There is no such thing as originality. It has all been said before, suffered before. If a person knows that, is it any wonder love becomes mechanical and death just a scene to be shunned? There is no absolute knowledge to be gained from either. Just another ride on the merry-go-round, another blurred scene of faces smiling and faces grieved. – Clive Barker
Pretty uplifting quote from our friend Clive huh? Well he’s not wrong. Just look around you at the media industry. Have you noticed that, in recent years, the biggest blockbusters coming from Hollywood have been just rehashed films inspired by past iconic literature and films? Ant Man, Fantastic Four, Batman, Scott Pilgrim, Django, The Great Gatsby, (etc…).
It’s not just in recent years, nor is it facilitated within one outlet. Look at fine art, for example. Before (and sometimes even during) a famous artist has blossomed into their prime and found their own voice, they have taken bits and pieces of other people’s vocal cords to help formulate their own. Pablo Picasso spent years and years studying the art of Paul Cezanne. Cezanne’s strange post-impressionist ‘flat-abstract’ approach to his landscapes gave Picasso and other budding artists of the age a push to found a new style of art called cubism.
Now I know what you’re thinking: “well yeah, but it’s a different thing to found a new art style than it is to just make a movie based off of an old book”. I agree, but that’s not the point. The point is that, sure, they may be in varying degrees but the final product was made by copying already existing content period. At some point, the process was void of originality. But, you know what? That’s okay.
People think that creativity means coming up with something completely new out of thin air for no rhyme or reason. That. Is. Not. The. Case. All creative people use reference material, or at least they’re inspired by something that is already of this reality, this universe. The only thing that differs is how much they lean on that material to make their own vision come to life; and sometimes, their vision is only a small change or improvement on what’s already been made, other times it may be a vision of a completely different thing but it still uses a few of the same parts as other already existing things.
Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not! This has been happening since the dawn of man. This prevents humanity from constantly reinventing the wheel. This, ladies and gentlemen, is creativity. The ability to see existing bits and pieces, existing concepts and techniques and repurpose them to get to a different end.
Even though pure originality may only be an imaginary concept, that doesn’t mean we should think any less of what it takes to create. Even the greats copied the greats to get to greater things. The only thing that may need to change is the general understanding of the term ‘creativity’. ‘Creativity’ has a certain mystique that drives some to believe that there is no origin for the things creativity can produce. Creativity merely means that someone can look at something or a group of somethings, jumble them up, interchange pieces between them, and make something else from all of that. It just means that someone has an imagination.