Longest. Title. Ever.
I’ll try not to make this like Dan’s “Half-Inventing Stuff” review, even though there are some thematic similarities.
What spawned the idea for this topic was actually two events hat occurred in the past month, both of which involved people doing things that I had already done. Chances are that both of these events might turn into “Nate Stories”, and since I don’t believe in editing for content, other than adding to it, just be warned.
So I got a disturbing call a few weeks ago. Nothing’s wrong, and it wasn’t sickening or anything… just upsetting. You see, my sister was at a Philadelphia Phillies baseball game. The fans (the few, the proud), the ones who don’t like to throw batteries that is, (although maybe if J.D. Drew was around), have started a sort of tradition over the past ten years. Groups of people would come and buy seats in the wide expanse of the Veteran’s stadium 700 level… that’s right, back when stadiums had 700 levels. Up there they found the space to spread out, dress up in costume, and display large signs usually featuring the group’s made-up name. This might sound a trifle confusing, so I’ll give you the most prominent example, and probably the one that started the fad. Randy Wolf had just made his MLB debut and a group of fans were looking to come out to support the first of the crop of minor league pitchers that would eventually be considered the saviors of the franchise. (Over the next 6 years, through the ranks came Brandon Duckworth, Brett Meyers, Gavin Floyd, and Cole Hammels. This was supposed to be the rotation of the future, but Duckworth was a minor bust and was shipped off to Texas or somewhere, never to be heard from again…. update, he just started pitching for the Royals I believe and didn’t do so well, and Floyd is back in the minors.) A group of fans looking to show support for Wolf showed up wearing wolf masks, with a huge sign that said “Wolf Pack“. Whenever Randy struck someone out they all did a dance in unison that kinda looks like the lawnmower-starting dance. Eventually other groups began to crop up. What else was there to keep you interested in the upper deck and following a losing team? There was the Duck Pond (for Duckworth), the (Vincente) Padilla Flotilla (a group of guys in sombreros with oars pretending they were in a boat. Whenever he got a strikeout they began to row), once there was (Pat) “Burrell’s Girls”, and the most recent high profile incident was two competing groups out to support backup catcher Sal Fasano… yes a backup catcher. The groups paint their faces to match his trademark moustache and call themselves, “Sal’s Pals” and “Fasano’s Pizanos”. Incidentally, Sal was apparently so overwhelmed with the cheering section that he once ordered them all pizzas.
What this has to do with anything is this: When my sister called me on the phone, she told me of the newest group of supporters, “Flash’s Friends” or something like that. The Flash that they speak of is the new closing pitcher, Tom Gordon. How do they get the Flash from that? Well, he’s nicknamed from the 1930s sci-fi serial character, Flash Gordon. But these “friends” didn’t realize that, or I guess they thought that nobody would get it if they dressed up like Flash Gordon and his friends, because they decided to take it one step even further and dress up like the superhero The Flash, and his other superhero friends. It would be enough for me to say it was stupid that there are two jumps in logic to get from The Flash to Tom Gordon, and that people who aren’t from the area probably wouldn’t understand…. but my major problem with this is that WE DID IT THREE YEARS AGO. There is video and photographic evidence (see above) that not only did we use this gimmick first, but we used it better.
The people in this group had really shoddy costumes, most of them partially storebought, and there were people in the group that weren’t even superheroes. So they did the costume thing poorly, the sign wasn’t as good as ours was… and they didn’t dance after strikeouts, but the biggest problem was that they didn’t think their plan through enough. In order for the pitcher that they were supporting to actually be involved in the game, the team would have to be winning by less than four runs going into the final inning… lucky for them it happened and he came in, but by that time, most of them were tired of standing around in their costumes, and were partly disrobed by the ninth inning anyway. When they finally got on TV, they just like a bunch of half dressed-hooligans, not following through with the bit.
So all of these things led me to being not as affected by it. I suppose that my main issue with this scenario is how it made us look in hindsight. Not only was that experience very important for us, sort of serving as the capstone achievement of my highschool friends buffoonery, but we were proud of both the fact that we were the first ones that we had ever heard of doing this, and the fact that we actually followed through with one of our hair-brained ideas… and were mentioned by the TV coverage as the “Fans of the Game”. This gimmick infringement would’ve definitely sullied the memory and sapped all of the originality from it.
As far as the second incident goes, a little more than a year ago, my friend Adam and I completed our senior video project. Capping off this twenty-six minute opus, was a perfect final sequence/shot, that when seen for the first time with the song that Adam had found, literally gave me chills (literally!), and made me want to watch it over and over and over. I knew that if nothing else in the entire thing worked, that this last part would win people over. You can see for yourself here… it’ll probably give you a better idea as to what I’m talking about. The song is by a group called Thirteen Senses, titled “Into the Fire”.
Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that song coming out of my TV a few months later, in the long-form ads for FX’s second season of “Rescue Me“, a show about firefighters. The song fit even more perfectly in that than it did in our project, mostly because of the lyrical contents talking about walking into the fire and such. Also, the ad came and went without much fanfare, and I’m sure that it won’t be remembered in years to come.
