Tag Archives: media

Musings On Ideal Media Culture

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Last time I posted on how it was hard to deal with there being so much “stuff” out there, which Serdar has commented on. In turn, he also provides this link on how books are still dominated by a few megablockbusters. So yes, there’s problems with “so much stuff” as well as “big stuff over all of us.”

Think of it this way. We also have a lot of new stuff on Netflix and giant blockbusters dominating everything else. We can publish anything but there’s also huge books firmly lodged in popular culture It’s easy to get lost in obscurity or be overshadowed.

This doesn’t change my take on writing or creating your thing – do what you want and what works for you. But it does lead to another question.

What do I think a healthy media-culture ecosystem is? Admittedly not this one, but what is my ideal that I think is, you know, good for people (and thus creators).

Before answering that, let me turn to my ideas on a healthy society.

Steve’s Ideas on a Healthy Society (Duh)

So first, what do I think a Healthy society is like? I view it in a very organic sense – a healthy society maintains itself, grows, and evolves.

Thus I think of a healthy society as one that contains “interlinked independence” across all levels. People and organizations, states and government offices, are highly connected in ways that support each other. Think of it this way – an individual supported/supporting a strong union, working at a local business, voting at all levels, and working with an NGO dealign with climate change is closely tied with the world and closely supported. Everyone’s got your back with connection – but also you have the ability to “firewall” away from negative influences.

Or in short, a society needs people to have each other’s backs on all levels, while having the ability to survive the conflict among various factions and elements that will doubtlessly occur.

So that’s my ideal of a society in an abstract form. Now how does that apply to media?

A Healthy Media Ecosystem

In a healthy culture, I see media interest and creation as “scaled” much as I see a healthy society, a series of linked interests and enthusiasms on various levels. People would not just indulge, however, they would advocate.

  • You may do your own creative work, and and advocate for it. Your friends and connections would assist you, and perhaps you get wider views.
  • You enjoy local authors or niche authors. You advocate for them, promote them. Perhaps they get wider views.
  • You enjoy your various media tastes. Obviously you advocate for them, small or large.

Thus you’re independent and evaluating your own tastes – while also promoting them and taking feedback. You connect with media on various levels, from local to extended. You advocate and promote work.

New things get found, people evaluate, work gets elevated – and you never get dependent on one media strain or theme. Plus, of course, its hard for any one media company or source to dominate.

Needless to say this works best in a world of strong monopolgy laws.

So Is This Actionable?

So in our current world, is this actionable? Beyond a dream of mine based on my ideals can we do anything?

Well, yess.

First, KEEP CREATING. As I noted, do it for your own reasons.

Secondly, PROMOTE YOURSELF and tell people what you do.

Third, CONNECT with writer groups as well as other social institutions.

Fourth, PROMOTE other people you meet, help them out, help them get noticed.

Fifth, SELECT your media consumption to keep your life diverse and interesting.

Sixth, POLITICALLY be aware of the way our politics affects media.

This is an obnoxiously short list. Maybe it can be a point of discussion.

So, everyone . . .

. . . start talking.

Steven Savage

The Infinite Goods

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Recently, I saw Promare for the second time. If you haven’t heard of this film, think “superhero firefighters with robot suits versus pyrokinetic terrorists” and then that’s only the start. In short order with this premise, it then races towards crazytown at the speed of light while slamming an energy drink. It’s a roller-coaster ride and visual treat, but not an emotionally deep story – it’s not aiming for that.

But, is it good? It seems to have been what Studio Trigger wanted.

I’m also catching up on Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, the animated series. It has many story arcs, and like Promare, starts with a simple premise – Victorian martial arts action where people battle a vampire. However, over time it becomes a generational tale of people with “Stands,” psychic doubles, battling various evils and each others. Oh, and it’s filled with music jokes, crazy posing, and character designs somewhere between Tom of Finland and a Rave.

But, is it good? The creator is obviously having a blast and it’s enjoyable being in on the ride.

