, run by Unforgotten, in 2017. Remix Revival is still on-going as of 2018.

Controversy

Some fanfiction authors permit or encourage other writers to remix their stories at any time, without the structure of an organized challenge. Other fanfiction authors believe that unauthorized remixes are a violation of their moral rights as an author.

Though remixing in both fanfiction and vidding has become enormously popular, not all fans embrace the concept. Negative perceptions of remixes can range from boring and unoriginal (it's just the same stuff, done over again with a slight tweak) to insulting (the remix is fixing their writing, or changing things that someone else found lacking) to disrespectful (ignoring that the author had specific character or plot developments in mind and felt they were final), among many other beliefs.

A 2007 comment:

Like, if I give someone a pair of hand-knitted socks for Christmas, and they decide to unweave them and make a scarf, or something. I mean, yeah, technically, I gave them the socks, but I also did it as a heartfelt gesture and didn't get anything back for it--whereas if someone purchased the socks from me, I'd probably never think about what they did with them beyond our transaction. But seeing my gift turned into something else without my friend asking me would sting. I know this analogy falls apart (like the badly knitted socks) if you look at it too closely. *g* I guess, the way I see it is that, as fans, there's a certain kinship that links us all together--we may not all be friends, but with the six-or-less degrees of separation it's not that hard to feel like we're all interlinked, sometimes. And we're not all going to be so close that we'll knit each other socks, but in a way, when we share our fanfiction online, we are sharing a gift to the fandom: our contribution. [5]

Though some fans feel any story is fair game for remixing, others believe that permission should be gained from the author first before using their work as a jumping-off point. Many fans feel it's hypocritical to reuse the original creations of the copyright holders in the canon and then argue against other fans being allowed to remake your fanworks.

A 2007 comment:
I don't think that 'remixability' should be the author's call. After all this is a *fan-fiction* site and the original authors didn't get to vote on whether they liked us taking their ideas and playing with them. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I feel that a condition of submitting something to the archive should be granting others permission to remix/re-use/be inspired by the original bits in your work. Something along the lines of Creative Commons, perhaps? (I know the present CC licenses are only suitable for wholly original fiction, but I like the idea that if it's morally okay for me to write stories about, say, Legolas or young Mr. Potter, then I should grant the same rights to other people over what I produce. It just feels honest.) [6]

And feelings about remixes can be dependent on either the type of work being remixed or even the specific, individual piece. For instance, some fans may embrace the concept of remixing in fan writing, but not in vidding, or vice versa. Or they may be fine with having some stories remixed, but particular stories are off-limits to the idea. Some fans may object to having a certain genre of stories (slash, gen, het) remixed in a different genre (this can be particularly problematic when fan writers who don't approve of slash find their gen or het stories remixed into a slash piece). This can be a particular problem, as well, in shared universes, where one single story can become a huge universe that nearly defines the fandom, such as in The Magnificent Seven fandom.

In addition, reusing even basic phrases that have become fanon have, in the past, stirred debate. The 1984 column "The Protocol Droid," published in the letterzine Jundland, Too, contains a letter from a fan saying she was worried because her fanfiction was about the fall of the Jedi enclaves, but that she'd learned that concept of "enclaves" was from another fanwriter's universe. She wanted to know if she could still use this term. The answer she received? Absolutely not without specific permission from the fan originator, and if any similar appropriation was done by accident, the fan needed to apologize by writing a personal letter. [7] Many fans today would not require permission in this situation as the writer is not reusing a specific story or a character, only a concept.

See The Mission Report Challenge (2006) for a lengthy discussion on remixes.

Examples

Examples of Remixes

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

X-Men: First Class

Examples of Remix Challenges

See also: List of Remix Challenges'

Multifandom:

Specific Fandoms:

Further Reading/Meta


Link collections:

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 anonymous, Re: How would you define or explain remixes?, 01 August 2018. Accessed 04 September 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 anonymous, Re: How would you define or explain remixes?, 01 August 2018. Accessed 04 September 2018.
  3. anonymous, Re: How would you define or explain remixes?, 01 August 2018. Accessed 04 September 2018.
  4. Victoria P., you can hear 'em in the back room strumming, 26 April 2007 (Accessed 2 October 2008.)
  5. from transcendeza's comment at An Archive Of One's Own (post by astolat), 2007
  6. from thinkingheart's comment at An Archive Of One's Own (post by astolat), 2007
  7. See Jundland, Too issue #1.