I suffer from a constant battle with cognitive dissonance, and I suspect I’m not the only one. Nay, I KNOW I’m not the only one.
I have spent most of my professional life in this state, at war with myself, fighting with myself (and sometimes with others) over what has to be done and what I believe. On one side, I am a big dreamer, a creative being who sees every idea in its most extreme, beautiful, self. That’s the “Go Big!” side that I inherited from my parents. On the other side there is the budgeter, the realist, the cut it down to make it fit, and appease the financiers side. This is the practical side of me, it concedes to my sense of responsibility to others. I hate this side, but it keeps the lights on and food on the table. It’s a necessary evil.
I feel this way about many things in entertainment and the arts. I have always felt that advertisers hold too much power over the creatives’ lives. Which wouldn’t be that bad, if they didn’t use it to push agendas and politicise creativity. If they didn’t hold the threat of pulling funding at the mere smidge of controversy, so many things on our screens would be different. Some people’s court cases would have been seen through before they got the boot. (Yes, I am talking about Columbus Short et al.) Some shows would have either more in-depth content, or shorter episodes. (Every single reality show!) More importantly, some would end in their second or third season, while others would get to finish their story.
This makes me prefer British television to American. BBC does not cater to advertisers, it’s paid for by taxes anyway, so 5 episodes can be an entire season if that’s all they need to tell the story. They also care very little on how successful a show has been if the story has been told. It ends when it ends. No dragging it out to keep advertising dollars rolling in. Nope. This is also why their shows have 52-58 minutes of content, when American ones max out at 40-42 minutes.
This is why I love that online streaming services have grown to develop original content. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, have piggybacked on the audience they developed with licensed content and launched their own exclusive works. Most importantly, it worked, people logged on and watched, and no advertisers needed to be consulted or convinced.
This means they could be more daring, more creative, more innovative, and most importantly more honest to their truth, without having to take corporate agendas into consideration. They were free to fly or fail in a more organic way, but the genuine interest of the viewers, not Coco-Cola or McDonalds. Their viewership goals were set by intended audience, not Pepsi’s Reach needs.
It is because of this that we get to have shows that are not softened for the masses, nor are they diluted to appease the FCC. They are the stylings of the creatives laid out in a visual banquet and they have found success. So much so that they are competing with the “Big Boys” and not just being nominated for, but actually winning awards once reserved for network and cable television. Without these streamers, Kimmy Schmidt wouldn’t get to be unbreakable, and Orange would still be fighting with Yellow to colour the sun.
More importantly, for me, in my non-US living life, I get to watch all these shows at the same time as everyone else. There are no regionally staggered releases, there is no need. I paid for the service therefore I have access to it. More so, I can pay for the service anywhere in the world, and watch the original content right there in my living room without a VPN. LEGALLY.
Online Streaming Services is a win for creatives, and a win for global consumers. It is not just the future of media, it is today’s truth for media.