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Exclusive: Dave Baker’s essay, “Physical Media And The Fallacy of Digital Ownership”

Exclusive: Dave Baker’s essay, “Physical Media And The Fallacy of Digital Ownership”

The publish Exclusive: Dave Baker’s essay, “Physical Media And The Fallacy of Digital Ownership” appeared first on Graphic Policy.

Mary Tyler MooreHawk cover

This week sees the discharge by Dave Baker‘s Mary Tyler MooreHawk, being revealed by Top Shelf Productions. Mary Tyler MooreHawk is equal components sweeping action-adventure graphic novel and dystopian detective story that weaves forwards and backwards between worlds, pertaining to the whole lot from company personhood to mutant shark-men to the which means of fandom and actuality itself. It’s a present you don’t bear in mind… and a guide you gained’t neglect. 

We have an unique essay from Baker, “Physical Media And The Fallacy of Digital Ownership,” that appears on the shifting media consumption and what shoppers actually personal. Check out the essay under in addition to a preview of Mary Tyler MooreHawk.


I bear in mind getting my first disk from Netflix within the mail. It was Green Street Hooligans, a soccer street-tough film directed by the longer term Punisher: War Zone helmer Lexi Alexander, and starring Elijah Wood and Charlie Hunnam. My reminiscence is that the film is a reasonably spectacular piece of low finances work. Is that really correct? That’s anybody’s guess. I’ve solely seen it the as soon as.

This is an extended and roundabout approach to say… I bear in mind the Before Times. The halcyon days after we all had bodily discs of DVDs delivered to us by an organization that simply innocently needed to make our lives simpler and extra handy. Little did I do know that this identical firm would pivot the whole cultural material of our nation… and perhaps the world. You’re most likely saying, “That sounds a bit excessive there, Davey Boy.” Just naked with me. Please.

The historical past of how media, particularly movie, has developed is in two distinct income pipelines. The Theatrical Window and The Home Market. This is fairly self-evident, however I’m going to briefly lay it out, anyway. In the early days of the invention of cameras using  the Persistence of Vision phenomenon to trick the mind into seeing 24 nonetheless pictures as a single shifting actuality the one approach to witness this was to attend a theatrical expertise. You paid your nickel, or dime, or quarter to take a seat in a darkened theater or tent, and watch magic occur earlier than your eyes.

Mary Tyler MooreHawk

And that was it. When the magic was accomplished… it was gone. Like a lot smoke or gossamer.

And this was the established order of the burgeoning business for near a half century. Eventually, betamax, VHS, Laser Disc, and DVD revolutionized and recontextualized this expertise. Gone was the fleeting momentary expertise, and right here was an on-demand live-in fount of leisure. And it’s been this fashion for near forty years. Almost so long as the fledgling medium took to really develop itself into the tough bones of what artists use to create works right this moment.

But right here’s the catch, which you could all see coming a mile away. This system was too good. We took it as a right. We didn’t respect what we had, and like a merciless stepmother in a fairytale, we had been stripped of our privilege. Or one thing. I don’t know. That metaphor obtained away from me. But you see the purpose I’m driving at. Before: issues good. Now: issues much less good. 

Physical media, whether or not they be discs or tapes or records, is an virtually extinct factor. The streamers, led by the reborn Netflix, have taken comfort and weaponized it. They’ve proved {that a} click on of a button enabling the screening of your favourite episode of Grey’s Anatomy right this moment, is best than a disc bought and housed in your house guaranteeing entry all the time.

And whereas one aspect of this dialog is as ethereal and existential because the beginnings of the medium that the Lumiere Brothers pioneered, the opposite is exceedingly tangible and concrete. It lives in ones and zeroes. You see, the unintended aspect impact of bodily media being changed by servers and logins is that a complete secondary monetary market has  been decimated.

In earlier eras of the movie enterprise, you’ll get two bites on the apple. One throughout the theatrical window, which was hopefully an enormous debut after which large weak over weak attrition, after which the Home Video market, which in lots of instances may save a movie due to the funds generated by phrase of mouth.

