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!

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Weekend Lounge ~ Attack of the Geeks!

Welcome to the weekend! Today we're going back to the past, but not too far back. This time we're not even going back to the 20th century.

Do you remember television? If so, you're probably old. It's fairly irrelevant as a medium now, but back in the 20th century, it was king. However, much like cinema, it's currently on the way out as popular entertainment, relegated to the history books.

But, I digress. Let us put ourselves back in a time when it mattered.

In 2002, a TV network called G4 launched into the world, and it ended up shaping the tastes of a lot of Millennials who grew up with it. It was a cable network focused on video games, at least at first, before becoming the first geek culture hub on television. But what you don't know is a lot of the behind the scenes weirdness involved with the network's creation.

Back in the early '00s, a channel called TechTV was one of the biggest cable networks for tech nerds. This was back when TV was so big there were niche channels for just about anything. TechTV flourished, for a time, finding its own audience. That is, until it was merged with the upstart network G4 after being bought by Comcast into being one of the first Geek Culture network, in 2004. To this day, the TechTV merger is still looked upon as a sore point for a lot of tech bros from back then, and it, in a way, was a harbinger for wider things in the culture to come. Everything would be pounded into the same mud slick or disposable entertainment.

But this is about G4 itself, and not the controversial merger, so lets keep it on topic.

If you were a young Millennial gamer, you probably have a lot of fond memories of the network, if you were a computer nerd or an older Gen Y/X gamer, you probably hated it. Especially since it influenced such programs as The Big Bang Theory and the pop cult that formed around it as the 2000s wore on. That was a strange period of television history whose reverberations are still being felt today, well over a decade after G4 ended.

That means this is a topic well worth exploring and looking into. Thankfully, someone actually has done this, and recently.

Last year, Chris Gore, one of the people who were involved in the original cable network released an extensive documentary about G4, covering its beginnings in 2002 up until its end in 2012. by mainly focusing on its flagship series, Attack of the Show. This documentary is also interesting from the perspective that G4 itself represents the end of television itself as it is more or less the last original cable network to launch to any sort of success. In essence, it works as both a snapshot of a time and place, and the story of how an entire era of mass media ended.

It also presents a timeline of events in a specific era in pop culture from its beginnings to its endings by the time the network was shuttered. Even just starting with the last remnants of '90s style extreme design and font in its beginnings that slowly fell away to the big and bold '00s style of "edge" and degeneracy that was popular at the time, it represents the shift in tone very well. It's no wonder so many Millennials fondly remember the network--it encapsulates what the decade was like for those around at the time who lived through it.

I do recommend watching the above documentary if you are curious about what it was like back then, even if the time period was not your favorite. It shows exactly what people were interested in at the time and what exactly they wanted out of entertainment and their products. You can't look at G4 and not just see the 2000s in every facet of its existence. This is also why the network relaunch was always doomed to fail, because it was built around personalities that hated what the network was built on and the people who made it while forgetting that times have changed and the social climate is much different, and worse. Many such cases, unfortunately.

Even G4 itself never really recovered from Attack of the Show losing the last of their two original hosts in 2012, just before the network ended, a signal that the hangover that was the 2000s was really over and the 2010s were just ahead.

There's just no going back. That era is over.

"G4 is to TV what the MCU is to movies." ~ Quote from the documentary

As for my opinion on the network . . . it wasn't for me. I've never really liked corporate geek identity, and have always been puzzled by people who desire to live clichés others give to them. I hated that infamous 2010 Kevin Butler speech at E3 where he listed a bunch of stereotypes and declared this is what gamers were to thunderous applause. I loathed Big Bang Theory and its checkbox geekery, and I detest the idea of products and brand as a personality that was really embraced during that time period and fully flowered into the lifestyle brands of the 2010s.

All around, just a bad era culturally and socially, and it led to an even worse one in the decade after.

