Thursday, April 29, 2021

If I Could Walk 500 Miles . . .

Sometimes it's hard to believe how much time has passed until you look for yourself. The 20th century is long over, and we are fully into the 21st now, even if it might not feel like it yet.

Today's post is going to be a bit different from the usual one, mainly because it is a bit of a celebration! Today marks the 500th post here at the Wasteland, of which has been running for near 7 (!) years, as of this writing. We are old enough to be sent to detention for forgetting to do our homework. Though, let's be honest, they never would have let us in the front door to begin with.

It is difficult to imagine that I have maintained a blog for so long, because I'm not even really sure why I started it at the time I did. It was almost a whim. Perhaps it was due to writing so much at the time and wanting to do something new, but I can't be sure. Nonetheless, I had always been more of the pessimistic and unoptimistic sort so I'm certain I never expected it to go on this long. Nor did I expect my number of views and readers to rapidly increase as they have as the years have gone on. Output has increased, both here and behind the scenes, but that doesn't guarantee much success, in the grand scheme of things. Writers have to write, and that's what I do.

What does matter is that I wanted to create this site as a place where I could gather my thoughts and flesh them out while connecting with people. Just that alone has been worth this entire endeavor, especially since I never imagined it turning out a quarter as well as it has. I look forward to any discussion or reaction that results from what gets put up here.

To this end, I wanted to go over my Top Ten most popular posts in the history of this blog. It would go a long way to discover just what connected with people the most, and just what they are interested in talking about.

This isn't even a planned post, just one spurned on a whim while looking for statistics I tend to completely forget about most of the time. But I figure the best way to learn what connects us the most is to see what the most popular posts have been over the years. It will allow us to know just what was the most resonant among readers and allow me to stay on track delivering what people want to see and talk about.

Without further ado, let us begin with the #1 most popular post on Wasteland & Sky. I honestly don't think this one will be too surprising to anyone who has frequented here for any length of time.

I do not

#1: The End of Pop Culture

I think this one still being my #1 most popular post of all-time is a good thing, since it is the springboard from a lot of what I write. Many people were more or less realizing how dead pop culture was and it led to a bunch of prophetic posts from many writers. This one was from 2017, the 20th anniversary of Cultural Ground Zero and around the third year anniversary of this blog. I think it's fairly obvious why this is far and away the #1 entry (nothing else even comes close) and that is because it touched on something we all already knew, but no one wanted to say. That being that pop culture was, and is, over.

From this point I just wanted to understand just how much was gone, and how we ended up where we were. It wouldn't be until later when we learned just how dead it had been for quite some time. For now, it was enough to know that the mainstream was completely out of gas.

One of the tipping points was the then-building backlash to the Ready Player One movie (which has already been forgotten, proving the point) in how instead of creating culture, we can only regurgitate it back at each other. This vapidity is the only shared culture remaining in the west. It was a growing problem back in 2017 among many different online circles, and one that would get worse in the next few years. But 2017 was the period where everyone was seeing the cracks.

The only question was if anyone would do anything about it. Looking back nearly four years later, the grifters and the creators both carved out their own niche to deal with the problem. Unfortunately, one still gets far more attention than the other does, though there is little to be done about that. A large and growing chunk of the audience wants to do more than mindlessly consume. They want to be able to connect.

As I put it in the post:

This has little to do with liking geeky things. It was never about that. A lot of men like geeky movies, comics, and games, but those things are not their whole world. They have families, responsibilities, friends, and hopes for the future. Their entire world is not crying into their pillow about how much they miss the 1980s and their long gone youth. While this book might have been relevant to the zeitgeist when it came out, a lot has changed since 2011 and mindless wallowing in pop culture references have finally started to lose their luster.

People don't want to hide in their man-caves and be talked down to anymore, and constantly reassured that their childhood is where they should stay. It was a nice, comfortable place to be.

But childhood is over. Star Wars movies ended in 1983. Chris Claremont doesn't write X-Men anymore. Kurt Cobain is dead, and so is radio rock. Dr. Who has been treading water creatively since its reboot. These properties have had their stories and songs written and told. They are done. Now it is time for new franchises and new stories and for the baggage to be left behind. It's time to stop pining for a childhood that is over.

Which brings us to the bigger point. What comes next?

For an example of this death, can you take a guess at what the ratings were for the Oscars in 2014, the year this blog started? It was 43.7 million.

Do you know what it was this year, in 2021? 9.8 million.

Yes, in less than a decade the Oscars have dropped over 3/4 of its ratings. No one cares about these things anymore. Pop culture is dead, and now we can move on to better things than the rotting carcass of pre-Cultural Ground Zero material.

Speaking of which . . .

#2: Cultural Ground Zero

From late last year, this post reached second place in record time. It is a bit of a follow-on to the previous post, being that it is about the cause as to what killed pop culture to begin with. I decided to look into the period where western culture flatlined, and what I found was the longest post on this blog, without question.

This has been a topic several writers, including Brian Niemeier and David V. Stewart, have been talking about a good deal over the past year or so. It is the theory that the moment Culture ended, when everything froze and metastasized into what it is now was due to a perfect storm of events across the late '90s, centering on 1997. So I decided to look into it myself.

This post was an attempt to show you a full catalogue (well, as full as possible) of this time from world events to pop culture to politics, of the things that actually changed during that 1996-1998 period--things that lead to where we are now. And there was much to go over, including a lot of surprising events I wasn't even aware of. The defining even of the '00s, 9/11, even had its roots here. It's difficult to believe just how inescapable it all is.

Of course we still have many who doubt this theory, but few can argue, outside of nostalgia anyway, that the changes that happened in these years could be considered "good" things. For anyone who can put two and two together they can see it very much didn't.

For a case as to why western culture is trapped in an endless cycle of pre-1997 nostalgia, I think you can gleam it from the post.

As I marked:

You could find millions of articles proclaiming why culture is dead written by progressives, conservatives, paranoiacs, normies, pop cultists, and everyone and everything on the fringes and in-between, but the one thing that unites them all is that they are always declaring one era or another is The Defining Point--the moment where Things Went Wrong. Whether it's the wavy gravy '60s or the materialist typhoon of the '80s, everyone has an opinion on what to go back to, and what to demonize. You could spend hours discussing such things. It causes passionate stirrings in many.

However, little is talked about the era where no one wants to go back to, regardless of background or beliefs. For even people who love the decade, few will ever acknowledge the late '90s as anything but an abysmal, embarrassing, and creatively stagnant time with little to offer. But even fewer acknowledge that these same loathed years have defined the 21st century as a whole, so far. Everything you hate, everything you can't get away from, and everything that refuses to go away--all of it metastasized in the late '90s.

Ironically, the period that few like has ended up being the one to define the current state that no one likes. It's odd, and that can't be avoided.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not saying the source of all of evil is in the late '90s. You would have to go back centuries, even millennia, for that. What I am saying is that the root of most modern day ills could easily be remedied by admitting that we have not culturally moved on from the late '90s, and finally decoupling ourselves from that burning car. It's a problem that stems from a lack of reflection.

The reason that you are swimming in nostalgic movements from other time periods is because you are dealing with a culture that is dying to move on from being as stagnant and stuck as it is. So they've instead chosen better times to fashion their culture around. In other words, the modern world is waiting to move on.

