Saturday, April 13, 2024

Weekend Lounge ~ Cereal Adventure!

Welcome to the weekend! A pretty quick one today.

Back in the '90s, it felt like something new was coming out about every other day. Which, it was. People have described it as every day feeling like Christmas, which isn't entirely inaccurate, but a sign as to just how much was being put out at the time by the gatekeepers.

Today I wanted to highlight one such interesting project, which was released by the cereal brand Chex back in the mid-90s. This has always been a fascinating case.

Everyone alive today knows how popular DOOM was when it first released, pretty much singlehandedly reshaping the PC gaming scene in its image and truly kickstarting the FPS genre. One of the games that came in its wake, and one still looked back on as a favorite from that day, was the project called Chex Quest.

Essentially one of the first top tier DOOM mods before the scene really got well known, Chex Quest was an entire child friendly mission pack given out for free in cereal boxes. That's right, they gave out entire games as free bonuses back in the day. Not only that, but Chex Quest was actually really good. Such a thing is unthinkable today.

There was also a second episode released by Chex and, eventually, a third one was put out for free online to complete the entire adventure. To this day, Chex Quest is considered one of the defining FPS titles from its Golden Age. And it was given out for free by a cereal company.

Check out the video above for more information. If you're a genre fan and haven't given it a shot, now is your chance. It's also perfectly safe for kids, too. There isn't really anything violence to be found, despite the genre it takes place in.

Again, this was a much different era than the one we live in now. Something this is unthinkable today, especially when every company is so aggressive against their perceived outgroups, but Chex Quest is a pleasant memory to when things were a little different and when possibilities in the mainstream were a lot more open to things than they are today.

It truly was a different and long over era. Oh well, we'll just have to work even harder to make the next one even better.

That's all for this weekend, and I will see you next time.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Star Wanderers!

Time for an update! I know some of you have been waiting for this one since the teaser a little while back, and now I'm ready to share more.

Today I'd like to present the cover for Star Wanderers! The full reveal was put out on Cirsova's site here, but I wanted to talk a bit about it here. The art was done by one Anton Oxenuk, a prolific artist of the weird and the strange. He was obviously the perfect artist for Star Wanderers as you can clearly see for yourself! I specifically asked if we could enlist his services on this project and he thankfully agreed to contribute.

There is some info on the project to share as well. I know some have been curious on what exactly this project is about. Wonder no more! The description has been revealed, and now you will get a taste as to what Star Wanderers is all about!

Beware the Unknown!

The info:

"Detective Ronan Renfield is a Galactic Enforcer sworn to protect the innocent and bring evil-doers to justice to maintain order throughout the stars.

"The Agent is a nameless knight errant tasked with hunting the most brazenly wicked and blasphemous who threaten order and nature across the cosmos.

"Alone, they face strange and diabolical horrors on backwater worlds and the corrupt and dangerous criminals who threaten civilization.

"Together, they are the Star Wanderers!

This collection features eight thrilling tales of raygun adventure, swashbuckling sword fights, and cyberpunk mystery, including four never-before published adventures!"

As for what those eight stories are? They will be revealed when the campaign is fully revealed later this month. All the included tales were chosen for inclusion for a very good reason, one that will become very clear once the ending is reached. I've been working on this one for a good while for a very good reason!

Suffice to say, there are still a lot of surprises in Star Wanderers as this is a project I've been engaged in for a long time. I'm happy to finally be able to unveil it to you all, though we aren't quite done yet! This is just the start.

Who are these two mysterious protagonists and how do their separate journeys intersect with each other? What awaits out there in the Unknown? You'll just have to wait and see. There are some surprises still to come, both with the stories and the campaign ahead. So be sure to watch out! Cirsova and myself have got a few tricks up our sleeves.

And here is one.

Before I go, I'd like to reveal one more tidbit you might have missed during the recent reveal. This is a pretty big one!

That's right, there will be a special soundtrack created by Jacob Calta of 365 Infantry fame for Star Wanderers! He put his all into this one and I can't wait for you to hear it. Once again, more will be revealed when the campaign opens up later in April. We've got some fun stuff planned to celebrate this project.

As you can see, there has been quite a lot going on in the background getting this campaign together for you, the readers. We're almost ready to reveal it to you. It's just a little bit longer to go!

Beyond this, I'm also working on another project for release this year, but I will wait to reveal that for after the Star Wanderers campaign is complete and delivered. For now, just enjoy in the space madness! I guarantee you're going to have a blast with this one, just as I had with writing it. Just be sure that there is still more to come.

That's enough for this update, and I will see you next time!

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Weekend Lounge ~ Interface

Welcome to the weekend!

