It used to be that the internet was heralded as a revolutionary breakthrough in communications. It would finally provide a universal platform for amateur creativity, and we could expect a golden age of independent production. The voice of the little guy was finally to be boomed about the globe – at least, that’s what internetters somewhat self-importantly promised it would… However, thanks to a certain lovelorn garden-gnome from Norwich, it has become painfully clear that – somewhat characteristically – the internet could not live up to it’s own hype.
Certainly, the web started out with promise, and for a period of time, new talent could really be discovered lurking in the doldrums of internet anonymity. There are numerous examples, musical, cinematic, political, but the best example I can think of being the acerbic digital wit of Charlie Brooker. Whilst he wrote for print outlet PC Zone in the late 90s, really found his satirical voice through the blogosphere. But the promise was short lived.
Unfortunately, as what has become known as Cocker’s Law dictates, an economic fact of life means a certain brown solid inevitably rises to the surface of any pool of human resource. Sure enough, a layer of scum has swiftly blotted out any potential for popularising genuinely challenging content online. Turds such as Justin Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and Kim Kardashian have ‘surfaced’ in the technological toilet bowl of the web, having technically been discovered elsewhere, but pushed to the top by corporations hungry to feast on their fibre-rich profitability.
The only people who get discovered on the internet now are people who have already been discovered; pre-ordained by major outlets as “what viewers want” before being shared with easily garnered followers. Sponsored search-engine results, an endless sea of celebrity underwear pictures, and levels of unhealthy cat-worship not seen since the doomed society of ancient Egypt mean that it has meant it is as easy as it ever was for established voices to bury new-comers. Sure, you can upload your content for free, but in against an endless tide of endless sponsored clickbait, your voice is probably going to drown.
It has even happened, most depressingly, with crowd-funding. Every film-maker and their dog now know of the endless hell that a funding campaign represents – particularly when faced with the attitude “well you do it for free usually, so why should I pay?” Likewise, every wanker and his hand, meanwhile, know exactly how easy it is to fleece the web, with the right absurdity.
Last year, a man funded his potato salad with huge financial success. Did he do that because his campaign connected organically with thousands of people? No. He did it because his campaign had the kind of hollow irony that makes established media presences lick their lips. And not because they were hungry for potato salad. It happened to have a positive impact for his meaningless campaign, but let’s be clear, mercenary sites only spammed his “Hilarious”, “controversial” and “weird” story across the globe because it was quirky enough to get people to visit their page – pleasing advertisers – whilst empty and shallow enough not to challenge anything – scaring advertisers.
For me, though, things came to a head this week when I learned of another vegetable-related attempt to plunder the dragon’s horde of internet ‘irony’. Whilst we at Hollywood Hegemony have been passing round the begging bowl fruitlessly for over a month now, another citizen of Norwich, one with all the intellect of the previously mentioned potato salad, is reaping the benefits of digital infamy. Tom Packer, a barman, “writer” and literal embodiment of gentrification, is appealing to the internet to fund his search for love – no doubt hoping the not so meagre sum of £100 a date will disguise the cold vacuum of a personality, hidden behind that enormous beard. He’s now something of a global celebrity, known for his tweeted twattery from London’s Metro, to America’s The Young Turks show. That’s him set then. But where does it leave the rest of us on Indiegogo?
Well, viewers, readers, friends and contributors, this is my appeal to you. Meaningful, critical creativity might have the pillow of hegemony placed firmly over it’s face, but it is not dead yet! This is not an obituary piece – and if we have the mind to, then we can save it. But it starts with saying “I don’t want to fund something tediously cynical, something vacuously ironic, that by checking my cynicism really only reproduces the state of affairs I’m actually so tired of.” Fund something that delves into the sea of bullshit for you and finds a pearl. Fund a project to see through the fog to bring out the lies poisoning the heart of the world. Fund Hollywood Hegemony.