(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com, Steve’s Tumblr, and Pillowfort. Find out more at my newsletter, and all my social media at my linktr.ee)
As my regular readers are aware, I’ve been finding myself dissatisfied with a lot of media today. There’s something unsatisfying about too much of it, at least to my mental palate. It seems samey, it seems to lack depth, it seems so manufactured.
It’s not necessarily bad, I just feel there’s so much that’s machining and adjustment something is lost, that weirdness and wildness that’s so vital for a work to catch on your soul. I enjoy weird challenge shows, but they seem to be everywhere and at times oddly specific. I am glad to see great adaptions out there, but I’d like some more original and new stuff. I enjoy many a youtube program, but there’s a lot of shouty angry people cluttering my recommendations.
I’ve wanted to understand how creativity can get so channeled into sameness without much of an edge. Originally I wrote it off as large media conglomerates and feedback loops. Recently, I encountered something that made see what I’d missed.
I listen to a podcast on conspiracy theories today, the snarky-but-heartfelt QAnonAnonymous. They’ve started covering weird Influencers that focus on men, and one caught my attention. In fact, I’m not mentioning the person by name as their story is dismal.
The podcasters and guest charted this Influencer’s gradual evolution from fitness guru to bizarre sexist religious extremist. The hosts’ usual humor was tempered with pity as they played videos from different eras of the man’s career. His current – perhaps – final form is a man so obviously unhappy with himself the hosts felt sad for him despite his radicalization.
One thing the podcasters explored was the idea of Audience Capture. One tells the audience what they want to hear and they get rewarded. If audiences have any extreme demands, the Influencer may feed them – and become captured by them. Charting the degeneration of their subject, it was clear that he’d been an Influencer most of his life, and thus very vulnerable.
I’m thinking Audience Capture is part of my dissatisfaction. Now I wonder how many repetitive Isekai, samey crime shows, angry Influencers, and good-but-too-manufactured movies and books are due to Audience Capture. Hell, maybe some failed media is books or shows or whatever that tried to appeal to an audience that moved on.
I’m guessing Audience Capture is something the captured don’t notice.
Now that I have a new tool to understand my experiences and disatisfication, I’m curious as to what I’ll learn. In fact, ask yourself how many Influencers or authors or films you know that went off the rails went because of Audience Capture.
I’d love to hear your experiences, even if it might depress both of us.