Yes, I do see a relation between the two most popular posts. It appears a lot of others are also interested in What Went Wrong, and it remains a solid topic for exploration.

The fact of the matter is that the old system, from OldPub to Hollywood, is spent. Without a shared culture to link us together, and with a large entertainment complex that is as out of touch as they are clueless, naturally people want something better.

We're going to give them better.

I still hope, more than any other post, that this one gets outdated sooner than later. Living endlessly in the year 1997 is not my ideal existence, since I hated it even at the time. We all need to finally be free of that dead weight.

But one post I am glad was as popular as it was came in at #3 on the list.

It is one topic I didn't see anyone talking about until I compiled the post back in 2019. If you are speaking of utter destruction of art and entertainment through total incompetence and mindless hate, then you can't do worse than this . . .

#3: Saturday Morning Sundown

Saturday morning cartoons have been dead since the early '00s after being completely gutted throughout the 1990s. This despite being around for nearly half a century, at the time. What happened, and why was no one talking about it? That was the question no one was asking. There has still yet to be any book written on the subject, despite endless nostalgia concerning the topic. For something so prevalent in millions of people's lives it is a wonder that no one is curious at just what happened to end it all.

Back in 2019, I cobbled together this post based on scraps of knowledge I had accumulated over the years as to why the practice was killed. I even did additional research. It wasn't that difficult, which made it double weird that no one else had ever done it. What I found was something similar to what is occurring this very second in just about every entertainment space today. And nobody appeared to notice it.

In fact, many were peddling revisionism they swallowed without question, just as those who went against the PMRC back in the '90s now obediently roll over for treats for their new masters today. It's amazing just how easily these rebel types were tricked into supporting the people who destroyed their own industry. You have heard many stories as to what destroyed Saturday Morning Cartoons, but you never hear about who spearheaded said destruction. I'm still not quite certain of the reason for it, but the answer lies in the post.

And you also never hear criticism of the individual responsible. No, in fact, the one who destroyed an industry was given a presidential medal of freedom in 1995 (as well as the "Women That Make a Difference Award" from the International Women's Forum) for not doing anything that benefited society in the slightest. To this day, you will hear talk about how "parents" groups were responsible for taking down this and that, when it was never the case. Every single industry, from cartoons to music to television, was attacked by government-backed groups run by those with ties to a political party and supported by the media and their lapdog journalists. They wanted to control what you watched as a kid, just as they are attempting to do to you right now.

The one who led the charge was Peggy Charren's ACT, a group that wanted sex on prime-time television but no violence in children programming. You can thank her interference for why no one in a post-60s cartoon is allowed to shoot guns, for instance. She claimed to be anti-cencorship, but it was her invalid rule that barred shows from airing and prevented certain subjects to ever be allowed to be portrayed. Wondering why North America never had its own Mobile Suit Gundam, original tokusatsu, or Pokemon-level phenomenon of its own? You can thank her made up rules that you had to follow.

But hey, you got Captain Planet telling you why you shouldn't be allowed to have more than one kid and how the government monitoring that is actually a very Good Thing. That sort of propagandist messaging was just fine. So there you go.

The reason cartoons became so anemic by the end of the 90s was because the industry was successfully crippled from all that interference. And by the end of the decade there was no more profit to be made on Saturday morning, all thanks to her interference.

This was after the 1980s was basically spent as a war-ground between Ronald Reagan and his chairman of the Federal Commission Mark Fowler against Charren's group because the former dictated that the marketplace should decide which children shows live or die and the latter decided the kids should be forced to watch only what was good for them. Of course she would be the one to decide what that entailed. She was the one arguing for good citizen propaganda while creators were still trying to put out what they wanted despite her interference. If you want to know why the '80s had so many adventure shows that previous decades didn't, this was the reason why. It was the closest they ever got to being able to make them the way they wanted due to audience demand being louder than ever. But it wasn't enough. Several shows were still successfully barred from air by ACT and many more were altered by her group's interference. So much for a group that prided itself on being anti-censorship and has been ignored by free speech champions to this day.

Peggy Charren won despite the people, the creators, and even the law at the time, being against her. She was shouted down and told she wasn't wanted. Subversives never admit defeat, they just sneak in through the back door. ACT succeeded in censoring Saturday morning cartoons entirely by government-mandated morality and the audience and advertisers left. Now they no longer exist.

And look at all those alternatives for kids around now.

What ended up killing Saturday morning cartoon blocks was nothing as obvious as changing trends or demographics, they did after all live for near half a century, but because of moral busybodies and self-proclaimed paragons of justice. You see, cartoons needed to "teach" children and instruct them in the proper ways to be a good citizen and worthwhile human being before becoming porn addicted and drug-addled adults getting drunk every night in the pleasure center. It never made sense, but then it was never meant to. The important part was that they won and you lost.

Peggy Charren, in my mind, is the shining example of everything wrong with the western entertainment industry of the 20th century. She is also one still celebrated today, even though that celebration is based on an utter lie about what she did.

She was a self-appointed moral crusader that irreparably harmed an entire industry. One that no one inside of needed and none of the customers wanted, but one that was able to influence a whole industry regardless.

And her spirit still lives on today. Just look at what all the children's networks are advocating now: educational propaganda with a total lack of self-awareness, subtlety, and tact, that would make Captain Planet blush. It's entirely vapid and robotic, meant to propagandize, not communicate with an audience. This is the industry she built, which is why it's on the way out.

So far I can understand why these above posts were so popular. One that I can't quite understand was the next one on the list.

#4: Welcome to 2019!

I wish I could tell you why this ranked so high, but I really have no idea. It's mainly a sum up on what I was doing at the time, which was a lot of writing on projects that are all out (or will be, shortly) and a sort of update on where we have been since 2008 and its comparable 1998 and 1988. In essence, it might be a dry run for the stuff still to come later on.

As for 2019? It was a tough year personally, though better than 2018, and one I worked through and started to get back on track during 2020. Despite the latter's . . . obvious setbacks as a year, I did manage to wring more out of it. 2021 is still a mystery right now, but I'm hoping it will continue the upward trend again.

But the bigger thing to take away is that the '10s are finally over and in the rearview. We have a whole new decade we are wading in now, and we can push it even further to the limit than we could before. With the rise of NewPub and alternate channels for video games, comics, movies, etc., the art world's future is looking bright.

However, speaking of entries I don't understand being on this list:

#5:  "I'll Follow You to the Depths of Hell"~ Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba 3 Volume Review

For those who wonder, the main reason I stopped doing reviews on the blog is that the audience just wasn't interested in them. So instead I began folding such things into other posts. This post was actually no different when I wrote it in 2019. There wasn't much traction, at first. When it was posted it was about as popular as every other review at the Wasteland. That is to say, not at all. I actually think the reception for this post is what hastened my decision to stop writing them.

But then the anime blew up, and became the biggest of the decade so far, pretty much out of nowhere. The underrated and overlooked series i was throwing my support behind became a phenomenon overnight. It just recently had a movie that is one of the highest grossing of all time in Japan, and has a second season on the way soon.

Gotta say, I didn't quite see it being that popular when I wrote the above review. I really just thought it would be a great cult favorite that would fly under the radar like Psyren or No Guns Life. The volumes I covered in the above post show the exact moment the series went from solid to great, and I wanted to show that as best as I could.

