2018/06/14

The Preponderance of Evidence

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Evidence continues to mount in support of my theory that something catastrophic befell Western pop culture circa 1997.

Exhibit A: Over the past year, comic book artist Ethan Van Sciver has launched a successful second career as a YouTuber. He does aspiring artist portfolio reviews and a how-to-draw instructional series, but he hit it big thanks to his laconic commentary on comics and movies--particularly Disney's butchering of Star Wars. I check in on his channel once a day to keep abreast of what normies who are just getting woke to the wholesale pillaging of their culture are up to.

In a recent video, Van Sciver goes into rather candid detail about his reasons for leaving DC Comics. He describes the typical SJW-enforced hostile work environment, even adding the usual report of cowed Conservatives holing up under their desks.

But that's neither here nor there. This video's relevance for our purposes today is that EVS makes the observation that current woes besetting the comic book industry started in the late 90s. He traces the start of the troubles to 1998, but it's close enough for punk rock.


Exhibit B: Multiple friends pointed me toward this video by session musician Rick Beato after my original post on pop culture's terminal 1997 decline. Here, Rick and a couple of his fellow musicians explain the death of rock and roll. Of note, they call the time of death at 1996.


Rock died in 1996. Comics followed in 1998. Everything else died in 1997. Piecing together the evidence, a startling picture emerges. Western pop culture, which had been a world-bestriding colossus for almost a century, suffered total collapse over a roughly eighteen month period ca. late 96-early 98. That's not an asteroid impact so much as a killer plague that swept the West like wildfire.

Identifying the exact pathogen exceeds the scope of this post and will probably take the combined efforts of guys like EVS, the larger crowd of dissident bloggers, and myself over an extended period of time. We do know there were a few survivors who evolved immunity to the cultural virus that wiped out most artists and turned others into zombie parasites shambling through the halls of our ruined institutions. It's a case of life imitating art modeled after I Am Legend.

What we do know is that the surviving remnant of Western artists have a big job on our hands rebuilding pop culture. I urge you to pick up a pen, a brush, or a camera and do your part. I'm doing mine.

The Soul Cycle - Brian Niemeier

27 comments:

  1. Brian
    My take is that the boomers had a severe midlife crisis when the Internet went mainstream. It completely upended everything and threatened the boomers'gatekeepers monopoly.
    Ya sorta see this with MS ruthless suppression of competitors via its Windows OEM licencerros to force office and Internet explorer. It was a time of the 1stime stagnation until Linux,Iphone and Ios came out
    I lived through it and lost nearly 10 years trying to get a job after school.
    The boomers'gatekeepers just freaked out and circled the wagons.
    xavier

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  2. E3's pretty much shown me that the Western (AAA) industry has crashed creatively as well. All the games I'm excited for are either smaller studios or not from the United States/Western Europe

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    1. Current-year video gaming is a blasted lunar hellscape.

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    2. Basically I have given up on the west for except for few hold outs and multiplayer games. Even then they shit the bed(cough overwatch and blizzard.) Japan and the Eastern Block Devs are going to be industry movers and shakers in less than decade and we will see THQ levels falling apart by the likes of Activision and EA. UBISHIT for all their shit at least tries to make a good game now and then but the rest of the major AAA devs and publisher are going to fall apart quickly. Really I only see two West Publishers surviving and really I don't care if they do.

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    3. The two games I most looking forward to are from franchises that have their roots in the 90s.

      That's how pathetic modern gaming is.

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    4. Yeah I'm still playing rimworld.

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    5. "(cough overwatch and blizzard.)"

      Is there anything the mods won't ban you for in that game anymore?

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    6. No.

      If I didn't have paid game time and some friends, I'd walk away from WOW. As BFA is still looking to be a trainwreck, I may yet do so come January.

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  3. I don't know how much you know about comics but what EVS was specifically referring to was the Comic Book Crash in the late 90s. Basically all of the bad decisions that the industry had been making for a decade (mostly relating to going for the short money by doing shock tactics and gimmicks) finally caught up to it and the bottom fell out. The industry has never really recovered from it.

    What's funny (in a dark sort of way) is that nowadays the industry uses the exact same gimmicks and shock tactics and only gets a fraction of the sales they used to.

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    1. I have a somewhat different perspective on the Comic Book Crash. A guy who knows way more about business and finance than me insists that the smart money had already left the industry before the crash proper.

      But we all agree on the lasting effects. EVS comes out and says in the video that not wanting a bigger share of a shrinking market is a major reason he left DC.

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    2. As I see it, comics really caved in back in the 70s with the creation of the direct market, which meant the industry had begun to retreat from newsstands and spinner racks at convenience stores and such and become an industry that was only able to increasingly pander to its existing fanbase. That fanbase has steadily dwindled over time, leading to our current predicament of comics that are loss-leaders for their bigger media corporation owners, just renewing old trademarks and brainstorming stuff for the eventual movies, TV, video games, and other merchandise that actually does make money.

