Cultural Sabotage - How Media Companies Keep Shooting Themselves in the Foot
Movie, Music, Anime, Comics, Games...pick your poison. All these varying industries brought us wonderful entertainment, inspiration, and joy in unique ways. Whether you're a huge fan of Half-Life or Ghost Busters, we all can agree that the industry should continue creating remarkable, memorable, and A-Class content. However, something strange has happened over the last decade. The ball has been dropped numerous times on potential blockbuster hits. Movies underperform despite using a historically successful franchise, game publishers grow greedy with microtransactions, and somehow manga is outselling comicbooks in America! So what has happened over the last decade that costed companies many millions of dollars so recklessly? Now, some of this may not be a surprise, movies underperform all the time. What may make you raise a brow is 'how' these forms of media are doing poorly, and what common themes should we expect from our once beloved franchises in the modern era.
Re-Hash and Bash
There's nothing inherently wrong with re-makes, or resurrecting old franchises. Star Wars Episode 7, while reiterating the same plot-line from the original trilogy, did it in a consciously smart way by appealing to the nostalgia of its fans, providing stunning visuals, and generally supporting the essence of what Star Wars was. However, sometimes re-makes are highly unnecessary, and can be damaging to a franchise. Disney's "The Lion King" remake is an example. Trying to push a CGI remake caused a huge loss of expression and emotion that the animated original provided.
However, not only do they turn back to old franchises for new content, they sometimes market them for unintended audiences, and then bash the core fanbase the franchise was originally made for. Terminator: Dark Fate, Disney's Star Wars trilogy, and Ghostbusters 2016 are a couple recent movies with creative talent completely gone to waste, caused by either bad marketing and/or poor directive decisions. If one bases a movie off of an existing franchise, you would think the most logical target market would be those who are fans of the franchise. You wouldn't take "The Matrix" and make a new movie of it but with unicorns and barbie dolls. Unfortunately, the examples previously listed not only tried to completely shift the target audience, they alienated the original core audiences through marketing and journalism. Disney's Star Wars completely torn fans apart with Episodes 8 and 9, with the Rise of Skywalker being among the lowest rated Star Wars films. Instead of expanding the universe of Star Wars, the films instead kill off favorite characters and try desperately to create their own characters to replace them. Terminator: Dark Fate does this similarly (within the first 5 mintues of the film nonetheless.) There's a lot of speculation as to why the decision to kill off old characters and replace them with new ones, but perhaps its a sort of strange 'power fantasy' for the writers and directors, maybe a touch of envy for the previous success of these franchises.
A primary purpose for a video game, a movie, or a TV show is to take a break from reality. We want to unwind, relax, and indulge in something entertaining. With an entire industry that should be fully aware of this fact, why do they insist on pushing virtues onto their audience regarding real life politics, especially when it doesn't fit? This doesn't mean to imply that political themes are inherently bad. For instance, Deus Ex revolves around politics, yet implements it in its story in a brilliant manner. The game presents you options and follows up with consequences regardless of what you decide. It presents the players with a multitude of viewpoints and does not force a particular one. Deus Ex is a brilliant example of making the player think about their political and moral beliefs. Politics is a sensitive subject, and any piece of media needs to respect its audience when it uses politics as a core theme. Regardless of the types of media, it should still be a route to escapism on some level. Otherwise we should just stick to documentaries. Even Birds of Prey director admitted pushing an agenda with the film, as explored by YouTuber, "ThatUmbrellaGuy."
Rey in Star Wars is a Mary Sue. She does not struggle, train, or acquire any skills, yet is depicted as the most powerful and capable character in the Disney Star Wars triology. If a woman is inherently powerful by virture, then that in itself is a weakness. It signifies that a woman cannot earn her way to power, but instead granted because some writer does not have a sense of proper character development. When you take pre-existing, successful movies and shows, and inverse the genders, you're declaring that content starring women can't succeed unless they ride the tailcoats of others.
We don't need women to replace every male character in media. Alita: Battle Angel, Alien, and Wonder Woman are a few renowned examples of women succeeding in their own unique stories. Then you have the new Charlies Angels film spends the entire time establishing women to be good, and men to be bad. At the same time, the writers homogenized the 3 angels to the point where you can't tell who's who personality and skill wise. They're all smart, strong, stealthy, and have no visible weaknesses. Filmento highlights this film's weaknesses in depth:
On top of female (dis)empowerment, franchises are now alienating a large category of their audience. Charlies Angels sends the message of "men are evil" to the point where the plot is stupidly predictable. Birds of Prey had a highly questionable marketing scheme that tried to bash men in a similar fashion. Even Gillette, a company that specifically caters to male grooming, turns on its core consumer base with a ridiculous commercial about 'toxic masculinity," costing the company a whopping $8 Billion!
Meanwhile in gaming, companies are pulling their games from GeForce's new cloud gaming platform, for people who already own their games. If such a platform makes it more accessible for consumers to buy and play games regardless of the specs of their machines, why would companies want to hinder their ability to purchase their games?
Another way audiences become alienated is when beloved characters are altered in unflattering ways. Marvel's X-Men recently announced a Polyamorous relationship with Jean Grey, Cyclops, and Wolverine. While nothing inherently wrong with polyamory, this isn't what the original creators and audience wanted in their X-Men Stories. They don't want phony relationships pushed onto their favorite characters they grew up with for many years. Imagine if your favorite character was suddenly changed to be completely unrecognizable. This pushes the original fans of the comics away from comics overall due to creative decisions such as this.
The gaming industry is notorious for micro-transactions and launching unfinished products. Its fair to say that a $60 dollar video game does not provide the same amount of content today than it did 10 years ago. Often, a full gaming experience has to be bought separately through DLC and Seasonal passes. This may result in you paying twice, if not more for the amount and quality of gameplay you would've gotten back then. Sometimes, Triple A games often come completely unplayable, such as WWE 2k20.
Principles to Abide By for Quality Content
What must be done to put a halt to this "Cultural Sabotage" afflicting our favorite shows and media? Here are a few principles to abide by.
1. Respect the fanbase
2. Respect your customer's time, money, and intelligence
3. Honor the franchise
4. If you remake/reboot a franchise, involve the original core audience into your targeted audience
5. Instead of drastically changing fan favorite characters and franchises, create something completely new.
6. Don't let your personal politics affect your works performance. It's better to have both Democrats and Republicans buying your works than having only one or the other.
7. Not everyone is a buyer. Do not cater to those who try to force you to change your content, otherwise you're selling to no one, not even those you changed for. Do you find content like this insightful? Please subscribe to receive our monthly updates on our website at: https://www.chainlinkproductions.net/ And don't forget to follow us on our Twitter! https://twitter.com/ChainLinkProd