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, views for this post took off. I can understand that much: Demon Slayer is a great series with a fantastic art style and jagged and rough battle scenes (my favorite kind) that doesn't attempt to reinvent the wheel but show you how rock solid the foundation is. And considering we have been starved for straightforward hotblooded Good Vs. Evil stories not soaked in grey mush, it makes perfect sense that it would take off like it did. It was a series that came around at the exact right time, and had the success it naturally deserved.

As for my current thoughts on the series? It's still great. Koyoharu Gotouge successfully ramped up the action and the intensity by avoiding the power creep problem in shonen. It happened by appealing to the limits of both humanity and depravity, of the human heart and both its boundless potential for love and hate. What makes a demon, and what can save them? Some complain it ended too soon or that the battles were hard to follow or that it was overall predictable, to which I disagree with just about all said complaints. This was exactly the sort of ending the series needed to have thematically to wrap everything up, and the final battle was suitably epic in scope leading to an ending that was well earned. It's going to be remembered for years because it delivered exactly what was needed at the time it came out, and because it did what it desired to do as best as it could.

Now, I'm just eager to see what she will be working on next.

Speaking of comic books:

#6: The Death and Return of Comic Books

This was another post that blew up out of nowhere. It's quite outdated looking back on it now, since we still had yet to know just how bad the rot in the comic industry really was. Being run by middle-aged childless urbanite consoomer hipsters, it would only get worse from 2017.

A comparison that has aged really well is the one of modern comics to the manga series My Hero Academia. MHA has only gotten better over the years, recently pulling off one of its biggest arcs so far. Next year's anime season will be huge, as a consequence. With a third movie out this year and a successful fifth season currently on the air, the series is still going strong. At the same time: as MHA has only gotten bigger, the Big Two's sales have only plummeted further into the crater and somehow manage to still get worse.

But while the manga is still trucking on, as popular as it is, it is also eventually going to end.

It really is about the Death of Superman. I’m not going to get into manga spoilers, but much of My Hero Academia is about Izuku “Deku” Midoriya learning from All Might how to be a hero in more ways than just strength. But the way All Might’s powers work is that they transfer to a new host and the old one eventually loses all their abilities as a cost. All Might is Superman passing on to a new generation. The series is essentially about how a world of heroes deals with change.

This is something the Death of Superman storyline flirted with, but chickened out with at the final moment. This also had the unfortunate consequence of killing comic book storytelling flat for superheroes. We’re around a quarter of a century removed from that storyline and the comic book world has still never managed to move past it or top it. It’s stunted.

My Hero Academia is itself about a world of heroes that is in the process of an event that could very well affect the very fate of everyone on the planet. This is something a Marvel or DC series could never do in their main books for very obvious reasons.

Recently, Kohei Horikoshi has let it be known that the manga is entering its final part. For those unaware, there have been other distinct parts to the manga so far. The beginning of the series over the first eleven volumes, the transitional period dealing with the rise of villains covering the next twenty volumes, and now the current one which just started. How long it's going to be is unknown, though it'll be a while until we reach the conclusion. Nonetheless, it will be ending.

In the above post I posit that this is why both MHA and manga as a whole succeeds where the western comic book industry fails. It tells complete stories where things matter and will never be retconned or reversed. Western comic creators lost customers' trust on this aspect back in the '80s and '90s when the industry almost (and should have) went bankrupt, and they have never tried to regain it. Instead they repeat the same mistakes to ever-dwindling audiences.

We all know this now, but unless the industry turns it around it is destined for the scrapheap. This is how a cadre of independent creators have managed to come in and stir things up by crowdfunding whole new projects the old industry never would have bothered with. It is because the big boys are on the way out.

And they are on the way out because of the next entry's subject:

#7: The Great Rock n' Roll Swindle

This post was about poseurs, though a follow on to an earlier one where I attempted to bring back this deliberately buried term. It's really about control freak egoists who take control of something they "love" and then remake it in their own image.

I used the example of rock n' roll, and managed to piss off every rock cultist around by insinuating (correctly) that rock music is for kids. It's a deliberately juvenile form of music meant for partying and fun, the opposite of blues' focus on the downside of life. This is an outgrowth of rock's home-down, celebratory country music beginnings, which transitioned into rockabilly in the mid-'50s then into pop by the '60s.

It is and was always meant for a younger audience, and it is meant to be fun first.

And this is not a bad thing.

But it was a bad thing for the people who grew up and didn't want to be seen as childish by liking the sort of things they did as kids, so they warped their chosen medium in their image in an attempt to make seem "mature" to groups of people who couldn't care less. How did they do it? They used the deaths of Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, the Big Bopper, and other oddly similar passings like Eddie Cochran, to change the game.

Now rock was for grown-ups instead of dumb kids!

Back in the 1950s, poseurs saw a genre they could co-opt for their own ends, and they did. It took time, but they pushed their way in based on the clueless knowledge of the art from their parent's generation and the uncaring shrugs of politicians of their own. They took culture while everyone else was arguing over policies and the like. They twisted Rock music into a sad mockery of what it began as, before putting the bullet in it themselves and abandoning the genre for rap, bubblegum, and whatever electronic scene is big this week. Now Rock is dead, and in the process of being forgotten.

This all came from abandoning the music's core ambition, and its original goal of entertaining first.

Here is something that wasn't a controversial statement in the 1950s, but is now. Poseurs worked hard to subvert this truism. It is controversial, despite being factual on a level that everyone knows but won't ever say.

So here it goes.

Rock music is for kids.

Teenagers, specifically. It's juvenile at its core, and was always meant to be such as a counterpoint to the more serious Blues. There's nothing wrong with that, but self-conscious adults never wanted to admit they enjoyed silly, corny music. This is why to this day most Baby Boomers still sneer over music made before the four mop tops and are convinced their childish, overproduced self-important three chord songs are better than the previous decade's childish, under-produced goofy three chord songs. A juvenile reaction for lovers of a juvenile genre.

There was a period where rock was meant to be fun, and not up its own rear. The poseurs made sure to bury that era and throw a tarp over it. But that was a long time ago now, and the roots have since been purged from serious discussion over the form.

This is what rock was built on

I then went on to use several examples from Rolling Stone, the punchline of "Rock" magazines which nonetheless still influenced the industry for decades to come. All you have to do is look at a site like Pitchfork to see how inane their influence was on elitists who turn their noses up at material that doesn't pass their hilariously stunted sniff test. All this over actual kid music.

Well, they did it. They worked their magic. Now rock is dead, and it's not coming back.

Yes, it is dead. If you are still optimistic over the future of rock music returning to prominence then I have a bridge to sell you. Rock is not "sleeping" or "in hibernation" so drop the cope. It's finsihed and over. You will never be able to form a rock band and make a living from it again. That industry no longer exists. Thems the breaks.

But at least you got your mature music! Listen to it alone in your basement as the rest of the world moves on. At least no one will call you a stunted child for it.

There is a bit of continuity in this top 10, because the next entry is about another industry hijacked by those who hate juvenile stylings and need to be seen as mature.

#8: Fandom: An Illustrative History (Part I: Origins and Tales From the Crypt)

I have to admit I was expecting this to be a little higher, but the entire series as whole preformed very well as a whole. However, only the first entry made the top 10.

