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Corporatization of entertainment

July 29, 2021   ·   0 Comments

JASEN OBERMEYER
READY, SET, REPORT

Entertainment is something we crave. A way to pass the time, a form of escapism, provide jobs, fuel the economy, and much more.

I feel that in the last decade or so, entertainment is a changed animal. An assembly line machine that churns out garbage.

Before I dive further, you should contemplate if you see the past through rose tinted glasses. Were the ‘good old days’ really that good? Did the Golden Age of Hollywood truly live up to its name? Has entertainment always been corporatized, and it’s just more obvious now? Did greed and aggressive merchandising always exist and were harder to see, or did passion and care truly rule? My point is, ask yourself what you do or don’t have a problem with in today’s entertainment world, and keep in mind what worked and didn’t work back then. Your perception plays a big role in this topic. 

What I mean by the corporatization is the increase in quantity of entertainment services (movies, television shows, video games, etc.), but a sharp decline in them. It’s a big spectacle with little substance. Empty calories.

I understand there are certain factors in the industry, chiefly inflation a big part. A movie back in the 1950’s that made $15,000,000 on a million-dollar budget was considered a success. But a movie today that makes $250,000,000 on a $150,000,000 budget is considered a failure.

I feel that as larger corporations keep growing, they tighten their grip on their respective industry. And when their operating budget remains incredibly high, the pressure is on to keep that revenue coming in. The demand is almost too high, and because of this, companies are less likely to take risks, which leads to complacency. And this complacency leads to laziness and a decline in that medium. So many times, you hear a film or game receive poor reviews, but was a commercial success. If it sucks, but still makes a ton of money, why fix it?

Anti-consumer is rampant in the industry, because the concern and well-being of the consumer is secondary to money. Now it’s about making the most profit, with the least bit of effort.

I would say before the 1980s, there weren’t too many sequels, spinoffs, prequels, or remakes of entertainment mediums. Now it feels diluted. Once a new intellectual property is launched, almost right away a sequel is announced, because the cow’s got to be milked. What’s wrong with enjoying the present, what was made, and go from there? There comes a point where you feel burned out, because it no longer feels special.

Even music doesn’t feel as special now. It’s a big show, with dancing, lights, and effects. Can’t one just sing and let the music carry the show?

I can think of no greater example than Disney’s buying of Lucasfilm and Star Wars. Since then, we’ve had several films, numerous shows, books, an entertainment park; it’s become too much. It seems for anything to succeed today; it must work across a variety of mediums. Create a video game and it must be adapted to television, a series of novels, and maybe a movie or two. But not all entertainment mediums work well together, which is what’s so special about them. An IP should be able to stand on its own, and if it does well, the money will follow. Don’t put the cart before the horse.

Another problem is trend chasing. A certain genre or form of entertainment might have been popular once, as trends come and go. But it’s how they’re approached that’s the problem. Superhero films dominate the box office, and ever since the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, numerous other companies jumped on the band wagon but ultimately crashed, because they were in it for a quick buck, not for the long ride. Just because what someone else does successfully doesn’t mean the same results will be for you.

And that’s the biggest problem. The formulaic, soulless approach now. The investors and shareholders who must always be pleased, who don’t care of the medium for what it is, instead just a cash cow. The CEOs who don’t see and understand the medium the way you do – who come at it from a purely business perspective – think of a method that must be strictly adhered. But in the entertainment world, such a formula doesn’t really exist. It can’t be brewed in a lab, designed in boardrooms, created in a software system. It’s in the hands of human creators. There will always be a risk, a loss and a victory.

We live in a world filled with so many entertainment possibilities. And while there has been a lot of good, it seems there’s worse. Entertainment no longer feels fun, its very purpose.

To the creators, stand your ground where you think you should. The businessperson who wants to be part of that medium should actually take part in it. Compromises must be made on both sides. Not everything needs to be a big blockbuster spectacle. Variety is key.

And for you consumers? Petitions, speaking out and against aren’t enough. Protest with your wallet, by not using your wallet. When the big companies loose big bucks, then they’ll pay attention and put in an effort.

It hurts to talk about the corporatization of entertainment. Changes should be made, action should be taken, because why should entertainment be run/handled like every other business?



         

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