      Comics as a general thing are not easy because the artists in the late Silver Age, that first generation of fans turned pros, figured out quickly that they could make more money doing less work in non-comics fields, like advertising, book and album covers, and just selling portfolios. They also refused to create new characters for Marvel and DC because they knew they wouldn't get a cut. Those basic realities have never changed. So that entire generation that was supposed to get the hand-off from the original Golden Age creators like Kirby, Eisner, Ditko, Romita, etc., never happened. Neal Adams, Windsor-Smith, Kaluta, Wrightson, Ploog, and so forth all pretty much left the first chance they got and just popped back in occasionally for a lark. Not a healthy way to maintain an industry.

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    3. "...the industry had begun to retreat from newsstands and spinner racks at convenience stores..."

      The same thing happened in my industry when the paperback market died. Ditto the failure to attract and retain new talent.

      Every big publisher used to have a mass market paperback imprint where they'd start their new authors. Advances were lower, but the market was more forgiving than front list hardcovers. It was like an apprenticeship where you got a few paperback only releases under your belt, and if you earned out they'd graduate you to the next level.

      There was still a healthy mid list back then. A first-timer didn't face the crushing pressure of earning out a debut hardcover in six weeks or never working again. Tradpub has been a meat grinder for years. Now, like the Big Two comics companies, the Big Five publishers are dying.

      Moral of the story: Have a minor league to farm new talent, even if you lose some money on it. Pass on the skills. Think long-term.

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  4. All of the comments remind me a TV show called 30 something. It was widely popular and I think it was about boomers whining or something. I bet you can see the proto roots of nostalgatis sprouting.
    Yeah i'm stunned the how video games are so boring and uninspired

    xavier

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    1. I was just thinking of that show today for the first time in decades for no discernible reason.

      Spooky!

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    2. Brian
      Synchronicity :)I never watched the show. It neverappealed to me and there were better ones to watch at the time.

      xavier

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  5. Just a thought not fully fleshed out yet, but look at US presidential terms while studying cultural shifts. Do second term presidential wins line up with the high mark in a cultural trend? Do people associate a second term with the zeitgeist of the age? Running off memory it seems to line up pretty well in my own cranial space.

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    1. I wouldn't count Obama as a high anything, other than high on his own farts.

      Maybe he's the "low mark in a cultural trend". Which doesn't negate your theory, merely shows that in addition to highs, second terms can be craters.

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    2. Horror movie buffs I know swear that the horror scene historically flourishes under Republican administrations.

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  6. I've just finished a novella, the first in a series. I don't know if it qualifies as saving Western Civilization, but if not, hopefully these stories will act as a painkiller.

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    1. Congratulations. Not many people achieve that.

      No author is fully qualified to accurately assess the quality of his own work, either. Send me an email.

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    2. Email sent to your editing email address.

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  7. Is it possible that 1997 was the proto-convergence? With 1989, many anti-Commies dropped their guard down, and the cultural commies were not raging SJW lunatics. As a late gen-Xer/early gen-Y, we started to graduate from HS in 1997 and many of us saw no future for us, even with muh college being thrown at us with the ridiculous mantra of “do whatever you love, the money will follow.” But it sounded hollow because the powers that Be were consolidating, not crumbling.

    It’s hard to imagine, innovate and create when you are under the sway of nihilism. It’s also difficult to support said things as a nihilist buried under college debt and only mind numbing desk jobs available.

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    1. My grandfather's generation walked out of their HS graduations and into solid manufacturing jobs. My dad's cohort got into the middle class on 2-year degrees.

      I stepped from my HS commencement into a yawning gray abyss that inspired no hope and no ambition. The sense that something was wrong with me for not being beside myself with joy at the prospect of being a faceless bugman in a sterile cube farm dogged me for years.

      You're not alone.

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    2. P.S. On Twitter Daddy Warpig dropped the intriguing suggestion that we look into when the Boomers first took full control of most institutions.

      They say nobody gives you any real responsibility until you're 40. In what decade did the Boomers turn 40?

      Hint: Bill Clinton was the first Boomer President.

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    3. The computer field was exploding when I graduated HS, which was the only thing saving us (Xers) from that yawning abyss of soulless cube farms.

      In some cases you lucky folks will be managed by Xers. But I keep hearing about boomers promoting unqualified bootlicking millenials.

      I can't imagine anything more soul crushing than that.

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    4. There's a subset of Millennials who suck up to Boomers (pretend to like the Beatles, to give a shit about JFK, Woodstock, etc.) in the hope that they'll be let into their low-work/high-pay world.

      Suckers.

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