Not much this week to share, other than I wish the weather would settle down. It's been all over the place and very hard to do anything because of. It's a shame because after a winter that was far less intense than the last few I was hoping to get into the spring easier. But alas . . .

Anyway, this week I wanted to share a bizarre animated film shared with me called Interface. It's a throwback to the old cable TV and rental store days with both its animation style and aspect ratio. It feels like both an obscure lost VHS movie and a modern generation flick at the same time, which, if that's what you go for, might be up your alley.

I'm not sure how many people who visit Wasteland & Sky might be into this, but if you remember finding this obscure animated movies in the corner of your old rental shop where the grey carpet was a little stained and you could smell the rain leakage in the ceiling, this might jolt you back to a different time and place. Even if you weren't there, Interface has such a strange style that evokes both lost eras and uncertainty for the future that it's hard to not give it a recommendation. A story of missing self in a world that has both changed and not changed, has moved on yet remains stuck, it's a fascinating look into a present that doesn't exist but also does.

Again, if you don't like dry humor and slow pacing, or story that relies almost exclusively on visual and obscure dialogue to carry you along, Interface might not be for you. But I quite liked it, and that's why I'm sharing it with you today. This early spring time with uncertain weather is probably the best time to give it a viewing.

That's all for this week! As you know by now, I've got a project I'm putting together with Cirsova called Star Wanderers, and it's almost ready to unleash on the world. Until then, I'm still scrambling behind the scenes to keep up with myself. 2024 has been all over the place so far. Here's hoping it straightens out a bit as the year goes on.

Have a good weekend, and I will see you next time!

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Star Wanderers?

You might have caught this project recently announced by Cirsova with my name attached. Perhaps you have an inkling of what this might mean, perhaps not. Either way, it will be fully unveiled very soon, so be sure to sign up early to be notified first!

I have a few things I would like to share with you about it, but I'd rather wait for the project to be fully revealed before we get started on that, so I will refrain from posting about it for now.

Until then, sign up for the Star Wanderers crowdfunding campaign here! With Cirsova and myself, you know you'll be getting something truly out there.

And that's all I'll say for now.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Generation Y and The Kid Who Reads

It's been a decade so far, and we're not even halfway through it.

I wanted to go a bit more in depth in today's post, especially considering we are entering the Easter season. With this one, we're going to go into a recent phenomenon we've been consistently brushing with on Wasteland & Sky quite a bit this year. While we've talked about the lost decade that was the 2010s, and what happened to the people that started that decade so full of promise before detonating, we haven't talked about the sort of person they grew up as. Who were the kids that turned into the medicine-addled tradition hating mess that now struggle with suicide and consistent feelings of despair in Current Year? Who were they back in the 20th century?

They were once considered "The Kid Who Reads." A stereotype that no longer exists, they are also a relic of a failed period of western education that included anti-bullying legislations, participation trophies, and "self-esteem" egoism. But when all that ended up being built on sand, when it all crumbled down, what became of this cohort?

That would be the subject of today's post.

Again, this topic edges out of the scope of the blog a bit, but I wanted to dwell on this because it goes a long way to describing what exactly has happened since the heyday of Generation Y back in the 1990s, and how they ended up where they are today, lost and broken with no bearings or ambition for the future. We then can posit where they will be heading next in this, the decade of their mid-life. Hopefully, where they are going will not be where their unthinking momentum will take them, and where it lead so many to detonation over the course of the 2010s.

What I wish to figure out is if there is a way to put a finger on the problem and finally attack it head on, because time is running out on the illusions an entire generation has built up for themselves. The '20s is a decade of change, of old things finally falling away, which means it is time to finally accept the changes of the last three decades were destructive and must be reassessed before anything is done. This is the last chance to finally address these deeper issues that have been ignored for far too long by a generation that wants to ignore itself into extinction.

I linked the above podcast episode by The Distributist, Dave Greene, because I honestly think it is a very good summation of a very real problem we're dealing with right now. The first ten minutes or so might be lost in context if you don't keep up with online discourse, but once the proper presentation begins, it is gold from start to finish. Watch, or listen, to the episode to get a good read on the situation that lead to the creation of The Kid Who Reads, what he twisted into as he aged, how he fell apart with time, and the important crossroads he stands at today. I highly recommend setting time aside and watching (or listening) to the above episode, because it is quite enlightening on the state of an entire cohort of people.

For those confused on Generational Theory, because it's all over the place these days, it should be specified that Greene's definition of "Millennial" crosses over with our own Gen Y and the typically obscured term "Younger Gen X/Older Millennial" or "Geriatric Millennial" or "Xennial" all of which awkwardly appears in most discourse of this nature. Essentially, this is what became of the "Nintendo" Generation, the one that came after the "Mall" Generation.