Just a few weeks ago, a friend of mine was asking me for names of songs that she might like, and I passed along this title. Little did I know that hours later I would hear the song used in a montage of Jim Carrey’s dramatic moments at the MTV movie awards, a show seen by millions of people per year, and aired about the same amount of times. I hastened to the internets to email my friend to say “THEY STOLE MY SONG!!!1!” The next day, I decided it wasn’t a big deal, and pretty much let the whole thing go…. until about two days after that. I came home late and decided to catcha replay of the season premiere of The 4400, a summer show on USA that that somehow was the most watched basic cable series of last year (or at least last summer?). It was two hours long and started at midnight, and by the end was half asleep, when suddenly, I hear familiar piano chords. Chords I’ve heard hundreds of times. I couldn’t believe it! They were pulling out the end-of-the-episode-montage, and using the song! I was impressed that they actually used the entire thing, and put it to good use, but it was probably the absolute strangest timing ever. Recently, I aslo found out that the song was used in the pilot of “Grey’s Anatomy”, a show that I’ve never watched, and probably never will, but is watched by millions and millions nonetheless. I guess I should just be glad they didn’t use it on American Idol
It reminds me of how way back in 2002-2003, the new Coldplay CD came out, and the WWE/F was the first that I had seen to use a little-known song called “Clocks” to do an absolutely great film/video montage about one of their wrestlers, and my olympic hero, Kurt Angle getting a very dangerous neck surgery and training to come back for the fans and for his family. Soon enough, the song was EVERYWHERE, including the trailer for the movie Peter Pan and a sound-alike version for the New Jersey travel bureau, mostly because they couldn’t afford the rights due to how much they suck. When I showed people the video, all impact was lost because the audience had no idea when this thing was made. The use of the song went from “complelety innovative and perfect”, to “completely trite, cliche, and therefore worthless”. The entire impression of how great the video was was tarnished by the fact that other people used the song after them, rendering it completely useless as any sort of art or entertainment. By that time people had gotten so sick of the song that they probably wouldn’t even watch it just because of the musical selection alone.
What I’m getting at is that now I’m put in this position. This song stands poised to be the next “Clocks”, used in every video that people can put it in, make its way to the radio and soon enough, be so engrained into our public consciousness that you wouldn’t ever want to hear it again. In the event that I would show this video to someone in way to be original, lame-o“. Without having done anything, the value of the piece is decreased tenfold. Sure, you can say “We made this before the song got popular, scuzz-wad”, but that’s like telling a jury to forget a court outburst that’s been stricken from the record via objection. You’ve already seen it, so there’s no letting it go.
You could make the case that every person/group that uses the song in the same manner from now on is just copying off of a set television precedent and therefore should be subject to the same criticisms that I’d get, but it doesn’t matter to them. The song is nowhere near its peak popularity, nor even into the public’s SUB-conscious, and neither do the companies/groups care. If they continue to use the song, what is people saying “that’s already been done before, dill-wad” going to do to them? They’re in a position where if it fits, go for it, because it’s not like the CSI audience is really going to stop watching or feel less inclined to see a Jerry Bruckheimer movie/show.
The people who would be watching my video would be people whom I know, or maybe people I just recently met, but in any case, probably people I want to impress, or at least show that I didn’t go to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College. Having the most impressive part of the video be undermined because of a collective overexposure to the song is something that I would rather do without.
Of course, I could be totally overreacting, and in two years the song could be less remembered than Fastball‘s second single. I also suppose that I could always go back and change what song we used, but that would be like re-doing the end of “Return of the Jedi”, a whole lot of work for something that wouldn’t serve much of a purpose.
How does this relate back to the baseball game? Well, if these people/groups can use this song without knowing that I’d used it previously, and if these Flash’s friends can go dressed like superheroes, what’s to say that our attempt at 30 seconds of JumboTron fame hadn’t been tried before, and done better? What if we were inadvertantly copying off of some other group even though we didn’t know them, and had never seen what they’d done? That would just ruin the whole event for us, and the uniqueness of it.
Personally, I think we should fight these so-called “Flash’s Friends”, because three Frankensteins and a Spongebob are no match for teh Hulk, Superman, Flash, Wolverine, ummm.. Thor, and some girl with an exposed midriff.
Other People Stealing Your Ideas Without Ever Having Met You or Knowing that They Stole Something gets zero stars. It is somethig that will happen over and over in life, and it’s best just not to notice it. The problem is that it gets to you when you no longer can honestly take credit for an idea you had and did, even though there’s evidence you did it before the other person. Rather than feeling good about yourself that somebody else in a higher position than you thought of the same thing that you did, and feeling good about the fact that you’re “on the level”, you tend to feel like you’ve been devalued. The trick is to keep going and come up with something even newer because then you can just show that off to other people instead. Other People Stealing Your Ideas Without Ever Having Met You or Knowing that They Stole Something also makes us look inside of ourselves to determine whether we at any point were guilty of this, and if so make the necessary reparations to those we offended. I encourage all of you to think about this and what it means to you. Until then, Goodnight, and Good Luck, and take care of yourselves, and each other. I’m Andy Rooney… Jon?