Spotlighting Art for the Moth-Like Masses

Spotlight, Photo by Luis Morera

Edward White

Editors Note: Edward White (aka KingEmperorPenguin) is an author and Youtuber. Readers are greatly encouraged to check out his work with the above links.

Last year, I uploaded a video on YouTube called It’s Time to Move On (Fans of Critic YouTube Are Not Seeking Good Entertainment). This essay was targeted primarily at YouTube Critics and their viewers who are trapped in a cycle of complaining about the latest woke iterations of their much-beloved franchises and then waiting for the next iteration, hoping it is not pozzed and, when it invariably is, start criticising once again.

I observed that every reboot/remake/sequel/prequel/spin-off/soft-reboot will always be infused with progressive propaganda, disrespectful to what preceded it and awful.

I also noted that “Go Woke go Broke” isn’t a real phenomenon; it is a wish. Chanted by fans who believe free-market forces will eventually strike down the offending mega-corporations like a vengeful god.

Finally, I advised fans and critics to move on. It isn’t reasonable to hope and expect for your favourite series or stories to continue forever; every story has a beginning and an end. Nobody should be demanding that Star Wars, Star Trek or He-Man continue ad-infinitum until all the events of Revelation occur. Instead, everyone should move on and engage with different media and stories for their enjoyment.

So What?

But we all know this. Every one of us in this dissident sphere knows that the entertainment industrial complex is using old media as skinsuits both to spread propaganda and to convert what were, ostensibly, non-political or right-wing(-sh) media to the progressive cause. (A concept I explore in this other video essay.)

So why am I bothering to rehash points from a video essay when we all know the script?

Well, I discussed two further issues in the video on which I want to elaborate in this article and explain how we, in this dissident sphere, need to consider them seriously if we want to win the culture war and stop being RINOs of the art and media world.

Between (8:29) and (12:15) of It’s Time to Move On, I suggest two courses of action.

First, creators need to create art, stories and media so people have something good to enjoy.

Second, everyone who is not a creator needs to stop expecting good entertainment and art to come from the mega-corporations and search for these independent creators and their works.

For the most part, I would say that everyone with a creative bone in his body has begun to produce and distribute new media and stories for the world to enjoy. Admittedly, it is mostly online but it’s not a bad place to start. The first course of action is being taken and we should not forget this.

The issues start with the second course of action and that is where we should dedicate our efforts. There are two big problems which prevent or otherwise discourage the average man from taking the second course of action.

The Awareness and Effort Problem

If you are an individual sick of mainstream media and want something different, where do you look? Perhaps you are into reading novels rather than watching television, so you decide to find some independent authors on Amazon or Kobo or some other website where independents publish their work. Upon jumping on to any (or all) of these websites, a problem will strike you immediately: the abundance of choice and the lack of any indicators of quality.

Anyone who fancies himself an author can publish online so there is a lot of rubbish mixed with the diamonds. The issue is these diamonds will often have flown under the radar and won’t have hundreds of public reviews recommending them. In short, unless you are already aware by recommendation from some other source that a certain independent book is good, you are unlikely to find it.

There are good independent media in the online space or, at least, media that people will enjoy more than the latest Marvel or Star Wars garbage-piece but most are not aware of the existence of such works.

Now an avid explorer could take chances and engage with any number of media in a quest to find a story which thrills and entertains him but this takes effort and most people want to spend the smallest amount of energy possible to enjoy themselves. Telling the average man he needs to search for good stories and art himself is a tough sell.

To some extent, the Dissident Right suffers from this problem as well. A lot of dissidents don’t bother searching for new media to enjoy but instead go back to old or forgotten classics for entertainment. Endeavour and Morgoth’s Review have a Classic Movies livestream series where they discuss old films. The latest/youngest film they have discussed so far is The Incredibles (2004).

I am not saying that examining classics is a bad thing nor do I believe that Endeavour and Morgoth Review’s joint project has no merit. However, it would be amiss for me not to point out that we cannot do this indefinitely.

Any movement or any group which wants to affect social and cultural change needs to have a life of its own and this is expressed by the creation of new art and media. We need to find the stories made in our modern era which speak to our sense of morality and aesthetic taste, and then we need to promote and distribute them among our ranks and the wider public as well.