Finding this old wide tome in the used book store back in 2018 sure led to a lot of thinking on my part, leading to this post from early 2019 that went on to be rather popular. Those in PulpRev circles had been discussing just what had happened to the field for a while by that point. After discovering the deliberately buried pulps and learning just how good they were, many of us started writing our own fiction inspired by it. I'm still doing so now.

But what we couldn't understand was just how much the industry hated their past. This is no exaggeration to say that fandom is responsible for doing untold damage to genre fiction, and it really came together when I read Sam Lundwell's 1977 book, Science Fiction: An Illustrated History which had so much bile in its pages that reading it had my jaw on the floor.

I would say this book changed my perspective on fandom, at least a little. While I disliked the entire concept before, I was now left with the feeling that it should be wiped out forever. The book was just that much of a mindset shift. All fandom leads to is cult behavior and destroying art and entertainment subcultures, mediums, and genres.

One of the earliest clashes with common sense was this section in the first part of the book:

There is one last quote I do want to go over. When discussing Lovecraft he begins to dip into black and white morality (proving he really didn't get Lovecraft) and gets to mentioning Lord of the Rings and the Christian relation to Gothic literature. Now buckle up because you're about to see why the genres got separated in the first place and why fandom cultists will do anything to keep them that way.

"An unbearable complicated reality is dissolved into simple parts black and white, of good and evil. Werewolves, witches, and vampires of popular folklore were evil, period, and a good silver bullet was an effective way of stopping them. This was an age of straight, uncomplicated emotions, and witches were burned at the stake all over Europe as the good peasants successfully liberated themselves from the Devil." 

Stories were written from a framework of a protagonist and an antagonist and the best way to make them dynamic and clash with each other was for them to have opposing views and goals. What better opposing ideals then good and evil? What better than polar opposite worldviews? Those who want to be good and have something to look up to put themselves in the shoes of the good man who defeats the evil. They relate and they understand as they live in a society where such things are clearly defined and shared among the populace. It gives them excitement, it affirms their lives a little, and is a net positive to the world. That is why such stories sell the best even today.

The age of Complicated Emotions gave rise to a generation of novels no one wanted to read, failing sales, and a fracturing of culture.

So, yes, good and evil is the correct way to go. I'm sure Mr. Lundwell was upset when Lord of the Rings was named novel of the century, too. Those stupid, dirty peasants and their unrefined palettes just couldn't understand meaningless dross like Ulysses soaked in a grey goo of nihilistic hedonism from the upper class and the wannabe elites. No one who faces real problems in life wants to engage in entertainment that makes them miserable and pulls them down. They want to be lifted out of the doldrums, not have their faces shoved in the mud by those who aspire to be invited to cocktail parties hosted by others with Complicated Emotions.

But he isn't finished.

"This is the basis of the Gothic tale and its philosophy, faithfully built upon the Christian faith and its rituals and this may be the main reason for its popularity in our complicated age when nothing is purely black or white any longer. In the Gothic tale, evil is easily recognizable, just as grotesque and deformed, loathsome and corrupted as it ought to be, but never is. It is no coincidence that the number of Black Masses is growing and the belief in the Devil as an actual fire-and brimstone person (?) is returning. The fallen Monk Ambrosio and Lucifer are so much more agreeable than Song My. Only the improbable is enjoyable in this context; when the horrors become too real, they become too unpleasant."  
I'm now wondering if Mr. Lundwell had front row seat for Woodstock. I have no idea what where this passage came from.

Let's put aside the fact that he completely misunderstands black and white morality and why the public at large believes in it and always has and always will. This whole paragraph does not understand the nature of evil. Yes, evil can be hidden and good can be subtle, but that doesn't make them grey gruel that are "complicated" or complex. They still exist even if you're too morally dead to see them. The point of the Gothic tale is that good and evil are but a choice away and damnation and salvation lie on the razor's edge of decision and repentance. This is the danger and mystery of Christianity that forms the entire backbone of the genre and the weight prepackaged with it. This is what makes Gothic literature far more interesting and engaging than preachy sterilized Christian Fiction or the morally confused psychotherapy sessions of all those unsold copies of modern literary fiction lining the shelves of the closed bookstores.

To imply people like straightforward morality because gosh darn reality is just too hard is such an overwhelmingly arrogant perspective that I wonder if the writer ever spoke to a Christian in his life before writing this passage. Science fiction writers tend to write a lot about those filthy Christians without ever speaking to them, after all.

It makes sense, though. The irony of this swipe against black and white morality being written it the 1970s, the most morally dead decade of the 20th century, is unconsciously funny.

I think this is the most important part to mention, because it is the crux of the entire fake battle between the genres, the hatred of the pulps, and the reason the field has been such a volatile place for a long time. It was made this way by fandom.

Because fandom is full of anti-social weirdos who hate normal people and the concept of objective morality, they champion anything that goes against it and deride anything that holds back their corporate approved version of the future. That they run the Big Four (or is it three?) publishers of Oldpub that has successfully killed their depraved social club doesn't even cross their minds. They have their replacement religion, and that's all that matters. As pathetic as that is.

The real reason they hate the pulps, as can be seen in Lundwell's book, is because they champion that good, the true, and the transcendent. They are against everything antisocial weirdos are for. All of which are things fandom has been trying to subvert and water down for nearly a century, at this point. This means telling you that their "Golden Age", an era with no currently remaining influence, lowered sales, and no real cultural penetration, is superior to one that actually did all those things better and influenced other entire mediums from tabletop gaming to comics to music to video games. The only people who can swallow that lie of the fake "Golden Age" are those who want to feel self-important, not those who want to accept reality.

Fandom kills, and should always be gatekept out, because a control freak fanatic is always a sign of a poseur in disguise.

I don't know if I'll cover more on this subject in the future, but it is an interesting one to discuss. We're going to have to gut a lot of rot before we can set the ship right again. That is going to include displacing a lot of cultists from their high priest positions.

It should also be said that my follow-on series to these posts, the one on Cheap Thrills, just barely made the cut for this list. In that one, I took the flipside approach--from people who legitimately loved and appreciated the very medium cultists sought to destroy.

The next post is actually related, though it is different in that it is one that has random spikes in popularity. I honestly think it has to do with the term coming back into usage again, but can't be sure. Either way, I quite understand why this one has endured:

#9: The Great Poseur Deception

This is probably the easiest entry to talk about, because I remember exactly why I wrote it. This is because a lot of people I saw online were misdiagnosing issues in their hobbies and blaming the wrong parties for why things were going wrong. They were making things worse by aiming their ire at the wrong targets. I do understand since it had been a rough decade of IPs and mediums collapsing in on themselves, and everybody needed a scapegoat for what happened.

The thing is, there is one cause to all. The answer is right in front of you. Everyone was simply aiming their rifles at the wrong target.

Perhaps it is because I was more familiar with punk culture as it was back in the '90s before it absolutely cratered into being for greasy emo hipster types in the '00s, but the used term for "infiltrator" was very cut and dry. They were called "poseurs" and were enemies of every group, no matter who you were or what you believed. Before the '90s, hobbies and subcultures were gatekept from outsiders attempting to subvert them for their own end. 

But by the end of the 1990s, that was changing. A lot of people then poopooed the idea, thinking that if we just let everyone into our subculture than everyone will get along and such things. You know, the usual utopian boomer nonsense that we're still suffering from.

It goes without saying that letting the poseurs in was a monumentally bad idea.