We are mainly dealing with those born in the Gen Y cohort

Generation theory works in a sort of gradient scale where they bleed into each other, starting from one end before slowly making it's way forward. It's not hard science, it can't be, but is a way of understanding where the wider culture is sitting a specific time and place. Generation Y, therefore, are the younger brothers of Gen X, advertised to and treated like, the younger brothers of said older cohort, who grew up before "Millennials" were created as a marketing term, and before they were created as base after Generation Y had already hit their twenties.

They are also the primary demographic of "The Kid Who Reads" that Greene discusses above. So that is where we will begin.

A summation of The Kid Who Reads is of a child who wasn't taught to think so much as told how to parrot back buzzwords and correct terms in order to be affirmed as a Decent Person. Back in the late '80s and into the 1990s, the way to raise your kid was to assume they needed to be programmed right, and once that programming was set in, natural Progress and History would guide them to Eden on Earth eventually. All you had to do was follow the script, and Baby Boomers hammered that in anywhere they could. Education was made to repeat mantras and slogans, repeat them back for grades as if they were dog treats, and do so from birth to death. A generation of show dogs crafted by a generation that had Figured It All Out. Do what your teachers tell you, get any degree (you don't want to flip burgers into adulthood otherwise, do you?), and you will always get what you work for.

Of course, this didn't turn it to be correct, and reality soon collapsed in as early as 9/11. Essentially, an entire generation was raised wrong and learned it at the same moment, and most of the divide from some generation comes in how they reacted to and learned from understanding they were lied to. A large chunk of it, unfortunately, doubled down and fell to their own egos. What you are left with is a broken person, struggling against their brain and body in order to do the will of their masters. It is no wonder pills and therapy are in high demand these days.

Because The Kid Who Reads doesn't actually read because of the love of knowledge or creation, their ability to grow and understand was stunted. They were taught to read the right books and get the correct worldview carved out in them like some dodgy, random form of scripture Baby Boomers decided was True. For fictional examples, you can find them in the above video in the likes of Lisa Simpson and Daria--girls who do what they're told and are given the impression they are smart because they check the right boxes so the right people call them smart, but when it comes down to it are ultimately vapid and empty people with no reason or rationality for anything they do. They want to be seen as smart, actually being smart is a second place to them. and according to their Baby Boomer parentsmasters, as long as you follow their script, you are smart!

You can see examples of this everywhere, especially in the online world and especially in regards to politics, where the virtue signalers will repeat vapid party lines and billion dollar slogans like kindergartners saying what the teacher wants so they get an extra cookie at lunchtime. They aren't seeking Truth, they aren't seeking knowledge, and they aren't seeking understanding. The only thing they want is to prove they are Right, because that is all that matters. And those that aren't Right? Clearly they are defective and of lesser quality. They didn't follow the script that makes them smart. It is really that silly.

A good example of what The Kid Who Reads morphed into as young adults was a very prevalent cliché back in the late '00s. You might even recognize them in some of your friends from that time period. They were Nu Atheists (from here on referred to as "fedoras") and they were insufferable. They acted just like the above stereotype. Follow the script, repeat the right lines, and follow who your masters tell you to, and you are now Smart and one of the Good Guys. It isn't about any sort of truth, it is about being seen as above the riff-raff. And following the script is what gives you personality and purpose. That's what it was like for this crowd back then.

Though fedoras all but gone now, the outdated remnants feeling like hippies at a roller disco, this was the first place they first truly cropped up in the wider culture outside of the education system. This was possibly because this was when they first began leaving school.

If you're too young to know where this cohort came from or where they ended up, I recommend the below video. For a summary, post-9/11 western cultural nihilism lead a bunch of anti-traditionalists to go on a crusade to save humanity with their big fat brains. Embarrassment ensued, because Gen Y is very good at embarrassing themselves.

Now, the point of bringing this up isn't specifically about the atheism fad, it's more about the mentality these people put forth, thinking that repeating things they never bothered looking into on a deeper level or only repeating sources that backed up their narrow view of life, made them smart and therefore superior beings. Because that is what they were told life was about.

The Kid Who Reads was going to change the world. That is, after all, what they were raised to believe.

Until reality reasserted itself.

As we've seen, fedoras are all but gone now. Did The Kid Who Reads truly just give up without a fight, or are they still out there today? As mentioned earlier, they most likely turned into the Culture Warrior in the 2010s, either falling further into their ego or trying to find a way out of the trap they were lead into so long ago. Would they finally stop relating to others by flexing corporate slogans and IPs they put no thought into themselves beyond base level "Of COURSE smart people think A is good and B is bad!", or would they finally break from that mold crushing in on them?

