The Dead End State of Pop Culture

Author JD Cowan offers a grim prognosis on the fate of pop culture based on Hollywood’s manifest inability to connect with its audience.

The Predator is a shallow, spiritually dead movie of stolen imagination and rehashed ideas with a message that could only have been thought up by someone too pathetic to grow up beyond adolescence. And it was written by someone who was there when the original film was being made. And not a talentless man, either. He wrote the original two (and best) Lethal Weapon films as well as Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. He knows action and how to give the audience what they want.

And yet not only is this film completely out of joint with the franchise, it is completely out of tone with the genre it is supposed to be. It doesn’t give the audience what it wants, and it doesn’t do so on a scale that is as impressive as it is inept.

Which sums up the dead end state of pop culture as it is right now.

I didn’t expect to write a post about this movie, but I had to do so after recent events involving bad decisions by Marvel. The fact of the matter is that the MCU has peaked. There will never be another film like the original Avengers’ impact on the genre, and there will never be another Infinity War of building up around a decade of work to one event. It will never happen again.

So we begin our downhill slide of the company telling audiences what they want and cramming uninteresting characters into their own films to replace beloved ones. The MCU has passed its peak with these two new Avengers movies, like every other trend, and will never be the same again.

And that’s fine. Trends come and go all the time. Superheroes first hit it big with X-Men and Spiderman back in the early 00s and we’re nearing two decades. Just like westerns, action films, noir, and fantasy films, we’re nearing the end. But there is a problem.

The difference this time? There is no trend coming.

The brimming treasury of cultural capital built up by the West has been ransacked and squandered by the entryists who converged our institutions. We’re rapidly devolving into a mass of atomized consumers that have little or nothing in common with the man next door. Many people, especially in the teeming cities, go months or years without saying a word to their neighbors.

It’s a vicious cycle that erodes a people’s ability to create and share cultural touchstones. I’m becoming more convinced each day that decentralizing the overconcentrated urban population into more scaled-down, homogeneous, and tightly knit communities would go a long way toward resolving our current ills.

In the meantime, there are those of us who keep telling stories–first and foremost for entertainment, but also in the hope of contributing one brick; one mosaic tile; one dab of paint to the new and now-gestating culture. JD himself has a new contribution in the latest issue of Story Hack. Check it out!

Story Hack

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