The documentary even tries to bring up the old canard that only geeks and nerds read comic books, played video games, and engaged in tabletop games back in the day, something that is a HEAVY revisionism of what it was actually like back then for those like me who lived through it. Everyone in my schoolyard, for instance, played a collected Magic: The Gathering and every single person in my class played video games. This was BEFORE the 2000s, and I keep being told that liking this stuff was some sort of taboo back then. This revisionism to make "geeks" a separate cohort that were bullied for the products they consumed is simply not the case.

What this sort of talk does is foster an ingroup outgroup dynamic based on half-truths that lead others to think they have to behave a certain way to be accepted into a club. This leads to today when you can look at any Geek Culture podcast or stream and be amazed that not only does everyone look and dress the same but they all have their apartments/rooms decorated in the exact same ways while they spout the exact same opinions on everything else.

G4 didn't cause this, to be fair, but it was the starting point for where a lot of this weird lifestyle brand attitude showed its early form.

It turned a hobby into an identity.

But that's not how it was back in the 20th century.

Fact of the matter is there were only two weird kids in my class growing up: one who awkwardly brought up wrestling all the time and another one who was an antisocial thug. The first was not weird because he liked wrestling, but because he had bizarre thought patterns no one understood. He was not hated or bullied over it, either. The second was a weirdo because he attended political protests and threw Molotov cocktails at government buildings. That dude was also a fedora and seethed to himself a lot. Needless to say, the second one was the only one the other kids outright disliked. Neither were considered odd because of corporate products they consumed, because even those people had an identity beyond entertainment media.

We had a guy in our class that installed emulators on the school computers and once printed out porn of a video game character and even he wasn't the target of bullying. Believe it or not, the world wasn't such a simplistic place where your interests defined your identify back then. It was how you treated other people and conducted yourself in public. Revenge of the Nerds is a deranged revenge fantasy of people who probably should have been stuffed into lockers. Even then, however, watching popular movies didn't make you part of a social class.

You are never going to convince me that the giant merchandizing blockbusters of Star Wars up to The Matrix were not enjoyed by normal people, because they were. Super Mario Bros. 3 was a multimillion seller and the NES one of the highest selling systems of all time--ever kid and teenager played them or knew what they were. X-Men comics used to sell around one million per issue and I knew a lot of people who read them. All of this stuff was normal. You were not weird for engaging in this stuff. Again, this was all before the 2000s before people were bringing Death Notes to class and Naruto-running in the hall in their porn hoodies. Take a guess as to what was actually different about the times. Hint: it was not the entertainment itself but the attitude behind those consuming it.

All that happened is that the brand overtook identity and consumed social interaction. It was no longer about things you like, but about things you obsess over to fill a spiritual vacuum in a way of putting Us Vs. Them.

But that is really what happened in the 2000s. All forms of real identity fell away and became little more than a question of what products you like, which then folded over into other groups trying to inject their poisonous new morality systems into this climate to lazily change the world through classroom theories made by people with no authority over anyone. Hence, the G4 network relaunch's failure. That era was transitional, to a time before the poison had set in, and there is no going back to a time before the audience had been tampered with.

The 2000s time period felt like a generation of people who gave up on any sense of identity or ambition beyond the products they consumed. This lead to a lack of perspective and a way for those in charge to have a way to press down on new morality systems to those who let their old beliefs fall away. Without any immune system, it was a perfect chance to revamp these people into what they wanted. Even with the network itself you can see it get strangled with more and more restrictions as time went on, eventually leading to the point that there was no way to retain its original identity. If you want to talk about the problems for or against gatekeeping, it's been an issue for a long time.

That said, Attack of the Doc! is an important documentary to watch if you want an idea of what it was generally like back then, or at the very least what a certain generation grew up with in their mass media. It might help understand exactly why the pop cult has such a hard grip on them today in a way older generations do not seen to quite be affected. And I would assume, any younger viewer might find the entire thing straight up bizarre. After all, television has never been relevant in their lifetimes, so seeing how it affected a whole generation of people might be difficult to process.

But that's just it. Television is over, and its affect from the Boomers up to the Millennials is pretty well fading. It's difficult to describe just how it has changed since the 2000s.

