The Influence of Ideas

Creativity, by nature, is a highly perceptive process that thrives off of human experiences, emotions and the triumphs and tribulations in our daily lives. Meanings imbedded in art (Music, writing, painting) are able to be interpreted by the masses because emotions that the artist feel are emotions that we have all felt before, whether it be pain, sadness, happiness, etc. It is because of this sameness that throughout humanity that we are able to express ourselves through art without needing to explain our feelings in detail because most of the time the emotions just implied. Another result of this sameness is that sometimes ideas overlap and creativity from one person may seem to just be a copy of another, when in fact both people are just expressing the same emotion.


Jonathan Lethman explores the influence we have on each other and how musicians, writers and directors are affected by it. In place of emotions, ideas and concepts are shared between these entertainers. Music is alive and it evolves through culture. The artists of today were inspired by the artists of the past and those inspirations may show themselves in the content the artist produces. In fact, Many of the greatest hits in the past 40 years have just  used the same 4 chords (a harmonic set of notes) to make their songs. Bold thing to say I know, but this video demonstrates exactly that:

If you don’t feel like watching, in the video there are 3 young musicians armed with a guitar, a keyboard and a microphone and they manage to recreate popular pop songs from over the past 40 years. From take on me by a-ha to Forever Young by Jay-Z, they cover it all. They really put into perspective how music feeds off of itself, and that songs that seem to be completely original are in fact just well hidden copies of each other.

This same trend presents itself in TV shows like Family Guy and South Park and the Simpsons. All three of these shows are considered american cartoon staples that fused contemporary news with humor and plot. The directors surely borrowed ideas from one another, as the scripts are almost verbatim in some episode and many passionate fans would argue over who stole whose idea first.

Writers may face accusations of copying ideas when their story has similar character progression and themes throughout the book. A perfect example of this are the two books gone girl and the girl on the train. Without spoiling the story, both books feature immoral/unconventional female narrators who deal with similar physiological, dark and gritty situations. On iBooks and Google books the reviews have many angry comments on how the two are similar but the ideas that they both bring up and explore are gripping and exciting. Both start at a similar core but branch off in ways that the other doesn’t.

Copying good ideas

Copying ideas takes many forms in media, but it’s a good thing. In can promote fresh ideas that no one has thought about yet, or it can create trends like the dance crazes in the music industry (The whip, Nae Nae), or it can provide a new perspective on an old idea. Some ideas are influenced by others and some are completely original. That’s just the way it is and how it always will be.

The Influence of Ideas

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