Mary Tyler MooreHawk

That secondary market simply doesn’t exist in the identical approach. As such, residuals aren’t structured the identical, in the event that they exist in any respect, and only a few tasks are in a position to generate the hype and consciousness to realize a second life on these labyrinthian and infrequently siloed streaming platforms.

But right here’s the darkest a part of all, one which’s not a Check Out The Big Brain On Brad enterprise and business dialogue.

Just as a result of your favourite film or present is presently accessible in your streamer of selection, doesn’t imply it is going to be there tomorrow. The Streaming Wars ought to, in principle, offer incentives which might be one-upping the competitors within the enviornment of iron-clad digital possession. However, it’s virtually a race to the underside, in that respect.

Recently Sony Playstation customers had been greeted with a immediate informing them that as of December thirty first, 2023 all content material associated to mum or dad firm Discovery, that had been bought to personal, would not be accessible because of “licensing agreements” expiring.

Revoking possession because of phrases and situations altering positive doesn’t seem to be a lot of an possession stake, does it? But that is the Faustian cut price we’ve all passively agreed to in trade for the effortlessness of with the ability to stream.

What is life when you can’t binge 34 hours of House of Cards in a single weekend, taking solely minimal piss and shit breaks, am I proper? Who must really feel the wind in your hair on a cool summer time night when there’s 15 seasons of Ink Master? Why unstrap your self from the content material machine when you’ll be able to have your cellphone feeding you TikToks, and your laptop computer streaming Loki Season 2, and your iPad pulsing Spotify’s most listened to New Bangers for Sexy Bitches for 2k23? Content is king, child. And there’s a lot of it, who has time to do something aside from ingest.

The most horrifying aspect of this irrevocable trajectory, to me, is that that is only the start. In the early days of theatrical distribution, producers used to joke that they had been within the enterprise of getting one thing for nothing. Today, streamers are within the enterprise of promoting us entry to the whole lot in trade for subsequent to nothing. The knock on impact of that is that just about each facet of the business has contracted or bloated to match this anorexic binge and purge enterprise mannequin.  To make issues even worse we’re all completely haunted by the concept that it may very well be taken away at any second.

Mary Tyler MooreHawk

This media panorama and established order is one thing that has affected almost each inventive business. Film, TV, and Music, all completely altered by the omnipresent specter of Infinite Access. 

Surprisingly, one business that has weathered the Streaming Era comparatively nonetheless intact is the Comic Book business, or quite the free community of retail comedian guide retailer places, sometimes called the Direct Market, particularly. People who purchase comics nonetheless need books. They need to maintain issues of their arms. However, thanks to provide chain points, rising paper prices, editorial mismanagement, and a fervent catering in the direction of an more and more diminishing crowd of “speculator” collectors, even this business is struggling in latest occasions.

The earlier main shift that occurred within the media panorama previous to streaming was piracy. Napster, LimeWire, and a bevy of different Peer to Peer file sharing torrent websites turned the concept of distribution and possession on its head within the late 90’s and early 2000’s. And in some ways digital piracy of music and movie tasks is just not almost as persistent as they as soon as had been, due largely to the benefit of entry the streamers supply. However, satirically, piracy of comedian books is at an all time excessive.

Without naming any names, there are websites accessible on-line that home literal hundreds of thousands of comics, organized, collated, and cataloged. They’re prepared for a readership of latest and eyeballs. And they don’t require you to fork over 4, 5, or generally as a lot as 6 {dollars} for a single concern that may be learn in quarter-hour. The value of admission is just a few annoying popup menus and possibly your cookies and private information being harvested by weirdo alt-right mailing lists which might be too pathetic to truly be capable to organically generate the curiosity they should survive within the chilly mild of day.

I say all of this, as a result of dwelling in Los Angeles you’re inundated by these concepts. The pressures of the fiscal realities of the time and the quickly altering consumption habits of a inhabitants who doesn’t give two shits about how the sausage is made… they simply need to be fed.

So, logically, what do you do with all this pent up frustration, fascination, and rumination? You write a guide about it … kind of.