Much like when we talked about Nickelodeon and the like, there was a period of time that affected a lot of young people, one that is no longer around and will never return, and should be understood as such. At this point, the remnants of pop culture are more or less antiques of an old civilization that is currently being swept away by progress and the winds of change.

It is up to us to preserve what works and discard what doesn't, and now is the best time to do just that.

Have a good weekend and I'll see you next time!

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Weekend Lounge ~ Mac Tonight

Welcome to the weekend! I am back for a small post.

Today, I wanted to share with you what is actually one of my favorite videos on YouTube, this one made by EmpLemon, about the figure of Mac, the old McDonalds mascot. This is a story of twists and turns you might (or might not) expect, but what fascinates me about it is how it epitomizes a lot of what was going on in the culture at the time the inspiration for the character was created all the way up until the modern day turn, showing how much has actually changed since he was first conceived.

Of course, if you're young enough, you might be most familiar with Mac's status as a meme, but he oddly enough didn't get there by chance or complete randomness. There is actually a bit more to it than that, one you might not have considered. It was a painstaking process of cultural shifts and the rise of the internet that, also, seems to highlight a lot of what people think of themselves and how it reflects into the landscape they create for others.

What you are left with is a tail of how creations not only go beyond their original makers intent, but are actually held onto by audiences how push them forward into their next stage of being, carrying them forward to a future no one expects from the outset.

You could cynically shake this all off, it's only a silly commercial mascot hijacked by edgy anons, who cares? But that's part of the interesting aspect in all this. How that change came about is through a series of coincidences that not only shows that God has a sense of humor but also the way we use art in its many different forms to express what truly resonates on a level we might not even think about. If anything, this character is another obvious proof that art is truly communication, and not always in the ways we might expect when we start the creation process.

The whole story gets wilder as it goes, because that's how culture was throughout the 20th century--always trying to go bigger and top itself and what it did before. There was nowhere to go but up, as anyone who lived before Cultural Ground Zero will tell you, until it all (not-so-suddenly) came crashing down.

What you are looking at is just one of many examples of what the 20th century was and what it valued filtered through one mascot character that never even had a concrete direction through his many incarnations.

And that's what makes how it all comes together so very fascinating.

Regardless, I highly recommend this video, especially for a relaxing weekend watch. Watch how a simple one-note character carved out of a parody of a satire ended up becoming a pop culture hero then became subverted for commercial gains only to end up a goof on all that caused him to exist in the first place before settling in on a vision of a past long since gone. It really does epitomize the past century of pop culture trends exceedingly well--and it's all done through one single character that you've probably never given a second thought to.

It leads me to wonder what exactly is coming next up the pipeline, especially now that Mac has more or less settled back in to his original edgy form again. Are we truly about to enter a new era divorced from this interminable one, or is he about to make yet another shift into something even more wild and dangerous than he has before? I suppose we will find out sooner than later. Considering all the wild stuff the '20s has been through so far, anything is possible.

Anyway, enjoy the video and your weekend, and I will see you again next time. March is finally here and spring is just around the bend. New experiences and changes are definitely on the way.

The seasons of new starts is just ahead of us. One has to wonder if something like what happened to Mac going to happen again.

We'll just have to wait and see.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Small Update for 2024

This isn't going to be much of a post, you can read the one from a few days ago for that, but just for a quick update on current events.

You might have noticed posting has been a bit light this month. That will have to continue a bit for the foreseeable future. There are several reasons for that.

I'm currently working on a few writing projects at the same time and also trying to work through Lent. As a consequence, posts around here will be very light for awhile. That said, I'll still put out a few Weekend Lounge posts in the weeks ahead, but that will most likely be all. I want to focus more on getting things done in both a physical and spiritual sense in the time ahead.

That said, after this I am considering starting a Patreon of some sort purely for writing projects and updates for readers, including possibly having short audio updates and episodes much like I do for Cannon Cruisers. I am toying with the idea of making my next book a serialization, but am still deciding on just how to do that. 

Regardless, I also want to take this time to think that out as well. I want to be sure to give readers as much as I can in a way they can feel most comfortable getting it. Amazon is quickly looking like it won't be enough, especially with how broken the algorithm has gotten, so looking ahead and in new direction seems important in order to continue on.

