Content is downstream from power

… Which is just another way of saying art is downstream from power.

Art changes, evolves; used to be paintings of successful hunts in caves, clay figurines of fat women, then became paintings of rich people and classical music, now has become video games and, last but not least, online shenanigans like videos, social media, blogging, streaming and whatnot, which we colloquially refer to as ‘content’.

So a content creator is just the 21st century term for an artist. As always, everybody wants to be an artist, a free-fought spirit. But the golden rule of art has not changed, will never change: art is downstream from power.

The myth is that art somehow exists in a vacuum, that it transcends its environmental limitations.It does not. Art is an expression of the elite, of those in power, for those in power are the ones that allow said art to exist. Who decides which art is worthy of fame, is worth millions? Only those that can actually pay millions.

In the same vein, art is vulnerable; you can never be sure if your content appeals to the elite that allows its existence, but if you want to make a living out your art, you better well sure it does appeal to the right people.

So here we also see why there is the myth that art exists in a vacuum: it is a leftist lie, originating in the leftists’ desire to barnacle himself to power by kissing power’s ass: ‘this show is amazing and unique and special, you should really watch it!

In truth we have the inevitability of the patron system. Patron → Artist. That is the way. Lorenzo D’Medici pays Michelangelo, Michelangelo sculpts statues that Lorenzo likes. Lorenzo D’Medici dies and power falls into the hands of someone who does not like Michelangelo, Michelangelo flees. The principle is not so hard.

It is a truth of nature that a disproportionate amount of power tends to fall into the hands of a small group. Similarly, a disproportionate amount of content platforms are in the hands of a small group. Youtube is owned by Google, so you bet that content out of line with Google’s ‘be evil’ policy is demonetized or banned, exactly like Trump tweeted. Similarly, Instagram is owned by Facebook, so you best not fall out of grace with Zuckerberg if you want to be on those platforms. My personal favorite however, is Twitch, which in this blogger’s humble opinion is where the freshest content is at. Twitch  is streaming, like live tv on the internet, but included is a chatroom in which every viewer can type their thoughts as they watch the stream, and the streamer can live read those comments and respond to them. It’s the best; pure live content, created by streamer and audience simultaneously.

Now, who owns Twitch? Drumroll… Jeff Bezos bought it in 2014! It is part of the Amazon empire. So once again, it is obvious that Twitch content creators best not fall out of line with their patron, whose opinions are channeled pretty clearly on his personal blog, the Washington Post.

(Also, to stress the power relation between the patron and the artist: watch this excellent video. It’s a great napkin analysis of how much money the biggest streamers earn on Twitch in comparison with Bezos. Basically, Ninja, a Fortnite streamer and the most famous content creator on Twitch, who on a daily basis draws a filled Amsterdam arena of viewers, will make perhaps 100 million dollar in his lifetime, which Jeff Bezos makes on a daily basis. For Bezos, Twitch is chump change.)

Now while it is scientifically proven that 95% of power lies with the top 1%, if you find enough small fry patrons to directly sponsor you, that works just fine. But even here we find no such thing as a safe vacuum. After all, you need some sort of sponsoring platform. Take Patreon: owned by Jack Conte, operates in San Francisco, just around the block from Silicon valley. You bet that Patreon removes artists not in line with its politics, which it in fact has already done multiple times.

Or take it even a step further: direct peer-to-peer sponsorship. How will your patrons pay you? Through Paypal? Silicon valley baby!

Which is not to say Paypal blocks every artist it politically disagrees with. After all, you can still donate to Heartiste through Paypal. But they have banned other artists, and perhaps they will ban Heartiste one day if he becomes too large of a threat, like Alex Jones.

So we see that, once we start tracking the money we end up with the institutions that control the flow of money, and surprise surprise, the people heading these institutions are the elite, are linked to the same people that head Facebook, Google and Amazon, are part of the same group who decide what content gets through to the mainstream.

So where does this leave us.

First and foremost, this information is a red pill, not a black pill. If it were a black pill, we would conclude that the only option is to go full sell-out mode, to produce only art we know will be liked by the elite. This is a valid strategy. But not the only one.

The simplest strategy is to simply not monetize your content. Stay under the radar. But although some fine art has been created this way, the fact of the matter is that a) everyone wants make money and b) most people like to reach an audience.

If you are not concerned about (a), by far the the most insane strategy would be to build a self-sustainable grid hidden outside the reaches of those in power. With the use of crypto, self-built energy grids, property, anonymity and several passports one could theoretically pull this off. But you’d have to be a true madman. I know of only 1 man who claims to be pulling this off.

Another, slightly saner strategy lies in riding the tiger, which is to say: to test the waters, see what you can get away with and what not and adjust accordingly. It is obvious that those in power are not in power like Ingsoc is in 1984: there is a lot of chaos, a lot of infighting. It took years before Alex Jones was banned, arguably too many years to effectively squelch his voice. Murdoch Murdoch, after being banned from Youtube, is still advertising on Youtube. Even the Daily Stormer, which for a while seemed to be stomped into the ground, is back and very easily googled.

So, the red pill is that content is downstream from power, that power is mount Olympus and content is the city at its foot. But the white pill is that [The Current Year] is not like 1984, and that where there is a will, there is content.

4 thoughts on “Content is downstream from power

  1. Creating content unsupported by institutions might be seen as a bet that current institutions won’t last and that new institutions will adopt it.
    It is dissident by nature because it helps lay the groundwork for a possible parallel society.
    Very astute insight that content is 21st century art.

  2. Valid points, one and all. I would also like to echo Giovanni’s sentiment.



    Literally what?

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