Thursday, June 14, 2007

Guest Commentary - Money Talks

I'm going out to an Orioles game tonight (apparently we will have 10 straight years of losing records) and do not have time to do any subject justice. Luckily for me frequent commentator Jeff sent an e-mail where he gives his view of what controls much of the entertainment we try to enjoy. Since I love to push the independent comics - where I believe we got fresher and/or a wider selection of comics - I think Jeff has some valid points. So with his permission I cut and pasted his letter for today's blog. THANKS JEFF!

Like most all other entertainment right now, nearly everything is being determined by the bean counters. If a movie makes a certain amount of money, a sequel is mandated whether or not it's deserving or necessary. This leads to movies and shows that are less than stellar. We are at a stage right now where entertainment has become disposable. Fewer and fewer people are buying cds and are downloading their music to their ipods instead. But the idea of the ipod is to keep music on it til you get tired of it, then delete old tunes for new. That's hardly treating music like art.

In the old days of the 70's, bands were not even expected to make any money for the music company til their 3rd or 4th album. It allowed them to experiment and have time to find an audience. That's all gone. Now if your first album isn't a hit you are all washed up before even beginning. Tv shows are given maybe 3 episodes to prove themselves before they're cancelled. Movies have really only one weekend to show that they're a hit. If you don't do well on the opening weekend you're over.

It's all led to a garbage society where people don't look for quality anymore, just what's new. Companies will not take chances on an unproven ideas so you get nothing but sequels and the same old ideas getting hammered into the ground. Movies---this is the summer of trilogies. No real gambles and nothing really exciting. Tv---same old reality shows and never ending spin-offs of popular shows. How many CSIs or Law&Orders do we need? Comics---just more of the same with Didio saying that DC will no longer launch new series, rather new titles will get a series of miniseries and continue only based on sales. You hit one bump in the road and you're axed.

I think it all started in the 80's, at least as far as music is concerned. When hair metal hit, every single LA glam metal band was signed, regardless of talent or musical skill. We got a decade of big hair and albums that were remarkably similar: hard rocker followed by tender power ballad. The formula got old rather fast and then Nirvana came along and killed off what had become a mockery. But the same pattern followed. Nirvana hits big and every single Seattle grunge band was given a recording contract. Looking back, there were only about 4 good grunge bands, but that didn't stop the music companies from throwing all forms of shit at us to see what would stick. After grunge we got gansta rap. That has been driven into the ground until it has become a very homogenized corporate product.

The big companies just don't want to take chanced anymore. When you get the Wizard you'll be able to read the article about 300 and the problems the director had just getting funding to get the project off the ground. The movie made an assload of money, but the director says that it didn't make anything easier when he went back to the studio heads wanting to follow up with Watchmen. They wanted him to make 300 Part II. When they found out that he wanted to instead do another obscure superhero movie that would be rated R(a big no-no as kids can't go to see an R movie and hence won't buy the toys) the actuaries hemmed and hawwed even though 300 grossed more than $200 million domestically.

I would say that something has got to give, but with people today having so little patience and only wanting something new, not something good I fear that this cycle will continue. It crosses all forms of entertainment: from movies to television, cd's to radio, comic books to video games. It's all just franchises or part 3's or products that tie in with movies. Sad state of affairs.

I think things are cyclical and once the market grows tired of this cycle the industry will change - I hope - the big two comic companies ended the mega cross-overs for a few years and hopefully will again after 2008.

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