How come doing what they were told wasn't enough to get them to achieve happiness? Why did doing the right thing not prevent them from getting laid off or getting a promotion? Maybe they were failures after all, not Smart in the first place? Or perhaps it was the world that was wrong? Either way, it's a ball of contradictions bouncing around inside their slowly fracturing minds. In other words, despite being called "free-thinkers" or "empaths" or whatever made up term they gave themselves, were slowly being eaten out from the inside.

And record suicide rates from the cohort in the 2010s show just that. It was not a good decade for them, all told. All of that capped off with the following decade sealing them away in exile as the pandemic began. Any ego left was either crushed out of them, or poisoned the cohort further into delusion. There isn't much or a road ahead except to finally abandon the NPC script an entire generation has leaned on for near four decades at this point.

So where does that leave The Kid Who Reads today in the 2020s?

I once opined that the worst thing the Baby Boomers did when their parents' generation died was that they regressed into themselves. They didn't become the elders the younger generations needed, they didn't take over for their parents, and instead escaped into themselves, doubling down on vice, greed, and juvenility. As a result, we've been living in a world run by children for decades now, and it doesn't feel like that will change for a while yet.

However, the younger generations can't afford to let this be the standard. We can't continue to allow infrastructure to die, neighborhoods to crumble, and standards to decay to near apocalyptic levels. And unfortunately, I don't see the younger generations who have no examples on what a room of adults is supposed to look like will have the example to fix it.

What is going to have to occur is the remainder of the older generations (quickly being narrowed down to Gen X and Y as the only ones with any semblance of living memory of better times and with the means to use said knowledge) are going to have to rise to the occasion instead. And that's going to involve making a lot of hard choices, including finally ejecting The Kid Who Reads as a viable path in life as they all already know deep down. It was wrong, and it was always wrong, regardless of how an entire cohort was tricked into believing its was real.

The Kid Who Reads is a dead end archetype that must be retired. It is time to finally grow into The Adult Who Is, and to finally become what the younger generations have been denied due to your former masters' failures. It is time for Gen Y to be who they can be.

The 2020s is the decade of change, we've stated that before, finally letting the remnants of the rot of the 20th century to finally fall away, and ready ourselves to move into something more. We're not going to need failed mutations clinging on since the turn of the century to continue to steer us forward. It is time to finally break that mold.

Again, this whole spiel might be a bit of the scope of the blog, but I do feel it is important to keep in mind in the context of everything on Wasteland & Sky. Times have changed quite a bit in the near decade since I started this blog, and they're not done changing yet.

Here's hoping that when it finally does, The Kid Who Reads will be sitting in the dustbin of history where it belongs. We're better than that, and we always have been. It's simply time to start acting like it.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Weekend Lounge ~ Early Anime Releases

Welcome to the weekend! Let us get to today's subject.

An sort of addendum to the recent post on Rooster Teeth and Akira Toriyama, I wanted to discuss the early days of DVD. The reason for this is because it is the first period of home releases where preservation itself was considered a selling point for the form. VHS and Beta were never sold to people as something you would own once and then never need again for the rest of your life. DVD, however, actually was.

For those who don't remember, or just aren't old enough, DVD, much like CD, was sold as one time one buy and it would last Forever as you would never need to do anything else. The late '90s and early '00s were very big on preservation as a selling point. And for the most part, it held true. If you were lucky enough to buy something back then, or buy it used now, there is a good chance your disc actually does function.

However, certain distributors and production companies did cheap out back then, which means there is a specific chunk of old media that actually hasn't been preserved at all. I wrote about that topic here. Today, I want to go in the other direction. What hasn't been preserved, not because of the quality of the actual discs, but due to the companies themselves simply not releasing the series properly to begin with. Believe it or not, there are still plenty of movies and TV series that have not had proper re-releases since their early days on standard definition TV or a cropped VHS release.

One perfect example of this is the anime that helped break the form overseas--Dragon Ball Z. Though it has had multiple releases over the decades ever since Funimation first released the clamshell Arrival VHS back in the '90s, there have been countless releases of the series. However, did you know that there has never been a complete version of Dragon Ball Z that wasn't a terrible mess that is close to unwatchable or incomplete in some way. Aside from one release in Japan (the now-rare Dragon Box releases), the entire series has never even had a presentable release before.

