Have you ever seen the animated show Metalocalypse? Short synopsis; it’s an animated show about the biggest metal band ever, Dethklok, and the fictional world in which they are essentially a world power unto themselves. I used to watch it and believe I have seen the first two seasons in their entirety, but did not view it beyond that. There is really no specific reason why I stopped watching this show, as I remember it to be rather humorous, other than I simply stopped. Honestly, I had not even thought about this program for years until I heard an interview with the original creator of the show.
I was listening to the Nerdist podcast (it’s very entertaining and free) with Brendon Small, the mind who came up with Metalocalypse and many other oddball projects. As I previously mentioned, the cartoon had not been in my thoughts for years, but listening to Brendon discuss his work and the process it took to make his project into a reality was, for lack of better terms, breath taking and inspiring. Frankly, it was so interesting that it made me want to go and find the series to view it completely, currently on season one and considering buying the full show.
Admittedly, the program is interesting and does a pretty good job of holding up even after a few years, but none of that really mattered since I had stopped watching the show anyhow. What brought me back was the connection I felt with Small as he spoke about his creation. It shouldn’t be so surprising, after all, this was the original intent of interviews that used to be done by magazines, television, radio, and most forms of media. The major difference between then and now is the lack of an established system and paradigm.
What I mean is that before there would be publicists, agents, publishers, and studio representatives that would set up an agenda and regulations for how the interviews should go and what could be discussed for how long and in what manner; one of the many reasons why production costs and salaries were so immensely large. These systems made for basically adoration but not much more. However, now there is more ability for creators and artists to interact with people and make some sort of connection and community.
Now, I am not saying that this type of arrangement is always great or even useful, but it is the odd circumstances we have created. Artists now can speak directly to their public without the use of a system in place. It gives a chance for them to reach people that would have been considered outside the right “demographic” by some studio exec. More importantly, it makes the audience actually connect and care about the artist and the work.
I knew this in theory as an abstract in my head, but it did not really materialize until this week, partially because of the Brendon Small podcast and because of another artist interaction. Lynette Noni is a YA author who recently obtained a publishing deal for her first book. Before last week, I had never heard of her or her work and the only reason I learned anything about either is through stumbling upon a post on another blog about her. To make a long story short, I had some questions about her work and process and she responded almost immediately. That kind of concern, response, and interaction makes me have a bit more investment and interest than I previously held and makes me want to buy and read her work.
So, I suppose this long winded almost rant (sometimes I get wordy) is really discussing this new avenue that artists have for engagement. Artists, professional and aspiring of all mediums, now can take more control of their fan base and audience interaction, if they want to. Will this system be abused? Of course, what isn’t. However, I, in my foolish optimism that creeps up every once in awhile, like to think that genuine communities can and will rise to the top and create better art and opportunity. Who knows? It could all still be meaningless (there is my stark pessimism/realism coming back. How I’ve missed/tolerated you).
One last note: apologies for the various links, but I like to promote good stuff so they are there to be clicked, if you so desire.