We'll Always Have The Avengers

Maybe I make too much sometimes of an affected indifference to what goes on in mainstream culture. It wasn't until very recently that I figured out why I have a hard time getting very excited about something everyone else is excited about: it's because such things are in no danger of ever vanishing.

I don't mind showing up for, say, Avengers: Endgame or what have you. I saw it on a plane recently, and it was fine. But it was only just that. It's not the kind of thing that lives inside me forever. It's not something I feel a need to cherish, and that I think is in big part due to it being in no danger of ever going away thanks to it being produced by a monolithic corporate cultural hegemon. It's not precious.

When some artifact exists in our culture to the extent that you couldn't do away with it if you tried, I stop caring about it. There's no shortage of people who can speak to and for those things, so I let them do the job they're motivated to do. But there's hardly anyone who wants to speak for the likes of Akio Jissōji, or Machado de Assis, or what have you. Those things are always in danger of slipping beneath the waves. They do not have a corporate conglomerate making sure every successive generation of consumers has a copy in every home. Only the folks off in the margins and corners speak for this stuff.

I used to note that things go out of print a lot less often these days, or at least have more readily available copies than they used to. I realize now this is only true in a qualified sense. A big company that has the rights to something, and that is in no danger of disappearing tomorrow (e.g., Disney), will always be able to keep something alive. Smaller outfits have no such safety net. When PSF Records went bust and Hideo Ikeezumi died, everything offered by the label went out of print until another label began a resurrection campaign — and it's unlikely everything PSF put out will show up, just the choice stuff. In some cases it's easier to just track down the used CDs. (And what happens when the only source for something is a stream?)

Every now and then, something "mainstream" comes along that does keep my interest. Blade Runner 2049, for instance. Them things is rare, though. Rare enough that I'm surprised even one such thing manages to surface in the course of a year. Most of the time my attention is just elsewhere.

The things I care most about tend to be little things that don't necessarily have big patrons, and probably never will because they're too far off in the weeds for most people. But that's precisely why I cherish them. We'll always have The Avengers. That's fine. But we might not always have Dom Casmurro, at least not in English, and that's not fine. And we are in grave danger of losing, or never seeing, a lot of other things. I try not to use this as an excuse for snobbism, though — just a reason to not forget how easy it is to lose what you don't notice.

Tags: media  popular culture 

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This page contains a single entry by Serdar Yegulalp in the category Uncategorized / General, published on 2019/09/05 08:00.

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