And it is just DBZ. The original Dragon Ball anime, GT, Super, and the movies, all have at least some form of watchable release that holds up. I can confirm my season releases of the original Dragon Ball anime on DVD have good presentation, multiple audio tracks, and still work after all these years. And it is also the only complete release of said series. The sequel series, Dragon Ball Z, however, has had multiple releases over the decades and ever single one has tremendous issues. Check out the above video to see what I mean.

All of this is to show that preservation isn't always a problem of faulty discs and shoddy production companies. Sometimes the source itself, or the one in charge of the license, simply refuses to release the product in question in a state that can be preserved in the first place. And what better way to show that than with what is possibly the most popular anime series ever released. Especially since due to the current state of streaming above all else, the likelihood of Dragon Ball Z now getting a proper home release at all is extremely low.

It's weird to think about for those of us who grew up with the Greatest Toys Ever. Preservation became a goal of a generation that released good things should be carried on, and demanded such from the companies that never thought twice about it. But now in the digital world, and over the last decade, we've started to fail in our original goal. Of course, not everything needs to be preserved, or will be, but one advantage Gen Y has is an eye for knowing what effected them and what has a chance of striking a chord with future generation. I'd like to think one of the most popular anime series of all time would be one of those, but who really knows at this point.

If we're failing at the one thing we're good at, then maybe Gen Y really does deserve its reputation as quitters. Personally, I'd prefer not proving the clichés right, but that's me.

That's it for this week, and I'll see you next time. Our subject next time will be quite a bit different than mere preservation problems.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

A Tale of Two Deaths

Sometimes when I see the current state of things and our reaction to how it's going I ask myself a question. How used to change are we, really?

When you are so used to stagnation, especially decades of it, it is hard to notice real change, especially when it's happening right under your nose. I've highlighted a bit of the change around here in recent times, but I think today's topic should really make it clear how things have shifted recently more than the latest events might lead you to think they have. Old institutions are failing like they are more than overdue to, but the new ones taking their places aren't from where you might expect them to come from. We're heading into uncharted waters and no one really seems to notice.

I think I can safely declare that Cultural Ground Zero is over, even if it hasn't been supplanted yet. There is just no room or momentum left from that old era. Whatever remained from that period of pure stagnation is currently on the way out, if not already gone.

Here is my declaration. By the end of the '20s, I posit everything that finally should have died off with Cultural Ground Zero decades ago will finally do so, and leave us with a more clear path forward into the uncertain future that is the 2030s. It's daunting to think about such a thing, but it's becoming more and more obvious everyday that this is what is awaiting us on the road ahead.

I know I said I wouldn't be able to write much this month due to many ongoing projects, one of which is very close to being revealed, and I'm standing by that. However, recent events have caused me to ruminate on a specific topic that has come up every now and then in recent times--the importance of artists themselves in the grand scheme of things. Much has gotten warped over the years since Cultural Ground Zero closed off the past and future to current modernist insanity, but few things have been as deliberately as the purpose for creation itself.

It's no secret that I am very much not in line with the current zeitgeist's obsession with brand over all else, and yet two recent passings in the wider culture have made me take pause and reconsider a bit about where we currently are. These deaths both mark the opposite ends of the modern spectrum of entertainment appreciation, and yet both are responsible for much influence that stems from the early days of Cultural Ground Zero entertainment that would follow their success. One of these, however, was a much bigger news story than the other. If you've kept up with recent trends then you probably know which one I am referring to.

The first of the two deaths to bring up is the unfortunate early passing of manga legend Akira Toriyama. For those unaware, and I would be very surprised if anyone younger than a Baby Boomer didn't know, Akira Toriyama was the creator of Dragon Ball, one of the most influential IPs of the past forty years. In many ways, it invented battle shonen, one of the keystones of the industry's success in the decades to come, inspiring future megahits like One Piece, Naruto, and My Hero Academia, among many others. DB is also heavily responsible for helping to crack the international market. Without Toriyama, none of this is possible.

It wasn't just Dragon Ball, his other megahit series, Dr. Slump was also hugely influential, including inspiring people such as Shigeru Miyamoto on the art motif and run animation in Super Mario Bros. 3, which is one of the highest selling and most influential video games of all time. The short works he made after finally penning the conclusion to Dragon Ball in the mid-1990s were also very popular, one of which, Sand Land, has both a video game and an animated adaption on the way shortly. Even if that was all he put out it would be enough to cement his fame.

However, on top of all that, Toriyama was involved in the video game world, being instrumental in the success of many projects over the decades, but particularly two incredibly influential franchises in Dragon Quest and Chrono Trigger, video games whose influence spread even outside of the medium to creators all over the world. If you're of a certain age, you've taken in at least some entertainment that has the influence of these two in it.

