We live in the age of the franchise, of fiction as a brand. The most dominant stories in our cultural consciousness are designed to go on forever, and the law of averages states that at some point those stories are going to be bad.
Susana Polo on.
So this is actually from a kind of milquetoast article about toxic fandom feeling that they “own” brands and, like, how maybe people should do that… but I want to call this line out specifically because, uh. It’s… kind of fucking horrifying? And in a way that the article it’s from never addresses.
So, like. Let’s do that here.
It is absolutely horrifying that we live in an age not just where our predominant popular culture can be referred to as an “endless franchise” but also that the vast majority of these are owned and leveraged, for profit, by a single-digit number of multinational multibillion-dollar capitalist enterprises. That… really, really sucks. It sucks creatively and it sucks culturally, and we should absolutely be suspicious of it.
And this is where I think Polo is correct; you can’t change media but you can change how you engage with media. Which is why I no longer go and see most “event” franchise films, for example—I’ve historically made exceptions for Star Wars though even that’s being reconsidered—or watch “watercooler” shows just because every media outlet is talking about them. But I also tend not to mention that unless directly asked about it. Because more and more and more I’m coming to the realization that it’s not just the individual media that matters; it’s also the money and the systems behind those media and, well, a hundred articles calling out Game of Thrones for racism or sexism or whatever are effectively still a hundred ads for Game of Thrones, so…
Maybe sometimes it really is better to say nothing at all.