The Meow Mix commercial (2014):
The original (2008, with at least 43,751,676 views):
It’s really nothing new that media takes inspiration from preexisting sources. For a long time, movies, plays, novels, and other forms of media have been taking inspiration from folklore and stories of heroism, among other things. Lately, there have been complaints that movies have been unimaginative, often with recurring superhero stories. But the thing is, it’s not something new, and with such movies making big bucks, it’s not likely that films will stray far from conventions.
What is of particular interest is how blatantly traditional media has been stealing from the internet, with such attempts becoming increasingly brazen. It may not be new that new stories take inspiration from old ones. We see recurring themes in storytelling throughout history, and very little written by men is actually completely original. These days, writing something completely original has become difficult to the point that many writers admit to taking inspiration, and they typically aren’t blamed for it.
However, it’s when it get particularly blatant that eyebrows are raised. When it’s content that’s on the internet that large companies are taking inspiration from, can they be as blatant as they wish without consequence? The “stalking cat” video above was apparently filmed and posted by one guy in Japan, and even if he were to tell Del Monte Foods to cease and desist, what would he have behind his request? It would be a battle between a huge corporation with enormous resources and teams of lawyers versus a guy, his camera, and his cat.
Those huge corporations seem to be figuring something out, and that’s that the internet is filled with content that’s very difficult to trace, and even if traced, it’s difficult for the producer to defend their own content. Internet users even steal from each other. There’s a producer of animated gifs who saw people enter his work as their own submissions in online art contests. When he came forward as the producer of that art, and told the online community to stop posting his work as their own, people actually sided with the art thieves! As a result, the artist felt less inclined to produce more content.
Inspiration isn’t necessarily theft. But there are times when it’s especially blatant. I wouldn’t be surprised to be seeing it more often, but with the participation of large companies, who spend plenty of money on creative writers, it is particularly surprising.