As a reminder, my most recent release is available for $0.99 on Amazon as well as a Lulu-exclusive pocket paperback edition. It's wild to think about, but that ended up being my 12th overall book release. Of course, God willing, it will not be the last. There is more on the way.

Speaking of Cannon Cruisers, we just recently put up our lists of favorite Cannon movies after we put up our 300th episode and big finale. But that's not all for Cannon Cruisers. There will be an update on the usual day tomorrow about our future plans and what we hope to be doing next. Long story short, it's not over, but it won't be the same podcast you remember. Things will be a little different, but we enjoy the podcast too much to do too much tinkering. It's not quite over yet!

It's also bizarre to think about, but 2024 is also the 10th anniversary of Wasteland & Sky, by far the longest digital footprint I've ever left online, and it is weird too think about. I'm not quite sure what I'll do for said anniversary, but it's nice to have been able to make it this far. Here's hoping to many more ahead, assuming the internet doesn't die in the near future. Maybe I should collect some posts in an eBook or the like? Something to think about. I've done a lot here, much more than I ever expected I would, so I do have a soft spot for this place. I'll also be here until I can't be here anymore, if that makes any sense.

Of course, part of the reason for this entire update at all is due to you, the reader. If it wasn't for your support I wouldn't be able to do this at all and it still blows me away that anyone is reading at all. So it stands to reason that if you have any comments or suggestions that you should send them my way. Both the internet and the industry have changed so much over the last decade that deciding what to do next is going to take some time. As I've said, the '20s is the decade of change, so it's time to try to adapt to that in the best way I can. I want to be sure to keep moving forward in new and interesting ways.

Regardless, that's all for today. Not a big post or update on how things are going, but a bit of a teaser on possibilities for the road ahead. As always, feel free to send your comments and I'll try to get back ASAP. Otherwise, it's time to get back to the mines, both words and other.

Have a good rest of February and I'll see you in March!

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Generations of Fakes

Sometimes it's hard to believe the mid-90s was thirty years ago. It definitely doesn't feel like it's been that long, and in the grand scheme of things I suppose it hasn't. Nonetheless, it is an entire lifetime away from the world in 2024.

This year has been a very bizarre one so far. I've noticed a trend with the "younger" generations, particularly as half of Gen X has now reached their 50s, half of Gen Y has now reached their 40s, half of Millennials have reached their 30s, and half of Zoomers have reached their 20s. That pattern being either internal implosion, or a tightening of grit and effort to move beyond the failed past and build something new. It's one or the other, not much in the way of variety.

The ones that have imploded the worst, I've found, are the ones still clinging to Geek Culture as their only real identity and questioning why that emptiness rules inside of them. The hole that only the Boomers seemingly could ignore, refuses to be filled by materialism.

The overwhelming suicide and depression rates make sense in this framework, but that's not really what I wanted to touch on today. The fact of the matter is that we are halfway through the '20s now, and the mood of the decade is starting to take shape and become its own thing. The defeatism of the '10s and the malaise of the '00s are making way for an era of change and cautious hope. Though it's not quite the change one can sell as bumper stickers or slogans on posters, it's a shift taking place internally. It's one that has to happen to escape the clutches of the late '90s and finally move on from the mistakes of the early 21st century.

It's been over a quarter of a century since Cultural Ground Zero and there are many lessons we have learned from it. I've written about many of them here, and there is little sense rehashing any of it now. However, there is one part of it that does need to be reiterated because it is holding back an entire sector of Western Culture from regaining any footing. That is the continuation of the myth of Geek Culture and its harmful legacy on both art and general lifestyles. If anything ever hopes to improve, we're going to have to finally shed this dead weight and accept a very important truth.

Here it is: Geek Culture isn't real, and it never was. Clinging to a lie, a false identity, prevents any growth or change from happening. It's been said many times, but it has to be reiterated here, because very slowly are people from these relatively younger, but aging, generations. The key to growth is to have something sturdy to build on, something your ancestors could build on before you rejected it for what replacement the TV and then internet told you to believe in instead. It is time to admit that experiment was a failure and get in line with reality again.

