You’ve probably heard it from a lot of animation fans, but in case you haven’t, about a month back, the merger between Warner Bros. And Discovery has been an unmitigated disaster. I say that in regards to how HBO Max has essentially given up on animated shows and removed a number of them, not just on the platform, but scrubbed the entire internet of these as much as they could.
The animators and creators working on these shows had no heads up and were told their shows were axed for a tax write-off to recover from a costly merger. Cartoon Network shows especially got hit the hardest with this. “Ok K.O! Let’s be Heroes,” “Infinity Train,” “Mao Mao,” A number of Cartoon Network classics. Possibly the most notable was a Batgirl movie that was shelved despite being close to completion.
Streaming Services were the new cable TV back then. The ability to watch any show, no matter the decade or era, all in the comfort of your own home. Between Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, it was a cord cutter’s dream. That was, until cable companies started fighting back. Want to watch Game of Thrones? Gotta buy our service at $10.99 a month. New Star Trek? Gotta pay for that too. Now with Paramount Plus, Peacock, HBO Max, Disney+, Discovery+, there’s an ever growing and bloated market that prides itself on exclusivity at a cost. Unless those shows are seen elsewhere, then once the service vanishes, it’s gone.
Another example is Google’s failed streaming console, the Stadia. It made its name as a streaming console to play games anywhere with a network connection. However, concerns of both game ownership (you don’t actually own anything on the Stadia, just permission to stream it), input lag (for fighting games, input lag of any kind is fatal), as well as cost, not many people bought it. Now, Google is shutting down the service entirely and refunding everything that Stadia users purchased, including the console itself. That Stadia you bought? Congrats, due to corprate greed and incompetence, that streaming box is now an expensive paperweight with zero value. It’s not like the Virtual Boy, where some can still work and be resold for nostalgia’s sake
With everything being shut down and kept from the consumers who still cared for these products, it’s horrifying to know that one day, that piece of nostalgia will forever be lost thanks to the corporate entities and their lawyers preventing fans from hanging on to what they had.
This is why I believe media preservation is vital now more than ever.
A way to preserve these games, TV shows, movies, and exclusive content in an accessible form that even if the product is gone, a curious user can still enjoy it. A way to say to the world, we don’t want things to die out completely. This is history we’re talking about. Imagine destroying copies of Charlie Chaplin films after they’ve been shown to the public. Classic Sitcoms like Full House, The Simpsons, Fresh Prince, and plenty of movies, shows, games, and music from the 80s and 90s.
And yes, even if they come from problematic creators. Especially if it’s had a significant impact on the world. Michael Jackson Neverland controversy shouldn’t mean that we destroy everything from Bad, Man in the Mirror, Beat It, Billie Jean, Smooth Criminal, and so on.
Physical media can get expensive, that much is true, but having it available for preservation reasons is I think vital. Anything lost to time would be a catastrophic failure for all of us, regardless of what that work is about.
Perhaps a museum or support from libraries, where these lost titles are maintained for the public. A piece of what went on in the digital age. The archaeologists who discovered dinosaur bones could have destroyed them, but instead, chose to preserve them? We need to treat media, especially gaming media, for those thousands of years later who discover it, just like those archaeologists had.
Also, I firmly believe if a company is not doing anything with an IP, that they should relinquish the rights to those who can take care of them. I’m talking about IPs that haven’t been seen in decades and have had no follow-ups since. Media held up solely by internet piracy.
Can you buy such products physically anyhow? Sure, let’s take a recently canceled show like Final Space for example. Look for the blu-ray on, say, Amazon. I just checked, and I can only find Prime Video having it as “currently unavailable.”
Hmm, let’s try finding physical copies
It’s as if corporate executives want to prevent any knowledge that these shows existed. Why? Even if you had no interest before and later in life you’ll think “you know, I never gave this a fair chance,” but now, it’s impossible to find any meaningful way to watch these aside from outright pirating them. Piracy wins, even though media companies label them as “bad people.” Remember the FBI warnings, saying you’ll face imprisonment and hefty fines for even copying the VHS and DVD videos back in the day?
And we’re supposed to just let these things die out? No collectors value on anything? Just being refed the same recycled trash over and over. They don’t want the consumer to own a copy of the product they’re selling. They want you to enjoy it, then move on to the next slush pile. Corporate media decides what they want you to consume, and for the CEOs at Disney, Warner Bros, Discovery, Comcast, and even gaming companies like Activision and EA, they want money at the cost of quality.
So to sum things up, we need to fight for preserving media properties killed off by corporate executives who see media as a service