There is literally a market for people who eat shit. I’m not part of this market, and I don’t particularly understand the appeal. But, since the launch of the Internet, every weird fetish has been introduced to the mainstream: eating all sorts of bodily discharges, different body types and species combined with all sorts of sexual orientations and age groups, references to popular culture, and even different mediums such as traditional, Japanese-style, and video game-esque animation. Do I care? Not particularly. What people are into is their own business. Further to that, anyone who thinks they have the moral authority to shame anyone for their fetishes, preferences, or orientations is a giant bag of dicks (there’s a fetish for that too). I just have to wonder how much of this material was readily available during the ’80s.
But the market for people who eat shit is something I like to remind myself. Let me explain why.
Creativity is a hard career path. Musicians, designers, writers, painters, dancers, they all have a hard gig. Not only do their practices take years of education and practice to perfect; not only is everything they do scrutinized by an established order they all are attempting to impress; on top of that, they still have to figure out how it can make money. Sheer entertainment doesn’t feel like it’s enough anymore. After all, what would their entertainment stand out from all the other entertainment we have readily available at our fingertips? The flood gates opening to let anyone looking for a creative outlet be able to plug in and share what they have with a potentially endless audience isn’t a bad thing. But it has created an interesting new landscape. Is it over-saturation? Possibly. I can see why that could be intimidating. The need to niche market art before it goes online seems more important than ever. Finding those few keywords to attach your YouTube video or blog post to, making sure the right person at the right time sees it, likes it, and shares it. All in the name of finally having someone say, “I dig what you do.”
Ok, the idea of being famous I’m sure has a lot to do with it as well. It almost feels like this is how people sell out now. Before it was doing everything you could to sell what you do and make some money. Now it’s doing everything you can to create something completely narrow for that one specific person for the sake of being discovered.
It’s like reverse engineered marketing. Where once, something was created and people liked it, then the marketing people found the audience who would like it and sell it to them. Nowadays it seems like the audience exists first and then they create the product to be sold to them.
This kind of thing was encouraged to me and my classmates while I was in university. We were told things like, “Don’t start a magazine about dogs. Start one about German Shepherd trainers.” What my instructor was getting at here is that you can’t be a generalist anymore. You have to understand where the specific markets lie and market to them specifically.
I’m wondering if I should be worried about this. I guess I’m a niche market, I can’t imagine reading someone’s odd ramblings exactly being a generalist’s market. Like everyone has their favourite fat internet snob who’s convinced he’s smarter than everyone else. Don’t get me wrong, Harry Knowles is pretty popular. But again, outside of the comic book and nerd markets, not a lot of people are aware what Ain’t it Cool News is.
I do write genre literature sometimes. A lot of my work can be classified into the sci-fi/fantasy/horror stream. Plus, I’m convinced that the only people who read poetry are people who write poetry. It’s like Dream Theater. If you’re really into Dream Theater, you play an instrument. There is no casual fan of Dream Theater who occasionally listens to Systematic Chaos and likes one or two songs off of Octavarium. I’ve never met that guy. I’ve only ever met the guitarist/bassist/keyboardist/drummer (like every drummer I’ve ever met) who, when he listens to Dream Theater, has to sit down with headphones on because it’s only enjoyable when he’s studying every part. But even speculative fiction, poetry, and over-indulgent progressive rock (which is so damn good, don’t get me started on Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, I’ll never stop) still isn’t niche enough nowadays.
And this is why I revisit the fact that there is a market out there for people who eat shit. The very words and thought of this market existing is self-parodying enough that it can exist on its own as an example of how marketing works. No other explanation needed. There is a market out there for people who eat shit.
But it says something else. It says that there’s something for everyone. And everyone is into something different. And even though there is so much on the internet it can feel overwhelming like being caught in open flood gates and you have no idea where to even start. But there will always be more people typing random words into Google hoping to find anything.
I’m not niche and specific. And I’m fairly confident that my ramblings and rants I call essays, my attempts at being witty and insightful I call fiction, and my sniveling and whining I call poetry will never make me rich or famous or give me a cult following. But I also look at my girlfriend every night while she sits in bed and reads Archie comics. For no other reason than she friggin loves Archie. She just enjoys it.
And that’s why I keep going. I enjoy this. Outside of any academic dissection, any inkling that I could change the world, any hope that my words will affect anyone, I just like doing this every day. I shouldn’t need another reason. I have a day job. I make a regular paycheque that (almost) keeps a roof over my head. But I also have the freedom to sit down at my desk every night and go nuts on a Microsoft Word document. For no other reason than it’s fun.
On average, I get about five views a day on this blog. I think I have around fifteen followers. A blog that’s been around for close to five years, with regular posts from an apparent professional writer, would be considered pathetic according to the established order. But at least I’m fucking trying. At least I get to have fun with this every day. Professional artists should get paid for their work, but they should also have passion projects that they can go to just to let lose, experiment, and have some fun. If it goes somewhere, awesome, all the more power to it. If not, at least it helped me get through another week in an office. Who knows, maybe it helped those five readers every day.