This is the collection of projects made by students of Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, under supervision of our professor Dr. Bernd Herzogenrath from the American Studies department. The class took place in the 2021 summer term.
This is the result of a project for a university class dealing with cultural recycling, with copies of art, with taking what‘s there and creating something new of it. In class, we focused on copies, plagiarism, copyright laws and their history and the idea of something individual.
I chose to use a Norwegian teen show as my topic because it was so popular in the Scandinavian countries that it has been copied by several other countries since it’s release, and I try to demonstrate the similarities by both stringing clips together as well as redoing a scene from the original Norwegian version with video material from their copies, showing both similarities as well as differences.
By that I want to show that despite everyone - especially in their teens - striving for individuality, teenage life in the western world ends up being pretty much the same, otherwise the show wouldn‘t have been that popular in such a huge part of the world. At the same time there are little differences that make each version stand out against their counterparts, e.g. the times when a teenage group goes to a party (much later in southern European countries compared to northern Europe), or how they get there (on foot, in the Netherlands partly by bike, or in the US by car), what they drink (beer, champagne or no alcohol at all), how they dress, etc.
The Norwegian original became incredibly successful in a very short time. Not only in Norway or the rest of Scandinavia, but overall the western world and parts of Asia, but ultimately access only from Scandinavian countries was granted due to copyright reasons. The songs used on the show were not licensed for the rest of the world and there was no way to get these licenses with the budget the showrunners had. A perfect example how mainly rich ones benefit from copyright laws. Because of the huge success the TV network then sold the show and made it possible for other countries to make their own versions, usually following the script - and often the overall style and aesthetic of the show - very closely. So far, there are 8 versions of the show with varying amounts of seasons.
For my video I used clips from all eight SKAM-versions, each from several episodes within the first season. Furthermore I used the official trailer for season one, which was the only marketing, the show had pre-running. I also included explanations about the show from several youtubers, because I felt that it was the best way to give a viewer a sense of what was going on. I also included a scene from the Norwegian Gullruten Award Show for Television, Norway’s biggest and most important award show for TV, where the cast of SKAM had an appearance. The video ends with the official SKAM intro music and snippets from the official trailers for all four seasons of the Norwegian SKAM, but in the end I overlaid it with the logo of the British TV show Skins (2007-2013) that dealt with a similar set of teenage problems, a large group of friends and changed the perspective of each episode to one member of the group (in SKAM it is each season that changes perspective), showing that even the original Norwegian SKAM is actually somewhat of a copy. The music ends with the typical tune that the Skins-intro ended with. I also chose Skins as an example because, like SKAM, it had been remade as Skins US for the American market. Most of the music was already in the scenes, but I sometimes enhanced the actual duration of the song in the original in order to show more video material. In a rewind scene where we change from the Norwegian SKAM to SKAM Austin, the American version, I used Edvard Grieg‘s In the Hall of the Mountain King as a background soundtrack - a piece by a Norwegian composer, played by the American Seattle Orchestra. The piece increases its speed as does the video I am showing.
I hope I could show how nothing on TV is ever really new, even a show that is considered as innovative as SKAM is - and that by composing my video of not one new piece. Everything in this video was there before, but that does not mean that I didn‘t do anything. I just reused already existing material and made it my own.