Mary Tyler MooreHawk took me 4 years to create. It’s a guide break up into two halves. The first part is an motion journey comedian following a gaggle of super-science adventurers as they try to cease the tip of the world, and the opposite half is a novel, a few journalist who’s obsessive about a TV present that solely lasted 9 episodes and was primarily based on the adventures of the beforehand detailed household.

Here’s the straightforward reality, most individuals that learn my guide, in the event that they learn it in any respect, are going to be specializing in the enjoyable motion, quirky characters, and retro-futurist science vibes. Which is nice. I like these issues too. But lurking simply beneath that floor is one thing a bit extra sinister. You see, within the novel parts of the guide there are excerpts from a zine titled Physicalist Today. In these sections you’ll expertise a glimpse into what the longer term may maintain. A world the place possession of bodily objects is outlawed, a time after we’ve forgotten how the concept of “story” capabilities.

Mary Tyler MooreHawk

In this future, gathering and nostalgia are a poison capsule. They’ve been pushed underground by an oppressive authorities. And as such solely a scant few folks care sufficient to attend basement unlawful swap meets the place contraband like comedian books, VHS tapes, and previous merchandising machines are bought for pennies on the greenback.

To me, there’s a connection between possession and the virality of an concept. Sure, there’s the Dawkins concept of a “meme” as a DNA-esque constructing block aspect of tradition, that self-replicates and spreads like wildfire. But, on prime of that, there’s a symbiotic relationship between the way in which these concepts unfold and a bodily attachment that reader, client, or viewer can expertise.

Comic books particularly benefited from this relationship. In the early a long time of their existence they had been bought by the hundreds of thousands after which traded by the lots of of hundreds of thousands. Children from all walks of life benefitted from the truth that as soon as considered one of their buddies had purchased the brand new concern of Lois Lane, Superman’s Girlfriend, it might be traded, borrowed, and stolen tens of occasions earlier than it might fairly actually crumble.

These colloquial libraries had been the spine of how Youth Culture spawned within the United States. From bootleg recordings of your favourite bands to dog-eared copies of your that one subversive novel, each concept that has had true cultural endurance has had some rooted fixture within the bodily world.

Which is why the route we’re presently headed in seems exponentially extra bleak. With the idiotic requires censorship and burning of books rising louder day by day, the thoughts wonders what the terminus of this extremely harmful cultural preoccupation we now have is? It begins by aiming a megaphone and underserved voices and folks from minority teams’ self-expression. And then it quickly evolves from there, if allowed to fester unchecked. When are the priceless items of our cultural historical past going to be eliminated, censored, or destroyed just because they don’t match with the purported ethical compass of a vocal minority?

When all is claimed and accomplished, issues are both going to utterly erode, and we’re going to haven’t any bodily releases of the items of media we love, which is ostensibly the place we’re by all cheap estimations. Or, issues will course right. The system will go into Oh, Dear God, I Must Un-Fuck Myself mode. The cultural shopping for habits will run counter to the world we stay in proper now, and the concept of bodily possession will expertise a rebirth, doubtlessly one thing akin to what has occurred with vinyl records.

Is this the most certainly case? Tragically, that is the trajectory we’re presently on. It’s irritating, scary, and dour. But, frankly, that’s why I’ve devoted my life to creating books. I like books. I like the expertise of holding them in my arms, turning the pages, and being sucked into some world that’s utterly new and thrilling. Which is strictly why I spent the final 4 years making Mary Tyler MooreHawk. I can’t say that once I began the undertaking I anticipated it being so express about this precise matter, however, what they are saying, “all good artwork is autobiography.”

So, in conclusion, please don’t fall for the entice of pondering that digital possession is an actual factor… it’s not. It’s a mirage, propagated by company entities that work as stopgaps for our tradition. It’s irritating however, presently, there’s not a lot of a selection however to swim with these sharks. If you’re in a position to insurgent in opposition to this new established order in a minimal approach, in your day-to-day adventures, please accomplish that. I’ll think about it a private favor to me. Not that you simply actually owe me one… however, y’know, it might be good. It’ll make me really feel much less alone as I’m shaking my fist on the clouds.

Vinyl

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February 13, 2024 at 08:09PM

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