Who Owes Who? My Love Affair with Pop Culture
There's no denying that I am a dirty little pop culture whore. Whenever films, comic books, novels, animation or music call I come-a-runnin'. I've actually been like this for the majority of my life. I have photos at the age of 4 wearing my best Masters of the Universe sloppy joe, I was dressed up as Spider-Man for my 5th birthday and I attended my first concert at the age of 6, Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet. This fact continues to this day. As I write this I'm wearing a Starfleet t-shirt and sporting my Captain America and Autobot tattoos... no, really.
All too often I hear fans talking about their beloved collectible, medium or genre with contempt. Marvel fans complaining about the latest event title, DC fans about the reboot or film fans complaining about cinema in a way that virtually, and sometimes literally, says "it owes me more than that". Personally, I never think of things that way. I started off DC's new 52 with 26 titles in my pull list. Some of them didn't particularly grab me, so I dropped them. I don't think that any of these titles owe me anything, we tried to make it work but it just wasn't meant to be. If I paid for a 32 page book and instead I was given 28, sure, I'd feel ripped off. But until this happens I'm more than happy to part with my hard earned. I choose to vote with my wallet and as neither Universal, Marvel nor Madman are charities, this usually works out for the best, eventually they'll kill of OMAC and Mr Terrific. In no way am I saying that we should never speak about the negatives of a property but I am vehemently arguing that beyond the 120 minutes screen time, 20 minute read or 80 minute track time we are not owed anything for our money.
Consider this; an incredible illustrator such as Betrayal of the Planet of the Apes artist Gabriel Hardman will manage to draw and ink 1-2 pages per day after which they have to be coloured, lettered, edited, compiled, printed and have pixie dust sprinkled on them. Before this even happens the writer needs to outline the story, sometimes many months in advance, script it all and submit that for editing and approval. Now try and comprehend how many man/woman hours have been put into this floppy little rag that you hold in your hands. When looking at it like this, I find it incredibly difficult to argue that they aren't deserving of my $3.99. Even though I've been collecting comics for 20ish years, I don't think that I am owed anything. I paid my money, I got comics. It's a very simple relationship.
Another argument that kills me a little inside relates to piracy. No, not the Somalian kind although I disagree with this as well. An argument that is often given for copyright infringement or piracy is that *insert company here* has enough money and don't need more from me. To that I say that the company may, but all of their workers do not. The writers, the make up artists, lighting guys, sound guys and craft service people are all there trying to make enough to survive. These are the people that rely on your money. The workers.
Another argument is that "I just can't afford to pay for this CD/movie/book!" to which I say, then you don't get it. Be a grown up and just don't get it. You can obviously afford a computer and a monthly Internet connection, pay for the work that someone has slaved over, it's the right thing to do. If you couldn't afford the computer you wouldn't just take it! You may, but you shouldn't. Why is theft seemingly only relegated to the physical realm? Alternatively, if you're that hard up on cash you should join your local library and read more books than humanly possible for absolutely free. In fact, by joining your local library you are helping to maintain funding for future years.
Books, comics, movies, TV and music. They have all been there for me through my entire life. By default so have writers, artists, photographers, musicians and all kinds of performers. I never had a falling out with these folks. They were always there to make me feel better when I was sick or glum. For this reason I am just thankful for my pop culture pals, for Spidey and Batman, for Hoggle and Falcor, for Prince and Bowie and for Danger Mouse and Gem... My hobbies owe me exactly what they deliver, varying levels of enjoyment and fulfilment.
Also, film reviewers hear me out. Please don't ever say "Well there's 120 minutes I'll never get back". You're highlighting your distaste for a movie at the expense of your understanding of the basic phenomenology of time. Even if it is a masterpiece, you still aren't getting your 2 hours back!