Commercial pop culture is, too often, understood as a top-down enterprise, its expensive, disposable products passively consumed by the public.
And yet at the same time that stuff is capable of inspiring a deep and durable sense of ownership. The movies we love belong in some profound way to us, and part of us lives inside them. Sweding is Mr. Gondry’s way of making that rather abstract sense of connection literal, of suggesting that even if we are not strictly speaking the owners and authors of the movies we like, well, then, perhaps we should be.
It goes without saying that this is a naïve, utopian point of view. The travestied films in “Be Kind Rewind” are the intellectual property of large corporations (as is Mr. Gondry’s movie), and you can be sure that teams of lawyers were consulted and paid before the Sweding went very far. But “Be Kind” hardly pretends otherwise. Instead it treats movies as found objects, as material to be messed around with, explored and reimagined. It connects the do-it-yourself aesthetic of YouTube and other digital diversions with the older, predigital impulse to put on a show in the backyard or play your favorite band’s hits with your buddies in the garage.
I'm not big on the whole mashup/remix thing, but I think that Scott is onto something in how we relate to movies (and music) and how we've been reduced to passive consumers of art rather than active producers, or at least active participants.