And if even all that was not enough, Toriyama's Dragon Ball anime franchise, though he was not involved in the actual production itself, was instrumental in allowing the medium of anime to explode internationally as well as develop many new animation tricks and techniques still used in the industry today. So he was actually highly important in influencing three different mediums throughout his entire career, and his influence definitely goes far beyond even that to the point that we will probably never really know where it ends. The writer of this very post you are currently reading was heavily influenced by Dragon Ball, as well.

If there is a Mount Rushmore specifically for manga creators, Akira Toriyama is definitely on it. One would have a very easy case for his inclusion.

It was only at the moment of his death that so many realized just how big of a mark this one man made on so many lives, and the tributes and celebrations of his life were just about inescapable online. If you're reading this and didn't know about the news I would be very surprised. It was everywhere, and just about everyone had something to say about it.

It was also nice to see the creator, not the production company or the IP, get the credit for his own incredible accomplishments. For once, finally, it felt like the Brand didn't take precedence over the creator. Which is, of course, the way it used to be.

The original manga ran in Shonen Jump from 1984-1995.

Just before this news broke, however, there was a different sort of news being spoken about in its place. A different sort of death, this time it was about a company that had been around for two decades--one of the most influential in the early days of the internet media explosion. For those who haven't yet heard, I'm referring to Rooster Teeth.

Running since about 2003 after being formed by a small group of friends, Rooster Teeth was emblematic of the old internet. It was one of the first "geek culture" groups focused on popular things of the time like video games, machinima, podcasts, and all that went around the "pop culture landscape" during that period. This was the era when we were beginning to make the concept of "Pop Culture" a shrine to ourselves. It was a different era, one that is very quickly wrapping up.

For some perspective on age, Rooster Teeth started in the early days of webcomics with the likes of Penny Arcade, 8-Bit Theater, CTRL+Alt+Delete, Bob & George, VG Cats, Captain SNES, and Megatokyo, and even predated G4's Attack of the Show rebranding era. That is how ancient RT was in the lifespan of the internet and the mutation of Geek Culture that came out of the post 9/11 landscape. You might even remember some of the creations spun out of the company, like Red Vs. Blue, RWBY, or Achievement Hunter, which is what they were most known for. It's been around a long, long time.

In fact, Rooster Teeth represents that bizarre moment of the Angry Video Game Nerd/Retro Junk era of pop cult between when entertainment was appreciated for being as good as it was at the time into being a lifestyle brand of its own to base your identity off of. That transformation would come very shortly, though. Rooster Teeth was there at the beginning of that change, and was instrumental in helping create it.

For younger people, you might not have any idea about this, but things were truly different in the pre-9/11 era. Entertainment was not treated the same way it has been ever since Geek Culture was tortured into existence in order to represent the good guys/consumers against the bad guys/normies who oppressed them via movie clichés invented by the likes of Revenge of the Nerds. The '00s was a whole different beast than what came before, and it is what led to the rampant consumerism as identity problem in the '10s that would make the 1980s blush with envy.

The '00s was the era where quips and references, tropes over art, and snark over sincerity solidified and consumed everything from commentary to the creation of entertainment itself. Essentially, it's the era where Geek Culture began in earnest, as referenced here. The '00s was where we appreciated the paint on the hood more than the engine underneath it, mistaking that sheen for the reason the car even runs at all. Rooster Teeth was one of the forerunners to this cultural shift, and stayed that way for decades, mutating with the times and the zeitgeist, showing both its highs and its lows. There are few companies that represent that entire time period better than they do.

So one might think that because of its longevity and obvious importance to the cultural landscape of how things are that it, much like Toriyama, would at least engender some sadness and reflection upon its passing, right? As stated above, Rooster Teeth was unarguably influential, they were popular, and it even created a few IPs people enjoyed a good deal. So surely the company would be celebrated with the news of its demise. If not on the same level as then maybe at least a fraction of what Toriyama received. Surely it would have something.

Well, no. That isn't what happened at all. In fact, just the opposite happened, a complete contrast to Akira Toriyama's unfortunate passing.

Most people were celebrating Rooster Teeth's overdue end, lamentations over lost jobs aside. The ones that weren't celebrating were more upset at what the company had become and were sad that it died instead of fixing course long ago. The news of Rooster Teeth's death was practically the opposite of Toriyama's with most people shrugging their shoulders or spitting on their grave, hoping they never rise from the ashes like so many dead relics like G4 had attempted to do in recent years. People, oddly enough, have no reverence to these "Geek Culture" institutions that were so influential on them, preferring them to stay dead and never to rise again.

