The Office is relatable (and hilarious) because it borrows so much from culture, and people get the references. Culture is society’s collected knowledge, art, and customs. It’s what surrounds us and unites us, and it allows us to collectively laugh at a joke in The Office about Ben Franklin or M. Night Shyamalan. Culture, simply put, is the seasoning in a meal.
Copyright - the system created hundreds of years ago to incentivize creators to create cool stuff - falls flat in world where many creators:
a) have no intention of wholesale theft of works
b) have no intention of commercial exploitation
c) have so much media and so many tools to play with. (Every single one of us is a creator as a result.)
d) will keep creating regardless if they make a living out of it.
e) want to create new culture, by borrowing previous culture
This Time Machine is intended to show how much we rely on culture. So let artists bang it out without fear of being sued. (...that’s what she said)
Who is behind this?
My name is Joe Sabia and I created this project to advocate for copyright reform and highlight the importance of fair use in protecting creators and their art. To prove culture is not only everywhere, but that certain references to films, songs, and works of art are critical for our collective understanding of comedy and to the importance of relating to content, I found every cultural, real-life reference from every episode of The Office.
What was your process?
Step 1: Order DVDs from Netflix (yes, people still do that)
Step 2: Watch an episode of “The Office”, ripped from DVD-ripping app Handbrake.
Step 3: Wait for any mention of a non-fictional reference. (i.e., a song, celebrity, logo, holiday, movie, TV show, quote…)
Step 4: Wikipedia each reference
Step 5: Designate the year each reference first hit society’s consciousness
Step 6: Write a quick informational blurb
Step 7: Repeat this process 1,300 or so times, in 189 more episodes of The Office, covering 9 seasons.
Wait. 1,300? That’s how many real-life references are in this time machine??
I think? Yeah, I think. It's basically the Burj Khalifa
of supercuts maybe.
How long did this take?
Working by myself, a year and a half.
Did you release this intentionally on the anniversary of The Office premiere?
Actually, that was a coincidence. Not kidding.
Why are view counts on each video so low?
We've had close to a million people use this machine as of April 2014, so we think autoplay + video culling from your searches are not counting as view counts on the individual players.
Who built the time machine?
My badass inventor/roboticist/programmer friend Aaron Rasmussen
. (Also, special thanks to Matt Werner
for providing an editorial eye.)
Can I help make this experience even better?
There's probably a ton of mistakes in here. So, let's collaborate in this document and I'll get around to fixing.
click on the screenshot below to work together!
Also, here’s a video of all the references I couldn’t get:
If you can identify any of these, enter them in the google doc!
What can I do to help learn more about fair use and copyright reform?
Sign up for Fightforthefuture.org. And check out these sites:
How do I find out when you guys do a new machine or thing?