We can ask that question of so many things. Recently I saw Fellini’s famous surrealist character piece, And the Ship Sails On. And the Great British Bake Off. And any number of things.

But, where they good?

Well the fact I put time into them and got a lot out of them tells you I thought they were good. The thing is there are different kinds of good.

Promare and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures are experiences that are almost about feels, they’re states of mind. Fellini’s bizarre piece was both mood and exploration. The Great British Bakeoff is a mix of human and history and information. All were good, but not necessarily the same kind of good.

Right now you’re doubtlessly worrying about your own writing, art, games, etc. You wonder if they’re good, but that belies the question.

It’s not if they’re good – is it the kind of good you want?

Maybe the game you’re writing is supposed to be an action game of mood, of feeling over continuity, of mashed buttons over careful strategy. And that’s fine if you deliver the right kind of good.

Perhaps your story is inaccessible to many, a thing of dense references and subtle connections. It might not be for everyone, but it’ll be good to the right audience.

It could be your current creative work just has to be good to you as it’s fun, and if other people like it, they can sign on for the ride.

Stop worrying about doing “good” work and aim for the right kind of good. Make your choice of how your book or comic is supposed to go and embrace that. It focuses you, it guides you, it tells you what to leave out and what to include.

Also picking your “good” means that you accept you won’t please everyone – because odds are you won’t. If you were inventing chocolate or pizza for the first time, you could please most people, but those have been kind of done. So don’t please everyone, please the right people.

Life goes easier when you understand this. Besides, when you pick one good, you can find others, or expand your “goods” later in your works.

But pick a good and go for it. It may be shallow or deep, silly or serious, but it’ll be yours, and you can focus.

Steven Savage

The False Intimacy Of Media

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

Earlier I posted on how there’s two different ways to connect to Media. I summed it up roughly as follows:

  • Known Connections: A fiction reaches us as it triggers existing associations, such as tropes.
  • Created Connections: A fiction makes us see things anew, creating new associations and ideas.

Today I’d like to focus on the Known Connections, those cases where a media gets us interested because it contains known content, common ideas, and so on. I believe these kinds of metal associations with the media we consume explains one reason people get so addicted and defensive about their comics, books, movies, etc.

Consider how it feels when something “pushes your buttons” (in a good way) when you consume media. It feels good, it feels right, it feels as if it’s “for you.” Connection to a piece of media is an intimate experience.

Now, consider how media can throw Known Connections at you. That kind of story you can’t put down. That kind of character you always like. That obvious twist you still crave. The right media can pile on things you’ve seen before – and still get you to consume it because it’s the right pile of things.

Or in short, we all know that we will read the biggest mass of repetitive, unoriginal, done-it-all-before stuff if it hits the right spots. We might not want to admit it, but we will.

That explains, in part, why some people get so defensive of certain media that are, bluntly, pandering. It’s all the stuff they like, in a mass, wrapped up in a bow. They might not even be aware of how they’re pandered to, as that piece of media feels so right.

(And no, you’re not immune to this. I know I’m not.)

But there’s something else going on here. I think this love of media that pushes our buttons also leads to a sense of intimacy with the creator(s) and the people involved.

When we discover a piece of media that hits all the right spots (even if those spots have been hit a lot before), we also feel a sense of connection. Someone got all our focuses and loves right. Someone gave us what we wanted, even if we sort of have had it all before.

When you have that feeling, it’s a feeling of intimacy, of connection. It’s too easy to assume that this intimate feeling is, well, real. You probably don’t know the author. The media you chose, bluntly, is not that original (or is just pandering). Still, that connection feels right.

Looking this over, I think I understand why some people get obsessively protective of some media, authors, and actors. It does everything they like in the way they like. It feels intimate, it may even feel like it’s just for you.

It’s not, of course. But perhaps this explanation can help us navigating having discussions with people so attached to a piece of media.

Steven Savage