The wizard sits deep in his chair, darkness shrouding all save for the glowing sphere at the center of his table. He is old, old and tired, much like this dusty library at the top of his tallest tower. Though it is a humid summer night, he wears his robe and has the cowl pulled up over his ancient face. Fingers gnarled from decades of weaving incantations are steepled before his face as he looks deep into the glowing ball before him, thinking, wondering, pondering . . .
Images flicker on this orb, scenes of everyday life among the commoners below. Mortals engaging in normal activities like farming or relaxing at the tavern. Some put on plays or musical performances, others play sports. Children run free in the fields under minimum supervision of their mothers and other caretakers. Soldiers train, and then—
He spots it. A fighting man engaging in a style of swordfighting that is offensive to the eye. The wizard’s aesthetic sense is wounded, offended, far out of proportion with the sowrdsman’s actual infraction. Though old, the wizard is still fit, and has forgotten more about the art of the blade than this cocky young hotshot on the orb will ever know.
I should do something, the wizard thinks. He raised one of his fingers, knobby and twisted like an old branch, and held it over the orb.
There are spells of smiting and destruction, of pestilence and devastation, that are never far from the wizard’s mind. Yet the people would hate and fear him if he rained down fire and death upon their heads.
The next best thing, the wizard surmises, is to fire off a sternly-worded missive against this style of swordfighting so that all who read it will know of the deep dislike I feel for it, and why they should shun the bastardization of the blade that I have been so grievously wounded by.
That’ll show them.
* * *
Astute readers might have realized that I’m not doing analysis or commentary all that much on this blog. In lieu of reacting to specific events or outrages, I’m focusing on more universal topics as opposed to the topical.
This has created some difficulty in finding things warranting deep-dives to write about. On my old blog, I was able to pump out three, four, or five posts per week by seeing a story or something and firing off some analysis or commentary. These were mostly surface-level, and sometimes tied into writing or storytelling topics, but in general that website was unfocused and undisciplined. While I have had some former readers tell me they enjoyed the free-for-all, to me, it was not an aesthetic I was happy with.
The same astute readers will also remember that the first long-form piece I wrote on this new website was a call to starve the entertainment/media complex beast of your attention. The entity we all claim to hate thrives on our hate, but only if we broadcast this hate to the world. The YouTube “Bitch-and-Moan” Economy drives this by feeding the careers of commentors who in turn only get attention—and revenue—of their own by the continued existence of movies, books, video games, comics, and television shows they pretend to despise.
And so I am issuing a challenge to those of us in our sphere: Resist the temptation to analyze and react to every bit of corporate media slop you ostensibly dislike. Don’t tie your fortunes to the proliferation of some franchise that you say you used to love, and want to “fix.” Because it’s never getting fixed. The gigantic multinationals in charge of our culture aren’t really in it for the money, and they’ll be propped up regardless of how spectacularly some movie or whatever flops.
Instead of fixing these things, offer something better.
* * *
All of you astute readers, who as I have said many times before are very astute, will realize this is a drum I have been beating for quite some time. This is because the rhythm beaten out on this rhetorical bit of percussion is an important one worth repeating.
There is a new television series out which is based upon a series of books I have been a fan of for nearly thirty years. I’m sure it’s a poor representation of my beloved novels. I don’t need to “hate-watch” it and write, nor do you need to read, yet another scathing critique in a long line of scathing critiques that only provide oxygen to the all-consuming fire of awful corporate entertainment.
Maybe I violated my own principle in the preceding paragraph. I leave that up to you to decide.
The important thing is that the commentary and reaction may feel good on an emotional level, but they are ultimately tactically futile attempts to carry out the strategy us insurgent artists attempt to mount. And I have proof of this: laser sword franchise is still going strong despite the legions of massive YouTube accounts dedicated to telling viewers just how awful it is. Ditto the comic book industry, triple-A game developers, and Hollywood in general.
The time for new tactics has been here for a long time.
Listen: we’re never going to defeat the beast via full-frontal assault. It is too big and well-protected, and while we are numerous, we’re too small, scattered, and vulnerable. The best thing for us to do is create a parallel ecosystem of creators in order to attract just enough of an audience that the behemoth we contend against notices. However, since we will be as independent as possible, there will be nothing the behemoth can do about it except for seethe.
And then we get to point and laugh at it while continuing on our merry way.
Now that, my dear fellow travelers, is psychologically satisfying.