The Feel Good Film Festival, in the infinite wisdom of filmmakers frolicking through sunflower fields with a Super 8 camera containing black-and-white stock, has allowed itself to hold a panel called “NEW MEDIA PANEL: Why Web Series Suck” this past weekend.
“No, Logan, you read it wrong. You’re drunk.” Just because I am doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
Let’s be honest, here. Titles are crafted to be titillating, to get butts in the seat—that’s apart of the game. The panel itself, to its credit, was simply a discussion of the challenges of being a web series creator. Date A Human, amongst other series like The Legend of Neil screened at the Fesitval. And that, in and of itself, is great – we can never have enough discussion and interaction with each other about the issues we as producers face every day in this medium.
Indeed, a press release for the festival alluded to such ambitions:
Festival co-director (and co-founder) America Young explains: “While there has been a lot of discussion and forums about web shows, they seem to be done mainly by those who already appreciate and/or create them. There are a lot of critical views of web series. We wanted, with respect and fun, to open up the floor to differing opinions with the hope of broadening the influence and popularity of quality web shows even further. This panel should be a creative way to call attention to that while debuting and shining a light on some of the best work being done on the web.”
Nevertheless, this title is the naming equivalent of a talk show pundit’s arguing style: Ask a question that’s framed in such a way that simply answering it confirms the assumption you’re making. If I respond to “Why Web Series Suck” with anything, I’m talking to you under the precept that web series across the board suck. If you have to explain and defend your title, you should probably change it.
When I speak on our industry’s reaction toward the other mediums—particularly, film and TV—this is what I worry about. When we say things like “Why TV Is On Its Way Out,” and it gets any sort of popular love, television creators and writers bristle the way some of us might to “Why Web Series Suck.” It’s simply insulting to the people who work within it, regardless of what the panel itself actually contains. I’m sure the panel was very lovely, and the “mock trial” within a fun and interesting way to discuss our industry.
Their intentions may have been good, but the execution was severely lacking. It would be my hope that, in the interests of getting more web series creators on board, that their opening line to us next time wouldn’t suggest that what we do is somehow inferior. There are plenty of people who don’t have a working knowledge of web series, see that title, and continue on their day having confirmed their suspicions, rather than actually considering the notion that this new medium has something to offer them.
We’ve been wanting to cut away the self-deprecation of our industry. Let’s take some baby steps and start with not titling things in an inflammatory manner. Just like my introductory line got really mean. That was a mean thing to say, and yet the rest of my article talked very thoughtfully about what the panel was really about, and how their intentions were grand.
Did the remainder of my article make that opening line any less mean? Probably not. Let’s remember that when they or we make large-scale proclamations, whether in a misfired title or an industry prediction.