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Internet Media Has Finally Crossed the Rubicon, Including This Site

Julius Caesar Crossing the Rubicon

Julius Caesar Crossing the Rubicon

So, if you’ve noticed, things have slowed down at Films, Deconstructed in 2023. Incidentally, it’s not for lack of things to write about. It’s because this year, the internet has crossed a line that has forced me to do some serious soul-searching about this site and the future of online content.

If this sounds like a swan song, don’t worry–it isn’t. If anything, this might be the start of something big. To give readers an idea of what I mean, I’m going to list the major issues that started impacting websites like this one, and why 2023 became a major changing point in online media.

A.I. and Scraping

A major problem facing the internet right now is the massive trend in data hoarding, content scraping and A.I. that’s now making a mockery of intellectual property and copyright. For instance, you can now expect the Internet Archive to scrape and republish your current site for “archival” purposes without your permission, even though it’s being updated on a regular basis and there’s a copyright notice expressly forbidding mirroring of content.

The reason why this is bad for creatives is that archiving and A.I are just sneaky forms of reusing and in some cases stealing original content without compensation. This is especially true in the case of the Internet Archive. Don’t be fooled by all the highfalutin talk from its founder about it being a philanthropic organization preserving old material. It’s nothing more than another data scraping and piracy site.

Data Hoarding

A side issue to the aforementioned is the “data hoarder” phenomenon, in which people feel entitled to download and share content in case a creative decides to pull content. This isn’t fair, because there are many valid reasons why a person might want to take content off the internet, anywhere from personal to legal. Maybe they’ve grown as a creative and are embarrassed by their earlier work. Maybe their content is getting plagiarized to hell and back, or producing content online didn’t turn out as lucractive as they’d hoped. Maybe they just want to remove any traces of themselves off the internet.

In any event, data hoarders make it impossible for creatives to take complete control of what happens to their content and how it gets distributed once it’s posted online.

The Ad Blocker Situation

You may have noticed that many websites are beginning to rely on either paywalls or donations, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Well, there’s a reason. Everyone is using ad blockers or various other hacks to get around viewing advertising.

Initially, there was nothing wrong with ad blockers, because they were invented at a time when websites went completely bonkers with their advertising. You may have remembered the nightmare of opening a site and having a million pop ups appear, or being startled when an ad started playing loudly without warning. As a response, most websites learned their lessons, and began using more subtle means of advertising to keep from pissing people off and turning to ad bloclers.

So, if websites eventually toned down advertising, why are people using ad blockers today? We now have an entire generation of cyber users that rejects the idea of having to pay for content, either directly or indirectly. People now feel that it’s “evil” to not only pay for internet content but even view ads. As a consequence, websites are now having to put up tip jars or paywall everything. In the worst case scenario, people are just pulling content, because there’s no longer any real incentive to post anything on the internet anymore.

Plagiarism and the Pseudo Content Creator Economy

The internet was supposed to be an amazing boon for creatives. Instead, what’s happened is that it’s become a source for plagiarists, particularly because of the “content creator economy.” This phrase has been thrown around a lot lately and has a cachet of respectability, but just know that there’s no such thing. What keeps getting called the “content creator economy” is a cottage industry in which bottomfeeders trawl the internet looking for stuff to plagiarize or base derivative content off of.

For example, right now, as we speak, there are thousands of people on YouTube making money by simply taking articles they find on the web and reposting in video form as “original” content. The logic is that it’s not really plagiarism because the work is transformative and they put extra effort into the ripoff that the original creator didn’t.

Imagine how frustrating, if not angering, this is to someone who might’ve put their all into an informative website, only to have a YouTuber rip it off word for word, monetize it and feel entitled to reap the financial rewards and credit. Unfortunately, this is where we’re at in 2023 if you’re a

Film Criticism and Analysis Has Become Thoroughly Bankrupt

When I first started this blog, there were very few film and media criticism articles or sites on the internet. Now, there’s been an explosion. You’d think that this would be a great thing for the medium, but instead, it’s done the opposite. Film and media criticism isn’t exploding because people are interested in the craft, but because it’s now seen as another tool of division, discord and cultural warfare. As a result, there is more junk writing than there is actual analysis and criticism on the web; for every one piece trying to break down a movie or TV show, there will be ten of them writing spittle-flecked variations of “this is woke/forced feminism/forced diversity.”

There is No Future for Writers or Any Type of Creative on the Internet at This Time

I know this will sound defeatist, but I’m just being a realist when I say that there is no real future for writers, artists, musicians or any creative that produces content on the internet–not in the way of opportunities, exposure or anything else for that matter. That’s not to say that there’s no future at all. The future might, ironically, be in resurrecting traditional forms of media. As it stands, on the internet, there is no future for anybody that hopes to put out thoughtful content and have their authorship respected. The world wide web is a lawless, unethical, creatively bankrupt free-for-all.

Future Plans?

