Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The September, 2015 Follow-up Post

It's that time again. The "follow-ups" are the semi-regular posts where I write about recent developments related to topics I've blogged about in the past, but which didn't warrant a whole new write-up to themselves. The original posts are linked below for your convenience. This time we're digging back in the archives a bit to look at some older trend pieces.

The GamerGate Post - But first, let's get some nastiness out of the way.  The 2015 Hugo Awards have come and gone, and Vox Day's slate of nominees was denied at every turn.  Winners had a noticeably more progressive and inclusive bent to them, and in the categories where there were only the Vox Day nominees available, Hugo voters declared "No Award."  As expected, the GamerGate crowd lost no time in shaking their fists at the perceived injustice, insisting that this meant there was really a sinister cabal controlling the voting all along.  Changes to nomination rules will mean they can't pull this trick again next year either.  I expect we'll see more of these cultural skirmishes in the future, but a year after the original inciting incident that created the GamerGate "movement," this specific configuration of angry gamer goons is quickly losing steam.

China's Getting Animated  - The top grossing Chinese film of all time is this summer's family film "Monster Hunt," which has made over $375 million to date.  It mixes live action and CGI animation and was directed by DreamWorks Animation vet Raman Hui for the Beijing effects house Base FX. And then there's the fully animated CGI feature, "Monkey King: Hero is Back," which was also released the same month, and is now the highest-grossing animated film released in China, beating previous record holder "Kung Fu Panda 2."  Directed by Tian Xiao Peng for October Animation, the production got a boost from crowdfunding and social media campaigns.  With at least a dozen other Chinese produced animated films in theaters this year, Chinese animation is booming - in China at least.  "Monkey King" is being readied for an English language adaptation, and "Monster Hunt" is in discussions with international distributors, but it's not clear if their charms will translate.  However, with China poised to become the biggest film market in the world, even rescuing Hollywood flops like "Terminator: Genisys," Chinese animated films clearly don't need the rest of the world to be successes.

I May Have to Give Up On TV - Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks that there's too much good television to be able to keep up with it all.  At the TCA press tour last month, John Landgraf, CEO of FX Networks made his now notorious remarks on the current state of television, which boiled down to, "This is simply too much television." Predictions had previously been made that with all the new ways of consuming content and all the new players on the scene, we'd end up with a bubble, but never from an executive this high profile and well regarded.  The television landscape is still changing quickly, with cordcutting on the rise and streaming growing ever more influential, so it's hard to see how this is going to play out in the long run.  If the bubble is going to burst, I guess I'd better just enjoy the glut while it lasts and keep a tally of the good stuff to catch up on when we hit the lean times.

The Gauntlet Has Been Thrown -  Speaking of streaming, can you believe it's been less than three years since Netflix premiered their first series, "House of Cards"?   Since then, their original content has expanded to the point where we're seeing major new titles drop every month.  2015 has already seen the premieres of the well-received "The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," "Bloodline, "Daredevil," "Grace and Frankie," "Wet Hot American Summer," "Narcos," and more.  Though we don't have exact metrics, Netflix has been pretty successful at creating their own content to offset what the studios have been steadily removing from the service.  A few days ago, Netflix announced that they will be ending their deal with Epix, that provided access to many recent releases such as "The Hunger Games" and "Transformers."  However, Netflix has still got Disney in their corner, and the Weinsteins, and enough subscribers that the impact shouldn't hurt them much.

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