2017/06/13

This Is Not Fine

This Is Not Fine

Author JD Cowan delivers a stinging rebuke to proselytes for the Cult of the New:
It is a fascinating mentality to have. Imagine being so dismissive and scared of the past that one can't admit there were aspects of it better than where we live in the present. Now there is something to be said about being obsessed with a time period in one's life, but it is much different today. This type of "forward" thinking is now one step away from being cultism.
A long time ago, there was a saying. It was a line used to excuse degrading standards and subversion of classic properties in a way to dodge all legitimate criticism. It is not used so much today though the spirit is very much alive.
The motto went like this:
Question: What is the Golden Age of *insert subject here*?
Answer: Age 8 to 10.
This was the original nostalgia argument used to shut down any criticism of a newer product from the time of the 1970s and '80s, and earlier. This argument can be found looking in old letter columns from the era. However, nobody uses it anymore. It is easy to puzzle out why it has. Because this claim falls apart on closer inspection and has been proven wrong with, ironically, the passage of time.
Time has passed, and many fans of different entertainment mediums have not had the benefit of being 8 or 10 years old when Superman's first comic was released or when The Moon Pool was first run. So then, how can there be people alive today who prefer that older age in comparison to what is currently being put out? It is unclear, according to these types. How can one prefer action movies of the 1980s when they were born in 1994? That should not happen. And yet another individual who grew up with those very same movies is apparently only able to enjoy them due to a nebulous concept called nostalgia. That simply cannot be the case, at least not in every example.
JD's observations are correct. Because unlike adherents of the novelty cult, he actually takes the time to observe the current debased cultural landscape instead of defaulting to hand waving and chronological snobbery.

Just one example: look at the continued popularity of 70s and 80s properties like Star Wars, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Transformers, and the original Ghostbusters with children today. Contrast that kind of staying power with IPs from later decades. Finding an IP with lasting appeal from the 1990s requires looking to anime.

JD continues dismantling the argument from nostalgia:
This accusation requires a heavy duty dose of projection from the accuser, as it otherwise has no real bearing on a discussion centered on taste. And what it tends to lead to is the revelation that the accuser is really a member of The Cult of the New.
"How can you possibly like this old thing better than this new thing! This was made more recently, therefore it must be better. All the progress we've made in history dictates this! Clearly, you must only like this inferior relic is because you are pining for a long lost youth and are simply out of touch with what the standard is now."
The trick in this accusation is that it can't be argued against. Reasons for taste and preference cannot be proven. Therefore The Mists of Avalon is an objectively better book than Le Morte D'Arthur because of the centuries of progress since the latter. Stories of knights are simply better because they must be. How can one argue against it? Progress dictates it must be so. Taste is absolutely no factor here.
However, it is.
It always is.
Like all postmoderns, novelty cultists vocally deny objective standards of beauty and craftsmanship while at the same time conflating their subjective preference for novelty with objective quality.

Exploding their argument is as simple as refusing to let them frame the debate. The key isn't to defend your preference for the classics. It's to point out that older works are objectively superior to the creatively exhausted tripe that film, game, and comic book studios churn out these days.

For an orgy of evidence, see Jeffro Johnson's landmark Appendix N.

Appendix N - Jeffro Johnson

More from JD:
But if this situation were to flip, one could find the same issue with The Cult of the New. Every new release is showered with aplomb and gusto before being forgotten within months. We live in a throwaway culture.
Take the Avatar film by James Cameron. It was showered with praise upon release, made more money than most filmmakers can dream of, and critics were hounded, insulted, and spat upon for daring to point out any flaws it might have had. Now you will struggle to find anyone who cares one whit for it, or is looking forward to its sequels. Video games also have this problem. BioShock Infinite was hailed as an unparalleled masterpiece, as was Uncharted 2, and any game Guerrilla Games has ever made. These products are bathed in a tsunami of attention at release, and then forgotten in a year. As a prediction: by November there will hardly be anyone still talking about Prey instead of the newest holiday releases.
Which group has the shallow attachment to the product?
Avatar is an excellent example of the novelty cult's shallowness. I've written before about the reasons for its failure to gain cultural traction. The short version is that a storyteller's job is to continually explain a culture to itself. The movie producers, New York editors, and television executives who currently occupy the thrones vacated by the rightful high priests of Western culture are in fact apostates pushing a corrosive anti-culture on their increasingly atomized congregations.

But there are those who are fighting back against the usurpers and the wolves in sheep's clothing who run popular media. Content creators and curators like the fine authors at Castalia House, Cirsova Magazine, and the Pulp Revolution as a whole are working hard to remind the men of the West of their unmatched cultural tradition.

I support them and lend my pen to their noble cause. And because my primary obligation is to my readers, my award-winning Soul Cycle series is currently on sale for less than $9.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

@BrianNiemeier

11 comments:

  1. The Cult of Linear History (AKA the Cult of the New) can't fathom anything else, since "something else" would mean their side is built on lies.

    "How can we, the Intelligent Elite, be wrong? Ergo, the Proles are wrong, again."

    When Reality bites, it'll bite these types hardest of all. TopKEK will reign supreme.

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    1. Yes. The Gods of the Copybook Headings will not be denied.

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    2. Love that poem, and no they will not.

      Absolutely not.

      THe cult of linear history is tied into the mistaken belief that evolution invariably results in a better organism than one more suited to its environment.

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    3. While also depriving itself of any objective definition of "better".

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  2. Brian and I'D

    Thanks for the post. Neophilia is the philosophy's formal


    Question what is the proper perspective towards newness?

    I suppose it's a middle No need to fawn nor denigrate. But I'm open to other

    xavier

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    1. It's not a question of old or new, but of quality.

      A story featuring a dynamic cast of characters against an encroaching antagonist is the bread and butter of storytelling.

      At some point, that stopped being the goal of the professionals and the industry.

      Now protagonists are soft, doughy, and inoffensive, and antagonists are weepy and misunderstood.

      Even the worst Cannon Films has to offer is better than 99% of what Hollywood and the Big 5 are currently putting out simply because they don't fail on that very basic level.

      Frankly, I just want good protagonists and despicable antagonists in a story that offer rising action and a climax that logically extends from it.

      Most (post)moderns can't even offer that much. If they can't match old works on such a basic level then I can't see how they an even begin to compare in other areas.

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    2. Hear, hear! I'd take Canon Films over any contemporary studio.

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    3. JD
      Thanks. The problem is that The storytellers don't want to tell us stories anymore but to propagate the message(tm)

      So scholocky movies books etc are more honest because desoite the seriously lame storytelling at least they want to tell a story.

      Ok so if the storytellers don't want to do their job then they delegated it to us and they can't whine in consequence.

      Ok got it :)

      xavier

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  3. I just want to say I love the phrase "an orgy of evidence".

    I agree with the rest of what you said, but that phrase is just really awesome.

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    1. Stole it from the film adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story :)

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  4. Sentiment agreed; specific examples of Infinite (nihilistic sludege story, solid game, better DLC) and especially Uncharted 2, which remains VERY popular, I question.

    But the overall point is spot on. Especially about Avatar. Blech.

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