Why beat this drum? Surely everyone reading this now knows that modernity and materialism has to go, and everyone knows it is a crutch for the absolute failure that was the 2010s for those so-called younger generations to claim what their parents said was theirs. When you see just what happened to those formerly misled kids, it's hard to imagine anyone wanting to stay on this track. There is nothing ahead but misery and death.

The wake up call of the 2020s is to finally accept the way things are, not the way things could be, and especially not the way things dying corporations and media apparatuses tell you they should be. What is coming ahead is not an era that will be gotten through by spouting knowledge on zombie mega franchises from the 1980s--it is one that will require you to even remember what that era was like in the first place in order to carry on into the future. And you will have to do is break free of the influence of people who hate you.

This era is over. We just have to finally realize it.

The fact of the matter is that no one alive today will ever have the life the Baby Boomers had, and judging success or failure based on those old and dead standards is a losing game. This isn't to insult or bemoan anything said older generation did or didn't do, but to point out that the future is not living like your parents and grandparents did from now until the end of time. The myth of progress does not even rise to the level of a myth--comfort is not advancement. Also, as comfort is very rapidly and easily being taken away by those in charge, it becomes clear that it is not something that can be earned or maintained, nor is it the path to a fulfilled life.

I've noticed this myself since the end of the pandemic that Baby Boomers, of all generations, are the ones that are imploding the most violently. It's not so much that they are waking up to the artificiality of the lies they were sold in their youth, but more that their health is tremendously worse than that of their parents were at the same age. Their hard living and bad choices have left them in an objectively worse state than the older generations were in, and they are both far sicker and dying at rates absolutely shocking to anyone paying attention.

This is because they made the wrong turns and choices, and are now paying for it. I don't want this to turn into post ragging on an entire generation of people, especially one not doing that great, that's not really the point here, but to point out that this is the generation that raised the relatively younger ones currently trapped in uncertainty and dead ends. The fact of the matter is that it was always going to end this way.

And now we can admit as much.

The uncomfortable truth is that the lives Baby Boomers lived were anomalies in the grand scheme of things and, unfortunately, the way they taught the younger generations was to lead them on with false hope and promises they themselves were fed through their own mass media. Whether they had good intentions or not, today there is little advice to take from them compared to the older generations that came before them.

This isn't the same sort of weird anti-tradition mindset the Baby Boomers grew up with and poisoned much of their thinking (and still does to this day), but a wake up call that they were tricked as much as you were to accept a frame of life and position in so-called modern society that simply isn't real, and the remaining illusion of that false paradise is very quickly dispersing. By the 2030s there will be no trace of it left. At that point, options to move on will be limited to destruction or blindly looking around for pieces in the wreckage to rebuild from. This is why we need to start reconstruction now, before it is too late.

Entire generations have been raised around mistrusting neighbors, running from job to job across the country (and even the world), and chasing their tail for a sort of comfortable success that would allow them to spend their vacations in places without snow while they kick their feet up and worry about little more than waking up in time for their job while everything else around them just Works Out. Sounds wild, I know, but that's what the utopia was going to be, as long as you kept your head down and did what you were told.

But that was never going to happen, and we're quickly learning what the price is of following bad advice based on unreality.

The meme that made a million bugmen mad

It took a long time to get to the overall point, so here it is. The mass media culture that was built up starting in the 1960s and up to the early 90s or so was built by Greatest Generation money funding Baby Boomer projects. Much of the so-called importance and mass market profitability was due to the fact that A) there were no other options for audiences, and B) they were built on then accepted societal truths everyone shared and a frame they all operated in. Neither of these are the reality of how things are done today.

In fact, there are now too many options, to the point that art is completely disposable to most people and consumed passively as if it were oatmeal. Gotta watch something when you come home after work, right? Who cares what it is as long as it hits the broad minimum barrier for Current Year moral acceptability. It's hard to be ambitious when no one cares about ambition.

