Wondering How Long We’ll Care

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We’ve got the SAG-AFTRA strike.  Big Studios and groups like Netflix seem to be very interested in replacing real people with AI – and we know they won’t stop no matter the deals made.  Ron Pearlman and Fran Drescher are apparently leading the Butlerian Jihad early.

As studios, writers, and actors battle I find myself caring about the people – but caring far less about the media produced.  There’s so many reasons not to care about Big Media.

You’d think I’d be thrilled to see Star Wars, Marvel Comics, and Star Trek everywhere!  But it’s so many things are omnipresent it sucks the oxygen out of the room.  Even when something is new, it can be overhyped.  If it’s not everywhere, it’s marketed everywhere and I get tired of it all.  Also damn, how much anime is there now?

The threat of AI replacing actors and writers removes that personal connection to actors and writers and creators.  There was already a gap anyway as groups of writers created shows and episodes, abstracting the connections with the creators.  The headlong rush into AI only threatens to make me care less – I can’t go to a convention and shake hands with a computer program or be inspired to write just as good as a program.

We have plenty of content made already anyway.  I could do with a good review of Fellini, maybe rewatch Gravity Falls again, and I recently threatened to watch all of One Piece for inexplicable reasons.  Plus of course I have tons of books.

Finally, there’s all sorts of small creators new and old I should take a look at.  Maybe I don’t need the big names anymore.  Hell, the small creators are easier to connect with.

Meanwhile all of the above complaints are pretty damned petty considering the planet is in a climate crisis and several countries are falling apart politically and economically.  I’m not going to care about your perfect AI show when the sky turns orange because of a forest fire.

I have a gut feel I’m not alone in the possibility of just kind of losing interest in the big mediascape.  We may have different triggers for giving up, but there’s a lot of possible triggers.  Plus, again, potential world crises create all sorts of possibilities.

Maybe that’s why the “Barbenheimer” meme was so joyful, with people discussing these two very different films as a kind of single phenomena.  It was spontaneous, it was silly, it was self-mocking.  Something just arose out of the big mediascape (and two apparently good films), a very human moment it seems we’re all too lacking.

Maybe it’s a reminder we can care about our media.  But it the chaotic times we face in a strange era of media, I wonder if we’ll remember it as a fond exception.

Steven Savage