Quality Or Not, You’ll Still Go See It

With budgets on movies and games skyrocketing, it’s disappointing to see popular media get worse by the year.


Students watch a movie on the projector in class.

Every year there are hundreds of movies, games, and TV shows produced and released, and it just so happens that most of them are awful. It’s a fact of life that will likely never change. Even if a project has a high budget, that doesn’t mean that it’s of high quality, because money can’t fix problems at the core of the process. Time constraints, lack of talent, and general incompetence by anyone involved in the creation process can tank a project, no matter how much promise it shows. These mediums have a lot of moving parts, and just like any machine, if any one of them isn’t working, the whole thing is rendered pointless. That’s why it’s so impressive when a truly great movie, TV show, or game is released. We as consumers can usually count this level of quality and integrity from historically great studios and companies. When you sit down to watch a Disney movie, for example, you know you’re in for a good time, because these companies have built their reputation over decades of groundbreaking releases. Recently, though, it seems like these major corporations have figured something out. They don’t have to make a quality product to still make money, because we’ll buy it anyway.

Look at Thor: Love and Thunder, a movie made by Disney, directed by acclaimed director Taika Waititi, and starring some of the biggest actors of the modern age, like Christian Bale, Natalie Portman, and Chris Hemsworth. Should be a shoe-in for greatness, right? I went into the movie really wanting to love it. Waititi is one of my favorite directors, and I’ve enjoyed nearly everything he’s worked on. I left the theater pretty disappointed. Some people liked the movie, but the majority consensus was that it was mediocre at best. Disney rushed production, because it would help their bottom line for the  movie to be out sooner. There are even reports of visual effect artists being given almost no time at all to complete the effects, and one person who worked for over 100 hours on the movie, only to be uncredited. These all came along with accounts from Disney employees saying that nearly all visual effects artists are overworked and underpaid compared to the rest of the industry. I understand that for companies, the goal is to make money at the end of the day. However, this sort of behavior not only ended up making the movie worse, but did real, tangible harm to people. 

If mistreatment of employees is being brought up, it’s impossible not to mention the video game industry.  This industry in particular is notorious for “crunch”, or unpaid overtime to meet deadlines. Within some studios, employees worked one hundred hour weeks in the months, or in some cases years, leading up to release. This is normalized within the industry, and most of the time executives try to play it off like it’s no big deal, but it is. Video games are the most profitable form of entertainment on the planet as of now, so the least these massive conglomerates can do is pay their employees for the hours they work, and let them go home to see their families by not mandating overtime.

It’s not like the games from these companies are getting any better, either. Pokemon, also known as the highest grossing franchise of all time, is primarily a series of video games. These games, in recent years, have been on a sharp decline. It is widely believed that the most recent releases are some of the worst, if not the worst, games in the series. It’s strange then, that they cost more than they ever have. $60 for one game, plus the downloadable extra content, which is $20 more, not to mention the subscription fee, which is another $20 per year. This, all together, offers less content than games released 10 years ago, in the same franchise, for $40. I used to enjoy this series, but it’s hard to justify a purchase when all of these negative factors combine. Just because something bad sells, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to make it better.

It often seems to me that there is little hope for the future of the mediums I enjoy. I have to remind myself that not only am I being over dramatic, but that I’m not taking every angle into account. Major companies may be making less and less media I enjoy, while treating workers poorly at the same time, but major companies aren’t all there is. Independent films and games have taken off in recent years, due to them being more accessible. Not only does this allow us to get projects from new and often interesting perspectives, but these creators aren’t always burdened with the need to be financially successful. Independent films and games are able to be made exactly as their creators want them to be, without corporate interference. Another angle I hadn’t considered, is  that we get to decide the amount of quality media in the world today. If we don’t like what we see, we can make something that we do. It has never been easier for independent artists to create their art, and while they may not be able to make something as flashy or polished as a film out of Hollywood, it’s increasingly clear that flashy and polished doesn’t always mean good.