What are the limitations of remix, especially in relation to how it is being defined and deployed by different scholars? Like you pointed out, Horwatt’s article defines remix according to different categories. I found his point to be problematic in that it seems to close off the possibilities of remix rather than opening it up. The different categorizations seem to have a sense of a checklist and somewhat defined boundaries. I’m always dubious of such a conception in that it too easily relegates certain things (or media in this case) to the sidelines. If something isn’t remix according to what guidelines and categories are set up, then it is pushed towards the margins. At the same time, I think this moment of categorization of remix is also necessary in order to move forward in thinking about the possibilities and limitations of remix.
One possibility of remix that Horwatt brings up is remix’s intervention into the ways in which we consume and produce media and its relationship to culture. He says, “The efforts of digital remixers on the internet to interrogate images of culture is a process of working through, rebuttal, criticism, and interrogation and decoding of the highly disposable and ephemeral materials of contemporary culture. This process is a form of retribution or resistance.” Remix when considering these two points is not inherently liberatory or democratizing, but it is limited by the way in which it is mobilized.
Remix is what Kuhn describes as a digital argument in that it uses different registers and rhetoric to argue for or against something while it “cites, synthesizes, and juxtaposes its course.” Thinking through Kuhn’s work then, for me, remix seems less like a category itself to apply, and more of a process or lens to read/view something.
Remix’s limitations indeed seem nebulous, especially if we deny a categorical understanding of remix that nicely packs away complicated intersections. If we see something as simple, “That’s political remix” then we already have a framework to deal with it. If we look at remix as digital argument, however, I think that its limitations would ring similarly with the limitations of how arguments are constructed.
While we are confronting media every day, it does not necessarily make us equipped to read a video remix or digital argument effectively, and when we throw in the affective dimension of remix and video how we read media and disentangle our own subjective feelings around it (if we can at all) becomes a more complex issue. Are we literate enough to read remix, and how can we expand media literacy if we use remix as a digital argument are two questions that also emerged for me when thinking about the limitations.
I also thought about the ephemerality of media and culture that Horwatt nods to. On the one hand, the notion of everything is on the internet forever seems like it would be advantageous here because our remix will endure time. On the other hand, when thinking about YouTube policies, our remix is also as ephemeral as the media it remixes. When we upload a remix onto YouTube or another streaming site, it could get taken down and deleted. The remix is perhaps not as time enduring as we think.