I have a vision you maggots, you’re all against me and I hate you, also like and subscribe if you want to see more content like this

The rise of, and long-term success of exploitation cinema (primarily for our purposes pornography and the ultra-gory horror genre) owed its existence to the wide gap between what the audience wanted to see and what mainstream media was willing, or even just permitted, to distribute. The gap wasn’t there because of any moral qualms of the mainstream entertainment industry, it’s just that satisfying their audience’s most prurient desires was a bad financial bet: if you spend $40 million making a film, you’re likely to lose your shirt if the only place you can sell tickets for it is a small group of theaters on 42nd street.

The point being that the mainstream entertainment industry is perfectly willing to plumb the depths of its audience’s cravings as long as there’s money in it. Which brings us to the state of media as we know it today, where the line between exploitation and the mainstream has all but vanished. It’s only a matter of time (probably weeks) before explicit unsimulated, unsafe sex, and incredibly well simulated bloody, sadistic murder become so common in mainstream entertainment that we’ll all be bored with it, to the point that even our Red Wedding-themed Christmas cards stop being funny. (Goddammit.)

Given that there’s no content-specific legal restrictions (barring one) on the kind of material that can be shown on cable and streaming services, and given that, as an aggregate, the entertainment-consuming public’s desire for gore and sex has no limit (whatsoever), the original need for a (legally viable) exploitation media industry no longer exists.

In many ways this is a good thing. When all media become exploitation media, some of the stigma regarding the things exploitation media tended to depict will drop away. We will at last be willing to admit, boldly and without shame, that human beings desperately want to see the most terrible things, and are  generally just terrible in and of themselves, which is an idea I’ve been spouting — without traction — for more than a decade.

My own personal vindication aside however, I feel as though the wholesale adoption of exploitation’s ethos into the mainstream has resulted in a great loss for our culture. Exploitation used to be the realm of talented weirdos that no multinational corporation would trust enough to hire, weirdos who made insane, incredible things. Not good things in an artistic sense usually, but that’s the point. There are some things worth seeing that could only come from unprofessional mad people with little money and no time, who nevertheless managed to feed themselves via the fruits of their creative expression. Where are these people supposed to go now?

Well, YouTube, I guess, if they want a chance to be seen. But YouTube is the new bastion of puritan restriction, where any video that even includes a single utterance of the word “fuck” will end up being demonetized, hidden behind an explicit content filter, and sunk to the bottom of the search results by a relentless, implacable algorithm that can’t be bargained with, can’t be reasoned with, and absolutely will not stop. It is hard to imagine an independent, guerilla media movement that has to be squeaky clean in order to survive. It’s so weird that the counter-movement is being forced by corporate interests to operate in a more restrictive context, sex-and-gore-wise, than the mainstream — but that’s kind of what’s happening. Sort of.

But this still leaves out the weird, the hideous, the fringe artists who can make interesting shit, but can’t manage a social media strategy or the consistent, daily output that YouTube’s algorithms require in order to actually move you up the ranks of “recommended” videos.

I don’t know. In the end, maybe it’s not better or worse, just different. The world’s changed, man.

 

 

Nice job, idiots

Slashdot: Contractors Lose Jobs After Hacking CIA’s In-House Vending Machines

Oh for fuck’s sake. Everyone is dumb, here. What kind of moron hacks their employer, especially for such meager rewards? (Quite frankly, you shouldn’t be hacking anything, unless you are working for the government, in which case you should only hack the things that your boss tells you to hack — and even then….)

But also: if CIA vetting is so poor that they’re letting snack-stealing jagoffs in the building, can you imagine what the smarter crooks they’re not catching are getting away with?

Grown-up stories

We’re all super mature adults here, so why don’t we indulge ourselves by plainly stating a few basic facts that we aren’t generally allowed to openly talk about: Bad guys usually win, good guys usually lose; selfishness motivates all human behavior, directly or indirectly; cheaters are rewarded for winning, while losers are punished whether they cheat or not; honest people have worse lives than liars do; and when you come right down to it, the world is an awful place whose awfulness cannot be ameliorated by any number of pretty sunsets, rainbows, or pictures of cute, rainbow-colored puppies take a sunset — which is why people love drugs, sex, and killing themselves so much.

We’re not allowed to talk about this kind of stuff in front of non-super mature adults because, well, we’re desperately trying to stop them from taking drugs, having sex, and killing themselves before they’ve had a chance to pay into Social Security for at least a little while. (Gotta keep that ponzi scheme going.)

And I guess that explains why we’re so addicted to misery in fiction. The world sucks, and life’s not worth living, but we can’t ever say so outright, so uh here’s a cop show where everyone’s kind of an asshole, and the crooks never get punished, oh and the chief of police, the mayor, the DA, your supermarket checker, the parish priest, Santa Claus, and the Ronald McDonald of that region are all in on it somehow. Or maybe check out this escapist fantasy world of swashbuckling and magic, giants and orcs, wizards and dragons, pervasive sexual assault, chattel slavery, and child brides, cause realism, you know?

The thing is, I feel like it hasn’t always been this way for fiction — though I confess I have no proof. It’s just that misery seems so pervasive, so ingrained in modern fiction, while older works seem to include more hope and more rewards for the virtuous in comparison. And if I’m right about that, then I can’t help but wonder why our tastes have changed so much?

Perhaps it’s this: Entertainment often used to be considered frivolous, and the people who enjoyed it were considered somewhat frivolous as well. Like candy, it was indulgent and not very good for you. As our culture aged and its taste became more “sophisticated” we accepted that it’s a shameful thing to enjoy heroism and happy endings, so we turned to entertainments that make us feel sad and sick to our stomachs. Sure, I might like fantasy entertainment, but I’m still a serious person who should be taken seriously — look how horrific my favorite TV show is.

Or maybe people’s lives are so devoid of strong emotions that they need to borrow them from somewhere else for awhile, shit, I don’t know.