Rip! A Remix Manifesto has me torn. There’s no questioning the fact that I was completely drawn in to its vibrant cut and paste aesthetics and infectious pacing, but ultimately I couldn’t help but feel like there was a bit of a missed opportunity that could’ve turned this ‘great’ film into something ‘extraordinary’. Director Brett Gaylor looks at the idea of ‘intellectual property’ and how the ownership of ideas has hindered the creativity of artists like Girl Talk, a cut and paste ‘mash up’ artist whose liberal use of popular samples would set him back 4 million dollars if he were to clear the rights to legally sell his album.
I’m not really one for complaining about bias in documentaries, but I think this is one case where Galyor’s love for Girl Talk and clear stance on the subject matter may have squandered the opportunity for a potentially complex and in depth double-sided discussion. Just look at the scene where he shows a ‘Registrar of Copyrights’ video footage of Girl Talk assembling a track from a sampled Elvis Costello guitar riff. The scene would be great if it weren’t for the fact that this particular example — a 4 second guitar riff — completely misrepresents the true nature of his music; recognizable, clearly identifiable top 40 pop samples. Seemed to me like making your proof fit your argument. The topic of downloading and intellectual property is a labrynthine endeavour that could have made Rip! the definitive copyright/intellectual property film. Regardless, the documentary is great and is a sure bet conversation starter. It’s just too bad more of that conversation didn’t happen on screen. 4/5