As for societal truths, well, I don't think I have to point any of that out. We are currently at the point where words and notions spoken by people from a mere decade ago is now taboo. I grew up in a world where 80s kids watched things from the 1950s without blinking and now there are full grown adults who can't even process movies made before 1995. (Seriously, do a search in any search engine and marvel at the amount of people who can't watch anything before that time period--it's an epidemic). Forget anything older than the 1960s (the saying "Don't Read Anything Before 1940" exists for a reason, after all), which severely limits the scope of "acceptable" art in Current Year--we are being taught that everything old has an expiry date on relevance, and that is very dangerous.

Pair these above problems together and you get a greater sense of how things became what they are today. While art is more readily available and has greater reach than ever before, the audience is also simultaneously less and more picky about what ends up on their plate because it exists as more convenience before anything else, as long as it follows the formula dying megacorps have set out for them as acceptable.

At the same time, they have been trained to funnel only modern corporate product down the belt-line in order to avoid encountering anything outside the acceptable societal frame (Hence, the "Don't Read Anything Before 1940" year becomes "1980" and, more recently, "2000"). What this leads to is exactly what the old industries now are, living in a detached void from the past and the wider world, and it's why they are dying.

Just like the Baby Boomer generation that spawned them, these systems were not made as sturdy and strong as you were told they were, and are now on their last legs. All it has left is a giant mess of confused and lost people in its wake.

What's coming next? Well, that is what we must prepare for, and the best way to prepare for it is to get an early start by ditching the system everyone knows is already dying. Cultural Ground Zero is unavoidable now to anyone with ears and eyes, but it's still clung to because there is no obvious path forward. While that may be true, it is obvious that pretending this dead system is still viable only leads to mental stress and eventual self-destruction. You know it's dead, I know it's dead. It's time to stop pretending otherwise. It is the 2020s, not the 1980s--mass media is not going to lead you to utopia. In fact, it is currently trying to lead you to the grave.

Utopia is not possible. Everything built on a lie eventually collapses, and that is where we are right now. We can't rely on the lie of Progress to carry us on anymore.

We need to build foundations based on sturdy things. That is the only way to make anything truly worth creating and preserving.

This was an anomaly. It's not normal.

The greater point here is that this is not culture. "Geek Culture" is not real. Just like Progress, it is also built on a lie.

Geek Culture is a mutation of 1960s to 2000s Baby Boomer mass media consumption twisted in a way to fill multiple purposes that Art was never meant to fulfil. What was originally supposed to be a way to distribute art and entertainment on a wider scale to more people became a way to shape tastes, opinions, and beliefs, of the people consuming it in new and increasingly warped ways. It's no coincidence more people live off pills and medicine than ever before.

If you doubt it then find yourself a modern Hollywood movie where every character doesn't have the same general beliefs and worldview (and the villains don't all have the same bland motivation and lack of drive beyond wanting to be mean for mean's sake), or a historical film where people who lived differently than the superior people of today aren't treated as two dimensional cartoons we're meant to "learn from" and look down on from our superior modern lens that isn't color tinted to murky colors and made overly ugly. It's all the same.

Everything in mass culture, OldPub, Hollywood, Big Tech / Silicon Valley, and AAA video games, are all run by groups that want to control thought and change public morals and discourse. They do this because they hate people as they are. Just the fact that Sweet Baby Inc exists, a group that offers no value to art or entertainment except to enforce corporate morality on projects they didn't create, should be proof enough that quality is not the factor here: thought control is. The whole reason they can do this in the first place when decades ago it would have been pointed out for what it is, is simply because entropy has rotted away at the foundations of what once was. You cannot sneer at Jack Thompson while accepting someone doing the same thing as him, just from a different political position. In fact, within a few years I'm sure many will soften on him, as well. That's how decline and decay works, after all. We're on a downhill slide.

We are also not rolling the clock back on this--Baby Boomer mass culture is over. All that's left is for the parasites to suck the blood dry and devour any carcass that is left. Anyone paying attention at all can point this obvious truth out all they like, but the fact is that the mass audience was demoralized long ago and have already long since walked away. They are not what is keeping this vapid apparatus alive and kicking.

