They Don’t Care, I Don’t Care

(This column is posted at, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my

The modern media sphere is a strange space. We’re overwhelmed with some great stuff on way-too-many streaming services. Potential hits like “Coyote Vs. ACME” are being killed by tax purposes. AI art controversies are everywhere, to the point where “bad AI” is an insult.” Some once-beloved figures are revealed on social media to be complete numpties (my new favorite insult). When you just want to watch something for fun, it all seems a bit weird.

What I find is that, more and more, I feel like I care less about media.

There’s so much B.S. that it feels like all media executives and no small amount of other people just don’t give a damn about making neat stuff. It’s tax writeoffs and script changes to extend a season and sudden cancellations and number tweaking. Look, I’m not going to act like a lot of media has been high art, but it feels like the amount of people in media who don’t care is high or has always been higher than we’d like.

Then it makes me hard to care either.

This feels weird. My fiancee recently watched Resident Alien which, though I didn’t get into, was a delightful mix of Northern Exposure and My Favorite Martian – if the Martian was really sort of a jerk. She also started Ripley, which has a compelling film-noir-meets-Bergman vibe that surprised and delighted me. This is just the last few weeks, there’s great things out there in the media.

But any of these wonders could vanish in a moment because of some bad executive decision. They could be archived because of obscure tax codes. Someone might get recast with an “edgy” actor who will then drown in scandal like everyone predicts. Without things on hard media, good things can disappear.

It’s just hard to care when so many people with power and money don’t, or even seem actively hostile to what they’re supposedly doing (Warner Brothers). Why care when they don’t and might destroy something to get a stock bump?

At the same time, I look at zines I read, obscure films and up-and-coming mad geniuses like Mike Cheslik. These are made by people who care and that leads me to care, because there is something about enjoying media that requires both parties to give a damn. I think one reason people will enjoy even sleazy exploitation flicks and bad b-movies is the people behind them cared in some relatable way.

Someone who wants to pay the bills and slam out a film with the proper percent of explosions and dinosaurs I can at least get, you know?

So here I am, surrounded by truly great things I take time for – Dune II, Delicious In Dungeon – but I wonder how many other people care less now, or who’s interests have changed. Reach out to me and let me know your experiences.

Steven Savage

The Past Is Raw Material

(This column is posted at, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my

Last column I wrote about my love for Star Trek: Lower Decks, considering it a capstone to Star Trek. I felt there was no where for Star Trek to go after this, as it was both parody, home, and extrapolation – somewhat like a more serious Venture Brothers. The announcement of yet another Trek series set at an the (in)famous Starfleet Academy didn’t interest me unless, as I joked, it was more in the vein of college comedies like Animal House.

That statement led to some friends and I to an actual serious discussion about how yet another Star Trek show (which, again, I should note I’m usually tired of) might work out. We started asking what it would be like to see more focus different species and cultures in the Academy, really digging into the meandering if interesting Trek lore. In short, we did what Star Trek: Lower Decks had done, just in a different part of the setting.

Also, it will surprise absolutely no one who knows me that it made me further analyze the state of media.

I looked at our brainstorming and at Lower Decks, both taking established ideas and digging deep into them. Both involved mining current material I would consider stale and often overdone, and finding new takes. Both in a way treated something beloved – and rightfully so even if I have felt it’s overdone – and using it as raw material.

As much as I love original media and want to see new things, perhaps there is some virtue in treating creative works that might be stale, stagnant, or that have lost attention and reusing them. Treat them not as something to be devoted to, nor sit on a shelf, nor make endless sequels about – with all the rampant continuity modification. Treat it as something to be recycled.

I’ve written before about the shockingly good He-Man CGI reboot at Netflix which did exactly this to fantastic effect. We’ve seen the same thing with She-Ra– which perhaps suggests that many a toyetic cartoon is worthy of recycling. Something can be beloved and reused.

(Now I don’t expect an actual Star Trek total reboot, Paramount more seems to be trying to rewrite it incrementally. But I digress).

I think this “recycling” works because by taking something you love, analyzing it, and breaking it down you find what’s really good about it. Once you find that core, you can then build it back up again into something amazing – and perhaps better than the original, or at least more relevant.

Perhaps such thoughts are less relevant in the current media environment, of cinematic universes and suddenly-canceled brilliance. It’s also less relevant in an age of political and climate chaos. But perhaps if we can find the heart of something forgotten or overdone, maybe we’ll find something out about ourselves as well.

Steven Savage

Well At Least It’s Done And Quiet

(This column is posted at, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort.  Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my

I’ve discovered some interesting “minichannels” online, New Ellijay and Retrostrange.  New Ellijay serves a local town as well as carries various shows and music.  Retrostrange digs into weird films, instructional videos, and more.  Both also carry old films and serials that are easy to get ahold of and broadcast due to being public domain, etc.

I find such things interesting because old and historical and odd media fascinate me.  However something else struck me about watching old movies and long-ago-ended television series.

They’re done.

The movies will not be part of a gigantic sprawling cinematic universe that both requires a flowchart and requires you to navigate angry fans wanting a director’s cut.  Oh they might get remade or something, but they’re done.

The television shows are over.  They’re not going to continue forever.  They’re not going to jump from streaming service to streaming service with their future uncertain.  You know what you’re getting, even if it’s frustrated at a sudden stop.

(My friends who are on a Columbo marathon probably appreciate this).

Right now in an age of remakes, cinematic universes, reboots, streaming-jumping, and more knowing something is finished is a great comfort.  You’re getting a certain predetermined experience then you can go on – you can even check online info to find what you’re getting into.

They’re also not being hyped.

You’re not listening to endless commentary about these old shows and films – unless you run into an obsessive fan.  You’re not facing trailers of trailers to remind you of trailers.  There’s no breathless news and updates about the properties dropping into your social media.

It’s refreshing to see things that aren’t being endlessly tossed against my consciousness like fastballs.

I get the other benefits of these channels and other services with older, “finished” properties.  It’s not just history and culture and curiosity, it’s a lack of some very annoying elements of our culture.

Steven Savage