Monday, November 8, 2010

So much for originality... Pfft...

I'm in a bad mood.


Not because i had exam today or because the B grade i received for my video assignment, but because how originality died today. In university, we're always reminded again and again, sometimes even warned, not to plagiarize and copy people's idea. As university students, we're supposed to be able to think on our own to feet. We're expected to be original and unique. However, i learned the hard way today that originality in fact, does not earn you a grade. Plagiarism, on the other hand, can.

You see, i am taking this subject called Singapore films (SSA2218) where we are required to come up with a short film of our own as the project assignment. And naturally, we're reminded that originality matters. Even in the course, the lecturer showed us numerous examples of how movies that tried to copied successful movies ended up quite badly.

So when me and my friends first sat down to brainstorm an idea for our short film, the first criteria that we decided on was the originality. We cannot take ideas from other successful short films. Of course, they can be a point of reference, but our storyline, our film style and our message must be different. We wanted the film to be ours, not some imitation.

With that in mind, we started our project with great optimism.

Fast forward that to the present and today was our final class for the subject. The lecturer has finished looking through all the short films and decided to feature eight of them as something you would call the lecturer's choice. And the good thing about being featured means you'll automatically get at least an A for the short film already. Secretly, i hoped for that our film will be featured too. But sadly, it did not.

Which is what made me pissed off. Not that i think that the short film i did was that good, it was because out of the eight short films featured, i can identify most of them because the styles, storyline and even the characters used were very similar to good short films i watched before. One of it blatantly copied the short film called Signs.


And by blatant i mean there's no outright difference from the original short film. In the remake, the guy wakes up to an alarm, continues on his daily boring routine, meets this attractive girl who initiated a conversation with him using paper and pen, they communicate through the same method across a few days, the guy decides to ask her out but the girl goes missing one day, only to return a few days later and the story ends happily with the guy finally holding up the sign that read "Can we meet?".

Okay, maybe the remake did have some difference. The alarm certainly sounded differently and they could not access tall buildings and instead of a fridge, the guy posted all the notes on a wall. Aside from that, the narrative, the storyline and even the ending were all similar. And they got an A.

Another remake was of the popular Youtube series College Saga.


They managed the change the storyline a bit and at least the gender of the main character changed too, but otherwise the font, fighting effects and sound effects mostly stayed the same. And at the first glance you've already know that it is a remake of College Saga. And they got an A.

As far as i remember, if i were to do this in another subject, like taking another person's work and copying it outright, only making small changes here and there, we would have gotten a straight big fat 0 for the assignment. And certainly not an A.

What happened to originality? What happened to anti-plagiarism? What happened to being creative?

I can't believe that in the first time of my life, i'm beginning to like turnitin.com.

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