The fact of the matter is that a subculture exists because of a certain mentality brought about by conditions in the local community among a limited set of people. Individuals form a group and their shared interest and drive produces something new out of it. You, by definition, cannot "let everyone in" to such a thing because then it ceases to be what it is. It becomes homogenized product and diluted from its original form--the form that made it what was to begin with. Poseurs always destroy things and subvert their ideas for their own gain: they do not do it for the benefit for the subculture. They do it to benefit themselves.

The point of a subculture is that you must adapt to it in order to get the most out of it, and doing so usually tells you a bit more about yourself and your interests than you originally thought. You grow yourself by learning about something new and joining another group different from yourself. And if it's not for you? Then you just move on and let the subculture carry on as it was. This is how it always worked before. Everybody wins in such a setup.

A poseur is the opposite of this. A poseur is an infiltrator who doesn't seek the subculture to engage in it. He seeks it out to remake it in his own image. Where a subculture exists to benefit everyone; a poseur exists to make the subculture benefit himself. He is the walking definition of a subversive and the reason gatekeeping exists to begin with.

As an example, here are lyrics to an old hardcore punk song written about poseurs. This was written way back in 1980, and yet it remains just as relevant today.

You beat up Fear's bass player
You were all surfers last year
Three years ago, it wasn't cool
You spit on me, but I'm no one
Hey, Bobby Pyn had long hair
But you spit on Darby Crash
He had a fucking mohawk, man
Three years ago, "Forming" in 1975

"I'm a new waver,
My girlfriend's a surfer"
She's more poseur than you are
And she ain't going to fuck you anyway

It doesn't matter, you all suck
Know shit about punk rock
Just a bunch of fucking drug addicts
Screwing up what we call FUN
I hate everything and that means you
I hate you more than I do
I got no time to sleep, no time to get laid
I got to, but it doesn't matter
I got to, but it doesn't matter

Fake hardcore
You're fake hardcore

You spit on The Urinals.

The subject of the song is very clear, full of obscure references to the punk subculture of the time to make the point that the poseurs were the same people who hated them to begin with. Soo why are they there now? To take control, of course. This is not the action of a "normie" or whatever term they used 40 years ago.

The certain type of person being described in the lyrics is not "normal" in any sense of the word. They are someone looking for the next trend to latch onto in order to prop them up, even muscling in on the turf of people they hate. They just want the sense of control and believe they were specially made to seize it for themselves.

What the poseur sees is something of themselves in the new conquest before them, and wishes to see it reflect them further at the expense of everyone else. These are the people that need to be gatekept from a hobby or subculture. When they aren't, a scene rots away and dies. It dies because the originators and the original ideas that created the space are shoved out the door by people who have no business controlling the door to begin with.

But you let them in because you wanted to be "tolerant" and accepting, and never once stopped to think why you needed to be so in the first place.

So you lose everything instead. Good going.

Long story short: if you don't keep the poseurs out, they will keep you out. You don't have any bigger example than the above punk rock. It has become a joke. A bedrock of milquetoast fashionable mainstream beliefs held up by upper class urbanites that clap when one of their own poses with the president for photo ops. Vote for the Good Guy Party to fix the world is not a punk slogan, but you'll hear all the poseurs saying it today. Wear pink leather jackets to support the X community! Only $300! Heck, some of these poseurs even run record labels while writing their "rebellious" music that rehashes what CNN says nightly. It's hilarious stuff, honestly.

Now look at the lyrics above and what I just described and tell me if either of those two groups line up. I would post some of the band's saltier lyrics, but they would be disowned today from the same industry rebels who blacklisted a band for being offensive to a woman at the Warped Tour and cast out an influential scene member of over 30 years for being violent at a show. This how you get a genre priding itself on being caustic and dangerous into supporting safe spaces and appropriate language without anyone batting an eye.

The scene is dead now, and those poseurs seizing control is the problem. Keep the poseurs out and keep your scene. Don't, and you get the last 20+ years of creatively stagnant art and entertainment led by fakers who will keep actual talent out.

This says a lot about where we are now.

For our last post, we are also diving into a semi-related related topic. This one being nostalgia as a last result for meaning.

#10: The End of Nostalgia

The most recent entry on this list literally came out last month. You guys work fast. I was a bit taken aback that this was so popular so fast.

As I look it over, I can understand why. A lot of this is sort of the second part to my most popular post above on what pop culture obsession has done to most of us, especially those in Gen Y. How it has replaced religion and community for product and a worship over the new. What this has done is lead to burnout and an untold level of depression that we've never seen before.

All this has happened because we've substituted real things for inferior forgeries, copies of copies. What this does is fracture society, creating a level of alienation and isolation that has never been seen before in human civilization.

This all came about because we as a people can't let things be what they are. We all have a little poseur inside us, begging to tweak and control things we shouldn't be fiddling with. Because, as we have seen above, it all that ends in disaster.

"[T]he rejection of art and symbol returned in the form of detached and decadent art; the rejection of supernatural healing returned in the form of bizarre charlatans and faith healers; the rejection of the confessional returned in psychoanalysis; the rejection of an international Church returned in an entanglement of international finance; the rejection of the influence of Catholic morality on family life returned in “the family being broken in pieces by bureaucracy”; and the rejection of occasional Catholic fasting returned in teetotalers and vegetarians imposing fasting on everybody all the time."

All it becomes is a pale imitation of religion. But it's just an imitation, it will never be as true as the proper one. Yet, this is what the fanatics of the modern day desire, and they wish to force it on everyone else. It's nothing but a dead end existence.

The lack of any real future vision in western culture today comes from the failure of secular humanism to instill the purpose it was designed to replace. Simply replacing the language at a whim, and punishing those who question it, isn't uniting anyone or instilling any greater purpose. It's just punishing an outgroup that wasn't an outgroup 20 minutes ago. This philosophy divisive at its core, and it's run out of gas.

This leads to the main reason why this undying zombie of nostalgia culture has persisted, especially among Gen Y. It has persisted because it is the only view of existence that shows something other than the bleak hellscape that has been the west since the late '90s. Those of us in Gen Y, the ones who remember the before time the best, are the ones who cling to it because it is the only normality we know. Those younger than us have none, and those older have lived the downhill slide far longer and have more perspective.

We don't have that. In fact, we don't really have anything but the nostalgia.

This is why we cling to it, despite knowing deep down that it has reached the end of its shelf-life. We don't want to face the future. But that future is coming regardless.

As I wrote:

Very soon, it will end. Nostalgia can't last forever.

What this has also done is left those younger than Gen Y in a bit of a pickle. Millennials were taught specifically to reject the past and revile it. So when they look at the present they are taught to plow through it to create the perfect utopian future they were erroneously taught to believe was possible. But even they can't fool themselves forever and will eventually begin to wonder what it's all for. Without a past to look towards or a present worth living in, a good future is impossible to strive for. when the nostalgic fa├žade is gone, all that will remain is the ugly reality we've been ignoring for near a quarter of a century. The real world will eventually come tumbling through that wall like a bulldozer on a condemned building.

The problem comes with the fact that nostalgia is over with Gen Y. Generation Y more or less killed the concept of nostalgia worship due to their obsession over reliving those few fruitful early years of their life--years that came before Cultural Ground Zero existed. Younger generations not only have no context for those older eras they are swimming in, due to being taught not to have any, but also due to not even really understanding their own past. They won't carry on the nostalgic wave, because they have no nostalgia to carry with them.

