Content is the Death of Creativity

Content is the Death of Creativity

I can’t believe I’m looking forward to the return of commercials.

So why am I not reviewing Shang Chi? Because I’ve already seen it. Oh, maybe not with this particular window dressing but I’ve definitely seen it. So have you. It’s a Marvel movie, and at this point, they are all the same.

This week there was a stink about the Russo Brothers not returning to Marvel because of the ScarJo lawsuit.  Oh, noes! Disney has suddenly stopped honoring its contracts!  How can we ever work for them again? 

Disney has been evil for a while and the Russo Brothers know it.  The truth is they didn’t really want anything more to do with Marvel because their contributions are best minimal.  If you are a Marvel director, you can make your presence felt in the editing room but you have no real say in the final product.

Your script is rewritten for you to make it better.  You don’t have to worry about the fight scenes because there is a unit that takes care of all that. The same for supervising the special effects.  Marvel will accept your suggestions about old songs but not the soundtrack. And in the end, your film will look like all of the others.

Because there is a long checklist of things that will be included in any Marvel movie.

1. Daddy issues.  Almost all of the Marvel characters have that; Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, Thor, Gamora, Nebula, Quill, Ultron, Ant-Man, Thor, Loki, Black Panther, and now Shang Chi.

2. There will be a double-cross.

3. Someone will be kicked out of something or leave it out of principle.

4. A hero will get captured.

5. Multiple villains.

6. Avenger cameo (used to be SHIELD cameo).

7. Flashback scene.

8. Stan Lee cameo (he filmed several before his death and it’s not like his daughter will object to the use of his CGI likeness so long as the check clears).

9. After Credit Scene.

10. The boss villain wants the MacGuffin of ULTIMATE POWER!!!

11. Use of humor to curtail dramatic tension.

12. Overblown special effects fight. 

14. Male hero will take his shirt off.

15. The three-point landing.  Although even Marvel has noticed that one is tired.

Marvel films are the pinnacle of disposable entertainment.  Honestly, the only two that I’ve watched more than once are Ironman and Captain America.

This isn’t filmmaking.  This is content farming.

Content is the buzzword that the American entertainment industry bows today.  A Netflix series can be as bad as Kevin Smith’s He-Man or as good as The Order.  And in the end, it doesn’t matter because you get two seasons and that’s it.  Could be great, could be shit, Netflix doesn’t care either way.  So long as the content is ground out like Oscar Meyer sausages their business model is maintained.

Recently, I mentioned that life-hack videos used to be things that people put some thought into.  Look up the old ones and there is stuff in there that is genuinely clever.  But they gradually discovered that it was so much easier just to make crap content farm, and it didn’t affect the number of clicks they got in the least.

Content farming is an easy trap to get caught in because we have never had the kind of  “data-driven audience feedback.”  You can tell at what moment the audience starts to squirm.  At what moment, you have people quit watching a show.  It’s just too easy to measure all of these things.  I’m guilty of it too.  At my old blog, I was always looking over the numbers trying to divine what type of post got the most views.  I’ve poured over kindle unlimited data, trying to determine why and at what point readers stopped reading a story (despite the fact that Kindle is not that helpful to authors).

But the truth at the end of the day is, you aren’t ever going to create anything really memorable this way because you are tailoring your efforts for an audience that is only maximized for one brief period of time.  That audience of August 10th at 11:00 am is going to be literally as big as it is scientifically possible to make it, but you’ve manufactured something so trite they will never remember it on Aug 11th.  You will have created a fart in a windstorm and nothing else.

However, believe it or not.  There is just a little hope on the horizon. Not much but a little. Everyone in Hollywood has tried to be the new Netflix and everyone is failing at being Netflix.  Including Netflix.  As I predicted, the big red N has lost half a million subscribers in the all-important North American market, (they charge more here than in other countries).  Disney Plus is still growing BUT it’s in the countries where they charge lower prices, so the money they make per viewer is actually going down.

The only possible way to make money is either: Slash content production, which means they will have to go with the stuff that brings in the most people on a consistent basis.  Or they have to start selling commercial sponsorships. And sponsors don’t want a series for two lousy seasons, they want a show with legs and a reliable viewership.

The Great Content Farming Crash is coming.

Okay, I’m done here.

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Comments (14)

  • Cletus Reply

    The MacGuffin. Every damn Marvel movie, it seems like. I know not every X-Men movie is good, but at least those avoided the MacGuffin and got into real story telling.

    September 9, 2021 at 12:28 am
  • furor kek tonicus ( Whipper Snapping Egg Suckers is my band name ) Reply

    14. Male hero will take his shirt off.
    .
    finally, an “equality” principal that i can really get behind.
    .
    er, though i’d rather be in front, if you know what i mean.

    September 9, 2021 at 1:38 am
    • Talos Valcoran Reply

      Seconded.

      September 11, 2021 at 12:58 am
  • Elaine T Reply

    /unlurk

    #16 so-and-so loses family/friends, goes nutso berserk/evil/killer: Zemo, Hawkeye, Tony Stark, Black Panther, whatshisname from IM2, Loki (by discovering his adoption), Drax…

    “and they don’t even have the guts to go properly badguy! you can be a sniveling little wretch, oozing around the edges with your petty vendetta because it’s time for this plot arc now, or you can have an out-and-out bad guy. I want a villain who is actually a villain.”
    housemate on Marvel recently. (No, Thanos doesn’t count as a true villain, I asked.)

