The death of originality

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Black paint drips down a woman’s face. Photo credit to @Nika_Akin on Pixabay

Here lies originality. R.I.P. to a flawed notion of something never being done before. No one knows for sure when originality left humankind on its own, but I am quite sure it was centuries ago. In fact, eons ago. Originality, in theory, allowed for the mind to create something new and innovative. Originality allowed for a new breath to foster a windstorm. However, originality was also a liar, manipulator and a couple other names too. Originality was really just one person having their ideas represented before another. While it will be missed, the real star is creativity.

Creativity is such a beautiful thing. It can never die and will continue to impact our lives for centuries to come. Creativity takes these once “original” ideas and requires them to be expressed in new ways and methods, allowing for the shapes and constructs to become malleable. Tropes that ring tried and true through various mediums and art forms, such as enemies to lovers, the orphan hero, love triangles, the chosen one and more, are played with and recontextualized. The mold of these dynamics are expanded upon. Creativity allows for the framework of originality to literally be demolished. Who needs a concrete path when you can explore a new journey of old and new?

Media is able to resonate when it allows for this creativity to run free and to not be burdened by the layout of these concrete paths. We don’t have to solely rely on “original stories” in which our protagonist goes on a journey to find themselves in the most generic way possible. For example, one of my favorite shows of all time, “WandaVision,” is a crazy and unlikely blend of sitcoms, superheroes and sadness, oh my! The heart of the show is Wanda Maximoff, who guides the story, allowing for the creativity to truly shine. In fact, I would even argue that there is some originality in this scenario. It’s more than just a superhero show, as it utilizes the familiarity of the original ideas of sitcoms, comics and superheroes, oh my, to tell a new and exciting story. While I am sure other people have thought of blending superheroes with sitcoms, being able to allow for the heart of a story to be dynamic, complex and personable, oh my, allows for this to feel unique and personable. Stories that are character-driven and focused ultimately allow for this originality to rise from the grave, though it ultimately is another false version of the idea.

Creativity is such a beautiful thing. It also is the reason why these same mediums and forms of storytelling can feel so dynamic and entertaining. It’s not like we watch the same exact character types follow similar paths to find love, but we see how these winding paths can bleed through constructs and notions of reality to ultimately find a story that is both unique and personable to the characters and the person creating it. Creativity also allows for the larger definitions of performance to be deconstructed right before our very eyes. Just because something is being performed on a stage, does that mean we have to limit ourselves to what can and can not be done? 

Does the idea of being in a physical space limit the commentary and ideas that could be expressed through language, movement and other elements? If something is created on film, does that distance between the viewer and the screen prove to be a boundary or a new way for the content to connect with the audience? While we shouldn’t be limited by the way content is produced and created, I also believe that we should utilize these different mediums to our advantage. I think it is also important to play with what is expected in these spaces. Pushing the boundaries of expression might allow for a true showcase of creativity. It might even allow for a resurrection of originality in some form.

Maybe we shouldn’t put a label on these kinds of creation or artistic process. We should just let the mind work. Whatever is created will be what it is. It may be a groundbreaking piece that shakes the very core of the soul, or a piece adapted through a different lens. As long as we create from the heart and with a positive focus, then we can allow for the piece to speak for itself. No matter what, it will be innovative, unique and energetic, oh my. Some might even say original.

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Johnny '24 is a Theatre and Media and Communication double major at 'Berg. He loves to highlight the voices of artists across campus and to showcase the wide variety of events at Muhlenberg. He likes to think he is funny, but that is up for debate.

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