"The rant was disturbing, but the remix is pretty catchy!"
That, from Buzz Feed, sums up the consensus on Christian Bale's outburst-turned-dance-remix lighting up the Internet this week.
In case you stepped away from your Twitter feed, a recap: The Batman actor launched into a near-four-minute, rage-laced tirade on the set of Terminator Salvation when the hapless director of photography walked into a scene. The blowup was caught on audio tape, leaked by TMZ on Monday then remade into a club-ready dance hit several times over the course of the week.
The remixes, like last year's Bill O'Reilly freakout dance mix, are a perfect melding of the Internet's appetite for absurdist humour and penchant for appropriation. But they raise other issues. Namely:
• Remixes will be the wave of the future. Bale's has done what O'Reilly's and others had yet to do: opened the game up to the mainstream. After this, not one Kanye West blowup will pass without a proper remix job.
• Remixes, and this Bale joint in particular, reinvigorate the online entertainment/gossip engine. For the first time since, um, Michael Phelps took a hit from a bong, celebrity news is interesting.
• Remixes will be the copyright loophole for referencing everything from celebrity meltdowns to news bloopers. As major media companies clamp down on YouTube users and blogs reposting bits of copyrighted material, remixes are an avenue to fair use.
On that subject, digital rights advocate the Electronic Frontier Foundation issued an inspiring call to arms this week to hold YouTube responsible for colluding with entertainment behemoths to identify and litigate (or at least threaten to litigate) against users. YouTube's infringement identification tool, Content ID, automatically singles out videos that match copyrighted content from companies like Warner Music. In January, Content ID found a young girl playing Winter Wonderland on a keyboard, notified Warner and ripped down her video.
Copyright holders can be so tyrannical, even the odd remix meets that fate. In January, talk show host Stephen Colbert and his guest Creative Commons crusader Lawrence Lessig invited viewers to remix a video of their interview. Viacom promptly removed at least one remix from YouTube for copyright infringement.
• And finally, and in some ways most importantly, Bale will presumably inspire the local and sometimes lethargic blogging community to remix more.
Last year, City Hall columnist John Barber was caught on video calling Etobicoke councillor Rob Ford a "fat fuck." Ford became irate, shouting and bouncing around the council chamber until Barber walked away. Prime for a remix, but none turned up. Perhaps Bale has opened the door to a Barber-Ford dance mix?