Each Friday in What Memes Mean, Kirk Bozeman questions the significance, humor, and subtexts of viral videos, memes, and other Internet fads.

You know you’ve done it.  At some point in your adult life you’ve taken a “break” from work to watch a tribute collage for that TV show you like.  If you’re like me, you probably hit the half way mark, yawned, and closed the browser tab with little regret.  Even though I’m a big fan of The Office, this is what occurred while viewing this video.

People love making these things, these little five minute mix-and-match remix combination videos of their favorite scenes and one liners. I’m guessing folks with Macs have some kind of video editing software readily at their fingertips out of the box; we PC folks have to do a bit of searching, downloading, and installing to get at that kind of stuff.  But fun as they may be for people to make, they’re boring to watch, and they just seem lazy.

Briefly, I guess any creative endeavor is to an extent a remix of other people’s endeavors.  If you’ve ever tried to write a song, it’s almost impossible to get away from trying to sound like your favorite artist.  And it’s hard for a writer to not want to write like their favorite author, or for a visual artist to not want to do something “in the style of” so-and-so.  In this sense, I guess any creative endeavor is a remix of sorts, and perhaps remixing could be considered substantial art in some cases.

But when does remixing simply become laziness?  I’d argue that it becomes laziness pretty quickly.  Doing something original is difficult and requires real thought and real work.  At the very least, it requires you to open yourself up to failure and criticism, to be daring and honest.  Remixing scenes from TV episodes is not really that.  This sort of “art” is a way to make us feel like artists even though we aren’t really artists at all.

This seems to be a theme that’s arising for me in considering modern culture’s ills through the lens of the ‘net: we want the feel of substance without actual substance.  Probably because getting at actual, real substance would take actual, real work.  The ubiquitous nature of tribute collages is, to me, a perfect example of this.

When and why did we get so lazy?  Or am I being too harsh?