This then leads to the main question of today: what in the world could account for this difference in attitudes between the two deaths? Again, besides the fact that one is a human being and the other is a company. We well know that the wider culture does not seem to distinguish a difference between the two anymore. The confused worship of the Space Battle brand shows that much in how whoever buys something owns its soul for eternity and can pump any product out it wants.

So, then, what is the real difference here?

The original Red Vs. Blue ran 100 shorts from 2003-2007.

There are many factors in why Rooster Teeth's and Toriyama's death are not treated the same (the life of a man and the life of a company being different notwithstanding), but the main reason for that would be the most obvious thing: Toriyama was in control of every single one of his creations until the day he died. He ran them all, made every decision, good or bad, with them, and was the one to decide if a project should even exist at all in the first place. He treated his own creations with care and respect to the people who enjoyed them.

In other words, he was from the generation where the creator mattered more than the creation. This was the time where the IP was just one tool and, once a series ended, that was it unless both the creator and audience both demanded otherwise. It is hard to say how, but Toriyama was very good about knowing when enough of something was enough, ending the original manga at what ended up being the perfect point in the long run. That isn't so common anymore.

In contrast, not a single one of Rooster Teeth's creations were ever continued on by the original creative team from beginning to end. Not a single one. On top of that, every single one decayed and fell apart as they went on, inevitably chasing the audience away. This is because the creator did not matter to them as much as the creation did. This example is one of the most common in the Cultural Ground Zero era of Brand Worship. You would buy product because of the packaging, not for what is contained in said packaging.

Over the years, as the company grew, the group changed from a bunch of frat boy late Gen Xers and early Ys making edgy internet content of the time, into a full-on company staffed by safe peddlers of corporate pap. That mean as they grew and got more corporate, friendships were broken and strained, relationships were thrown under the bus, and people were allegedly ripped off right, left, and center. The Rooster Teeth left over two decades from its beginning was a shell of what it started as, and the people there from the beginning were no longer those same passionate young guys hungry for success. It was just another corporate job. Everything was done to keep the gravy train going, not to create or sustain anything.

Of course, we all grow and change as we get older, but when your very lifeblood is staked on building upon the audience you have cultivated and the creations you all built together, it is paramount that you never forget who you were and build on that person. And, unfortunately, they didn't. It doesn't matter what property of theirs you liked, you were almost certainly chased away by how they conducted themselves as they got older and decided what really mattered to them. Their fall is like a crash course study on how not to grow.

And I haven't even talked about Gen:Lock! (And I won't because you can learn all about that disaster in the link.)

One should also mention that all of this also goes for easily their most popular IP, RWBY, created by the late Monty Oum. For those unaware, Monty Oum was a Gen Y kid, first coming to prominence with early online video game fight videos in the early '00s like Haloid, a mashup of Halo and Metroid, as well as Dead Fantasy, a combination of Dead or Alive and Final Fantasy. Though such a thing is common today, it certainly was not back when he was first doing it. He was hired to work on Red Vs. Blue for Rooster Teeth before getting the chance to make an original series of his own, which ended up being the surprisingly popular RWBY.

Contrary to what some might tell you now, RWBY was never meant to be anything mind-blowing or original. Much like RvB existed for goofy Looney tunes-like comedy shorts, RWBY was supposed to be a showcase for cool fight scenes, much like Oum's earlier work was, and that's what it was for the first couple of seasons. That is until he died via extreme allergic reaction in 2015. A sad early end to a creator that had a style all of his own.

And this is where the series went off the rails.

No, it didn't end. It was too popular to do that. Corporate decided to push on without him. And it was a disaster.

To be clear, Rooster Teeth did help Oum make RWBY, but the series was really his creation. It was a creator-driven project, not a corporate one. Once he died, so did it. There was nothing more to be said. The series was his idea, it was his creation, and it was his passion put behind it to make it stand out from what was being made online at the time. The company in the one who turned it into the punchline it has been for ages now.

So what happened? Well, instead of respecting the creator and wrapping up his creation with his death, Rooster Teeth decided the IP could still make money. What they then did was grab a bunch of random writers and threw things at the wall, none of which stuck, in order to keep the gravy train going, because that is the sort of company they now were. The result? Well, if you know RWBY for anything beyond Oum's early work it is almost certainly for the memes insulting how bad it has gotten. That should tell you everything about how well his property was respected after his death.

Instead of a Toriyama-like appreciation for Oum and what he did for them, his creation was warped beyond recognition by the company looking to pander and milk anything to get a few extra bucks out of the popular property and the consumers attached to the Brand image. And, of course, because this was the era of Cultural Ground Zero, a hyper-specific and quickly dwindling slice of the viewers didn't care. The chipping paint was enough to keep them on the company's side. The creators no longer mattered to fanatics, it was the IP that mattered to the Geek Culture generation weened on corporate creations first and foremost. Nothing can ever end, it must always be pumped for more money to be consumed forever--no one person matters or should get in the way of that.