    Question on #11 the humor one, Deliberately or accidentally, do you think?

    I’m tired of the so-called humor which is all too often pop culture references used as putdowns.

    Stopped watching Marvel some years back and haven’t regretted it.

    September 9, 2021 at 3:29 am
    • furor kek tonicus Reply

      Elaine T Reply
      No, Thanos doesn’t count as a true villain

      .
      .
      uh, how do you guys define “villain”? because Thanos is the literal dictionary definition:
      https://www.dictionary.com/browse/villain
      1 – a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel.
      .
      .
      .
      Question on #11 the humor one, Deliberately or accidentally, do you think?
      .
      the humor is intentional. Spiderman in particular was notorious from his introduction for “cracking wise” in the middle of fights.
      .
      the “curtailing of dramatic tension” is probably more accidental. Spiderman’s use of comedic quips didn’t mean that dramatic tension didn’t happen in his story lines, the deaths of Gwen Stacy or Uncle Ben being two particularly relevant examples.

      September 10, 2021 at 3:12 am
      • Elaine T Reply

        How does housemate define a true villain, you mean? IIRC (not up yet to answer) totally nefarious motives and Thanos’ were ‘good’. Environmental. Not glorying in being evil.

        I wouldn’t know, I gave up around Civil War so have only second hand knowledge.

        September 10, 2021 at 3:47 pm
        • furor kek tonicus ( Whipper Snapping Egg Suckers is my band name ) Reply

          you might want to suggest to your friend that wanting to murder half the population of the universe/planet is psychopathic evil … and that by advocating for it he demonstrates himself to be psychopathic evil.
          .
          also, killing HALF the population is totally pointless to anyone who understands the geometric growth rates common to biological systems. even if your goal was to “save the environment”, his/Thanos’ solution is so grossly incompetent that he should build a Soylent Green factory just so he can be first in line.
          .
          tell your room mate that i’ll make a deal with him. i’ll let him murder half the people on the planet on Nov 1st, 2021 under these conditions:
          1-he gives me a single penny on Oct 1st
          2-he doubles that gift EVERY DAY for the month of October until the 31st
          .
          good luck. he’s going to need it.

          September 13, 2021 at 7:33 am
  • Wazdaka Reply

    Does this reinforce the idea that autonomy is an illusion?

    September 9, 2021 at 4:58 am
  • EXALT Reply

    “I am old, Gandalf. I don’t look it, but I am beginning to feel it in my heart of hearts. Well-preserved indeed! Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. That can’t be right. I need a change, or something.”
    Turns out this excerpt about the corrupting influence of evil jewellery could be applied to the current state of most, if not all, old franchises.
    “But the truth at the end of the day is, you aren’t ever going to create anything really memorable this way because you are tailoring your efforts for an audience that is only maximized for one brief period of time. […] You will have created a fart in a windstorm and nothing else.”
    Preach. This is the reason behind the Eternal Search for the Twist, where you put some sort of Big Moment into your work so that everyone will talk about it the next day (“Five years pass in Endgame! Young Luke is back in The Mandalorian! Secret Doctors you’ve never seen before! That Cameo from “Insert character from original material!!!”) while also making sure that no one will remember it as anything more than “kinda neat”, if it’s remembered at all; combine the Eternal Search with the most Gamma of writers, and you get Subverted Expectations. This isn’t storytelling, it’s clickbait.

    September 9, 2021 at 6:55 am
  • Robert W Reply

    Help me out, what’s the daddy issue for Rogers and Banner?

    September 10, 2021 at 3:08 am
    • The Dark Herald Reply

      “Brian Banner is a fictional character created by Bill Mantlo, first appearing in The Incredible Hulk #312. His abuse that his son Bruce suffers at Brian’s hands as a child is a major contributing factor of Bruce’s eventual transformation into the Hulk.”

      Joesph Rogers was a soldier who was killed in WWI. He died before Steve was born and his mother never remarried. The issue is Joe’s absence throughout Steve’s life as well as the manner of his death.

      September 10, 2021 at 12:19 pm
  • Bryce Reply

    I can watch Iron Man and Doctor Strange over and over again because they are basically the same movie. It’s ok, because I like that one movie. It’s kinda like Rob Zombie. All his songs sound the same…but if you like his one song, then you are golden.

    The trouble for Marvel is that they deviated from the formula after Iron Man got it right.

    September 10, 2021 at 7:43 am
  • ElRojo Reply

    “The Great Content Farming Crash is coming.”

    Yes. IMHO there will be a big entertainment crash in the next 5-10 years. Between Streaming and Cable packages -something has to give. The big companies trying to do it all at once are literally competing both with their competitors, and themselves in three different formats.

    When the money from their government and laundromat sugar daddies gets thin we will see significant fallout. Everyone is in the Red right now, with no big turnaround in sight.

    September 10, 2021 at 6:39 pm

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