The meaning of a property to "belong" to an entertainment conglomerate

When I was young, I was one of those people who really liked Winnie the Pooh. This was long before certain chicken-shaped countries and/or the leadership levels thereof got really sensitive over it, and it was mostly because the Disney animations were pretty good and the bear in question wears red, which is my favourite colour. Actually, if you look at my website, you would realise that the choice of colour palette is pretty much the same thing, though "red and yellow" is hardly a unique choice.

Even then though I realised that something is weird when everything that had Winnie the Pooh figures on it come with a piece of serious-looking black line of Arialveticverstesk[1] that clearly states that it is "copyright Disney", among other things. Eventually this grew into a certain distaste for copyright and "franchises", a thing that I may talk about some time else.

What I want to talk about now is that I don't really care for Winnie very much anymore, outside of an implicit crossover mentality that is central to my own creative ambitions in Pasaru and Ùzje. While it seems like other parts of my family have basically "settled" onto a comfortable franchise owned by some company, I don't seem to have that urge, and in fact can't seem to stop putting my own flavour into things, sometimes so strongly that fan-art can be mistaken for original work.

I noticed this when I realised that the flags I'm making, while understood as "fan-art", and I label them more or less explicitly as such by using "cubic" in their topics, uses no external assets and obliquely hint at the thing they reference as flags should do, can stand by themselves as more or less generic "Earth-inspired" flags. They're still distinct from flags that I draw for Pasaru things specifically because the vocabulary is slightly different, but the fan-flags are essentially parodies of the things they depict so thorough that you don't /really/ have to know the original to understand it.

So what happened? Well, /making/ something surely changes your outlook on things. You start learning what works and what doesn't. You learn /a language/, a way to transform abstract thoughts to tangible patterns that can be replicated and recorded. Not /the/ language, the language of aesthetics and art, just a language of aesthetics and art, because everyone has a slightly different way of going about it. As you write, draw, compose, or even just type in prompts until a more-or-less acceptable-looking picture falls out, you form connections between the specific actions you take and the abstract idea of "good art direction" and can bring that idea to the next one.

What I think happened then is that the aesthetic language I developed over these years have made it so that the one adopted overall by (in this case) Disney sound really infelicitous – the two languages just don't translate well into each other. So naturally, I drift away.

Having said all that, moving away from Disney is not a new phenomenon. People "move on" from Disney and other large franchises all the time, even people who don't wish to or lack the ability to create. The usual charge that "I just don't like it anymore" or "it doesn't interest me anymore" is basically the same thing as having created an aesthetics language that says that "Disney stuff" is infelicitous (or worse, ungrammatical – infelicitous in a lower level). On the other hand, most people don't – to some extent this has to be the case, otherwise the company cannot last for long. There's a lot to be said about how large entertainment conglomerates control the aesthetic landscape so that they can continue surviving on providing entertainment in that landscape.

...or perhaps the attention that would have been pushed into entertainment was pushed into ever-more esoteric sources of entertainment? Consider that some people I'm close to (but aren't actually in contact with) that think Emacs is a good hobby, a "franchise" of its own, while of course there's always people who have more normal hobbies like playing chess or participating in integration bees. So maybe the space inside one's mind capacity that would otherwise be occupied by Disney is now instead hosting a bunch of other things. Wouldn't it be nice if the world had more of these "other things"?

But still, I think there's something going on here: the "abstract patterns" that define a language can really be anything, and one of the things that large entertainment conglomerates do is to limit the space that your language can develop so that it is more intelligible with theirs. I think that is what it means for a property to "belong" to a franchise – share the same aesthetics language, the same dialect, and you are "in a franchise". And this is probably why seeing the world converge to just a few companies that control the aesthetic landscape looks so weird to me, and why I eventually drifted off.


[1] Technical jargon for the fonts whose appearance cluster around the four prototypes: Arial, Helvetica, Univers and Grostesk. They are characterised by being sans-serif, with large holes, moderate x-heights, and being one of the two default fonts in most word-processing packages and therefore used everywhere, even in places where they are inappropriate, like road signs where this piece of jargon comes from.

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