This system is only kept alive by those who refuse to move on. This leaves the Geek Culture adherents, the ones that haven't yet been filtered into this death cult still fighting the pointless fight to roll the clock back before it imploded as the last holdouts on this dead system. And at this juncture, it has to emphasized to these poor souls: it's over, bro. You need to move on and take your business elsewhere. You are no longer the customers of this rickety system. They don't want customers--they want cultists for their lifestyle brands new religion, and they don't need to be reminded that you exist. Because for all intents and purposes, you don't exist to them. You're a relic of a bygone age that is not coming back, one that was used as a stepping stone to get to where they are today. Either get in line, or be destroyed by Progress.

All the more reason why this artificial frame must finally be scrapped.

Geek Culture is not it's own culture--it's the transitional state between Mass Culture consumer and the modern Death Cult. No matter how many snarky jokes you make at how bad things are, you are a dying breed and they know it. You know it. Normal people are gone and your number is dwindling as the 20th century falls further and further away from living memory. Eventually, all that will be left are true believers, just as they want. Your Geek Culture identity was never anything more than an artificial replacement meant to sever you from old normality. It was done to make you easier to filter into the fake identity centered around products and consuming they had prepared for you instead. It only makes sense that the next step after earning your loyalty would be to make sure their walking wallets customers would be warped to think opposing them is a moral wrong. Give your life to the cause or get out. They don't see you as human, because none of this is human at all. It never was.

The world is moving beyond the Corporate Period of Art, and what you are seeing now from it is the dying gasps of a sick patient on his death bed. A last furious and desperate grasp for control over that which they do not control, their delirious state blinding them to their reality. In the end, it will all still die out, but what will take its place after its gone?

What will you be after Geek Culture dies?

Marshall McLuhan once said that the modern era was defined by megaphones. Once a person hears a voice booming from an electronic speaker, his entire disposition changes, as does how he takes in the information being sent out to him. As a result, you gain the most people's attention at the same time, and should, theoretically, be able to hold their a focus to impart whatever you want on them. Back then, this was seen as the obvious future, and it was. For a time.

But what happens when burnout and exhaustion takes hold? What happens when the megaphone is no longer effective? What happens when people, as they always do, build up a tolerance to it, and begin to tune it out. What comes when the megaphone fails?

We are beginning to see it right now in the modern day. The old era is not only over--there is scarce trace of it left.

A livestream on what the Corporate Era of Art is was.

All of this is a way to say that falsehoods and little white lies have already done their damage and have led to generations that take the megaphone for granted. It no longer works on everyone some of the time--now it only works on some of the group all of the time. This cohort of true believers are the last water carriers for a dead system, and will do whatever they can to keep it alive. This is why they have little left but to spout slogans of "ists" and "phobes" holding back Progress by not supporting corporate products meant to educate the rubes.

Those are the only people left who care, and their very support is destroying them. These are the ones from the 2010s who lost their way and now spend their time striking out at everyone else for their mistakes and dashed hopes and dreams. It is an ugly place to be in.

But everyone else aside from the true believers and the older geek culture hopefuls already have moved on. They already know this fake culture is dead. This is why insulting "normies" is a losing game. They are the first to always abandon something once it rolls off the track, the canaries in the coal mine of dead trends and milked ideas, and they are always the first to leave. They might not be the first ones at the party, but they are always the first to depart once things get too rowdy, and it should tell you a lot that normal people have almost entirely checked out of modernity, especially since the pandemic and the ensuing fallout shattered so many lives.

I don't know what comes next. No one does. There are those convinced the future will be done through a neopatronage system similar to what it once was. Maybe they're correct.

However, something will eventually fill the void of the corporations, though how long that take or what form it will come in is anyone's guess. For now it's enough to point out the obvious that what we once took for granted, and what many have based their identities around for decades, is over. Whatever comes next could be better or worse, but it will not be like what we just had. Just like how Rock n' Roll is Dead, so is mass media and pop culture buried in a grave. You can't base your identity on a dead era with no future.

What awaits you in the future is much more than corporate products.

