Just What We Always Wanted

           You get the feeling that this old coal cart is speeding towards broken track? Sure, we might jump the gap and come out on the other side just fine and zoom off into the distance. Or we could tumble over into the abyss, never to be seen again.

That feels like where we’re at, in many ways.

Me, I can’t say I am a fan of that feeling.

At all.

           This isn’t a riff on politics, exactly, so much as the fact that as we watch, corporate America is eating itself and us along with it. Not that this is new, ‘mergers’ and takeovers and all of that are not a new thing. It’s part of business. The HOPE, for many startups is to either build a business that is successful enough to not NEED someone else to step in, or that they will become successful enough to have someone larger gobble them up and pay well to do it.

Great.

Me, if it was my passion, I’d want to retain it and grow it.

The American dream has changed though, let’s be real clear about that.

Again, that’s fine.

Ish.

Fine-ish.

The American dream was one of the simple, clear things that, while it could be massaged this way and that, it’s not bad. It’s the idea that anyone can rise to a level of ‘success’. The idea here again is, ANYONE. This isn’t exclusionary, though I am sure that there are those that would take a moment to say – Yeah, but… – but this is it. Beyond that, one measures their success by financial stability, the opportunity to find housing for oneself and their family if they have one, and the chance to not worry about the specter of poverty.

Pretty great.

That has changed though.

Now Americans want, and I say it all the time because it seems true for far too many of us – to get ‘theirs’.

While most of us want that old ideal, to find comfortable wealth and security, far too many of us want extravagant wealth, power, and fame.

They want to be the star.

They want to be rich.

And it’s the feeling that they DESERVE these things that is poisoning the pool.

That mentality and the Me First idea is what’s pushing corporate America to eat itself.

More, more, more.

Once your company is big enough, and everyone is making money the board seems to look around and say, MOAR!

They don’t want competition, they want dominance.

They don’t want wealth; they want multi-generational wealth.

And if you won’t give me what I want, I’ll destroy you.

A Rite Aid moves in here, and across the street is a Walgreens, they play this game over and over until someone blinks and one of the places closes.

That happened ALL the time.

Or you’d see a chain expand, expand, expand until POOF, it suddenly spread itself too thin and had to reign it back in.

People aren’t happy with success, they want domination.

Now that we are seeing it in the streaming services it may start to give us the briefest of pauses.

Netflix, needing to remain king of streamers, chose to pour money into every project they could. They tried a scattershot method and judged whether those films and series were successful by viewership and then cancelled as soon as they didn’t meet a quota. There was no chance for these projects to work up a word of mouth, or to grow their audience slowly, or heck, to just find their audience a little later, as tastes change.

Nope.

You get one shot.

That’s it.

While most projects don’t even get that, to know that you are basically starting something you may never get to finish is pretty distressing because, how do you fully tell the story you mean to if someone is already tapping their watch?

Instead of carefully choosing projects and growing their model in a way that allowed for more success, instead of really marketing their new content, they would Tweet about it, post it, then move on.

That’s sorta why I lost interest in mass market publishers.

They may pay you, but once your book is out, so are they.

On to the next.

Not that you need to be treated like a kid, but it’d be nice to feel like you didn’t put all of that work into something that’ll end up in a remainder bin after a few months.

Ah, and there we go.

Art as product as commerce as commodity as expiring goods.

It’s only good up to a date and then it’s old and garbage.

That’s a pretty gross ideal, isn’t it?

But that’s where we’re at.

It’s great that the streamers are opening up to so much content, but it’d be nice if they knew what they were acquiring and that SOMEONE cared about it beyond the ability to gobble it up like a whale.

Don’t be the service that has EVERYTHING, be the service that has the GREAT stuff. You may not have it all, but you know that what there is was curated and created and hey, they won’t all hit, but everyone on board knows it had a chance.

Don’t treat everything like a fast-food meal that you eat, forget, and crap out later when its nutrients are gone.

I can’t imagine how hard it is for creatives to sign on for projects and then just be in limbo afterwards if it’s a continuing series or there is meant to be ‘more’ to the story, and you have to put your career on hold so you can be open to that more.

And then dead air.

Disney knows what they are, sorta, in that they know their brands and their legacy content. The problem is getting into those vaults to let the people see all of that forgotten material and it’s also in allowing adults to watch programming. It’s seen as FOR FAMILIES so if you want to check out some of the ‘R’ rated material Disney owns – and as a company that has gobbled up a lot of competition, they do have that content – well, you may have to look elsewhere.

So weird!
So weird that people won’t let them just have a separate spot for their ‘adult’ content. They are trying to do that, but people are still freaking out.  WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN? When everyone can go in and turn the content governor on that’s there.

Whatever.


Generally, though, they know what they are.

It’s most of the other big ones that don’t have a clear identity.

Netflix wants to be the home of the blockbusters, I guess.

Prime wants to be the home of Lord of the Rings and prestige television.

Hulu is the third wheel that everyone gets along with.

It’s when you dig into the smaller streamers who focus on genre or region where you get more focus because they need to do that. They don’t want to be behemoths; they want to do what they do well. The fact is though that there is only so much money out there, and so many viewers. We are at a point of saturation and if no one has noticed, we’re none of us doing a lot better financially.

But sure, EVERYONE wants to make money.

EVERYONE wants to be ‘huge’, or at least very successful, but why do we have to be omnipresent?

Why?

