I love to toy with several paradoxes as I go about my day. Ranging from trying to understand if video games are art or entertainment and what lies in the future of dying mediums such as writing or original literature, it always comes down to me wanting more from my art, from my “entertainment.” This goes across all mediums in this new age where the platform is this huge insane thing we all call the internet. There are musicians being discovered off a cover song they sing along to on youtube and there are people gaining traction in comedy simply for having funny tweets on topical subjects. Even things like competitive video games are taking over the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, becoming one of the newest and strongest spectator events since the welcoming of mixed martial arts to the popular culture. But to quote several up and comers in all these fields, is variety enough… can we ask for more?
One example is Hip Hop and its current state. Hip Hop at its roots was very polarizing, since it was braggadocios poetry over your father’s favorite Motown record. Now many artist are heading to the musicians themselves having insane collaborations, namely Kendrick Lamar working with unicorns like Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner and the groundbreaking genius of Kamasi Washington. At the same time, “mumble rap” which has become popular over the past few years. Many of the artist from the generation before are appalled that some people are able to get away without saying anything meaningful. Some like Andre 3000 dropping guest verses about how “maybe I was trying too hard” and other controversial figures like Lord Jamar outright slandering the products of these artist. It is a weird time for hip hop where it seems that a fabricated annual single hit can keep an artist like Drake afloat. Yet as a consumer, it is easier to take the quotable song we can put on our (now dead) vine videos and get a laugh out of our friends. When artist come out asking “how much does a dollar really cost,” challenging the listener yet what seems to be on the general audiences mind is what “bumps in the whip.”
To view another medium where this is apparent, anime. It is a rare treat to ever see more than one original anime in an airing season, this is because what most anime has become is adaptations of light novels, manga and visual novels. The worst part is the fans that get angered when the animated version of the series goes “against the original work” which leaves many wondering… why do you even bother watching the anime then? This is just one of the several examples that hold many in the industry from doing original and creative work. Thankfully the animator’s expo has been a blessing, allowing several studio teams of young up and comers to create a one episode OVA about anything. This usually results into music videos, short films or solid first episodes. One of the greatest stand outs was Studio Trigger’s “Little Witch Academia.” It is a roller coaster of emotions that takes its audience for a great ride under 25 minutes. A magical school where a girl just wants to emulate her idol by becoming a witch like her, much like many of these up and comers. Blowing the minds of so many people, the concept is finally getting the full series it deserves in the upcoming Winter 2017 season. Yet the fear of taking chances like this still inhibits the medium from progressing to new heights, beyond the adaptations. Several studios tend to take on projects that appeal to the loyal otaku culture that will guarantee the sales of merchandise and Blu Rays. Due to high piracy, it is hard for many of these studios to stay afloat, leaving many in the dust such as Studio Manglobe, that shut down last year. So taking a chance on a daring project is a huge risk in the anime industry, one that can end many careers.
The list goes on, but the main issue lies in business aspect. Whether its music, film, animation or art, money is the leading force to letting it happen. Concert tickets have risen to insane prices for several artists and Blu Rays of series are reaching absurd prices. Entertainment and art takes money in order to keep it going. Even youtube content creators are looking into exterior avenues to make a living since ADs simply don’t cut it. Yet this is where the consumer has the most power. Money does talk, but it is the money of the consumer that talks the loudest.
The best example in recent time of the power of the consumers dollar is a video game called “No Man’s Sky.” With its reveal at E3 in 2014 fans were in awe of the concept of a free world space exploration game. The hype train continued building up as visuals were revealed over the time, yet it was a failure. The game was not what it was advertised to be. A full price video game that has “multiplayer” but the possibility of contacting another player in the realm was very bleak. A game that failed the consumer’s expectations and had record number returns on Steam. This is a moment where the consumer, in this case the gamer, spoke the loudest. These gamers wanted more out of their video games and the vocal rage all over social media spread into a sea of memes and forum threads.
To end this rant before it gets more convoluted, as a person who enjoys several mediums of art and entertainment I just want to see the quality improve. The internet has allowed the general audience to have a voice that has become very loud in recent times. This is a positive that allows many of these artist and creators to know what one can do. And although this may seem that people can find a formula to copy and paste to gain easy success, there are still artists out there taking huge risks, like Frank Ocean who are releasing one of the best albums of the year, Blonde, that is something out of left field. So maybe I’ve lost my mind a bit, wanting more from art and entertainment, but don’t we all want to treat ourselves to the best? – swervenights