Steve’s Update 10/30/2022

(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)

Here’s my latest update!

“Think Agile, Write Better”: Haven’t heard back from my pre-readers yet, but I know at least one has gotten busy, so there’s a chance this is going to slip.  I do NOT want this put out without pre-reader input, so I might do another editorial run and then begin then in December.  If you want to pre-read, let me know!

The Way With Worlds series: Continuing to write Disaster Response and Worldbuilding which is, again, really making me think.  The big realization is a lot of our pop culture doesn’t focus on response if it’s not “interesting” – which means we forget worldbuilding.

The Seventh Sanctum rewrite: My November trip is cancelled (probably) so now its just finding a weekend.  Plus turns out I’ve banked too many vacation days at work . . .

Finally, giveaways!

Steven Savage

Down The Audience Hole

(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.

Steven Savage

Art, Content, Dissatisfaction

(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)

Someone I follow on Twitter was commenting on corporate multiverses and the endless reuse and processing of content.  This reminded me of my previous thoughts, but this person put it better than I – my favorite part bolded:

Corporations will absolutely unashamedly shit on everything every artist has ever made, chew them up and spit them out and offer nothing. No art, just endless content.

Now I’ve commented on quality in some corporate multiverses, and even praised them, but I also have gotten tired and uninspired by a lot of media lately. Few things seem to connect to me outside of some anime/animated properties, and I find myself exploring more esoteric corners and non-fiction.

No art, just endless content.  Their words stick with me.

Art is something that connects with us and also knocks us into somewhere else mentally.  I’ve had that moment of deep, meaningful experience in everything from anime to samurai movies to audio-visual collages.  They don’t even have to be “good” per se, but they’re visions that mean something.

Content is when you just fill things in, check the boxes, and call it a day.  It may be enjoyable, and there may be art in there (and often is), but it’s not deep or meaningful and doesn’t stick with you.  It’s not necessarily bad (Indeed, I can think of a cooking show or two that fits this), but it’s not something that feeds the soul and leaves you someone else.

Of course, content is easy.  It doesn’t rock the boat (or does just enough to get attention).  It can be boiled down to a formula and yield some success.  It can be made regularly.  It’s nice and predictable, even when it presents to be unpredictable.  Modern technology makes it even easier!

Art is wild, unpredictable, and disruptive (even when intended not to be).  It’s when you get out there and make something not to check the boxes but to do your vision, do your thing.  Sure you may make money, and you might need SOME checkboxes, but it’s about something deeper.

Many a good artist knew how to get asked for content and deliver art.  Some HK action movies fit that vein.  I’d count the He-Man CGI as the same.  The unexpected success of the Early-00’s My Little Pony remake is an example.  But that quest for Content overshadows the future of each property that takes the money for content and makes art.

I suppose the point of this rant is now I understand some of my dissatisfaction.  There’s so much content, but I want art, and I want to share it.  This doesn’t exactly solve anything, but now I have better language.

That’s a start towards me understanding what I want to find – and what I want to produce with my writing.

Steven Savage