This isn’t to say we should simply promote an art piece or book because it is made by “one of us”, such rank cronyism will have limited effects. Instead, we need to find good media and raise awareness of them.

This is perhaps the easiest problem to rectify. Some of us already review or discuss art online and it would be easy for such persons and organisations to search for independent media, find the good stories and then raise awareness of them using their own platforms. Even individuals, who do not have such platforms or vocations, can still recommend stories to their friends and relatives and leave good public reviews as well.

The second problem though is a much bigger obstacle and leads on from the first.

The Shared Cultural Experience Problem

In the epilogue section of my video (starting at 12:28), I discuss the concept of shared cultural experiences. Why did everyone go to see the Star Wars sequels even after it was obvious that they were bad? And why do people still go to see Marvel superhero flicks and Disney+ series even though the quality, entertainment and fun have declined drastically since Avengers Endgame was released?

The short answer is because everyone else was doing it and it provided something to talk about. Even when the films/series are bad, you can still get some satisfaction complaining about them with friends or arguing with others who think they are good.

I didn’t want to watch Dune; I was aware of the decision to cast Sharon Duncan-Brewster as Dr Liet Kynes and had no interest from that point. I agree entirely with Brian Niemeier’s catchphrase “Don’t give money to people who hate you”. However, all my friends and relatives either had or were going to watch it and so I reluctantly went to the cinema with a group of relatives to engage with it.

You can accuse me of abandoning my own principles if you desire, but the simple fact is humans are social creatures and look for experiences and activities in order to bond and connect with each other. Big entertainment media, which everyone knows about because of global advertising campaigns, offer shared experiences for everyone in an easy-to-open package.

Contrast the reception big entertainment media receives with that of independent media and the issue becomes apparent. The average man has no interest in engaging with novels, music, films or television series which are made by independent creators because nobody else in his circle will check them out. The same is true of seminal classics for the very same reason.

The plebeian masses should be conceived of as moths who gather and circle around only the biggest and brightest lamps and do not care for the craft lamps which have been lovingly made by skilled artisans. Anything produced by the entertainment complex is going to get the spotlight and thus promise the chance of a shared cultural experience (good or bad) while independent media largely offer enjoyment only to the individual.

Consider the recent example of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill which has now reached No 2 on the charts. Why has it done so now rather than in 1985? Has the song become better with age? Well no, the reason is that it appeared in the massively popular Stranger Things 4 earlier this month and now millions of people who have never heard the song are aware of its existence. Running Up that Hill got spotlighted. Now everyone has heard the song so it has become a shared cultural experience (along with Stranger Things 4) among the masses for the year 2022.

For us, the great hurdle is finding a way to get the spotlight on independent media which embody the true, the good and the beautiful so that the average man will be persuaded to engage, secure in the knowledge his friends and family will too. We must convince the average man that everyone else is watching/reading/listening to our art.

Fortunately, we are in a better position than before. People no longer watch the television with the same limited number of shows, and cinemas are slowly becoming irrelevant because of streaming services; Disney+ and Netflix are dominating this scene and offer thousands of different films and shows to the viewer.

Yet because of the enormous number of available shows and films, the viewership is more fractured than ever even if they are using the same streaming services. This isn’t the 1990s or the early 2000s when everyone was watching the same TV shows such as Friends, now individuals have to choose which shows to watch and when to spend their time watching them. The fact viewers are now forced to make choices when they didn’t have to before, means they may be more amenable to considering independent media.

This is a golden opportunity which we must seize. We must figure out how to build organisations which can distribute, advertise and spotlight our art to the masses.

It’s the only way to attract the moth-like masses.

A large crowd of people in a theater

Description automatically generated with low confidenceArt and Entertainment are ultimately social experiences, few people go to cinemas, theatres, or galleries by themselves because they love the art produced so much.

Art exists to be social. The most beautiful song ever played has no functional value or purpose if its sole recording is hidden away in a locked safe unknown and forgotten by society. Art and media are social by nature, even books (the most private and individual of all media) exist for social purposes. Even in the modern age, people read books such as The Lord of the Rings and Foundation to discuss the ideas and characters found in those stories.

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