In essence, nostalgia is over. There will never be another nostalgic movement, because there is no longer anything to be nostalgic for or anyone left to get nostalgic over it. There is no longer any younger generation who has a past of cultural connections that is worth reliving--all they have are personal memories and a handful of products that existed in a post-death world. There is no cultural mood or spirit left to revive, because its the same spirit and mood we have now. All that is left for younger generations to be nostalgic over is decades of the same interminable era that refuses to die. You can't be nostalgic for something that has never gone away. That's simply not enough to form a movement.

You can't be nostalgic for a time exactly like the one you are in now. It would be like being in a war for 25 years and missing the tenth year of the war because things hadn't quite been so ravaged as they are now. It makes no sense.

With the death of pop culture, and nostalgia's shelf life running out, there soon won't be anything left to pillage from the past in order to keep the house of cards from falling.

The rest of the above post details a very sad attempt at a Millennial attempting nostalgia for the '00s, and it falling completely flat, because it isn't based on anything solid. You can be nostalgic for missing a band at the peak of their powers or when a video game studio was good, but you can't be nostalgic for a social climate that is exactly like the one we have now, but not quite as bad. That can't form a nostalgic movement, and it never will.

Problem is, we would have had a '00s nostalgia movement by now. There was '80s and '90s nostalgia in the early '00s. I know, because I was there. That was a mere handful of years after the decade was already over and we were ankle deep in a new terrible decade. The '00s were so bad at the time that no one wanted to be there, even at the time. However, it's also been over a decade since the '00s ended, but still nothing in the way of a nostalgia wave for it. So where is it? It's not here because it's not happening. Nostalgia is over.

Gen Y is the last generation to pine for and remember the past. The generations under them either hate the world that existed beforehand or have absolutely no knowledge of it. Once we go? That's all gone. Then so will traces of what the world was like beforehand.

So it is up to us to act. Instead of reveling in nostalgia, we should be sharing our experiences and striving to create something better. Hiding away and melting to nothing just isn't an option. Especially not for a generation that is currently self-destructing.

There is a future ahead, we just need to fight for it.

And that more or less sums up the experience here at the Wasteland. I can't tell you if I ever expected to write about the sorts of things I did when I started, but I can say it's been fun thinking up all this stuff and sharing it with you over the years.

No, I do not intend on walking away anytime soon. Writing is an outlet that I enjoy far too much to give up, both fiction and nonfiction, and is a part of who I am. It's simply a surprise to see that I've been doing it for so long now.

So thank you for 500 posts! It's been a blast, and quite the journey. I can't imagine being anywhere else. Here is to 500 more!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Signal Boost for the Dark Seas

Find it Here!

Are you in the mood for some space opera? Of course you are. Who isn't? Well, today I have for you a series to dive into. It is the Dark Seas series by Damon Alan!

Going since 2015, there are currently 7 books in this long-running series. Should you be in the mood for space opera (and, again, why wouldn't you be?) then this is the sort of series you've been waiting for.

The description:

In the future, the human race is slowly dying. After millennia of expansion, an enemy has arisen that is slowly pushing the human frontier back toward oblivion. The Hive. Soulless and emotionless, they are colonizing star system after star system. The victims of the Hive suffer a fate worse than death...

Against an enemy that is seemingly unstoppable, one woman fights and leads the crews of her fleet in order to save humanity. History has proven again and again that in the darkest hours, heroes arise. Heroes fight. And heroes find a way. Sarah Dayson is that hero in a dark and violent future where entire planets are swallowed into oblivion.

Follow the rise of Sarah Dayson from fresh cadet fighting for her life in a four man ship to Fleet Captain, where she's commanding a squadron of ships designed for one purpose. War. The Hive may have the advantage in numbers, but they lack one thing that will always push humanity over the top. The will to live.

Ships will die. Planets will burn. But humanity will survive if Sarah Dayson has her way, no matter what the cost.

Once again, you can find the series here.

We've got more signal boosts coming up in May, so look forward to them! There is plenty more out there to highlight, and NewPub is not stopping anytime soon.

It's going to be a wild summer.

For more space opera you can also check out the Galaxy Ascendant series by Yakov Merkin! This one is also 7 volumes with a conclusion you're not going to want to miss!

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Prospero's Children!

Find it Here!

Another boost for a series you might have missed: L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Children, a trilogy of a different sort. This was my editor's first series, released a while back. But it still remains popular with readers for a reason.

This story is a sort of sequel to Shakespeare's The Tempest done in a sot of secret history meets urban fantasy style with a dab of Roger Zelazny. She expertly juggles a lot of a different mythologies to make a full cohesive world. It isn't quite like anything out there. 

The description:

Miranda, daughter of the magician Prospero from Shakespeare’s Tempest, lives in the modern age. Upon discovering that her father has gone missing, she must discover the location of her other siblings and convince them to save their father, before the Three Shadowed Ones destroy the Family Prospero. She is accompanied by her company gumshoe, an airy spirit stuck in a body that looks a bit like Humphrey Bogart. Humor, mystery, wonder.

Describing any further while probably go into spoilers. For now, it is enough to say that this trilogy is a bit different from the norm. We could always use something like that today.

NewPub is still on fire. Behind the scenes there are many writers working to get as many books out as possible. There is a whole new industry out there. So why stick with the old? There is nothing there but decay.

However, out here, the sky is the limit. And even that might be selling it too short! 2021 is going to be a big year.

But that aside, there is still much to pick up right now. Check out Prospero's Children today!

You can also check out her other series, Books of Unexpected Enlightenment which can be found at Silver Empire as well as Amazon. This is an ongoing Young Adult-style series full of magic and wonder. Check it out today!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

We Need Roads

Where did we come from, and where are we going?

I've had this subject burning at the back of my mind for some time now, unable to properly express what I mean for a good while. Please excuse me if this post is a full on ramble because it is more meant to flesh out thoughts than put forth any sort of coherent argument or explanation. I swear I'm going somewhere with all of this.

The reason nostalgia for pre-Cultural Ground Zero exists and isn't going away any time soon is because it was the last time we had a roadmap on where we were going. Anyone, no matter who you are, can easily see this by noticing that anyone with a mainstream view of the world has no vision of the future outside vague platitudes. It is as as if they were all politicians. Pay attention to the news and it's about how the Good Guys suffer under the bootheel of the Bad Guys, and if the other would just disappear we could finally have Utopia.

This isn't an actual vision of the future. It's scapegoating in an attempt to hoist all your problems onto. It's a refusal to except what human nature actually is.  Utopia will not suddenly arrive because you destroy the Bad Guy team and put your chosen Good Guys in charge.

But what is Utopia supposed to be? None of these people will tell you what that entails aside from using scraps of previous examples that have never led to a utopia before. You're fighting a war for future you're never going to get, because you can't define it outside of vague terms. You're never going to get a Utopia by hating your neighbor and wanting them destroyed.

So what is it supposed to be? A world where everyone is happy and where there are no wars or violence and everyone sings corporate approved pop songs around the metaphorical campfire? A place where everyone is free to indulge in whatever vice they can in the machine-run pleasure domes? An economic paradise where every man is his own island free do whatever he pleases? How does any of this lead to Utopia? A world that forces humans to survive by feeding vices is not paradise. It's in fact the very opposite.

