[UPDATE: Magazine veteran Kim France points out on her blog that Tavi's idea for “Ask a Grown Man” is actually quite similar to Sassy magazine's column “Dear Boy” — does this make a difference?]
They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. But is it?
Yesterday, Racked pointed out that a recent video feature by Seventeen magazine was very similar to fashion blogger wunderkind Tavi Gevinson's series “Ask a Grown Man.”
The original feature includes “homemade” videos of famous funny men, including Jon Hamm, Paul Rudd, and Judd Apatow, blurting out their awkward and honest advice based of off questions sent in by Rookie's teen girl readership. Seventeen's videos also asked male “celebrities” for dating advice young girls, but the guys were a younger and more quaffed.
Tavi voiced her opinion on the matter, and admitted she felt that Seventeen was stepping on Rookie's toes, telling Racked, “This is the first time that I've felt that something I've done, or Rookie has done, has been copied.”
There is just something so magical about a scruffy looking Jon Hamm answering questions submitted by teenage girls with topics that range from farting to flirting, and the “off the cuff” style behind it are what made it so popular.
Tavi basically admitted that she thought Seventeen was trying to cop her style but completely missed the boat, “I feel like this is Seventeen's attempt to reach people in a certain way that Rookie succeeds at, but they kind of missed the point about why Ask A Grown Man is celebrated by making it about asking an ‘A-lister.' They wanted to repurpose this feature because they saw that people like it, but they missed the point of why people like it, and it's the same quality that's missing from the rest of their magazine, too… I feel like if I followed their articles about boys and truly believed it was as important to do certain things or avoid certain things as they say, I would probably go crazy. Sometimes their 'embarrassing' stories are literally about boys finding out that you have your period. I'm just tired of stigmatizing totally normal body stuff like that, which is already a little scary and weird to some girls.”
Tavi isn't the first person to have her work mirrored. Remember when Topshop copied those jewelry designs from Wendy Brandes? Or, in less extreme cases, when bloggers lose their individuality.
While using inspiration to spark creativity is a healthy way of creating content, what happens when “inspiration” becomes “replication”? Even more, what happens when the copy cat is a bigger company, blogger, designer, etc.? Tavi was lucky enough to have a platform to have her side of the story voiced, but not every blogger has that opportunity.
On the other side of things, do copy cats push us to be more innovative? And if people want to copy what you are doing, does that mean you are doing something right?
Check out Tavi's video versus the Seventeen video and let us know your thoughts on the subject:
Seventeen magazine's video:
[Image credit: Style Rookie]