Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Chasing Rainbow Colored Unicorns

Visual representation of the perfect media
that won't be attacked by anyone
If you write it, they will come.
If they weren't so vile, you might be able to actually feel some pity for the six major media companies.  It's easy to bang on major media production companies like Marvel, ESPN, DC, and the Big Five NY Publishing Houses.  The quality of their product has plummeted drastically over the years as their commitment to avoiding criticism has led them down one blind alley after another.  It's fun to gloat over the falling viewership (and concomitant ad revenues) of an NFL bending their knee to movements like Black Lives Matter.  Watching the share of readership that the Big Five Publishers possess shrink year after year warms the cockles of one's heart.  Seeing the failure of a blatant attempt to please the Right People like GhostbusTa-Tas is enough to make one cackle like Montgomery J. Burns after releasing the hounds.
But let's not forget that these are all smaller members of the Big Six: Comcast, Disney, Time Warner, CBS, Viacom, and 21st Century Fox.  These little failures represent a larger trend, and have at their root the same basic cause:  Companies seeking to maximize profits by maximizing appeal, and who think that maximizing appeal means catering to the whims of a very few people sheltered deep within the confines of gated coastal communities.  Their current whim is the pursuit of perfection by including just the right mix of people that ensure that they won't get criticized for leaving anyone out.
These media companies are chasing rainbows*.  Actually, its more like chasing unicorns.  Unicorns are perfect creatures that don't exist and which can't ever be caught.  The perfect demographic balance, and the perfect socio-political message that will keep you safe from criticism is also a mythical beast that remains forever out of reach.  Forget the fact that our society has mutated into a strange thing where taking offense is now considered a heroic act worthy of attention and financial remuneration.  Even ignoring that bizarre aspect of modern life, you simply can't please everyone.
So why bother?

If you like something, if you're passionate enough about a story or comic or video to spend the time crafting it, then somewhere out there is another soul that feels at least passionate enough about that thing you made to read or watch it.  And he has friends he'll tell about it.  And some of them will do the same.  Keep plugging away at what you like, and the audience will follow. 

It may not be a big audience.  It won't be an audience consisting of every man, woman, child, citizen, and illegal immigrant in the country, but it'll be big enough to keep you motivated.  And maybe, if you're really good at what you do, you can even make an audience for that odd little thing you created.

George Lucas did it.  Bill gates did it.  Even Gygax** did it.  You can probably do it, too.

You see, the big dogs have a lot of people to please.  They have to worry about the shareholders and the board members and the vice-presidents and the producers and the major media critics and if any of them get skittish, the whole project collapses.  The only way to please them all is to produce the sort of bland media that bores people to death.

You think the Sharknado guys worry about criticism?  Heck no - they think a tornado full of sharks is awesome, so they make a tornado full of sharks.  For years those guys labored on low-budget sci-fi trash that was most frequently rented out on accident.  But they kept on making movies that everyone likes and now the entire country knows who they are.  Sure, they may know them as 'those Sharknado guys', but I can think of a lot of worse things to have carved on your tombstone.

So stop worrying about the dullards and the average man, and just write what you love.  You'll die a lot happier broke and laughing about the fun you had burying author names in your stories than will a wealthy man who wrote boring tales meant to appeal to people you despise.

Besides, once you build your audience, you can always sell out to the big boys later at a much higher price than if you sell your soul to them when you're a complete unknown.

That's my plan, anyway.  Sell out for big bucks then slowly produce shoddy material once I'm rolling in the big dough.  I'd name that plan after myself, but Scalzi beat me to it.

* See what I did there?

** I love that all you need to hear is his last name and you know exactly who I'm talking about almost as much as I love footnotes.

1 comment:

  1. The media companies have CHOSEN to chase unicorns because they believe everyone SHOULD enjoy unicorns. They're determined to cram those fucking unicorns down our throats whether we want them or not.