I wonder now, if I had not become familiar with some of those sounds and images, would I have understood the works when I encountered them as an adult? If a brilliant musical composition was reworked and mass released to help a company sell me their product, was it insulting to the song's composer or was it simply another way to expose the world to his genius?
I remember watching Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny reenact the Ride of the Valkyries during Saturday morning cartoons, complete with Viking costumes and dramatic, cartoon-y landscapes.
I remember enjoying Disney's Fantasia with ballerina hippos and crocodiles, dancing dandelions and roses, Mickey Mouse as the sorcerer's apprentice... all set to classical music.
Goodness knows how many people have taken DaVinci's Mona Lisa and given her beards, cat faces, sunglasses, fistfuls of dollar bills...
When my grandmother passed away last year, I inherited one of her statuettes- a 10" tall gnome, sitting on a pile of books, chin on his fist, contemplating his gnomish life. It bears striking resemblance to Auguste Rodin's sculpture of The Thinker.
Have you ever seen the painting, The Scream?
Have you ever seen The Scream superimposed with the words "Give me coffee!!" or "Where's the chocolate?!"
I have to admit, my kids sometimes hear the strains of Tchaicovsky's Nutcracker ballet and squeal, "Oh, oh, oh, remember when Barbie danced to this part as the evil witch approached on her dragon?!" Sometimes they see a Rembrandt portrait and say, "Gosh, that looks a lot like the cover of my picture book, "Cats and Snails and All Kinds of Tails. Except in my book that painting isn't a man and his dog, its a smiling kitty cat with a bird sitting on his hat."
So... is mimicry the highest form of flattery, or is it the lowest form of insult?
When society takes something deemed to be "high art" and brings it down to the common people, either as an advertisement, a commercial jingle, the soundtrack for a movie, a child's cartoon, or a cutesy sculpture for the living room, is that good or bad?
Would the "high artists" be offended or honored by what we're doing with their creations?