And, it should be restated here, every other property Rooster Teeth had control of over the years more or less went through this very thing, even if the creator didn't die like Oum unfortunately had. Most of them were chased out regardless, and a large chunk of the consoomers the company courted didn't care. They just wanted the product, not the creation.

This is the sort of comment that can only be made when a faceless corporate entity matters more than people:

No, the above statement is wrong. A company is not bigger than any person's life or their creations that allow it to live in the first place. Every person who works there is more important than the company. The company exists to serve the person's life so that they can create and put said creation out there to as many people as possible. It does not exist to wipe the creator from the process. People are bigger than a company can ever be, because they make it what it is.

This is the legacy of early 2000s Geek Culture and why we are where we are today. So it seems a bit strange to me that despite all this madness and backwards thinking that when both a person and an entity dies that we suddenly remember which one is more important than the other. It is Toriyama that got all the tributes. Rooster Teeth only got memes thrown their way.

Perhaps this all exists as a reminder to appreciate the time you have left and the people you have with you along the way, because you never quite know what'll happen or where you will end up. We have other people in our lives to both be helped and to help us. Just remember to never forget that which made you what you are. Otherwise, not only will you will lose it all--but so too will everyone lose you. At least leave behind the best of you, not the worst.

What else can we hope to leave behind than that?

As I said, this post was just meant to be a shorter one ruminating on recent events. It grew quite a bit from that because it looks like there is more going on here than I originally thought. The 2020s have been a decade of change so far, with many holdover elements from Cultural Ground Zero finally falling to the wayside and ending. I'm not sure you could have predicted any of this happening even a few years ago, and yet here we are.

The 2000s were the nadir of culture, a time of moral vapidity and self-destruction, and the 2010s were a holding pattern of that very time period, with interior change sprinkled about in the few final years. It's only now after a worldwide pandemic has simultaneously shaken so many people's trust, had them face their own mortality, and allowed them to push forward into new arenas that you are starting to see real replacements for those old dinosaur institutions and modern failings we've had to deal with for far too long. As has been said, things do not stay the same forever. By the time we get there, the 2030s will be something to behold.

You're here to pass the baton on to whoever comes after you. Make sure that baton is something you can really be proud to hand off.

Hopefully, this time we won't fumble the toss.

Saturday, March 16, 2024

Weekend Lounge ~ Preservation Problems

Welcome to the weekend!

Short one today, and it's mainly a warning for all you collectors out there. The above video centers on a problem in regards to preservation. We're dealing with a very real problem these days known as disc rot, and it's more common than you might think.

Much like in the CD world, there are specific eras and companies which cheaped out on manufacturing which led to whole runs of discs simply not being able to withstand the passage of time. So if you've been collecting since the format started, or maybe you got your start with old used discs, it would be very smart to check them and see if they are holding up.

This disc rot issue also heavily hit a particular distributor in a specific era. If you have any DVDs made by Warner Bros. between the years of 2006 and 2009, I would suggest checking your discs ASAP and ripping them for yourself as soon as possible, because they are at the most risk for rot.

The above video talks about the issue in detail, but the point is that a lot of what we were sold on in regards to preservation wasn't true. So if you are a collector, you need to be aware of the fact that what your were sold as "collector" items may in fact be nothing of the sort.

Retroblasting also sources another channel as to where he was first alerted to the issue, which is linked here:

Said channel also compiled a google doc of discs with known issues, so check them out here.

Just remember that no matter what happens, keeping the past alive is important. Keep yourself up to date on how things you were told might not always be so. A lot of the people and institutions we were told to trust back in the day simply weren't quite as trustworthy or competent as we thought. So it's up to us to make sure to keep the flame alive.

Back around the time streaming first took off, for instance, many physical collectors and online services simply gave up the ghost thinking that streaming meant everything would be preserved forever. However, as a result things that were easy to find as recent as the mid-2010s have now nearly fallen to obscurity, and streaming programs are quickly becoming some of the most common forms of lost media. In other words, we're going to have to do it ourselves.

I've said before that despite my generation's faults, the one thing we are very capable of, and most suited to, doing is preserving things that which everyone else has taken for granted over the decades. For whatever reason, in an age where preservation should be more possible and easier than ever, the opposite is occurring, and we need to get on that.

Keep an eye on the things you were given, the reminders of a past that might otherwise be lost, and keep them safe. Who knows how important they might be in the future? There is no way to know now, but that could very easily change.

That's all for this week, and I will see you next time!