The content stream

From Austin Storm
Jump to: navigation, search
That moment, like so many others in this deeply layered legacy film, expressed a deep tension about living in an age where people are mortal, but IP lives forever. And while Endgame has moments that reach for a similar emotional payload, this film’s more celebratory attitude foregrounds the dark side of this same phrase. With CGI tech at a point where we can plausibly reproduce entire performances by long-deceased actors, the content these franchises offer is in risk of growing increasingly dehumanized. The very thing that makes serialized live-action movies different from comic books is surely the idea that we see these actors aging and developing over many years. But the irreversibility of this process, and thereby its emotional payload, is lost once digitization transforms these human beings into endlessly adaptable avatars.


This helps clarify one of the biggest points about narrative media in the digital age: while we still crave traditional components like complexity, spectacle, and closure, we experience those things only as part of a literally endless flow of branded content with occasional moments of intensification. Those moments are welcomed, in part at least because they provide a kind of collective enjoyment that has become rare in the streaming age, where each person’s media consumption patterns are increasingly defined by their data profiles and algorithmic feeds. For digital natives, old-school mass media’s reliance on broadcasts reaching large groups of “mainstream” audiences at the same time has already lost its meaning. What media scholar Chuck Tryon so aptly described as “on-demand culture” means that our popular culture has become hugely individualized, with far fewer shared cultural moments.

- Disney's Endgame: Corporate Stockholm Syndrome in the Age of the Mega-Franchise, Dan Hassler-Forest