Story Matters, and it’s under attack.
Back again folks. Sorry I haven’t continued my Fox Replacement spree I’ve had a lot on my mind. And something else that’s been bugging me for some time now is the concept of Story. Because it matters. Telling stories MATTERS. And right now? It’s under attack. It’s under attack in ways most of you can’t even dream of. Its under attack in every form one can think of. There is serious resistance, story wins in some places. But it’s losing in others.
The people attacking story have just scored major victories in Japanese Animation and Manga. They’ve had huge victories and losses over the years but recently decisions in storytelling have had long lasting effect. Not the least of which being the Hugo awards, being entirely outclassed by the Dragon awards. The Hugo which had been a long standing gold standard in science fiction had fallen to SJW chaos in previous years culminating in a huge fight 1 year ago which led to a Twitter firestorm. In the end however it was a victory for the forces against storytelling.
Why does story matter? Because it’s what we digest every day. Every second of every day now. In this reality tv driven wasteland we like to call an Internet. Who did this why did this happen? We want answers to questions and we think the Internet has all the answers. It doesn’t. But that’s where people are today. Whether we realize it or not we’ve become connoisseurs of storytelling in a very short amount of time. Bad stories typically do not survive unless they’re driving an agenda. Or have enough explosions and fan service most people bypass the story entirely.
Before I go any further let me give you some blatantly bad storytelling examples just from this year alone.
Ending of Bleach (Manga)
Civil War (Movies)
Two of these are just fresh off the presses. The other three have been digested. I’ve railed on Facebook concerning civil war but it sets up a Scenario where Captain America will be attacking people defending Freedom. If that isn’t a picture perfect example of SJW motivated storytelling I don’t know what is. Ghostbusters was an SJW movie start to finish in this ‘reboot’ they threatened a SLAP lawsuit against Bill Murray to keep his mouth shut. He knew how bad it was from the drop.
SuperGirl to be successful needed to drop right into the soup, a big threat maybe even the Red Lantern arc right out of the box. It would require some other things to happen but if WB is intent on keeping TV and movie Seperate they should have pulled the trigger. If it’s story doesn’t improve don’t expect it to last past this season.
Spoilers ahead if you don’t follow Pokemon closely. Or Bleach for that matter.
Bleach finally closed the book. 686 will be the last chapter. And it was an epic steaming pile of fail. I mean just when you think you might get a 60 page epic battle to determine what the heck happened…you get a 10 year time Skip, with all the fan service you could want and no answers. Kubo and Jump are at fault here but Jump pushed this pile out the door and one of the best stories and most original stories in anime has officially one of the worst endings possible. And it got a double whammy. On that same week: Remember I mentioned Pokemon before? Ash is officially o-everything. The writers of the anime have decided that he will not win a league and at this point after everything done and all the build up he can NOT Win the big one. Ash Ketchum is a fucking LOSER stone cold 100% Get out of the damn game, this isn’t what you are meant to do in life LOSER. Pokemon WAS at a crossroads. IT chose the wrong path and did so for cash and politics.
Because ladies and gentlemen if Ash were to actually win one, Pokemon would actually have to start growing up a bit and answer some questions. Is there a world championship? How does one get in? How do some of the bigger world threads that have been hinted at over the TWENTY YEAR LONG RUN OF ANIMATED POKEMON tie into all of it. (Oh ash has not grown up at all in this timeframe as well. Another BAD storytelling decision.) It would actually have to tackle questions in the world: How is the world of Pokemon actually governed for instance? I could go on and on. But instead of actually tackling these questions they took the cowards way out and made a mechanically impossible thing happen.. See fans about this stuff get pretty technical and I won’t bore you with the details but no one and I mean NO ONE who knows the mechanics of the game thinks that result should have happened.
And this all gets back to Story. Good story telling. And I don’t mean good vs evil blah blah blah. Some of the best stories have come out of cases where it isn’t so clear cut. My favorite example of awesome storytelling in recent memory came from the movie Deadpool. They captured the essence of the character something incredibly difficult to do. Deadpool ain’t the nicest of people and he sure as hell ain’t a paragon of anything. But he is real, he is gritty and tells some of the best damn stories you’ve ever seen. Story matters. Another example of stellar storytelling that’s going to hopefully continue as we move forward is the Video Game of Injustice. Injustice 2 is due out next year and it was one of the most startling successes. Originally a ‘what if’ question it spawned a 5 year run of comics detailing how everything came to be in the game you played. I expect another long comic run based off the events of injustice 2. Netherrealm studios in every game it’s done has put story front and center in their games. And that’s something very difficult to do. Especially when you get savaged for telling a decent true and REAL story.
There are losses, there are victories, but most don’t understand there is even a war being fought. Stories like Ben-Hur vs Noah. Two biblically themed movies with two outrageously different results. The story in Noah was Junk, it did not stick to the source material (INTENTIONALLY) and it showed. Audiences did not like what they saw. But most importantly. You need to understand that the battle is being fought, won, and lost. And some of these victories and losses echo. Japanese Anime and Manga just had some HEAVY boots hit the floor. I fear for long running series One Piece and Ippo on the Manga front. Anime is increasingly going to sources like Netflix instead of direct television especially when they get the freedom to tell the story they WANT to tell. That is a double bladed effect though. The Saturday morning cartoon got KILLED because people didn’t think story mattered. Our youth has suffered as a result in my opinion. I was raised on some of the best storytelling in the history of man. Stories that in my eyes stand against Dickens and Shakespeare themselves. Some animated, some not.
And I fear for my fellow Millennials, some of whom have not been raised on that storytelling and their children who I assure you unless things change will not be raised on that storytelling. The only way to win this fight is to find the right stories, and buy them like crazy once they appear. Some places are holding strong, but have limited exposure. Others have incredible exposure but are not getting the support needed.
I don’t know if I’m a storyteller, but I see what is happening and I am scared out of my mind. I can’t stay silent any more. Story is under attack. The concept itself is under attack. And if people do not see it, by the time it’s noticed it will be too late to recover. Some of the best adult storytelling is happening on shows like Agents of Shield and The Black List but I see none of the storytelling in our KIDS where it matters more than most ever could believe. JK Rowling was an outlier in a muddle of mediocrity where very little in children’s stuff stood out.
Please. Please. Find the good stories. Find the stories that fill your soul, tell them to our children. And it doesn’t just have to be of good vs evil. A story with a screwup finally figuring things out can be an incredible story when done properly. A story about someone falling to darkness then finding his way back to the light is incredibly powerful. IT doesn’t have to be rah rah good vs evil all the time. But FIND THOSE STORIES. Our children need them.