Because of the issues I’ve mentioned in this entry, I really had to take a step back this year and decide what to do with this blog. One thing that I did was block international users from viewing this site (which has worked with some success). Another thing I did was send a request to the Internet Archive to remove archived versions of Films, Deconstructed.

But more, I feel, needs to be done, other than just griping on the internet. So, what I’m hoping to do is take things to the next level, which is to start some kind of grassroots campaign and PSA to spread awareness about these issues and also try to create some changes in the Real World.

The reason why is that things have reached such a critical point that it’s not enough to just bitch and whine on the internet about it. People have to start becoming more vocal and more proactive politically, as well as spread awareness. They have to lobby for laws to strengthen protections for creatives, as well as do something about the massive amount of weaponization of American culture, by way of divisive clickbait on the internet. That is what I’m hoping to do offline, and that’s contact various representatives to get something going.

Another thing I’m considering doing is perhaps launching an offshoot of this site that will be a counter to all the content farms that are exploiting and distorting American culture for various nefarious reasons. (I talked at length about content farms In Bad Faith: Variety’s Garbage 100 Best Movies List, and why this Marks the End of the Magazine’s Credibility.)

But something has to be done, and I’ve spent so much time brainstorming how to resolve these issues that a lot of the essays I had planned for this site began to get backburnered. Again, it’s not that I’ve stopped maintaining Films, Deconstructed but that things took such a dramatic turn in 2023 that I had to step back and start looking at the problems facing creatives–and Americans–on a much broader scale. Hopefully, if I and other like-minded people do something, things will start turning around eventually. However, as it stands, the so-called “internet” as a creative boon has become a mirage. Until some hard measures are put in place to dispell the illusion, there’s no real reason for any self-respecting individual to continue pouring their heart and soul into this medium.



  1. r.s.

    It’s great to see a new article today!

    on AI –
    The term AI itself is completely misleading – it implies a rational, thinking, abstract intelligence. IN reality the technology is a reductionist mechanism that is best summed up as statistics applied to a high degree. The statistics are modeled on huge libraries of illegally confiscated data. Yet, when the narrative is discussed in the mainstream by pundits, the technology is discussed with magical thinking as a “new frontier” and nothing is mentioned of how this technology actually works. This magical narrative is beneficial in driving up stock price, IMO.

    On the peusdo-content creator economy:
    you touch on something very close to home. in my vocation, filmmaking, the term “Democratization of filmmaking” is said a lot by pundits and repeated by aspiring creatives. The term is irksome because it’s designed by the mainstream narrative to focus the conversation on DIY hardware products and platforms owned by google, and obfuscate what truly matters – individuals originality, talent, craft.

    Frankly the idea of building an entire creative endeavor around around the whims of google and meta platforms to be the opposite of democratic.

    You’re right that the internet “content creation” industry is a lawless unethical creatively bankrupt free for all. It’s a mistake to pour origanlity into this landscape so it can be illegally confiscated and used within AI statistical outputs.

    Thank you for writing this piece, these are conversations we all creatives should be having with each other right now.

    I look forward to seeing what you do next. Perhaps a book? 🙂

    • Comment by post author

      Hi, r.s. Nice to hear from you again!

      I get shudders down my spine every time I hear “democratization” of anything nowadays because of how badly this concept has been weaponized. Back in the earliest days of the internet, this meant something completely different from the morally bankrupt thing it’s become. Democratization meant that we were going to make it easier for actual creatives to get their feet in the door of fields that were incredibly hard to break into. For instance, you wouldn’t have to go crazy submitting portfolios or rough drafts to all the major publishing houses, studios, agencies, etc. biting your knuckles waiting for months on end to learn whether you were getting signed up or not. You’d self-publish your own artwork, animation, movie, music, writing, etc. on the internet and get discovered by the major players in art, music, fashion, photography and publishing that way.

      Now the term “democratization” literally means that we’re going to make it easier for hacks who have no talent or skill to make money at creativity, by giving them tools to simulate creative output. Having done everything from crowdsourcing to microstock, I am now realizing that this was always the end game of Big Tech. Everyone was encouraged for two decades to post all of this artwork, writing, music, etc. for the “exposure” or to contribute to the Information Superhighway, when the point was to feed the beast of what’s now known as the Content/Creator Economy. In other words, we’ve been the proverbial guinea pigs this entire time, with Silicon Valley heads diligently using our work to learn how to regurgitate what we do, either by way of A.I. or in dumbed down content farm format.

      As for what I’ll do next, I’m trying right now to see if I can get a grassroots campaign going to alert more and more Americans as to what’s going on, maybe write representatives. I don’t know. There’s just so much going on right now with creatives that I wouldn’t even know where to start.

      I was thinking about submitting some articles here and there to a few publications, but all the major media outlets seem to have gone the content farm route, so I no longer trust them. The professional writing world is beginning to feel more and more like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, where everything looks and sounds normal but I’m seeing signs of a silent takeover. I’ve considered going the book route, so that might be the way to go. I guess we’ll see.

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