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Why Consuming Bad Media Is Bad For You


Ryan Dave Jimenez

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Garbage in garbage out.

This is a saying in technology that basically means, poor input will always lead to poor output. That a computer only gives out what you put in. But I find this applies to humans too. Especially in terms of creativity.

 

Creators are consumers, but not all consumers are creators.

 

Before you make something you need ideas. So how do you get ideas? The easiest way is to consume media.

If you want to make anime but have no ideas whatsoever, watch anime. If you want to make a game but have no ideas, play games. Eventually inspiration will strike and the ideas will come. Creators are fans too. We are just fans who love something so much we decided to make our own. While most fans are happy being consumers.

 

And so the saying, garbage in garbage out comes to play. If you consume crappy stuff you will make crappy stuff. 

 

I am a big believer in not watching bad anime, playing bad games, watching bad movies, etc. As a creator it will make you a bad one. As a consumer it will lower your standards.

 

That is why I started reading/playing Steins; Gate. Said to be the best visual novel of all time.

And right away I already learned something.

 

Compared to my visual novel (Super Detectives), Steins; Gate had more dialogue. It had deeper writing.

Take note I never committed to a visual novel before.

 

This will probably be the first and last visual novel I will consume. At least it was a very good one.

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I don't think that, as a creator, staying completely away from the bad stuff is a good idea.  If nothing else you're requiring someone else to decide for you what is "good" or "bad" so that you never have to bother with the latter.  (If only it were that simple.  :) )  I also believe it is very rare that something is entirely bad, with no redeeming features whatsoever.  True there's the time issue.  You simply can't evaluate everything personally.  You certainly don't want to emulate the bad parts in your own material however, even inadvertently due to ignorance.  Learning a lesson from other peoples' bad examples is actually a valuable skill, professionally speaking.  The trick of course is to recognize what makes something "good" or "bad" and then deliberately integrating the "good" parts into your own material while rejecting and avoiding the "bad".  And yes, the subjective definitions of "good" and "bad" make it all that much harder.

 

Edited by efaardvark
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I agree with efaardvark. A good amount of research should always go into what made content fail or fall short of a desired outcome. That way you can avoid similar mistakes and have the necessary creative management over your work that isn't oblivious to them either. There's also work that might not meet standard quality but have so many restorative elements to build upon. Like the comment above stated, there are people giving themselves critical experience in their field by producing bad work and learning from it. If your examination of these failures is from an outside perspective of avoidances than the knowledge gained in this might be a bit superficial. This may actually hinder your creative abilities to a good degree, so it's something to definitely be carful of. 

The best way to sort your analysis is comparing your work against those that are limited to similar genres/themes. That way you narrow how much material you can constructively absorb. It can also teach you where to go when you find yourself in a rut that perfectionists often face. Allowing yourself to correct internal mistakes by accepting that external consumption isn't a fault. There's also subjectivity in what creative individuals find good or bad in a particular skillset. What media they consume doesn't exempt them from blunders and when they happen it can shut a creator down. 

Something I've learned in school was that so many people look upon classical art and strive to be like Michelangelo or da Vinci. They have this idea that the title Artist is exclusive to these greats. Because of this, many artists will never find their own style and will instead settle on the notion that they're nothing like Michelangelo and therefore not an artist. This rings true across a lot of talents and skillsets—the inspirations or personalities that are looked up to.

Another thing to consider is that the people who inspire others with their phenomenal work have also had failures and times of contemplation. I've spoken to a TON of well celebrated artists that had faced harsh criticism, periods of work that wasn't quite optimal and even a metamorphosis into an entirely new genre or art style. All of which took time, discovery, and research into what made certain pieces so disliked. 

Learn from both and really expand your insight! :) 

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