Spend five seconds with any modern politician or "revolutionary" and you'll find they have no vision of the future beyond hackneyed phrases invented in classrooms and spread by similar acolytes in the media. Do what they tell you, freethinker, and you will have everything you want. There is no thinking involved. Just mindlessly obeying.

Destroying the past is not creating a future. You cannot create by destroying, you can only hide from reality. This is why nothing new has taken hold since Cultural Ground Zero occurred--no one has any vision of the future beyond a form of material success and pleasure. And I'm not just talking about wealth, but also creatively. They see nothing ahead except what they were told to see, which lends a false sheen of plasticity to whatever they create. This is how you can always guess a plot point or a character's entire personality and any potential character arc within the first minute of meeting them. They have nothing to say aside from what they were told to say.

The reason why the mainstream is dead is because they have no vision of the future beyond the corporate-mandated one based on rebellion and comfort that they were taught in school. The irony is palpable. Bootlickers who think they are rebels. It would be funny if it wasn't destroying a whole segment of art and entertainment.

You have been trapped in an endless feedback look of nostalgia product gutting out the moral core of the original and putting in the above banal modernity instead. This has been the case for years now. You have been trapped in it because those in charge do not understand the cause of the nostalgic movement or what connected with the original audience to begin with. All they see is a way to slip in modern emptiness that is forgotten five seconds after the movie ends. If they can bring even one of you over to the Good Guy team then it is worth it.

Unfortunately, all it does is annoy audiences who see what they are doing and rebel against it. Said audiences is then labeled the Bad Guy team and acolytes of the Good Guys are encouraged to attack them to prove their loyalty. In the midst of all this is art that is forgotten outside of being a punchline.

It is forgotten because there is nothing there aside from reheated ideas and moralizing that will never take hold. There is no attempt to connect with any audience, because these creators have nothing to say or impart on others that isn't being pushed by every single other corporation in the world. If you want to know why there are more and more Bad-Thinkers who are Evil (the shorthand view for anyone who can think beyond buzzwords and catchphrases to do the heavy lifting of their thinking for them) it is because audiences see this cynical and lazy attempt to cash-in on their youth and attempt to manipulate them into abandoning that which made them. If you actually believe all these Bad People miraculously showed up one day out of nowhere to fight the Good Guys then you really aren't paying attention, at all. It's all a bunch of puppets dancing on wires.

Because these creators hate the past and find no value in it, they will never build a future. As you can clearly tell from the last few years, no one in charge has any view of the future accept the insipid and impossible task of Making People Comfortable. Feel Safe and Happy so you can all consume corporate product endlessly. Corporation stands for Good Thing, so give us moneys now. 

As a result, these people have nothing to say and nothing to aim for. They dumb down comedy, cut away from action, and hiss at the sight of an attractive woman, all while reveling in edgy gore and barely camouflaged pornography instead. If they can't build on what came before then they can never build a future. And they can't do either.

It's a dead end. There is no road ahead.

All that said, it wasn't always like this. Take a movie like The Last Starfighter. The Arkhaven blog covered it well enough here, but you should take special note as to why the movie hit so hard with audiences when it did.

"No generation ever had bigger promises made to it than Gen-X.

"The world we were supposed to inherit would be beyond imagining. America would be even greater and more powerful than it had ever been. The average life expectancy would be 180 years old. We would definitely be getting farther ahead than our parents had gotten in life. Our first cars would be able to fly. And a lot of us were expected to be living and working on the moon.

"No member of Generation-X has ever set foot on the moon.

"That things were going to be amazing for us in a way that had never happened before was a refrain we were being fed constantly through grade school. We were hearing it a lot less in junior high. And those promises had ended completely long before we hit our senior year.

"The Challenger’s explosion was the end of those dreams.

"Still, we found others. And they were unique to my generation.

"After two lousy decades helmed by the Boomers, we took the reins in the Eighties and made it the best decade since Elvis was thin. The music stopped sucking, we made comic books grow up, we forced the repeal of the 55 MPH speed limit, what we couldn’t do with spaceships we did with computers and we became the first video game generation."

It might be tempting to roll your eyes while reading that if you aren't a part of Gen X, but it is important to understand the context to what is being written about here to get the context of the movie's success. It was a story made to connect with people on a deeper level. As a member of Gen Y, the younger brother of Gen X, I had seen much of the above quote in my youth. I didn't quite understand any of it for that reason, but as I got older it made more and more sense.

The 1980s was the period when Gen X was beginning to creatively blossom, and we got to see just what it was they hoped and desired for. They were very eager to share with the world. And they did for around two decades.

They longed for a future better than the one that had been built out for them. They wanted something better than the upcoming Boomer world that would sterilize and corporatize art and entertainment into a gelatinous blob of product to be supported by fanatics and influencers. They wanted more than all this. Gen X, despite their cynicism, wanted to see the stars.

By now we know they never did, given that they were dumped for Gen Y who were in turn dumped by Millennials, but that is just the fate of the generation. To Gen X, life is a series of down endings. And yet, for one moment, they did feel like they could have it all.

"There is no getting past it. Arcade culture was pretty much our defining trait. When those life devouring machines first showed up, we created a national shortage of quarters, feeding our addiction. We made our offerings to the god Atari at oddly shaped alters and literally started changing how our brains were developing because our eye-hand coordination was constantly being taken to its absolute limit. We would gather around a highly skilled stranger, talk about his tactics with each other, and form friendships that wouldn’t have happened without those machines. Arcades were very social that modern gaming just can’t be.

"The Last Starfighter had an absolutely brilliant marketing campaign. It spoke to Generation-X. “Alex Rogan didn’t go looking for his dreams. His dreams came looking for him.” We were at the point where we had given up on those big dreams. Having them come roaring back to life and snatching us up and away from our lives was a pitch-perfect sell to us."

You can go back throughout the '80s and early '90s and see all sorts of portrayal and jokes built around Gen X and their cynicism. It was inescapable commentary from the Boomers. This abruptly ended around 1997 and within two years they had begun aiming instead for this weird "Millennial" generation that suddenly came into existence which they never did anything with before. It was as if a population of two groups suddenly vanished. Because to those in charge, they did. They didn't want to think about them or the implications of their existence anymore.

Even today, no one really brings up Gen X unless it is Gen X themselves, much like Gen Y who were fooled into thinking they had something in common with those raised on the internet, smartphones, and a post-Columbine and 9/11 world. Even now people argue with me that Gen Y doesn't exist because they were told it doesn't. I have never gotten a proper refutation of why they don't except that those in charge told these people that they don't. Roll that attitude into the topic of this post and you can see why they have no argument. Because they were taught not to think about it so they get upset when someone else doesn't recite the Right Thing. But let us get back to Gen X.

While it is tempting to say it was shifting demographics that caused this change in focus, the fact of the matter is that no generation had been deliberately buried before Cultural Ground Zero. It was as if those in charge had something to hide. By now, the cat is out of the bag. They did.

Why did a story about a boy who had no future before him except modernity and the rat race their Boomer parents coveted so much speak to a generation like it did? This wasn't the nihilism of the 1970s or the hedonism of the '60s. Gen X actually did want more, despite their image.