A document of an era long gone

As a Gen Y kid, I am the best candidate to speak on moving on from dead worlds. It is where my entire generation was born and raised, a wonderland of unreality. When the dream we were sold died, we were left without direction by a leading generation who decided to stop leading and instead squeeze every penny out of their head positions until the lights finally turn off and nothing is left for even the locusts to take. That rude wake up call is even still now affecting members of this cohort that are still locked into that delusion that the Future is almost here. they just need to hold on a bit longer!

I was there in the 1990s when all those forms and mediums were first abandoned by audiences who got sick of them. I watched them all decline into the parodies they were by the '00s as sales declined and more and more normal people walked away from them. It's important to note that nothing in mass culture actually increased in popularity in the '00s. Even the now-booming Japanese manga scene had a bubble burst at the time. It was a terrible era for art and entertainment, and it led into the 2010s: the period where the dying corpos took the gloves off and decided to wage war against their customers and force them in line.

If you doubt this, I suggest re-reading the Sony e-mail leaks from back in 2016 where the internal e-mails outright state they were planning on weaponizing discourse against those who thought the 2016 Ghostbusters movie looked like garbage (and it was) before it even released. This is because they knew it would be bad and figured out they could weaponize True Believer cultists against everyone else, a tactic they still use for every single movie they release today. And this is exactly what happened. It can't even be denied. The James Rolfe incident alone is enough to prove that it was a coordinated effort to shame the outgroup for not indulging in what the ingroup tells them to indulge in. Again, this isn't arguable. Everyone knows this happened, and it still happens today.

It's been eight years of this divisive tactic, and nothing but outright bombs have resulted from this hateful strategy. So why do they keep doing it and persist on attacking non-believers? It isn't just about money anymore. That should be clear when a near decade of nothing but financial failures doesn't lead to either bankruptcy or any change of course. They simply hate you for not being the cult member they are programming you to be.

And this entire issue is a remnant of an old failed order that has long since died out. It died out with Cultural Ground Zero back in the '90s.

My generation was told that all you had to do to get by was get in line and do what you're told. Firm handshakes, they say jump and you ask how high, and work smarter not harder. You will be rewarded for all your efforts. If it doesn't work, well, you're clearly doing it wrong. After all, you had an entire "successful" generation who had it all work out for them. Surely, if you can't do it then you must be a failure who just isn't pulling on their own bootstraps hard enough. History ended back in the 1960s and the rules are now solidified from now until the end of time.

The problem with this is that everyone knows it isn't true, but only about half the people will say so. The rest are like Geek Culture adherents, hoping to live in the ashes while still pretending they aren't living in Current Year dystopia. They are being shaken awake, but they are still fighting it, praying they can prolong the dream world of their youth when the future wasn't what it turned out to be. Reality is not what they were promised, and that is a hard truth to accept.

But it can be better, if you fight for it.

And now is the best time to be fighting.

New platforms and ideas are springing up everyday. New creators and audiences are showing up to the scene all the time. The old system might still be around, but it's irrelevant in the greater scheme of things, and, as we've just discussed many times, is over.

Artificiality always eventually falls away. No man can maintain an illusion all the time, and all tricks wear thin after extended usage. What we are seeing now is what happens when something is stretched out past its expiration date instead of being allowed to die a peaceful death. You are left with cultural necromancers who cannot create, who only live to prolong the shadow-play of their corporate masters further. And that is not going to end anywhere good.

What can be done is to put things in their place and accept the world we have now instead of trying to revive an era long since gone and dead. There are creators right now trying to create while dead corporations are rehashing dead IP with no new ideas. The gap between the two has never been more obvious before, and never before has it been easier to move on to greener pastures. It is time to finally let the dead rest.

Of course we can't quite know where everything will end up in a few years time, never mind a decade, but as of now, the path forward is clear: NewPub over OldPub, indie over mainstream, and taking in art over consuming product. The difference is clear.

As we move on into the mid-20s, the change is already upon us and more obvious than ever. Don't get left behind in a graveyard while the parade passes you by. Life is for the living, and now is the exact time to live.

The era of artificiality is over. Now is the time to build.