           I always understood why small businesses and local businesses were closing because they couldn’t keep up with the online world. As someone who is an introvert, I shop online. Add in Covid and it doomed a lot of businesses, sadly. The thing is that few of them put any effort into making themselves stand out. Most of us would rather go into a place and get what we want when we want it and go home. Skip the middle person. I got tired of going into say, Best Buy to look for SOMETHING NEW and it wasn’t there, let alone anything that was a catalog item. If it was a movie or music, they would only carry it if it was ‘blockbuster’ size or maybe had a cult following. Oh, but they’ll order it for you. Why bother with that when I could have ordered it to begin with?

They want to focus on the big-ticket items, and I get that, but it cuts out a lot of business. Business they used to value.

And I know, it’s all bottom line.

It’s all – how much does it cost to carry this as opposed to how much we make from it.

I understand that.

But they forget that the person coming for a CD may also pick up a movie or a game as well. They may buy more because they are there and have money and are being impetuous in that moment.

WHO KNOWS?

That is decided for us though.

Nope, they say.

No thanks.

It’s insidious, and it gets worse the more you look.

We are the cannon fodder of the ultra wealthy as they make our livelihoods and our leisure time their hobbies because they don’t have anything else to do and they certainly don’t want to save the world. They just wanna own crap and sell crap and move people around like pieces on a board.

           Watching Twitter’s creator fall all over himself to say how great it is that Elon Musk is going to (forcibly) buy Twitter is laughable. Of COURSE, you want it to happen, you and the board take fat, golden parachutes out of the plane and get to be richer than anyone deserves to be, and the user base is held hostage by a man-child that has a new toy. Oh, sure, maybe he revitalizes Twitter. Maybe. Or maybe he monetizes it and tears down something that annoys him because it won’t do what he wants it to. MAYBE if he wanted Twitter to be so different, he would have created his own platform and had it be what he wants. Instead, he’ll ruin what is left that’s good in Twitter. It’s a useful platform but if you open it to every idiot that has a conspiracy or hate rant to push then it’s cacophony. There’s plenty of places for those people. Let them go there.

And I’m not even ON Twitter anymore.

I liked the platform though.

Concise to the point of forcing people to be creative with its usage.

I liked that.

Ah, but it’s just another toy to be acquired and played with then discarded when something else comes along or gets popular.

It’s maddening.

Watching a man with as much wealth as he has, with the power he has, and the platform he has, and he acts like a child. He isn’t a leader, he’s a kid with the biggest toybox.

Bully for him.

THAT is where we are at.

The wealthy are flaunting their wealth in ways we’ve never seen before, because they can. Because we let them. We listen, we watch, we tune in because we love to watch train wrecks and we love power. Oh, that rich person is abusive and awful, well, that’s OK, they’re rich, who cares?

We tune in.

We shrug.

We fall asleep and dream of the worlds these people tell us to dream.

           This is no rant against corporations or capitalist ways, per se. I am a consumer. I consume. I create product I wish to be consumed. There’s nothing wrong with that, OK, that’s another topic, ALL RIGHT? Anyway, no, the issue is the way that all of this feels like there is no adult in charge. It’s as if kids have been given the run of things and they SUCK! There is no planning, no projecting, no PATIENCE, no vision. No, there is only now, more, and all. There is only getting yours because you deserve it.

Corporations are no better than randos on Tik Tok trying to get famous.

They pollute the world for profit then spend tens of thousands of dollars not on fixing their crimes but on telling everyone that boy, it’s a shame that those crimes against nature happen.

WHAT?

This is where we are.

Cognitive Dissonance, first floor.

Is there a wonder why there’s so much ‘fake news’?

BECAUSE IT SELLS!

Because people just want to be soothed and told who to hate, and who to fear, and not have to do all that stuff themselves. We’re in a world of grays and it’s easier when someone is there to tell us what to do.

Like we’re kids.

And like kids we listen to the bullies because they are the loudest and they project that they are the strongest and, in these cases, they are often the wealthiest people so we figure they must know what they are doing. We don’t see that they are gambling with our money, playing with our toys, and are doing things that impact US. Sure, they may lose their jobs but often they are paid to leave. Get high enough up on the ladder and you find there’s a parachute available.

This is the world we made.

The things we love will be changed not because we want them changed but because other people want us to want them changed. Or they want to better monetize our time. Social networks could get boring, sure, but they served a purpose of connection. It wasn’t the flashing lights we should want but the information. Ah, but we’re fickle and wander off. We don’t want to write we want to SHOW and SEE so the mediums changed to reflect this and so we’re all just doing interpretive dances in a metaverse trying to get views so we can become influencers.

HOORAY!

We may not have realized this is what we were making but once we surrendered all control to faceless boards and corporations this is what happens. Once you reach a point you just know that, while a forced exit or a buyout may not be ideal, there’s usually a golden parachute waiting for you.

Unlike the rest of us, who have only the cold comfort of hours on hold as we try to get unemployment to give us a lifeline while we pray for a break in our clouds.

Strange, isn’t it, how often we’re told to make plans and work for what we want and sacrifice and all of that rigamarole only to watch as the rich kids get bailed out by the system because they have such promising futures.

Man, all I want are my shows and my movies and my social networks not jacked with by overgrown children, is that so much to ask?

Dang.

…c…

I write books, I make movies, I podcast, and I review movies. Check the links for all that fun stuff.

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