Because this story spoke to their hopes and dreams. It gave them a glimpse into a future where they could have more the vapid world being built around them. There was more to existence than hedonism. Even today there isn't a single person that would argue Alex Rogan's choice at the end of The Last Starfighter wasn't the correct one, especially because they knew what was awaiting him should he choose differently.

As a member of Gen Y, the generation who lived off local rental shops and thereby saw all the Gen X favorites in our youths, even I was taken aback and inspired by such a story. It spoke to a position we held. Aiming for more than the present, to be taken higher, is the sort of hope that doesn't actually exist anymore. The future was endless.

It's much different today. In contrast, you get Ernest Cline's "Remake" of a book which is basically the same story but with more references to other things. There is no vision or hope for the future beyond standard tropes because the writer of the work can't think of anything beyond them. So what you are left with is a hollow husk copy of the original. There is no vision, no hope, just regurgitated product. It's empty.

And this is where we are now. All mainstream entertainment is this.

So all you are left with is faded copies of things you liked when you were younger, made by those with no moral or hopeful vision of the future beyond what the media tells them to hope for. All you get portrayed is a future of endless consuming with nothing to show for it except reminders of your better days as a child.

That's a fairly pathetic existence, and the complete opposite of where we started from. That someone could know all this and still never aim for more than consuming nostalgia product is even more pathetic. This attitude is why we are trapped where we are. It's time to move on beyond failed modern ideas and vapid nostalgia.

It's time for an actual future.

It's not just the West which has this problem. We can even look at the growing overseas presence of the anime and manga industry, where it is quite near where it was in popularity back in the 1990s. What was it that caused it to fall so far throughout the '00s? Why did it take until the '10s for it to regain that lost ground?

Well, I spoke about it before, but the short answer is because Japan also gave up on its future. It devolved into the meaningless minutiae of everyday lives of attractive girls because they didn't find anything appealing about the future before them. They didn't want to hope for anything anymore. But instead of a sort of The Last Starfighter version of the future where it could come to them, they just rejected it entirely. This is why so much anime is endless school life--because that's literally all these audiences want to think about.

Obviously, such an attitude negatively affected their arts and entertainment. As a consequence, the western branch of the industry imploded throughout the '00s, because they no longer were being given product audiences wanted to buy.

To take it back a bit, I have been going over some of the works of mangaka Ken Ishikawa recently, and the difference between now and then is quite striking. He was essentially a pulp writer, but in the best sense of the term.

You might have heard of the series Getter Robo, since it is one of the classic original giant robot mecha franchises. He co-created it with Mazinger Z creator Go Nagai, though its was Ishikawa who wrote the series. It is the first combining robot where three different pilots combine to form a giant mecha. If that was all he was responsible for then it would be a neat footnote. What you probably don't know is how much work Ishikawa put in this franchise over the time he was still alive.

What started as a story of three rambunctious teenage youths piloting a giant robot to stop the Dinosaur Empire from coming up out of the center of the Earth, eventually became a cosmic horror story about the endpoint of evolutionary theory and where survival of the fittest will eventually lead. He did this despite never once abandoning his original concept or forgetting to entertain the audience with action and wonder. Getter Robo contains a quite horrible version of the future, but one where heroism, the human spirit, and comradery, can still save the day.

There have been different adaptions of this franchise over the years from anime series to OVAs to video games, but it has remained popular because Ken Ishikawa's ambition has always been higher than "Remember the original series you grew up with? Here it is again in new packaging!" and led him striving to create more and bigger ideas.

Heck, he created an entire anthology series about a Buddhist Galactic Empire dealing with ultimate evil which spans thousands of years from the past into the distant future. Can you imagine anyone writing anything close to like that in the West where we still think sex and skin color are revolutionary topics for stories? Why think about the future when you could obsess about the present instead? But even in Japan that kind of ambition died off a lot in the 1990s. By the time we got to digipaint series in the early '00s, much of these sorts of hopes were gone from the industry.

Nonetheless, if you want to know more about Ken Ishikawa's very intriguing career, I suggest watching the video below. It is very long, but you can put it on 1.5x speed and you won't miss anything. For those who want to see the rise of a successful and influential talent it is worth seeing. Special thanks to author Bradford C. Walker for the tip.

But not everything has to aim big: it just has to aim.

The reason series such as My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer are popular is not because they aim to be deep, but because they touch on eternal themes such as the natures of Heroism and Revenge and tie in how they affect humanity. They tell action stories about bigger things than obsessing over the status quo and the vapid present. It connects with people and their hopes and dreams. There is more here than just accepting the way things are and lapping up the same tired modern themes.

Being a creator of any sort means you are coming up with ideas to form into one cohesive whole. Because it is being filtered through who you are it will determine just how it reaches other people. Art is product made to a standard, a standard you share with your audience. How you see the future, if you even see it at all, will come across in what you do.

This is what people want, but it is what the mainstream can no longer give them. They have forgotten how to not only maintain roads, but how to build them.

Those who write stories filled with modern tropes propped up by shallow and vapid one-track cult-like interpretations have a limited shelf life. These ideas are meant to beat down the audience and will only appeal to other people trapped in the same cult-like thinking. This is why modern corporate entertainment no longer appeals to people anymore. This is why there will never be a nostalgia movement centered around this era. They have nothing to say and nothing original to express outside of what they were told to say by people who have built no future worth preserving. It's a dead end, and every knows it deep down.

This is why there is such a split in the arts right now. You have one side who want to entertain, to connect with the audience and share in the adventure. The other group wants to regurgitate agitprop they heard in the classroom and in the news in order to spread their unpopular ideas among an uninterested populace. Normal people can connect with the former, but no one except fellow cult members can connect to the latter.

Normal people have hopes and dreams, even when, like now, they are being told to not have them and to focus on things that they can't change or have nothing to do with. Once we put the Good Guys in charge you will have your Eden of carnal lust and gluttonous appetites where everyone will be Nice and Good to each other because they were taught to be Nice and Good. Throw out what human nature is at its core: we can fix it. Anyone with a brain knows this isn't a future, it's a sick fantasy built by those with no actual vision of the future or humanity.

"Put the Good People in charge and remove the Bad People and then we will have Peace" is legit dumber than any of the old hippie boomer stances. It isn't reality, it's wishful thinking by those who have no vision of a future beyond corporate slogans from government funded "grassroots" movements and over-socialized urbanites. This is a scam. It's not a future--it's an advertising campaign to fatten their already obese wallets.

There is no future without roads.

We need actual roads. Paved streets. Railroad tracks. Sea lanes. Dirt paths. A compass. Anything. We need to find our bearings and seek out a real path from where we are right now. Because we've reached the end of wishful thinking spurned on from dated modern philosophies. They just lead to plunging cliffs that drop down into a bottomless shaft.

There is no way to know what is coming, but you can prepare for it by planning at least a little bit. You've been taught not to plan, not to think, and not to hope. Everything will work out if you trust people who don't even care one iota about you aside from your wallet. You're just going to sit there and wait for the Good Guys to fix the world for you.

But the world will never be fixed. Human nature will always be broken. All you can do is make roadmaps that take it into consideration. We can still touch the stars even if we have cracks in us--we can still hope for better. We just need a plan.

Where we came from is a corporate dystopia based on humanist falsities and sloth, but where we can go next? The stars aren't even the limit. Who knows what is?

We'll figure it out. As long as we have roads to get there.