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Will’s Honest Opinion – Nontent is King – 11-30-17

With so much going on in the news as of late, it was difficult to settle on just one topic for this week’s article. Should I touch on Net Neutrality, or the continuing murmurings of Trump’s impending impeachment? Or maybe still, Marvel and DC’s ongoing rivalry? Rotten Tomatoes and the firestorm of surfacing sexual allegations in Hollywood, although came and went, still somehow find their way into the mainstream media on the regular.  If 2016 will be forever known as the year it killed Hollywood’s greats, 2017 is shaping up to be the year it killed their careers. And of course we have the occasional mass shooting, that much like the suicide bombings in the middle east, have unfortunately become a way of life here in the US.

It occurred to me in a sense as I was jotting down notes for this week’s editorial, in a way, although dissonant, these topics are all sort of related. Related in the sense that they are brought to you mainly by the same key delivery system of the internet, and tend to have the same knee-jerk reactionary commentary by those who assume to know, espousing responses like their lively hoods depend on it. And for some, (maybe too many) that holds true.

Exacerbating current events has become a way of life. Postulation by way of hyperbole is now so common, the idea of irony immediately correlates to cynicism. It reminds me of the joke in ‘The Simpsons’ where when asked if someone was being sarcastic at a Smashing Pumpkins concert, the concert goer replies: “I don’t even know anymore.” Begging the question, when is it all enough? AND, when will we stop caring? I posit, soon.

We have a content issue right now. There’s too much of it. So much, that everything has become ancillary and throwaway. You can binge watch an entire season of ‘The Punisher’ in a weekend, all while succumbing to the posts of a speed scrolling nation; addicted to preview GIFs for teasers for trailers for movies… We constantly absorb ‘Now This’ videos by the boat load, but retain close to none of it. In fact, it’s not content anymore. It’s “non-tent”. It’s the illusion of information, disguised by being revealing or explanatory, but really just obfuscating from any actual usefully obtained fact. Knowledge has become entertainment.

Recently, Rotten Tomatoes made a jump to advertising itself on social media. A movie review site is now holding reviews hostage in a way to drum up numbers from it’s audiences. On top of that, they’re also celebrating good reviews for movies by placing ads for them; publicly declaring themselves as the go-to source for credibility. That’s not their job. That’s the people’s job. In fact, doing so lowers them to the likes of Fox News, proclaiming themselves as “Fair and balanced”. Part of being a critic isn’t boasting about what you think is good. It’s their job to review movies; not promote them.

When everyone vies for the same spot, the pool gets diluted. Less barriers into today’s industries means skill matters less. Roadblocks no longer holdback those who shouldn’t partake, and as a result we have flooded industries like Advertising with too many graphic designers or Web Development with too many programmers. This in turn causes companies to take zero risk on future endeavors. Risk is what pushes the future of any industry. But instead, movie studios stick with big budget action schlock and known characters, or the music biz clings to it’s top 40 hit list of musicians.

This, ironically and theoretically, suggests to me the possible unforeseen benefits of abolishing Net Neutrality. Price gating the internet would be an indirect way to keep out those who shouldn’t be in the field. The internet is currently an ecosystem littered with amateurs and laymans, over saturating itself; barricading it from those who have the chops to make legitimate headway, and as a result we see a latent swelling of homage based pop-art or underdeveloped music like mumble rap, pop up like it’s a legitimate art form. I fully agree that people have the right to free speech, but throwing your hat into a creative ring online at this point is like everyone on earth owning a car and driving it at the exact same time. Progress takes a backseat to complacency.

There is another benefit too.

Let me be clear, I’m not advocating for the termination of Net Neutrality, however I have no qualms about a corporate conglomerate using it’s own resources and clout to shoot itself in the foot either. Rising prices passed down to the consumers usually means less consumers.

If EA Game’s recent ‘Battlefronts 2’ debacle has taught us anything, it’s that when forced with the choice to pay for more access or not, people will refuse. The internet offers too much. Sometimes for better. Sometimes for worse. The problem becomes when an industry competes with itself, and any industry that is too large to see itself as it’s own competitor is poised to fail. There are other options to ‘Battlefronts 2’s’ controversial “all-access passes” or “loot crates”; like not playing at all.

I got an email the other day reminding me of all of the Netflix shows that will soon be gone in December. It also reminded me of the price hike to take place at the same time. As I started to reexamine my stakes in Netflix and the deluge of garbage content I’m currently rifling through on a day to day basis, in addition to paying more, it occurred to me that Netflix left something off of their list of things not returning in December: ……me.

-Will Valle

November 30, 2017
Double Toasted

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