Thursday, October 6, 2016

To Credit, or Not to Credit: A Totally Original Title

Stephanie Barber is a published author who created (or did she?) a small book titled Night Moves. Her novel was inspired by the popular song "Night Moves," performed by Bob Segar. Barber created this piece in what is known as an "uncreative" process; she got all of her material for her book from the YouTube comments on Bob Segar's "Night Moves" official music video. Using the comments from Bob Seager's song on YouTube has created a controversial question: is Stephanie Barber the author of Night Moves, or does the credit belong strictly to those who wrote the YouTube comments? This question truly has no right or wrong answer, but to form a more solid opinion on the subject, my Digital Humanities class tried uncreative writing first-hand.

The class is split into what the professor calls "tribes", and each tribe includes four members. Each tribe created a chat room on Google Hangouts. Our professor then showed the class small segments of five video clips that all included dialogue of some sort. The videos ranged from Kanye West speeches to a Donald Trump/Game of Thrones collage. While the small segments of each video were played, all four members of my tribe typed everything we heard and remembered into our chat room. We would send our messages frequently, with each message only containing a few words. After performing this act with all five videos, the tribe copied and pasted the entire chat to a Google document. We created an uncreative poem. This poem, which we titled "People are Looding," is created entirely from what four undergraduate college students heard when listening to random (read: incredibly important) YouTube videos.


After plenty of thought regarding the ethics of uncreative writing, as well as attempting it first-hand, I formed an opinion regarding the authorship of Night Moves. The ownership of the novel belongs not only to Stephanie Barbers, but to Bob Seager, and also to those who posted the YouTube comments. The comment area of Bob Seager's original video is where the writing of the novel occured. The name of the novel was inspired by Seager's song. Those who posted the comments actually created the material within the novel, and Stephanie Barber then catalogued the comments to create what is now Night Moves. This novel would not exist if it were not for Barber, Seager, and the commenters; therefore, all three deserve authorship. In the same respect, while all four members of my tribe deserve credit for the creation of "People are Looding," we are not the only authors of the piece.

At first glance, I thought that Night Moves consisted of nothing but a bunch of random words. I never thought that any meaning resided within the work, and still feel kind of feel this way to this day. Night Moves, "People are Looding," and other forms of uncreative writing can have meaning, but you have to look between the uncreative lines and find that meaning for yourself. With that being said, I cannot deny that Stephanie Barber has created something completely out-of-the-box, intriguing, and, depending on the individual, meaningful. Uncreative writing is, and will continue to be for a very long time, a controversial form of writing in which authorship is constantly being questioned.

A Collaborative Effort

1st-Person Pronouns: Molly Verostick and Zack Tokosh (variously)

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