For my show and tell, I chose to show Dumb Starbucks, a product of comedy show Nathan for You, where in the episode, a local coffee shop failing because of a nearby Starbucks calls in Nathan who suggests that they turn the coffee shop into parody art by branding itself as “Dumb Starbucks”. I chose this because I wanted to showcase both a different form of appropriation, parody, as well as showing the confusion over whether the act was a form of art. The Dumb Starbucks joke received international praise as a form of street art and it was rumored to be a creation of Banksy, but it’s interesting to see how people’s perspectives on whether something is art or not changes depending on the artist making it.
So I’m a bit of a musical theater nerd and as such, one of my favorite shows is the hit musical “Hamilton” by Lin Manuel-Miranda. I consider the show itself to be a sort of appropriation of historical events, however that’s debatable. The depicts the founding fathers at the formation of our country, but shows them through the lens of a modern American perspective. One of the most important points in the show is right before the Battle of Yorktown, the battle which ended the Revolutionary War, in which Hamilton and Lafayette meet each other and declare “Immigrants, we get the job done.” a line which undoubtedly sparks cheers and applause from the audience. The line inspired a group of rappers, gathered by Manuel-Miranda, to create a song for the “Hamilton Mixtape” a collection of pieces by outside artists inspired by or drawing directly from the musical. This song appropriates numerous lines from the show, most obviously, the line “Immigrants, we get the job done” to add to the song. The juxtaposition of the line with the rapper’s lyrics of the hardships they faced as immigrants makes a clear political statement about the standards we hold immigrants to despite their hardworking and determined nature.
The example of appropriation that I chose for the show and tell is the “Amen Break”.
Amen break is the drum solo that was part of the 1969 remix of the gospel song: Amen, brother.
The solo was done by drummer G.C. Coleman and now his work is sampled in over 3000 songs, across
The reason that chose this to present is because when we were talking about appropriation I
immediately thought of a video called “The most sampled loop in music history” by Great Big Story on YouTube.
Link to the video
I find this interesting because of the sheer number of songs that sampled this loop.
It’s in so many song that I don’t even realize it. I only start to hear it after doing some research about it.
And another interesting fact about the Amen break is that it inspired the Jungle music genre.
My example of appropriation is the song “Pixel Galaxy” by Snail’s House. I listen to Snail’s House often, and when I first heard this song I thought it sounded very familiar. After some research, I realized that this song uses samples and melodies from a Kirby song. As a huge fan of Kirby, learning this only made me love the song more. The Kirby song that it samples is called “Green Greens”
I chose to share this video by Zen Huxtable. The video itself is appropriation but he analyzes musical appropriation in the Detective Pikachu trailer.
The game I chose for the show and tell was Heart Machine’s 2016 game Hyper Light Drifter, a 2D action role-playing game in the style of the original Legend of Zelda,
In Hyper Light Drifter, you play as a nameless wanderer, travelling through a destroyed, alien land as you attempt to complete a quest of unknown consequences. Aside from the menu, there are no words of any kind. Instead, the player is presented with alien script and beautifully rendered pixel art and have to discern for themselves what is going on and why.
You know a few things, such as the world is destroyed, and that the player’s character is afflicted with some unknown illness that, from time to time, causes them to cough up blood and pass out from time to time. But what you don’t know makes the game that much more interesting.
Hyper Light Drifter is not just a game about dealing with illness (Alex Preston, the game’s director, has spoken about how the game acts as a way to express his own experiences with Congenital Heart Disease), but a game about loneliness and isolation. Aside from your floating robot companion, the only people you talk to are shop owners and travelers you meet along the way. Most times, you are alone, trying to complete an esoteric quest by solving some unknown riddle. It can be confusing and disheartening at some points, but when you finally complete a task, you really feel like you’r fighting back against some unknowable terror in a world you don’t belong in.
My choice for the appropriation show and tell ended up being the use of notes and rhythms by Ed Sheeran in “Photograph”, copying Matt Cardle’s “Amazing.” In it, you can clearly hear the same note pattern from Cardle’s song in Sheeran’s, just sped up and an octave higher.
Here is a video playing the chorus side-by-side with each other, and you can clearly hear the resemblance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDJVOMmh5nI
I’m very interested by this because it seems to be one of those “big fish vs. little fish” battles. Matt Cardle, a former X-Factor winner, is not nearly as big as Sheeran is. Sheeran can easily win this battle popularity wise, as people won’t pay nearly as much attention to Cardle’s song. A lawsuit was filed over this by Cardle, which was settled out of court for $20 million.
This, to me, seemed suspect. Sheeran has the resources and the money to fight this and probably win out of sheer money and power alone, but he decides to concede. In my opinion, this seems to be an admission of guilt by Sheeran. It also sort of makes you wonder: did he expect a lawsuit out of Cardle? Did he include the bit knowing full well that he had the money to pay whatever Cardle wanted and still turn a massive profit off of it? These sort of situations beckon these questions, questions that likely will never be answered.
The game I’d like to present is “Limbo”, a 2D platformer released by an indie company called “Playdead”. This game tells a story through very minimalistic visuals and gameplay, but with the few things this game does, it does very well. For example, the game’s color palette is merely black and white, with a shadow-box/silhouette kind of aesthetic, but the amount of detail the game provides through other means such as dust clouds or inertia is incredible. Because a player’s focus is drawn away from the normal things eyes gravitate towards, they are able to notice the more minute things that really pull together how believable an environment is. The game also does not give you a direct narrative, but rather incorporates that through small interactions of nuances in the visuals.
Limbo does an excellent job of creating a game with a captivating world through very unconventional methods, and overall I enjoyed playing and replaying each stage of the game. It was a refreshing take on platformers, and I would definitely recommend others to play this game.
The Magic Circle is a game made by Studio Question. It is about the process of making a game, and the difficulties that come with that process. The game itself is set inside a game that has been in development hell for a long time. It has a crappy, quarreling dev team, a fanatical fanbase, and a terribly designed game space.
The game is about how the magic circle, the idea that the game has its own space where our reality doesn’t interfere, doesn’t exist, because the game is clearly being affected by real world problems. It is built around the story of the stagnant game and the ways it could be better. The game within the game, also called the Magic Circle, is supposed to be a critique of the typical heroes journey and all the dramatic cliches that story writers include in their games, and how all that doesn’t work.
You play as the main character of the game within the game, able to mess with the game’s “code” editing creatures, moving, deleting, and recreating features in the landscape, and interacting with the devs. All of this is made to seem really open, but it’s also very railroady. You never notice this while playing because the game is just so fun and so strong narratively.
Stories Untold is an indie game created by No Code that features four short horror experiences. I focused on The House Abandon, in which the player plays a text-based adventure game about an abandoned house on an old PC. It is essential that the player can see and hear their immediate surroundings, as the game eventually restarts and actions the player takes in the game begin to happen within the house the player is in. The horror of the game comes from the duality of the player character – is the player character the one sitting in front of the computer screen? Or is the player character the one being controlled in the text adventure? The text adventure player character encounters the player character sitting in front of the computer, and the uncertainty of who the player is actually controlling gives the player a strong sense of unease.
I chose to present this game in class because it plays with perspective in an interesting way. We often think of the player character as an extension of ourselves, our way of interacting with the game world, our lens through which we view the game. But when a character in a game like The House Abandon has to play a game themselves, who really is the player character? Who is the player really controlling? The House Abandon asks this question, and forces the player to confront their expectations about perspective in games.